THE EBB AND FLOW OF BATTLE by P. J. Campbell

THE EBB AND FLOW OF BATTLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A newly-written memoir of the Western Front in 1918, this joins a recent wave of WW I revivals, the best of which is Frederic Manning's novel, The Middle Parts of Fortune. The talk in the present instance is quite laundered in comparison, and some of the richest deeps of frustration and obscene despair are unexpressed. Campbell, a subaltern (but barely a boy out of school), served in a field artillery brigade of the British Fifth Army, fought at Ypres and Passchendaele, was hospitalized for a tonsillectomy, and returned to duty on the front just in time for a horrendous German putsch. The Germans, having just signed a peace with Russia, are now fighting on only one front and have eagerly massed all their troops for a quick defeat of Britain and France before the American Expeditionary Force arrives. Campbell's is a Yorkshire brigade (he often can't understand their accent) and has great spirit. The surreal retreat goes on for a week of sunny horror, with heartbreaking images of sweet fields and peaceful woods slipping suddenly into madness. Memorable scenes: dinner in a dugout during an evening shelling that lasts 80 minutes while the earth shakes; watching aerial dog fights with helpless frustration as British machines spiral smoking from the sky; the heat of a dream-sultry battle zone after a successful advance. A brief boy's-eye view of battle that leaves a big crater of nostalgia for ""The Last War in History.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's