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Outstanding WW1 Memoir
on 22 July 2008
This is a great memoir, instantly ranking with book such as frank Richard's Old Soldiers Never Die as among the most evocative voices of the Great War as seen by the PBI. Lynch was an Australian, fighting with the 45th Battalion AIF from late 1916 to the end of the war. The centrepieces of this book are the descriptions of hand to hand trench fighting, which are raw and immediate. The most chilling description (apart from numerous descriptions of shellfire) are the images of the Somme battlefield in the freezing winter of 1916-1917, with casualties still frozen into the postures of brutal trench combat.
This is the Great War memoir of our time, if such as statement isn't something of a paradox. Lynch's Australian sensibility, his cheerful challenges to authority and the democratic flavour of Anzac `mateship' are more attuned to a 20th century sensibility than some of the more literary laments to the `futility' of the war in the 1920s and 1930s. (The attitudes to other races in the opening chapter are shocking but not surprising for a memoir of the time; their omission would have been a pointless and historically dishonest piece of editing).
A singular and powerfully important memoir of 1914-1918.