Tuesday 16 June 2020

Warriors For The Working Day by Peter Elstob #RandomThingsTours @I_W_M @angelamarymar @RandomTTours #wartimeclassics

Based on Peter Elstob's own wartime experiences, Warriors for the Working Day follows one tank crew as they proceed from the beaches of Normandy into newly liberated Western Europe, brilliantly evoking the claustrophobia, heat and intensity of tank warfare.

I am delighted to feature Warriors For The Working Day on Random Things today, as part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

Warriors For The Working Day by Peter Elstob was published in April by Imperial War Museum as part of their Wartime Classic Series

‘Few other novels of the war describe the grinding claustrophobia, violence and lethal danger of being in a tank crew with the stark vividness of Peter Elstob. It’s possible to almost smell the fumes and sweat, while the intimate detail of operating such a beast and the camaraderie of the crew are utterly compelling. This is a forgotten classic that deserves to be read and read.’

“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.”

Warriors for the Working Day follows one tank crew as they proceed from training in Aldershot to the beaches of Normandy, and on into the heart of a newly liberated Europe. Closely based on Peter Elstob’s own wartime experiences as a tank commander and radio operator, the novel brilliantly evokes the particular horror of tank warfare – the intense heat and the claustrophobia endured by so many, yet often overlooked.
Life within a British tank was very precarious as they were noticeably inferior to German armour, and were nicknamed Ronsons (cigarette lighters) by their crews as they lit ‘first time, every time.’ The novel also examines battle exhaustion in a way that a 21st century reader will recognise, with men and officers able to experience a certain amount, before fear becomes an overriding obsession.

Warriors for the Working Day is generally recognised as Peter Elstob’s greatest work. Originally published in 1960, it sold nearly a quarter of a million copies and remains one of the finest fictional depictions of life in a tank during the Second World War.

  • Warriors for the Working Day by Peter Elstob is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered here: www.iwmshop.org.uk/pg/114/IWM-Wartime-Classics at the online IWM shop.

Peter Elstob (1915 – 2002) was born in London but educated in New York and New Jersey when his family moved to the USA as a result of his father’s work. He spent a brief period at the University of Michigan and a short stint in the RAF. In 1936 he volunteered as a pilot in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side and published his first novel in 1939, The Spanish Prisoner, based on his experiences in Spain. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he attempted to re-join the RAF but when he was turned down, volunteered for the 3rd Battalion,
Royal Tank Regiment, where he served across Europe and in the Middle East. After the war, Elstob pursued a variety of ventures – he co-ran the Arts Theatre Club in London, founded an artistic and writer’s community in Mexico and attempted a trans-Atlantic balloon flight in 1958. However, his main success was the beauty mask, Yeast Pac, which he and his partner developed and marketed successfully for many years. He wrote several novels and a number of well received military histories, including Hitler’s Last Offensive (1971) about the Battle of the Bulge.

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