Anthology of Anecdotes from France and Flanders 1914-1918
£11.95. (1986 price)
Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., Brunswick Road, Gloucester.
[This review first appeared in Stand To! N0.16 Spring 1986]
John Laffin has clearly been collecting unconsidered anecdotes of the war on the Western Front for a very long time to be able to compile this anthology. Some stories appear to be drawn from published sources (unacknowledged, like the maps), some from unpublished sources, some are doubtless apocryphal, and some are undoubtedly true. Happened on by chance and read in context they might very well illuminate the life of the British soldier on the Western Front and bring it sharply into hard-edged focus. Here, strung end to-end like pieces of bunting, their power to move is immeasurably diminished and what survives is the unfortunate and rather cloying aftertaste of sentimentality.