Friday, April 11, 2008

men at Arms - post IV

The first part of the trilogy ends with Guy being shipped back to London in disgrace facing a potential court martial for a couple of offences.

The first one is almost forgivable because after training in Scotland and then being moved around from here there and everywhere the men are finally packed onto a ship and head out towards Dakar.

Once in sight of land they get told that they are not going to be allowed to go ashore and the frustration is palpable. By this time the British forces have been expelled from France with Dunkirk being the last act of the expeditionary force. So the troops have pent up energy. Colonel Ritchie-Hook instructs Guy to take a secret mission onto the beach to prove that it can be done.

The problems start when Ritchie-Hook is shot in the leg after he manages to behead a native to prove he has made it ashore. The result of the botched raid is hard to hide.

But then once docked in Africa he compounds his error by taking some whisky into the hospital where Apthorpe is ill and manages to help kill him as a result.

Once Ritchie-Hook is well both him and Guy are put on a boat and sent home to face the music.

This manages to convey the frustration and need for constant patience that must have been the case for those watching on the sidelines as France fell. Where could they fight once the nearest battlefields were lost? When could they put their training into operation? And how could they prove to themselves and their country that they had courage and wanted to die for the cause?

A review will follow soon…

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