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Remembered Today:

The Patriot's Progress


Thomas
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I'm interested to know other forum members opinions of the book before getting it for myself. So if anyone's read the book please express your thoughts on the book.

Thank you in advance,

From,

Thomas McCall

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It's an absolute classic, and one that deserves to be wider read. The closing part of the book has one of the most memorable lines in Great War literature. When the main character is told by a 'toff' on Armistice Day 1918 that 'England won't forget you felllows', he replies "We are England".

Williamson was haunted by the war and the loss of school friends and comrades. This is a fine novel indeed and a moving tribute to the men of his generation.

The woodcuts are also a great enhancement to the text.

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Does anyone know Henry Williamson's history??

I am not familiar with his book, but also interested primarily due to his name.

I have a Canadian group to Henry Williamson DCM, MM (but expect a different Williamson).

What Reg't did he serve in ??

Thanks,

Bryan

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Williamson served as a Pte with the 1/5th Londons (London Rifle Brigade) in 1914/15. He was sent home with fever in the Spring of 1915, and then commissioned into the 10th Bedfords, but was attached to the 2/1st Cambridgeshires at Newmarket. He then transferred to the MGC, and served with 208th Coy, 62nd (West Riding) Division on the Western Front as Transport Officer from Jan/Feb - June 1917. It is possible he served again with the 1st or 2nd Bedfords in 1918, but this has never been confirmed - even by his own family.

Hope that helps.

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Williamson served as a Pte with the 1/5th Londons (London Rifle Brigade) in 1914/15. He was sent home with fever in the Spring of 1915, and then commissioned into the 10th Bedfords, but was attached to the 2/1st Cambridgeshires at Newmarket. He then transferred to the MGC, and served with 208th Coy, 62nd (West Riding) Division on the Western Front as Transport Officer from Jan/Feb - June 1917. It is possible he served again with the 1st or 2nd Bedfords in 1918, but this has never been confirmed - even by his own family.

Hope that helps.

Interesting Paul, but what did he do post-war. :rolleyes:

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Thanks Paul for Henry Williamson's wartime experiences, obviously a different Williamson than I have, sounds as if he saw quite a bit of service.

I too would be interestd in his post war career.

Bryan

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Interesting Paul, but what did he do post-war. :rolleyes:

Very funny, Tony. :ph34r:

Williamson (known to some as 'Tarka The Fascist') became a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in the 1930s, and his supprt for Mosley never waivered - even post-WW2. Something that blighted his public recognition, and for many a factor that tainted some of his writing.

However, he did write many classic books on nature and some great WW1 material; for more info see:

http://www.henrywilliamson.org/

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Henry Williamson became a journalist after the Great War but preferred the country life and moved to Devon where he dabbled with farming before achieving distinction as a novelist and a writer of nature stories, including Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon. During the Thirties, Williamson became a supporter of Oswald Moseley and the British Union of Fascists, and a keen adherent of Hitler. About this time he took up farming again and was very active in promoting Anglo-German friendship. He saw this as a way of avoiding another appalling war but his writings make clear that he approved of Hitler’s aims, and he seems to have retained that belief for the rest of his life. He was interned in 1940 but was later released on parole. After the war, he produced more highly regarded work in the 15-volume cycle A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. He died in 1977 and is buried in the churchyard at Georgeham in Devon.

Some potted biographies of Henry Williamson skate over the Fascist beliefs. Encyclopaedia Britannica makes no mention of it while The Henry Williamson Society gives it just one paragraph on the web site. On the other hand, OswaldMoseley.com gives the episode extensive coverage.

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Henry Williamson became a journalist after the Great War but preferred the country life and moved to Devon where he dabbled with farming before achieving distinction as a novelist and a writer of nature stories, including Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon. During the Thirties, Williamson became a supporter of Oswald Moseley and the British Union of Fascists, and a keen adherent of Hitler. About this time he took up farming again and was very active in promoting Anglo-German friendship. He saw this as a way of avoiding another appalling war but his writings make clear that he approved of Hitler’s aims, and he seems to have retained that belief for the rest of his life.

My niece, now 16, has never really forgiven me for refusing to buy her a copy of Tarka the Otter when she was younger!

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I figured you were just testing. I am amazed at EB though.

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There are two volumes of biography on Williamson - one dealing specifically with his wartime experiences. Henry Williamson: Tarka and the Last Romatic and A Patriot's Progress: Henry Williamson and the First World War. Both by his daughter in law Anne Williamson published by Alan Sutton. It would be too simple to write him off as a fascist - he was an extremely complex and difficlt individual. His multi Volume Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight will become recognised in due course as a classic of 20th century writing.

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I would certainly echo David's views on the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. It is semi-autobiographical and the five volumes dealing with 1914-18 are especially good in the atmosphere that they evoke, both in France and on the Home Front.

Charles M

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Would anyone know if Patriots Progress is still available - possibly has been reprinted in recent times?

Thanks,

Bryan

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I don't think anyone would simply dismiss HWW as 'just a fascist', but I think one does have to be aware of that.

His Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series ranks as a masterpiece of English literature, and as I have said many times over the years no knowledge of the Great War is complete without some reference to it.

The HWW Society (see link above) are very active, and frequently visit the Great War battlefields; they will be in Flanders and at Loos and Arras next July.

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... It would be too simple to write him off as a fascist - he was an extremely complex and difficlt individual. His multi Volume Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight will become recognised in due course as a classic of 20th century writing.

It is a matter of record that Henry Williamson was a committed fascist. Nobody has written him off on that account or suggested that means he can’t write. On the contrary, his works have received great praise both before and after his adoption of fascism.

Complex or not – and who isn’t – his convictions seem to have taken him into some extreme positions if OswaldMoselely.com is to be believed. Viewing London in 1944, he is said to have “observed with satisfaction that the ugliness and immorality represented by its financial and banking sector had been "relieved a little by a catharsis of high explosive" and somewhat "purified by fire." “ And in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, he has a character advance the view that the deaths in German concentration camps were not the result of a mass extermination plan but were actually caused by typhus brought about by the destruction of all public utility systems by Allied bombing.

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Just as a small follow-up, I don't deny that he had fascist sympathies and views, nor do I believe that he was a particularly pleasant individual. I merely make the point that much of his work transends his political beliefs, which grew out of the war in which he participated. The fact is that Williamson is all to easily, and grequently described as simply as Henry Williamson the author of Taka the Otter or Henry Williamson the fascist sympathiser. Such 'branding'does undervalue his work as a writer and disuades many from readership.

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  • Admin

Will the reprint include the amazing lino cuts by William Kermode? They make this brilliant book even better IMHO.

Michelle :blink:

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Interesting how a writer can much more easily blight his career by espousing right wing views than doing something similar on the extreme left. Contrast Williamson with G.B.S and his Stalin adoration.

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  • 5 months later...

I was fascinated to read Williamson's predictions about the outcome of the war. He wrote the following while in training on or around 6 September 1914 (italics are the author's) when many soldiers were keen to get to France before the war was over:

The Germans will crush the Allied Forces abroad.  We shall send all of our available men - thousands and thousands.  They will go in an unceasing stream, but each time Germany will, by force of numbers, decimate us.  This will go on for months.  We shall loose the flower of our youth.  But there will come a time when the Germans will have to subside.  But meantime our Expeditionary Force will be no more.  More will go abroad - they will likewise go, until about 9 months.  Then we shall be able to take the offensive.  Russia will be no good in the offensive.  She will not reach Berlin, and be not much good to us.  Germany will send a force over very soon.  It will be swamped almost immediately.  Now it will come to this.  Every available man except those needed for home defence, will be sent on the continent millions and millions!!!  We shall lose an appalling amount.  We must have an enormous army there when peace is signed, to enforce our terms.  England will not be the scene of fighting, except for a little, but she will be drained of her youth.  France will be crippled for hundreds of years, she will be a vast waste.  Russia will not be much spoilt.  Her forces will be scattered, and repulsed.  Germany will gasp for breath for centuries.  England will be exhausted for years but will otherwise be intact

Robert

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  • 7 years later...

Will the reprint include the amazing lino cuts by William Kermode? They make this brilliant book even better IMHO.

Michelle blink.gif

Michelle

Can you tell me anything more about this William Kermode and his lino cuts, please. Ed Kermode

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This is an extract from the Oxford DNB article (by Anne Williamson) on HW, covering his Great War experience: "On leaving school in the summer of 1913 Williamson became a clerk in a Sun Fire Insurance office in the City. Already a territorial soldier in the London rifle brigade, he was mobilized when war was declared and was catapulted into a frighteningly different world. His experiences of the First World War, particularly his participation in the Christmas truce of 1914, affected him deeply and became the pivot upon which the rest of his life turned. By the end of the war, Williamson had already determined to be a writer, a decision deepened by reading in June 1919 Richard Jefferies's visionary autobiography The Story of my Heart (1883), which reinforced his own thinking. In due course Williamson wrote seven books directly about the war: The Wet Flanders Plain (1929), The Patriot's Progress (1930), and five volumes of the Chronicle sequence. Many critics consider these to be the finest of the genre."

UK members can usually access the ODNB from home via their county library websites; the ODNB site will tell others which public libraries subscribe.

Ed, here is Wikipedia on your (sur)namesake - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kermode

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Michelle

Can you tell me anything more about this William Kermode and his lino cuts, please. Ed Kermode

Kermode was a Tasmanian who had been awarded the Military Cross in the war. He specialised in linocuts and had presented a series to Sir John Squire who initially thought that Williamson might write short captions for them. The prose rapidly took over from the illustrations and it became a full length novel. Kermode also designed a dust jacket for an edition of Tarka.

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