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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important historical work with a new slant., 26 Oct 2012
By 
Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jocks in the Jungle: The Black Watch and Cameronians as Chindits (Hardcover)
Most British Regiments have their own collective noun for their rank and file. In the Parachute Regiment, for example, they are called Toms. In most, if not all?, Scottish Regiments they are known as Jocks. Like the Paras, the Jocks are known for `getting stuck in' and it is that penchant for fighting on the front foot which has always provided the British Army with a fighting force to be reckoned with. Certainly, much may have been written about the IRA wanting the Paras removed from Northern Ireland, but they also feared the Jocks!

In this historically important work, we learn of the role played by two very famous Scottish Regiments (The Black Watch and the Cameronians) who were part of an even more famous WW2 military formation known as the Chindits. This in NOT, however, another account of the wartime exploits of Orde Wingate and his men. Instead accomplished author Gordon Thorburn explores the central question of whether or not the role played by the Chindits was the greatest medical disaster of WW2 - and whose fault it was!

In 1943, the reality was that 7,677 officers and men were subjected to the most arduous of all training (jungle warfare!) before entering the jungle with skills as good as any Japanese soldier - who were regarded as masters of that particular type of warfare. But was that training enough for what was to follow? By the end of the campaign, only 1,754 men were able to operate effectively with all others being declared fit only for a hospital bed.

Dysentery is such a debilitating condition, it will reduce even the finest fighters and the strongest men to ineffectiveness by removing all their strength and, in many cases, even their will to live. Being sick, therefore, was no reflection on the men. Being sick on such a vast scale was a reflection on the decisions made by those in charge at the time. As with the First World War - were soldiers lives were the cheapest commodity of all, there were instances of that same attitude barely thirty years later.

In this excellently crafted work, the reader is treated to a finely detailed account of this little known aspect of WW2. The author's father was one of the Black Watch entered the jungle and contracted Amoebic Dysentery at the time in question and refused to speak of the experience after returning home - a factor which led Thorburn on a quest to find the answers to his many questions from other sources.

It is an engaging story made all the more interesting by the personal anecdotes. On p. 59, for example, we meet Major David Rose DSO who was given 14 days by Wingate to ready himself for command of one of the two columns of the Chindit Force. Much later, on p. 165, we learn of Rose being hospitalised with wounds and Prickly Heat and of the effective treatment given to him by the same nurse who had treated him in Somalia. Such are the stories which grasp the personal intrigue as you work your way through this excellent book.

Altogether, a first rate job of work.

NM
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jocks in the Jungle., 7 Sep 2013
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R. L. Peattie - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jocks in the Jungle: The Black Watch and Cameronians as Chindits (Hardcover)
A good well written book with lots of facts. This describes with conditions that these soldiers had to overcome with sheer guts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jocks in the Jungle, 16 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Jocks in the Jungle: The Black Watch and Cameronians as Chindits (Hardcover)
Superb research. My father was an R.A.F signaller (corporal) in Black Watch column 42.He always carried a photo of B company. He was hospitalised 8 times during his two years in the jungle. " I dont think you should know about it"- were the only words he spoke about it. I know he carried somebody out for which he was given a ruby. He also witnessed his best friend cut in half by a sword in front of him. This book is very welcome for showing the extreme hardships the Chindits went through and the apalling way they were used after Wingates death.The medical emphasis is critical in its importance. It is very sober reading. My eternal thanks to the author.
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Jocks in the Jungle: The Black Watch and Cameronians as Chindits
Jocks in the Jungle: The Black Watch and Cameronians as Chindits by Gordon Thorburn (Hardcover - 16 Aug 2012)
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