WWI commemoration – Donald Hankey

Sometimes I come across books which unite several areas of interest. The Stephen Cooper books such as “The Final Whistle” are a case in point, combining rugby and WWI. “The Beloved Captain”, which I came across in a second hand shop and picked up simply because I rather liked the title and the plain cover. This book – a little collection of chapters from the longer work “A Student in Arms” – combines observations on a soldier’s life during WWI with reflections upon faith and religion which are totally apt for Lent.

Hankey’s an interesting person, whose words are very much of his time. And some of his musings are distinctly slashy, although – as ever – we need to remember that today is not yesterday and that we have a habit of interpreting things differently now.

The first chapter describes an officer, Ronald Hardy, in glowing terms that verge on hero worship. The bit about Hardy’s smile, “It was something worth living for and worth working for”, reminds me of The Charioteer, where Laurie remembers Ralph Lanyon at school, and how boys competed to earn one of his smiles.

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