Tuesday 9 June 2020

Patrol by Fred Majdalany #RandomThingsTours @I_W_M @angelemarymar #wartimeclassics BLOG TOUR #Patrol

1943, the North African desert. Major Tim Sheldon, exhausted and battle weary, is asked to carry out a futile and unexpected patrol mission. Fred Majdalany’s intimate, tense novel puts this so-called minor mission centre stage, as over the course of the day and during the patrol itself, Sheldon reminisces about his time as a soldier, his own future, and what it means to confront fear.

I am delighted to feature Patrol by Fred Madjalany on Random Things today, as part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

Patrol by Fred Madjalany was published in April by Imperial War Museum as part of their Wartime Classic Series

April 2020 the Imperial War Museum published two more novels in their Wartime Classics Series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim. 
The novels were all written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. 

Following the IWM’s commitment to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand, each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the battle.

Set in 1943, Patrol is a short, intimate novel following a small group of men on a night-time patrol in the North African desert. Major Tim Sheldon, close to battle exhaustion, is unexpectedly asked to carry out the mission and this atmospheric, tense novel puts this so-called minor action centre stage, as over the course of the day and during the patrol itself, Sheldon reminisces about his time as a soldier, his own future, and what it means to confront fear.

Patrol was a bestseller when it was first published in 1953. Clearly autobiographical, it is based on Fred Madjalany’s own experiences in Tunisia as part of the North African campaign, in particular his command of a night patrol and his time in hospital when wounded. The fictional battalion in the novel is based on 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers into which Madjalany was commissioned in 1940. Infantry battalions such as this were constantly in action with little respite, and the officers were very young by peace time standards. The stress of battle aged them considerably. Madjalany’s wife Sheila Howarth wrote, ‘I believe in Patrol he was writing his epitaph’. 
He suffered a stroke in 1957 and died ten years later when the specialist commented ‘the war killed him.’

Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) has written an introduction to each book that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background. He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’. 


‘If poetry was the supreme literary form of the First World War then, as if in riposte, in the Second World War, the English novel came of age. This wonderful series is an exemplary reminder of that fact. Great novels were written about the Second World War and we should not forget them.’

‘It’s wonderful to see these four books given a new lease of life because all of them are classic novels from the Second World War written by those who were there, experienced the fear, anguish, pain and excitement first-hand and whose writings really do shine an incredibly vivid light onto what it was like to live and fight through that terrible conflict.’
JAMES HOLLAND, Historian, author and TV presenter

‘The Imperial War Museum has performed a valuable public service by reissuing these four absolutely superb novels covering four very different aspects of the Second World War. I defy you to choose which is best: I keep changing my mind!’
ANDREW ROBERTS, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny 

Extract from 'Patrol'

TEN O’CLOCK in the morning, a Monday in the middle of the war. The grey middle when nobody is winning and hope is frozen. Early 1943, but it might have been any other year in the middle of any other war. For the middle winters of war are always the same: grey, timeless, nobody winning.

In a club in St. James’s Street, London, an old man stiffly lowered the Daily Telegraph he was reading and leaned towards the next chair. A faded spark of aggression struggled fleetingly with the senile glaze of his eyes.

‘Why don’t they get on?’ the old man said. ‘What are they waiting for? Why don’t they get on?’
The communique from Algiers said: ‘Nothing to report. Patrol activity.’ It had said the same for many mornings.
In Algiers the staff of Allied Forces Headquarters – which seemed now to fill half the town – sat in their offices in the requisitioned hotels and houses and office buildings, attending to their morning mail. As they dealt with documents concerning such diverse matters as gun parts, venereal disease statistics, harbour installations, personnel appointments, special clothing for docks operating companies, summer underwear for nursing personnel, modifications to anti-tank mine fuses, psychiatric treatment at certain base hospitals, faulty ammunition, discipline, boots, and troop movement (to mention a tiny fraction of what lay before them) they grumbled about the weather and chattered pleasantly about their social life. About local families with whom they had become friendly; of the headway or otherwise being made with this or that young woman; of places they had found where you could get something tolerable to cat; of how boring they were beginning to find Algiers. As they slit open the endless buff envelopes and passed the contents, with a. scrawl in the margin, to someone else to worry about, many of the male staff officers made dates with the female staff officers, who were now arriving in considerable numbers. 

Frederick Majdalany (1913 – 1967) was the son of a Manchester- based Lebanese family. 
His original first name was Fareed, which he changed to Frederick or Fred. 
He was also known as ‘Maj’. 
He worked as a journalist, drama critic and theatre publicist pre-war. 
He volunteered in 1939 and was commissioned in 1940, serving in North Africa and Italy. 
He was wounded at the Battle of Medjez-el-Bab, returning to the battalion five weeks later with the rank of captain, later promoted to major, and commanded a company. 
His unit landed at Taranto in September 1943, where he was awarded the Military Cross during the Italian campaign. 
In October 1944 he returned home to become an instructor at an officer cadet training unit, which he later commanded, until demobilization in November 1945. 
After the war Majdalany resumed his career as a journalist and also worked for the BBC on historical scripts for radio and TV. 
He published novels and military histories, all of which were very well received. 
He was also involved with International PEN. 
He died in 1967. 

No comments:

Post a Comment