1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As close as you or I are ever likely to get,
This review is from: Quartered Safe Out Here (Paperback)
Where WW1 yielded the greatest war poetry ever written, WW2 yielded great memoirs, and 'Quartered Safe Out Here' can hold its head up with the very best of those memoirs. This book probably does as much as any book possibly can to bring home to the modern reader what it might have been like to fight in the jungle campaigns of WW2.
Mainly, the book describes George MacDonald Fraser's experiences in Burma 1944/5 and offers some of the best descriptions of training, combat and camaraderie I have ever seen. Fraser also pays tribute to the military genius of General Slim, while offering vivid glimpses of the mind-sets of his comrades and several (often unsettling) thoughts about war in general and WW2 in particular. Be warned though: some of the attitudes that Fraser describes (although without endorsing them) might startle the modern reader.
This next risks spoiling what may be one of the book's main surprises, but Fraser offers an unusual sidelight on the vexed ethics of the atomic raids on Japan. Fraser says that had the men in his unit been able to choose the course they would follow, they would almost certainly have chosen to carry on fighting Japan with conventional means, even at great cost to themselves, rather than be brought home early by raids like those on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whether you agree with Fraser's conclusions or not, they offer a bracing reminder that the decision to drop the atomic bomb rested with politicians and military 'top brass' , and not with private soldiers and NCO's.
'Quartered Safe Out Here' drew praise from historians of the Burma Campaign and at its frequent best is as vivid, poignant and funny as anything in Spike Milligan's war memoirs.