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HUMANITIES 547 comfort with his situation was enhanced when he married in 1948 and appeared to be settling down for a long stay. In his last letter to friends in England~ he noted the burdens of increasing tension in the factory. 'Life is too short to spend in a constant state of mental stress.' But there was his new home and the possibility of a very attractive new contract when he returned from his long leave. He was, however, denied any choice when he died ten days later in a violent labour dispute. Turnbull was aware of the new dangers to British managers in Bengal after the transfer of power in 1947, but remained confident that 'his men' would protect him. They tried, but he was swallowed up as a symbolic target. Fred Turnbull's intellectual curiosity and openness to new experience inform these letters, and his untimely death leaves the reader with a sense of loss. It would have been a delight to share more of his life. As a bonus for the scholar of the British imperial experience, the letters enhance our rmderstanding of English society in colonial and postcolonial India. (MILTON ISRAEL) George G. Blackburn. Where the Hell Are the Guns? A Soldier's Eye View ofthe Anxious Years, I 939-44 McClelland and Stewart. 439· $34.99 After the battles in the Scheldt Estuary of October-November 1944, one officer commented on the nature of his days of combat. 'No one has really been in the same places as anyone else,' he insisted~ 'and I refuse to play the game of comparing experiences. Thewhole warseems to me a quite private experience ... Each man talks about a quite different war from mine, and ultimately everyone is separated from everyone by layers of privacy or egoism.' But even if such is the case, there is much we can learn from individual experiences, hence the continuing popularity of biography as a medium for both education and leisure. Whete the Hell Are the Guns? A Soldier's Eye View ofthe Anxious Years, 1939-44 is such a work, the autobiography of a gunner which has far more to relate than the experiences of a single individual. It is, first of all, a fount of information on daily life, with an entire chapter describing the town of Pembroke at war. After getting to England~ Blackburn points out how the Blitz, the ongoing bombing of British cities by night, was as much a part of the soldier's experience as it was of the civilian's. Accommodation in holding and training camps could range from prison-like to palatial (or consist simply of a tent), and food was~ not surprisingly, somethmg of an obsession at times. Homesickness was a constant threat to morale~ but there were also humorous episodes- space only allows me to suggest the reader keep an eye open for the stolen butter 548 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 episode, or Blackburn's trip to the dentist- to help maintain one's psychological balance. For those interested in more traditional issues of training, operations, and equipment, Blackburn offers sufficient detail to satisfy buff, historian, and antiquarian alike. How outdated artillery procedures were eventually replaced with more modern approaches; how training evolved in the course of the war; and how gunners became adept at 'crash actions' are all related in a ma.nner which clarifies even the most complex manoeuvres. Appendices provide even further details on procedures, such as the use of an artillery board and the intricacies of cardinal-point ranging. Proper equipment, Blackburn notes, was a long time comin& usually the case in democracies which must justify peacetime military spending to often suspicious electorates. Finally, Blackburn provides a soldier's view of such issues as the art of soldiering and grand strategy. His comment that 'Overhead, Hurricanes and Spitfires (for the first time seen in numbers) now fly unchallenged, visible proof that Goering's bold promise to wipe the skies clean of British aircraft has not been fulfilled' is just one example of how gunners, privates, or sappers can often make up their own minds how the war is going based on the evidence of their own senses. As for the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 547-548
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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