For many, the 1st World War is rapidly disappearing into ancient history. Although many books have been written about the war - its origins and conduct - and many more are appearing in the book shops to commemorate its 100th anniversary, this book by Emily Mayhew takes a different approach. By starting with a small number of the injured, the text follows their progress from the battlefield back to the UK by describing the roles, bravery and extraordinary dedication of all categories of individuals involved in their rehabilitation, including stretcher bearers, medical officers, surgeons, nurses, orderlies, chaplains, ambulance trains and finally The London Ambulance Column.
To me, this approach gave an immediacy lacking in the more historical tomes written about the Great War. By describing the roles of named individuals, it conveys the fortitude and bravery of all concerned - even including the chaplains! The stench of gangrenous wounds, the rotting clothing caked in blood and the incredible bravery of the characters appearing are vividly described.The reader feels the pain and exhaustion of the participants and re-enforces the feeling of the futility of war. The book is not a difficult read as the reader is carried along by the unforgetable descriptions of events. Well worth the money!