It’s my turn on the BlogTour Mailed Fist by John Foley, it’s another novel in the Wartime Classics series by the Imperial War Museum. Mailed Fist will cost £8.99. It is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered at their online shop here: Mailed-Fist-(IWM-Wartime-Classic)
Based on the author’s own experience with the British Army, Mailed Fist is reprinted in a new edition including an introduction from IWM, putting the work into historical context and shining a light on this fascinating experience of the Second World War.
About the Author
Major John Foley (1917–1974) was a British Army officer, author and broadcaster. He served in the British Army from 1936 until 1954 and attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and passed out from officer training in 1943. Subsequently, Foley became a troop commander in the 107th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (King’s Own).
He was awarded an MBE for his service with the unit during the North-West Europe campaign. He then became a military reporter and later worked in the Directorate of Public Relations at the War Office.
About the book
In April 1943, newly commissioned John Foley is posted to command Five Troop and their trusty Churchill tanks Avenger, Alert, and Angler – thus begins his initiation into the Royal Armoured Corps. Covering the trials of training, embarkation to France and battle experience through Normandy, the Netherlands, the Ardennes campaign and into Germany, Foley’s intimate and detailed account follows the fate of this group of men in the latter stages of the Second World War: If this book can be said to be a history of anything, it is a history of Five Troop. Not of the squadron, or of the regiment.
If anybody wants to know what happened in other troops, or in other squadrons, it’s all recorded painstakingly in the War Diaries and lodged in a Records Office somewhere.
To get the real gist of where Foley is coming from in this largely biographical and only lightly fictional story about Five Troop and his experiences with said troop, is the fact he doesn’t present it as an experience of the regiment or squadron. It’s more a band of brothers excerpt – one small moment of many between a few.
I think that in itself is indicative of what Foley wanted to share with his readers. The comprehension and acknowledgement of individuals in the vast numbers of participants. Small moments of brotherhood and bonding, of acceptance and survival.
One of the most poignant and prophetic sentences in the book is the author referencing the finishing touches being made to the atom bomb – ‘starting a chain reaction which hasn’t finished yet.’ He couldn’t have been more correct, we have lived in the shadow of this destructive invention and the consequences of its potential ever since. I think our current situation right now, dealing with a megalomaniacal dictator, who wouldn’t think twice about becoming a continuation of said chain reaction.
It’s a piece of war literature that has faded into the background, like many others of great importance – I can only commend the Imperial War Museum for reprinting and introducing all of these important works to new generations.