To date, there exists no full length study of World War Two told from the perspective of the British infantryman: The Poor Bloody Infantry corrects this oversight. As both a military and a social history of British infantrymen, The Poor Bloody Infantry tells the story from a ‘ground level’ perspective and builds to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the experiences and thoughts of the British infantryman in the war in the West. Primarily written from interviews conducted by the author, the text follows the chronology of the war, looking at the ever changing world of the infantryman.
The author follows the story of the British infantryman from the outbreak of war, through their training, onto the battlefield, all the way to VE-Day then beyond, examining the long term impact of combat upon veterans. By primarily focussing on infantrymen from a core group of regiments – particularly those which fought in France in 1940, North Africa, Italy, then North-West Europe – the author builds a cohesive narrative in which their individual experiences act as a microcosm of the British infantryman’s experience of war.
Throughout the text, individual experiences are used to illustrate certain themes and lead into wider discussion of those themes: The author balances the experience of soldiers on the battlefield with their lifestyle and behaviour when out of the frontline; the text examines the behaviour of infantrymen in periods of calm, covering topics such as sex, alcohol and their changing attitudes towards death, religion and politics; The full horrors of war are covered, in particular the stresses and strains of combat; Taking the story beyond battle, the author examines the experiences of wounded soldiers looking at the physical and mental pain they endured, their experiences of recovery and recuperation and the long term effects of wounding; The high rate of attrition is shown, examining the extreme personnel shortages endured by the British Army during the final stages of the war.
Born in Bedford in 1965, Sean Longden first became interested in history as a child listening to his grandfather’s tales of Gallipoli. He went on to study history at the School of Slavonic and East European studies, University of London. After graduation he worked in a number of photographic archives and press agencies. During this period he worked as a picture editor, indexer and caption writer.It was working with archives of World War Two photographs that sparked his interest in the period and inspired him to write books that look beyond basic military history and into the lives of ...
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