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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

A.G. Macdonell

Mark Hone

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Does anyone know anything about the war service of A.G. (Archibald Gordon) MacDonnell, author of the comic classic 'England, Their England'? The novel opens with the hero 'Lieutenant Donald Cameron' of 'Thirteenth Southerland Battery, RA TF' attached to the HQ of '17th Battalion, Rutland Fusiliers' in a pillbox on Passchendaele Ridge in October 1917. Cameron later has a close encounter with 'friendly fire' in the form of a 5.9" short and is invalided back home with shell shock. This is clearly autobiographical as MacDonnell was a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, as per his MIC and the very brief bio at the front of the book relates how he was invalided out of the army. He died in 1941, at presumably a young age. 'England, Their England' is a classic, gentle satire on the English and their peculiarities, most famous for its hilarious description of a village cricket match.

I would be interested to identify the real units and location of the vividly-described opening of the book.

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Mark - definitely an excellent book (one I would have on my Desert Island, i think). I did a Google search on MacDonnell recently, and there is shockingly little about him. Next time I go to Kew (hopefully in a few eeks) I intend to look up his records. From memory he was a journalist, joined up, was shell-shocked and spent some time in 'rehab', before returning to journalism quite a while after the War. The opening bit is definitelt very autobiographical.

I'll try and remember to post as and when I get to kew.

Wonderful book, and the ending of it is really emotive and atmospheric (but then I'm English, so it would be!)

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