1st July 1916. Battle of the Somme. After seven days of preliminary bombardment 140,000 British soldiers assault the German front line on a fourteen-mile front from Serre in the north to Maricourt in the south. At 0730 hours Sergeant Fortunatus Berriman of the Somerset Light Infantry clambers out of the trenches near The Nab to race across no-mans-land amidst the machine-gun, rifle and shell fire at the head of his platoon of men. He is broiling with hatred, hellbent and headlong into violence, motivated not by patriotism or loyalty to his men but single-minded vengeance directed at 2nd Lieutenant Richardson, his commanding officer and nemesis. Somewhere up ahead, through the smoke, bullets, bombs and trenches his officer is fighting with the first wave of infantry. Nothing is going to stand in his way, not even the German army. He will get his revenge before a sniper’s bullet finds its mark, the perfect cover for a well-deserved execution.
My Personal Layman’s Review-Me being me
The author’s writing style is superb. He could probably write school-worthy history books that would actually capture the attention of the usually bored-out-of-their-mind teens/college students. My great-great uncle suffered from severe PTSD and I thought of him, frequently, while reading this novel. The horrors, the hate, the death, the desperation, the spirituality, and the paranormal; all of it hit home for me. I felt this book. He writes like he was there and he pulled me in with him.
I was raised on the wars of 20th century, as most of my elders were veterans, so this novel immediately caught my eye. I highly recommend this novel for lovers of Historical Fiction, Military Historical Fiction, and WWI Fiction. There are triggers, for those in need of warning.
I was moved by the writing. The vivid detail put me in the story, as if I was a bystander witnessing the events, personally. Being one whose heard first-person accounts of WWI, this was on the mark; the author is brilliant and his research is evident.
Some scenes are utterly gut-wrenching, and I couldn’t help but feel completely heartbroken for our characters. At other times, I was absolutely furious, as I was reminded of society’s checkered past and how it dealt wrongly with the effects of the war. It was dark in a way that most war novels need to be, but it has uplifting moments that even out the flow. The spiritual aspect was introduced beautifully, and the battle scenes were literary adrenaline.
As a whole, it’s a written spectrum of events that when brought together, make a beautiful read
I received a complimentary copy via Reedsy Discovery-a fabulous way to discover extraordinary authors. This is my honest opinion and unscripted review.
About This Literary Chef
Writer, historian, family history researcher, battlefield tour guide, wargamer, husband, father and home office hermit, D G Baulch lives in North Somerset surrounded by books, paintings, artefacts, uniforms and weapons from the First World War period. He spent his childhood years in Street, Somerset, attending Millfield School where a passion for writing was cultivated. Dusty boxes in the attic still contain half-finished short stories, printed on a dot matrix printer, using fledgling word processing software in the days of the ZX Spectrum and BBC Model B computers.
In 2013 he led his first tour of the battlefields of Belgium and France, uniting relatives with the stories and graves of great uncles and great-grandfathers. As interest surged during 2014-2018, he conducted battlefield tours throughout 2015 then changed focus from singular research to concentrate on the Battle of the Sambre, 1918, organising and hosting a large commemorative event, gathering relatives of the dead in the village of Locquignol, France on 4th November 2018.
Having absorbed so much from the stories of the fallen, a work of fiction on the subject became a reality in 2016 when the “sergeant in a shell hole” concept was born.
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