Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nonfiction November: Walter's War by Walter E. Young




I've been interested in reading about World War I lately. I'm still reading Robert Graves' autobiography, Goodbye to All That. But I received a copy through Netgalley of Walter's War, a memoir of World War I experiences in France of London postman Walter E. Young (1889-1957). 

What intrigued me about Walter's War is that it isn't a book that Young wrote with publication in mind. These are letters and remarkable journal entries that he recorded on paper that weren't found until after his death. 

By all accounts, Young was a quiet and an unassuming man who never spoke about his wartime experiences or his heroic deeds that won him a medal for bravery. It's hard to imagine today when it seems that so many people want their fifteen minutes of fame that there was once a generation who valued privacy and humility.

The writing about the violence of war, the death of so many of Young's friends, and the challenging life in the trenches is frank at times but eloquent at other times. Apart from being a soldier, Young also served as a stretcher-bearer. Young saw some horrible things as a stretcher-bearer, but I appreciated that he told just enough without going into graphic detail. In March 1918, Young was captured by the Germans and served the remainder of the war as a prisoner. 

This memoir deals only with Young's experiences in World War I, but there is a section at the end of the book which provides information about Young's life after the war.

This is a moving memoir that I highly recommend.



4 comments:

  1. This sounds like an intriguing memoir. In reading biographies of C.S. Lewis I found the sections about his war time experiences in WWI in the trenches in France to be dramatic. He returned with shrapnel that never did get completely removed. That has to deeply affect the soldiers for the rest of their lives.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Terra! I haven't read anything by or about C.S. Lewis, but I want to. What biography do you recommend?

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  2. I've been reading John Jackson's memoir, Private 12768 which I really recommend. He too was rank and file, is clear sighted about how grim the war was but is more positive about his experience than Graves was. It's worth a look if you can face another war book.

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    1. I haven't heard of this memoir, but I'm adding it to my list. This looks like something I'd enjoy reading. Thanks for stopping by!

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