Monday, September 1, 2008

No Heroes, No Cowards

Room for a little plug extract from 'No Heroes, No Cowards' by Hawtin Mundy:

"We climbed up the bank on the other side and we went a little way then we stopped and turned round and I looked across No Man's Land. There weren't a shot being fired, but it was lit up like daylight because they kept firing Very lights in the sky. When we looked across there you could see all blokes laying dead all over the place, it were lit up as clear as that. If only a artist, a well known artist could have stood there with us and painted that scene as it was then there and took it back and hung it in the Cabinet headquarters of other countries, they'd never dare declare another war if they sat and looked at that. Years later when we got old, my old darling, she always used to read from the Good Book before we went to sleep. What I can recall mainly was the little bit she used to read "As I passed through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil." I always remembered that and I used to say then, "I did pass through the valley of death and I felt no evil." Those people that I killed, deliberately killed, I didn't hate those chaps, I didn't know them, I didn't. I'm sorry and ashamed for doing it because those young chaps might have been nice young chaps with families with a couple of little kids and all that. It's awful. There's nothing brave about it, heroes and cowards, there's no such thing. I don't believe it."


goneforeign said...

Lovely piece, thank you.
An English email friend recently turned me on to Sebastian Faulks, I've just finished Enderby, [recommended for this audience] and Birdsong is sitting on my desk, I look forward to very much.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ tfd - brilliant - thank you for posting this - I will certainly investigate further.

You might also be interested in this:

goronimmel said...

You mention that this is a plug, presumably for the book 'No heroes, No Cowards'. Could you give us a bit more info. This is the sort of thing I read now in terms of Military History. I've read Military History since I was a boy but it's a long time since I ever thought their was anything heroic about it. I still like to know about the main overeaching strategies but this sort of personal reminisce is what I prefer now.
I have a regret that, when I was a boy my next door neighbour was a WWI veteran but I didn't really question him at the time and when I was sixteen another WWI veteran from my church showed me a gobsmacking photo he had taken from the bottom of his trench (I say 'trench' it was actually just a slight dip in the ground) during Paschendeale. Unfortunately, to my infinate regret I didn't really converse enough with him about it due to the usual teenage problems of having something else to do/think about (i.e. girls, sex, sex and, er, girls).

gordonimmel said...

ofcourse that last comment was by gorDonimmel. I've not turned Croatian overnight, as far as I can tell.

treefrogdemon said...

I used to be in a drama group, in Milton Keynes, that specialised in local documentary plays which we researched and wrote ourselves. We discovered Hawtin when we were doing a play about WW1. Somebody taped hours and hours of interviews with him and eventually these were transcribed and published as a book. The play was very good too!

(Of course we only 'discovered' him in the same way that Columbus did America - he was very well known as a storyteller in Wolverton, where he lived.)

You can get the book from the Living Archive Project in MK.

Shoey said...

After WW1 my Grandad & surviving brothers & cousins, could not find any work in the UK, so many of them became pro- boxers to support their families.

Fights in those days went 20 rounds & some of my relatives racked up over 500 bouts in their careers and that was just the officially sanctioned matches. Often they would travel to a race & take part in an unofficial boxing show to entertain the crowd.

It's amazing to me what that generation, & the one after it, went through to survive.