The Last of the Greatest Generation
“Censored” is a fascinating and rare glimpse into the daily life of a WWII artillery officer through over 100 letters and extracts from his diaries. The letters were written to his mother from the time he was called up in 1939 until demob in 1946.
These are rare wartime documents with superb descriptive writing, made more remarkable by the fact he was only 20 when he started writing them. He kept up the flow of letters to his anxious mother even when in battle, and long after the battle was over he would describe it in detail.
The letters begin with his signing up for duty, building new camps for the troops, officer training classes, mock battles, the daily grind of being a soldier until he is finally sent overseas in 1942. Many of the letters are very humerous and insightful.
He made the most of his time in the war by taking advantage of the opportunities to travel, sight-see and study. His optimism of survival is hard to imagine. In many of the letters it is difficult to believe a war was actually going on as he engaged in a pre-wartime social life of going to concerts and operas, wining and dining a rotation of Italian signorinas and throwing parties. His active social life is interspersed with tales of various humerous mishaps and antics that transpired during his time on duty, as well detailed descriptions of war and his changing living conditions.
In 1942 he was sent to Kirkuk, Iraq to guard the oil wells. Then he drove thousands of miles across the deserts of Iraq, Palestine and Syria until he reached Cairo. He fought at Enfidaville, Tunisia, then landed on the beaches of Salerno, Italy in one of the greatest invasions of Italy. He fought at Monte Cassino and up through Italy during the Italian Campaign. These events are all described in minute detail.
He taught himself Italian and was fluent enough to be the battalion's translator. Towards the end of the war he was given the job of monitoring the olive oil black market. His knowledge of German put him in charge of a German generals' POW camp in Italy where he played bridge with the colonel.
This is a must read for the history buff and an entertaining and informative historical memoir.
Censored is a must read for anyone interested in knowing more about WWII and the intimate everyday details of an active-duty English soldier's life. The letters, written by the author's father, are chock full of details that bring humor and insight to what otherwise could be another dismal story of war.
Sher Davidson, Author
Under the Salvadoran Sun
Rosalie Hewins had the foresight to cherish and publish her father's WW2 letters. Her father candidly wrote about the pulse and danger that Britain was in, and conveyed it beautifully in his endearing, heartfelt and personal letters to his mother. This is a must read which stands out from other books of this genre.
I recently read Censored. I am not an avid reader but have always had an interest in military history, so found this book particularly appealing. It showed a wholly different slant on most "war stories", not usually found in films, books or news-reels of the time. It dealt with the experiences of one young man on his journey halfway round the world and back to Europe as a member of the British Armed Forces at a time of great danger. Whilst war is generally portrayed as horrendous and unnecessary, this book deals with the many and varied opportunities and experiences afforded to Arthur "Pat" Holder from 1939 until 1946 during his service career. It reveals that without the outbreak of WWII, his outlook on later life would have been very much different. I found the book a very easy read, conveniently broken down into relatively short chapters, most suitable for bedtime reading. A true travelogue, interspersed with a soldier's view of army active service during the Second World War. Pat S. Baldwin May 2020
Censored provided a fascinating picture of a historic time seen through this officer's eyes. How wonderful it would be to have known this person who was so full of love for opera, piano, symphonies and dance etc. He was a gourmet who appreciated fine living despite not always being able to experience it. Amazingly, he also found time to love the ladies, languages and learning in general. Pat was truly a Renaissance man.
I just finished my summer book "Censored". I couldn't get enough of it and was sad to see it end. It's about a WW2 Artillery Officer from Britain who is posted to the Middle East, Africa and Italy for 6 years. It begins with his training in England and leads up to the time he is sent by ship to Iraq to guard the oil wells. Pat knew the war would drag on so he tried to enjoy his life as much as possible in between battles behind the guns, all the while applying for transfers to less dangerous posts and ultimately landing a job as an olive oil inspector near Florence for a short while. He billeted with an opera singer in Florence. He wined and dinednumerous Italian girls and enjoyed a dizzying social life of opera, dancing and concerts. At the same time, he taught himself Italian and also kept up his German language skills which enabled him to be posted in charge of a German POW camp at the end of the war.
We learned of all his travels through the many letters he wrote to his mother, who sent him clothes and knitted him socks: sent him care packages with home-baked cakes and cigarettes. By the end of the war he had a nice little business selling cigarettes which his mother supplied at a rate of 500-1000 a time.
He roasted in the deserts, froze in the Italian mountains, picked fruit from the lemon, almond and fig trees. He had a narrow brush with death in Tunisia but was lucky for the rest of the war.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and didn't want it to end. It's a very good read, a great travel book, and entertaining. I couldn't wait to read the next letter to find out where he was going next. "Censored" has something for everyone's interests. I highly recommend it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I grew up in Nottingham, England listening to the stories my father recounted of his humorous antics during WWII. I was always, and still am, fascinated by them. He never talked about the battles - just the fun stuff. I had always intended to publish the letters and originally started transcribing them in 1993 but got distracted. Finally in 2018, 2 years after his death, with all the original letters in my hand and determined to get them published, I started working on editing and transcribing them again. As I typed, I relived the war through his eyes and words. I was there with him - my dear father who is no longer with us.
Following in my father's footsteps, I have had a lifelong interest in travel, history and foreign languages. I am intrigued by cultural differences among different societies, just as he described in his letters.
For the history lover, this is a great book of historical non-fiction.
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