THE THIN YELLOW LINE by William Moore

THE THIN YELLOW LINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The official government records of British court-martials and military executions for cowardice during World War I will be available to the public in 2017. One journalist was not willing to wait until then, and his account of this ignominious chapter in English history makes for investigative reporting at its best. Moore traces the Army's code of iron-handed discipline to the Duke of Wellington whose view of ordinary soldiers as ""scum"" and ""fodder"" was inherited by World War I commanders, contributing to the more than 300 cases of soldiers shot for ""disciplinary"" offenses (sleeping while on sentry duty, insubordination, and becoming somehow detached from one's regiment). That these soldiers were tried without counsel, often denied the right to call witnesses in their own defense, and usually notified of their sentences only a few hours before they were to be carried out suggests why the government might be concerned about the day the records become public. These grim procedures are corroborated via eyewitness interviews, long-saved letters-from-the-front, and other government records including medical reports and parliamentary debates. The evidence stands as a searing indictment of the British High Command in France as well as of elected officials at home. Another perspective on the horror that was World War I.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1975
Publisher: St. Martin's