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Understanding my father
on 8 June 2010
I had to stop reading this book on several occasions, just to absorb the information it was portraying. I am not naive about the nature of war or the affect it has on the people who are ordinary, often unwilling participants. My father was in the regular army and served throughout, initially in the artillery and subsequently as a paratrooper. This book gave me an insight into his character and our subsequent difficult relationship that just filled me with horror and sympathy.
Stories of survival, looting, rape and casual and wilful destruction are not easy to read when they are so close to home. However, there is also humour and a depth of feeling for the ordinary soldier that is both straightforward and heartwarming. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on anti-fraternisation knowing my father was engaged to a german girl when he was stationed in Berlin. As regular army of course there was no de-mob for him.
The simple fact that 80 million doses of benzedrine were given to soldiers to keep them awake enough to fight is startling in itself, and does lead me to wonder whether addiction beacame a problem for some. Although given the the fighting and events of life at the time, this would seem to be a minor problem. Alcohol did become a problem both organisationally and personally.
An outstanding book that brings to life how hard the British and Canadians gave of themselves from D-Day until the end, and a good balance to the overwrought presentation of Hollywood films and the unbalanced view taken between the British/Canadian and American contributions during this vicious campaign.
An outstanding book that does the author enormous credit, and for which I personally have immense gratitude.