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4.4 out of 5 stars
60
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Real 'Dad's Army': The War Diaries of Col. Rodney Foster
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on 29 March 2017
Fascinating read of the exploits of the Home Guard. Reading this diary really bought home to me how close the civilians in the Home Counties were to the war. As with other diaries of this time this book gives the reader a feeling of what it was like to live during those times as the author describes nearby bombing raids with loss of life in the same entry as he talks about the daily trivia of life such as shopping trips into town. There is a stoical acceptance that life goes on which runs through the book.
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2012
One of many remarkable facets of these diaries is how like, and yet how unlike, the television sitcom was to reality. The diarist, a retired Indian army officer living in the heart of Hell Fire Corner throughout the second World War, was an early member of the Home Guard in Kent. He did not suffer fools and encountered a number. Eventually, exasperated, he resigned and became a driver in the Volunteer Car Pool.

Colonel Foster is an exemplary diarist. His entires are brief, lucid and to the point; they have room for the wider view of the war as it unfolded but also for the trivia of everyday life. A picture emerges of daily exposure to danger, the stress of regular air raid warnings, the bombs and explosions, the death of acquaintances; but also of domestic life when the housemaid is suspected of being a spy, when the writer stands next to a rear-admiral in a half-hour queue to buy fish, when a journey can only be completed by borrowing a gallon of petrol, while on another drive to an emergency hospital, "I did the 28 miles in 1¼ hours."

Unwittingly, perhaps, the Colonel provides a telling self-portrait. Clearly he was a man of principle, devoted to his wife and daughter, a willing helper of deserving causes, a prickly team member, and a prejudiced patriot - among those who come in for recurrent criticism are Winston Churchill and most of his cabinet, Field Marshall Montgomery, General Eisenhower and most Americans. British servicemen who consistently damage his fence are not excused.

We can only be grateful that these diaries, having disappeared after the author's death, resurfaced in a car boot sale. Anyone wishing to understand what life was like for civilians in the front line will find a clear and accurate account. I should add that much of it made difficult reading for one who was born in Folkestone, experienced some of the later months but mostly escaped as an evacuee in Wales. So I was not there when my school premises were damaged. Unfortunately, as a photograph of wrecked houses on page 113 shows, my parents stayed on and paid with their lives.
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on 28 June 2017
SHORT LITTLE SNIPPETS OF INFORMATION, FROM THOSE ON THE SPOT. INTERESTING.
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on 5 September 2017
Good
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on 23 July 2017
Very informative! Great addition to my British Home Guard Library. Thank you!
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on 12 December 2011
If you like military history you will like this book,an ant's eye view of the battle of britain and the experience of living through world war 2 on the kent coast through the eyes of col. rodney foster. Lots of interesting information on air raid times,troop movements,public opinion,and such like.most military history books say about the same on the different wars or theatres,this book isn't written by an author it's written by a diarist writing down the day to day happenings around him, it gives you a very good sense of being there and what life was like for people living under the threat of being bombed or invaded at any moment.amazing to read the thoughts of someone who died fifty years ago on events that happened seventy years ago and who was born a hundred and thirty years ago.a nice old boy with a very british stiff upper lip,recommended.
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on 17 January 2012
This is a splendid read based on a diary that one presumes was never intended for publication. The diaryist, a retired officer from the Indian Army and one of the Old School is a man of honour, decency, integrity, diligence and dedication. Whilst his views of his some superiors might be seen as disaffection, his personal views never adversely influence his patriotism, his sense of duty nor his determination to beat the squalor that is Facism, an idealogy that is the very antithesis of his being.

This is a remarkable record of the Second World War, which melds the routine of daily life with the death and destruction of the war, mostly within viewing distance from his lounge. One aspect that he clearly articulates, is the incredible acoustic background to living on the front line that was Hythe. The noise of exploding bombs, torpedoes and mines, together with the constant crash of gunfire and the whine of piston engines driving planes and vehicles to war (never mind the constant and irritating damage to his garden fence by careless army drivers!) is indelibly printed upon the pages. This is not a cover to cover read but it is certainly a very fine one.

Whilst the title suggests a focus upon the Home Guard the story is much wider than that, encompassing everything from air-raids, vehicle accidents and plane crashes, to the Girl Guides, shopping queues, drunken soldiers and allotments. The passing vignettes on the tragedies of the people he knows hides immense loss for so many.
How sad that Rodney Foster cannot inform and inspire us in person. He has though, left us the next best thing. His perspectives are so practical yet moving; the very routine makes it fascinating. A Lost Generation now rediscovered!
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on 3 December 2011
A real insight to the war years in an area of southern england. The diaries, beautifully written, humourous, informative give a real sense of what life was like for the everyday individual getting on with their 'existence' under constant threat as best they could. My family lived on the east coast during the war years and my father injured in a bombing incident at Ashford Railway station so amazing to turn up all these new facts and recollections. A book to be picked up and put down, not a must read from cover to cover in 'one session'!
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on 5 March 2012
I am still reading this book and the one thing that strikes me is how many times they had to run for cover, or get under the table to avoid a bombing raid, sometimes two or three times a night as well as during the day. The constant threat of being invaded, the sirens, lack of sleep, scarcity of everyday provisions really makes you think how on earth did they cope with it all. The people that fought, and those who just did their bit back home have my utmost admiration. This book is a real eye opener as to what was really happening here in Britain during the 2nd world war. It is not an easy read nor is it a book that you want to read from cover to cover in one sitting, but just catch up now and again to see what's happening to Mr Foster and his family.The thing that I have to keep telling myself is that this was real, not a drama or a film, but how it really was. It's terrifying to read what they all went through. I wonder how we would cope today?
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on 7 March 2017
"One good at least will come from my writings. I shall not be the bore most old men become to their relations and friends, with their accounts of the good old days" so wrote Colonel Rodney Foster. Indeed the period of time covered weren't the 'good old days' for those living in Folkestone and Dover as this area was, at times, under near constant bombardment and attack from across the English Channel. Rodney Foster is an engaging if somewhat intolerant individual not unlike the fictional Captain Mainwaring. He is certainly not afraid to record his disapproval of how the war is being conducted by certain politicians and generals. An interesting read. My only minor criticism is that the book could have benefitted from editing out some of the duller entries.
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