Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
A descent into the pit of despair
on 10 July 2013
This, Part 4, of Spike's memoir deals with the ghastly Italian campaign of 1943/4. Through the media of the time, we learned that "Sunny Italy" was a grave misnomer. For Sunny one should read Soggy. (I remember seeing the newsreels.) Spike and his Battery fought three enemies, the rain, the mud, and of course Jerry. There is no doubt in my mind that the winter of 1943/4 pushed Spike ever closer to the verge of what we once called a nervous breakdown. We gather that his defence was his eccentric sense of humour and that of his immediate circle. Yes, they were funny. At times desperately funny. And we all know what desperate means.
After months of dreadful conditions and battle casualties and a cold hearted, autocratic Battery Commander, Spike is caught in a Mortar attack, slightly wounded, physically, but totally wrecked mentally. The final chapters of the book record his treatment, such as it was and his subsequent recovery, as the war in Europe ended.
The book is written with, at times, great sensitivity. Regarding the "funny" bits, yes some of them are very funny in a pre Goon Show style. However, it is a book that should be read by those of us who abhor War and recognise that war is not an enterprise to be entered upon lightly.
Read the book. In places, you will laugh, but in places you will be close to tears.