it is absolutely futile for one inconsequential American to rebel against the unshakable fortress of English tradition. Nearly all of my comrades were used to clear-cut class distinctions in civilian life. It made little difference to them that some of our officers were recruits as raw as were we ourselves. They had money enough and education enough and influence enough to secure the king's commission; and that fact was proof enough for Tommy that they were gentlemen, and, therefore, too good for the likes of him to be associating with.
"Look 'ere! Ain't a gentleman a gentleman? I'm arskin' you, ain't 'e?"
I saw the futility of discussing this question with Tommy. And later, I realized how important for British army discipline such distinctions are.
So great is the force of prevailing opinion that I sometimes found myself accepting Tommy's point of view. I wondered if I was, for some eugenic reason, the inferior of these men whom I had to "Sir" and salute whenever I dared speak. Such lap
Hall, who later combined with Charles Nordhoff to write south sea tales—among them Mutiny on the Bounty—was in England on the outbreak of WW I. He volunteered for the army and served on the front lines for some time, later joining the Lafayette Escadrille. So, plenty of combat experience.
This book is primarily his memoir of Tommy Atkins, with a little about French civilians and some anecdotes of Fritz on the other side of the lines. Although it follows Hall through enlistment and the recruiting sergeant's bad advice, through training and into two different sectors of the front, we learn only a modest amount concerning Hall himself, mostly by reading between the lines.
A good story, almost always upbeat, and highly complimentary regarding Tommy.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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