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Once a Hussar: A Memoir of Battle, Capture and Escape in the Second World War [Kindle Edition]

Ray Ellis
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Once a Hussar is a vivid account of the wartime experiences of Ray Ellis, a gunner who in later life recorded in this well-written, candid and perceptive memoir the conflict he knew as a young man seventy years ago.

As an impressionable teenager, fired with national pride, he was eager to join the army and fight for his country. He enlisted in the South Notts Hussars at the beginning of the Second World War and started a journey that would take him through fierce fighting in the Western Desert, the deprivation suffered in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp and a daring escape to join the partisan forces in the Appenines.

His story is an honest and moving memoir of the horror of warfare, but it also reveals the surprising triumphs of the human spirit in times of great hardship. Ellis’s self-deprecating humor skillfully counters the harsh realities related in a personal recollection of a war that claimed so many young lives.

Product Description

About the Author

Ray Ellis joined the South Notts Hussars in 1939 and served overseas as an artilleryman in Palestine, Egypt and the Western Desert, taking part in the battles fought at Tobruk and Knightsbridge where he was captured. He survived extreme privations as a prisoner of war, escaped and lived for a year on the run in the mountains of central Italy. After the war he became a teacher and, in retirement, wrote this remarkable memoir.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1079 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword (15 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FOGG3A6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #253,567 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A book first published in 2009 recounting the WW2 exploits of a British soldier might beg the question as to why he waited so long. Having studied his story - and frequently marvelled at the events which befell him, I came to understand how that passage of time had allowed former soldier and author Ray Ellis to place a fair and reasonable appreciation on the events in question. In short, this memoir is written with a fuller understanding of what actually happened at the time than `might' have otherwise been the case. Had the work been written immediately after the war, we may have had a work tainted by the sadness and bitterness of such recent tragic events. Instead, we have a balanced and carefully thought-out account of one man's truly remarkable adventure thnrough that war.

Like so many of the youth of the day, Ray Ellis longed for the excitement of uniform and war. Fired with national pride he joined the South Notts Hussars. Transferred to the Royal Horse Artillery, he became a gunner and was soon in Palestine. From there it was a relatively short hop to the rigours of North Africa where his first taste of battle came at Mersa Matruh. Following his deployments to Sidi Barani, Gennia and Suez he became part of the famous defence of Tobruk - where he describes life during the siege with a simple honesty which allows the reader to understand the the very real hardships. This is followed by the break-out from Tobruk, the Nile Delta and the Battle of Knightsbridge - so far removed from the London Borough from which it took its name, and where his was the last gun still firing as they were overwhelmed with very few surviving to be taken prisoner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story 9 Oct. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book arrived very quickly and in excellent condition. There is no doubt about Ray Ellis's ability to captivate a reader. You are taken on his long journey with him through fighting in Tobruk, site seeing in Egypt and the long horrendous journey to Italy. I have seen on TV programmes the fighting that took place in Torbruk, but in this book Ellis describes, (without all the gore) how fierce and brutal the fighting was and what horrific injuries some of the men received. Not only does he manage to survive all this but he also manages to survive the despicable treatment he received from the Italians when he was captured. I enjoyed this book so much I have put Ray Ellis's next book on my Christmas list.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. Inspirational story. 3 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book will always remain one of my most influential and important reads. In a refreshing unadulterated way Ray writes about his early years with an open and selfless heart.

He was a true gentleman and without doubt the little acts of kindness showed throughout his life made him no short of a hero.

I met Ray a few years ago with my father in a local pub in Nottingham. I was excited and eager to meet him. It was a real honor to have met him. A masterful story teller, he enchanted me with his captivating tales and over his pint a glint in his eye told me his love for life was so positive and genuine I couldn't help but feel inspired.

What an incredible man. I still think of his experiences and attitude to life to give me a boost some days.

I would strongly recommend this book and the follow up story Always A Hussar which is an incredible account of life back in England after the war and his journey through his remarkable teaching career.

Thank you Ray. Forever remembered. Forever missed.

Tom K.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an eye opener. 9 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ray Ellis was my head teacher when I was 10 years old. At that time we had no idea what this great man had been through in his life. What an honour to have known him and be able to read his story. A must for all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A well written account by a soldier who was well read and skilled in describing his experiences. If you are interested in the WWII this covers North Africa, Italy, being a POW, Escape and home coming.
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