Friday, January 28, 2005
Book Number 5
2004 was the 60th anniversary of the other front when Allied troops fought their way up Italy. Canadian troops played a crucial role in this 20-month campaign to liberate Italy. It was the first major land operation in which the Canadian Army stationed in Great Britain took part.
One mans account of part of this campaign can be found in the book And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat. Mowat's "Canadian Icon" status has come under fire in the last few years because of questions raised about the veracity of a few of his early novels. Whether or not that is the case in this book remains to be seen but in any event, he has written a powerful tale.
Young Farley dreams of joining the battle against the Huns from his family home in Saskatchewan. When he finally does get into the regiment they cool their heels in Great Britain for quite awhile. Finally, the Canadian troops are sent to spearhead the frontline in Sicily and southern Italy and Mowat gets in the action.
The book brilliantly describes the arc of the naive, eager soldier seeing men destroyed mentally and physically then becoming hardened to the horrors of war. Mowat is a clear and engaging writer who takes us into the heart of what it was to be a soldier in WWII.
The edition I read would have been better if it had a map that we could follow the progress geographically.
Posted by Jason L