Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Young Guard

Title: THE YOUNG GUARD - World War I Poems & Author's War Memoirs: Consecration, Lord's Leave, Last Post, The Old Boys, Ruddy Young Ginger, The Ballad of Ensign ... Uppingham Song and Wooden Crosses
Author: E. W. Hornung ( Ernest William Hornung)
Kindle Edition, 195 pages
Published June 13, 2016 by e-artnow
FTC: Amazon Kindle Free

Synopsis: This carefully crafted ebook: “THE YOUNG GUARD – World War I Poems & Author's War Memoirs” is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents:
Lord's Leave
Last Post
The Old Boys
Ruddy Young Ginger
The Ballad of Ensign Joy
Bond and Free
Shell-Shock in Arras
The Big Thing
Uppingham Song
Wooden Crosses
Notes of a Camp Follower on the Western Front
E. W. Hornung (1866–1921) was an English author and a war poet and also brother-in-law to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Hornung is known for writing the A. J. Raffles series about a gentleman thief based on a deliberate inversion of the Sherlock Holmes series. Hornung dedicated his creation as a form of flattery to Doyle. Hornung's works are also remembered for giving insight into the social mores of late 19th and early 20th century British society

My Review

Though I do enjoy reading history, I'm not the type of person that picks up every war book and reads it by chance. According to this book,  it's written,  "'Chance' is no answer, unless the word be help to cover organic tissue of chances, each in turn closely related to some other chance, all component parts of a chance whole. And what sensation novelist would build a plot on such foundations and hope to make his tale convincing? Not, at my worst; and there were more of these chances still to come, albeit none that mattered as did those already recounted."

This book, though only 195 pages, took a while for me to get through. I found myself going back and re-reading passages. The author is a YMCA volunteer who serves behind the lines of battle. He helped serve food and drink and kept up the men's morale while running their library. There's an interesting chapter on 'Writers and Readers". We learn they had a 'New Book Table and the library ledger listed the tops books that were in use. Posted were 4 copies of the book, "The First Hundred Thousand" by Ian Hays  (Jonn Hay Beith, authors actual name). These were always out in circulation, finding it to be the most popular book. Next, to that, Dickens was popular as was Lord Lytton.

The mood throughout this collection shows the loss that was felt during the war. "Then the two Sergeants prepared the ground with gentle skill; and we knelt and put in narcissus bulbs, the primroses and pinks, the phlox and the saxifrage, that the boy's mother had sent him; and a baby rose tree from an old friend who loved him, in the corner of England that he loved best; it must be climbing up his cross, if it has lived to climb at all."

My Thoughts

This is a beautifully written book about life and death in the trenches. The author speaks of a service with Holy Water and how Chaplains would relay details of tragedy. It's a recounting of what was happening and being heard between the shell - bursts and what men would do to dispell anxiety over the loss of fellow comrades. 

Author E.W. Hornung bio

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