Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Great Adventure

In case anyone is trying to access my web site 'The Great Adventure', dedicated to World War 1 and the Great War Spearhead wargames rules, the site is unavailable at the moment as the server is off line following the Christchurch earthquake. I'll let everyone know when we are back up and running.
Thanks for your patience.

Rifleman Bowlby

As part time earthquake refugees we found oursleves at my Brother-in-Law's house for a shower one evening last week. They invited us to stay the night (an offer which we were quick to take up... life is pretty fraught in our part of the city right now, 13th day without power or water and all that) and so there I was with nothing to read.

In my Brother-in-Law's library was the book 'The Recollections of Rifleman Bowlby' by Alex Bowlby (1969 ISBN 0-304-35243-8). Bowlby was an interesting person, an English public school graduate who enlisted in and joined the Rifles just as they came out of the desert in 1943. He opted to remain a Rifleman, making fun of the officer selection process in order to remain in the ranks.

His story is that of a man who met many of the terrrors of war and yet seemed destined never to fire his rifle in anger as the Rifles fought their way through Italy. The book describes numerous 'actions' in which he was involved, including many fighting and recce patrols. It is interspersed with descriptions of numerous humorous incidents that occured long the way.

One of his biggest psychological scars appears to have been created when he was invalided back to a base hospital with illness, during which time his battalion was involved in an attack in which many of his best mates lost their lives. He concludes with chapter describing his return to Italy after the war as a man carrying his share of survivor guilt, and the cathartic effect of his almost accidental stumbling upon the graves of some of the men he had fought alongside, men who had lost their lives in the dreadful attack that he had missed.

The book is well written and entertaining (it isn't difficult to see in his real life narrative some elements that one would have thought could only have been invented for an Evelyn Waugh novel). Thoroughly recommended.