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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
24
4.8 out of 5 stars


TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 May 2014
The book is largely made up of diary entries until about 3/4 of the way through. Don't let that put you off. The style is interesting and I was absorbed all the way through.

As a war memoir the book is arguably without parallel. Very likely the best book of this kind I have ever read and I am left with the opinion that Stanley Chistopherson is one of the most remarkable men to have served in this remarkable regiment ever - never mind in WW2.

The book is also a social statement. The Sherwood Rangers, which SC was commissioned into from the Inns of Court regiment in 1939, was probably one of the snobbiest county yeomanry units in the UK prior to the war and I was amazed to find that, as they travelled to Palestine (complete with their horses - which wasn't unique as a number of cavalry regiments stayed on horseback at the start of the conflict) they brought with them their servants. I don't just mean individual batmen for the officers; I'm talking about a variety of servants from their estates, from grooms to butlers.

Also packed was cricket and other sporting equipment and that's probably not so unusual but many also packed sporting guns which were used often to bring in a few birds or rabbits to supplement the dinner fare in the officers mess. So many of his early entries refer to the quality of lunch or dinner and the many hotels and restaurants the commissioned ranks dined in during their posting to Palestine and junkets into Egypt and elsewhere.

The diaries which were used to compile the book read like editions of Boys Own in a very "Jolly good old boy" style. Effectively this is a story of weekend soldier (Territorial Army officers) from privileged backgrounds. Complete amateurs going to war but keen as mustard in a way that only people from that particular social strata of the time could be. They learned in several ways: through their application to duty and instruction in every way possible and also by being thrust into the van of battle, time and time again, from El Alamein to VE Day, arguably more so than any of their contemporaries and by suffering almost 100% officer casualties from lieutenant to colonel as well as earning more battle honours than any other yeomanry regiment which took part in the war.

If you're into wartime memoirs or are remotely interested in the British military this book is an absolute must. I found it to be a revelation, as well as intensely interesting and I've read hundreds of books on the subject.

Money well spent.
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on 28 August 2017
This is a good collection of diary incidents but in the period post d-day it overlaps with other books like Stuart Hills book and many of the stories are word for word identical. Did Stuart copy Stanley or the othe way around?
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on 10 June 2014
I bought An Englishman at War for my father s 85th Birthday present. He had served with the 17th/21st Lancers soon after WW2 and they often were connected to the Sherwood Rangers.

Since I gave him the book he has rung me every day with tales of the bravery and the wonderful stories of Stanley Christopherson and The Sherwood Rangers.

I can highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the War in particular after the recent 70th anniversary of D Day.

It gives extraordinary insight through the eyes of one man of pretty much the whole War in the West.

Stanley went from being a young inexperienced Cavalry Office having pretty easy time and very social time Palestine early 1939 to going on to be a highly decorated veteran with over 30 battle honours in North Africa and Europe, 16 of which were after he took over command of the Regiment on D Day.

The book is a wonderful read and really makes you feel as though that you are there with Stanley on his shoulder. It is often funny, really informative what it was like in the day and life of being an officer the war and also sad with the obvious loss of so many many friends. It also helped by James Holland’s contextual information which he punctuate the diaries.

It’s hard to find 85 year olds something they cherish!
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on 25 November 2014
I am a regular reader of wartime diaries and chronicles, though not usually as late as WWII. That said, this boom is absolutely riveting. it is quintesssentially the epitome of the true Englishman at War. As all wartime diaries it most frequently refers to the basics of life, food, drink (usually alcoholic) and relationships...whether they be with the troop or regiment.or with the local civilian population that the military met and befriended. The manner is factual, straight-forward and clearly honest (this is very often the case in British war diaries...in my experience, other nations tend more to hyperbole and political correctness. It is a superb and possibly unique read. From the very beginning of the conflict in 1939 through to the end in 1945. Stanley Christopherson was blessed. Very few writers have survived through such a lengthy period, particularly those in the frontline. `It is a "must read" for any student of war, WWII or otherwise, and a "must read"for today's generation of young British nationals all of whom I am certain will feel humbled and grateful for the tenacity, persistence and long term confidence in the triumph of right over wrong that this tome displays. An excellent read and highly recommended.
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on 18 July 2017
I have a good grounding in WW II military history but not so much in tank warfare so I picked up a used 'as new' copy of 'An Englishman at War' from UKpaperbackshop on Amazon. I'd chosen this book for two reasons. First it was a war diary which covered the entire war and second it was a first person history of the evolution and fighting history of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, one of the finest tank regiments with over 30 battle honours, covering both the North Africa campaign through D Day and the Allied breakout to the end of the war.
Full praise to the editor of the diaries James Holland for resisting the temptation to give the reader a parallel history of the war, beyond short explanatory paragraphs setting the pace and context of the war in relation to the diary entries.
The rest is left to Stanley Christopherson to tell his own remarkable story from a subaltern in a mounted yeomanry in Palastine through a coastal defence role in the siege of Tobruk; as a mechanised squadron commander in North Africa including El Alamein and on into Europe, taking part in the D Day landing and the fierce fighting which followed. It brilliantly captures a regiment, its officers and men at war and at play.
Once I started reading I could not put it down. The first two thirds is war diary while the war in Europe from D Day and after is a full account written by Christopherson. You come to know and care for his brother officers and the men of the regiment as the diary unfolds. It is full of personal cameos, wit, wisdom and hard edged warfare, told by a man with a genuine curiosity for the people and events he encounters.
One word of caution to the reader. Stanley Christopherson is a modest man, particularly where his own actions are concerned. His positive attitude and determination to find humour in adversity sometimes downplay the awfulness of the events in which he took part,( such as the siege of Tobruk) mainly through his matter of fact writing style. Not once does Stanley mention his own decorations in the diary but is often so pleased when others are recognised for their contribution. This is where James Holland as editor does his job so well in providing just enough additional context to Stanley's self-effacing reporting.
I do urge anyone who wants an end-to-end view of the mechanised war in North Africa and Europe to read the diaries of this remarkable man and to seek out a copy. It will be time well spent in the reading. The book is well illustrated so my recommendation is to avoid the Kindle version and go with the hardback. I picked up my mint copy for £6.00.
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on 29 March 2015
This story just about sums up Britain's war record. The regiment started the war with horses, then became artillery at first without guns, and then with a mixture of ancient british equipment and captured Italian stuff of dubious reliability, and finally a tank regiment, which after fits and starts eventually became a thoroughly professional outfit capable of defeating the best German formations. Stanley Christopherson's story outlines the frustrations and tragedies of ordinary men who became soldiers and were then subject to the orders of politicians and generals who often seem totally out of touch and unconcerned at the discomfort, lack of ameneties and risks the blokes in the front line faced, as well as the trauma of seeing your comrades wiped out in large numbers.
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on 12 March 2017
Amazing...so you yet so much responsibility on the most difficult of battlefield experiences. Read and digest - a wonderful book
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on 12 December 2014
What an amazing account of Stanley Christopherson's war from annual camp in the UK through Palestine, North Africa and Europe. No armoured regiment was involved in so much of the conflict and Stanley was at the helm in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry from D+4 and prior to that was only away from the action for some 2 weeks. A great read whether you know the personalities and this Yeomanry Regiment or not and it gives a real feel of life in an Armoured Regiment and its many highs and even more lows. A must for anyone wanting to read an account of what it was really like.
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on 18 April 2016
I haven't got the book yet but I'm so excited because my Grandfather Moses Knighton served in the Sherwood Rangers on horseback in WW1 and spent time in the Balkans and Egypt. Everyone seems to write about the Sherwood Foresters and so little on the Rangers. So 4 stars for writing this I'm very much looking forward to receiving it. And will update review.
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on 22 June 2014
Excellent book, covering the wartime exploits of the Sherwood Rangers, my father's regiment.

This is an excellent account from Christopherson's diaries, illustrated with photographs from the period. Well written and researched, with additional material included from a few other members of the regiment.

Very readable.
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