The Unreturning Army : The Classic Memoir of a Field Gunner in Flanders
Nearly 100 years have passed since the guns blazed in the ever-deepening mud of Passchendaele. Yet places such as Ypres, the Marne and the Somme can never remain mere names in a chronicle of war - they are heavy with meaning as the setting for the near-destruction of a generation of men. It is this aura of tragedy that makes Huntly Gordon's book - consisting mainly of his own letters written home from the front - such a potent memoir.
Gordon was a typical product of his generation - sensitive, intelligent, unpretentious; capable of detached, trenchant and reasoned judgement. As the glorious summer of 1914 drew to a close, it was difficult for the 16 year-old Gordon to realize that the world he had planned and prepared for at Clifton College was a world in which he now had to prepare for war. By 1916 he had left school, and after an intensive and ill-balanced course at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, Royal Field Artillery.
In June 1917, he was at the Ypres Salient, getting his 'baptism' at Hell Fire Corner in one of those intensive artillery duels that formed the prologue to Passchendaele in July 1917 before being engaged for six weeks in the havoc of the battle itself. In the opening months of 1918, his battery was to fight a series of rearguard actions near Baupaume during the brutal German offensive of 21 March. A transfer to a quiet sector to rest and refit was eventually possible, but they arrived there just in time to face the final German onslaught of 12 April...In The Unreturning Army Huntly Gordon recalls his experiences of a tumultuous conflict and field of battle that seem almost inconceivable to us now.
And his words, for the most part written at the time, have an immediacy, freshness and poignancy that will not fail to enlighten and astonish and move the reader of today.
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