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I have just finished this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you have just read a complicated book such as 'Copse 125' or something in the mould of a Divisional history then this book is perfect for clearing the mind.

It is the Great War experience of WH Downing, an Australian soldier on the Western Front.

The book is well written, easliy understandable, brutally honest and vivid in its description of the horrors of war.

The popular conception of the Australian soldier is that he believed he was the best and that the British soldier was inferior and not as tough as the Australian.

Downing does not go down this route.

He rates the fiercest fighter as the French-Canadian, he then rates the Australian, the Highlander of 51 Div and the English-Canadian as about equal. He then writes about the bravery of an Essex battalion whose sacrifice was 'finer than Thermopylae'. He also rates the special excellence of the Australian as his mental resources.

I bought this book new for £6.99, well worth the money.


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I read this book years ago - but still remember it as one of my favourites - and the fact that 2 of my great uncles were in the same battalion as Downing, has nothing to do with it B) - his writing is as you said - brutally honest! I too would recommend it.

Cheers, Frev.

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I have just bought it and its on the pile waiting to be read, probably after I have finished reading William Wallace


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I read it some years ago and I must admit it is very good.

I might be wrong here, but I seem to remember he is quite critical of the Brits on a couple of occasions.


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I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as some of the other memoirs and diaries I've read (although it's a fairly short list). I found it curiously impersonal, and was unable to get much of a handle on what Downing himself was like. There is the occasional anecdote, but very little of the book refers to 'I' it's nearly always 'we', which I think, distances the reader.

Having said that there are some great descriptive passages that are very evocative.


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