Friday, May 02, 2008

Officers and Gentlemen - post III

Waugh is expert at describing the confusion, fear and fatigue that settles on soldiers as they actually enter a war zone. After weeks of mucking about in Egypt Guy and co. are put on boats and shipped out to Crete.

The idea is to hold the island but when they get there, after an eventful journey where the officer in charge Tommy Blackhouse breaks his leg, they pull into harbour and into chaos.

The island is falling and in rapid retreat and Hookforce gets deployed in confusion and in some cases with disastrous consequences. Guy and the officer who takes over, Hound, struggle to get to grips with the situation and are parted in the confusion.

Waugh then interestingly takes up the story of Hound leaving you wondering what has happened to Guy. In a brilliant couple of pages he describes Hound crawling into a culvert and falling a sleep after days without sleep and food. Despite the real prospect of being overrun by Germans and left behind on the island the solider cannot keep going.

It makes you think about those people that drop by the wayside on marches through the desert and the snows of Siberia.

The madness of war is the waiting, confusion and the randomness of death – all elements that Waugh manages to mix up expertly.

More later…

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