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Once a Hussar: A Memoir of Battle, Capture, and Escape in World War II
     

Once a Hussar: A Memoir of Battle, Capture, and Escape in World War II

by Ray Ellis
 

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Once a Hussar is a vivid account of the wartime experiences of Ray Ellis, a gunner who in later life recorded this well-written, candid, and perceptive memoir of the conflict he knew as a young man seventy years ago.

As an impressionable teenager, filled with national pride, he was eager to join the army and fight for his country. He enlisted in the South

Overview


Once a Hussar is a vivid account of the wartime experiences of Ray Ellis, a gunner who in later life recorded this well-written, candid, and perceptive memoir of the conflict he knew as a young man seventy years ago.

As an impressionable teenager, filled with national pride, he was eager to join the army and fight for his country. He enlisted in the South Notts Hussars at the beginning of the Second World War and started a journey that would take him through fierce fighting in the Western Desert, the deprivation suffered in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp and a daring escape to join the partisan forces in the Appenines.

His story is an honest and moving memoir that relays graphic eyewitness accounts of the horrors of warfare, but it also reveals the surprising triumphs of the human spirit in times of great hardship. Ellis’s self-deprecating humor skillfully counters the harsh realities related in a personal recollection of a war that claimed so many young lives. Featuring twenty-six rare photographs from Ellis’s life and experiences, Once a Hussar is a compelling and deftly told account of one soldier’s life in the Second World War.

Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-06-11
Not a reprint or a lost manuscript but a freshly written, top-notch memoir by a former British artilleryman now in his 90s.Like most middle-class British youths, Ellis was less concerned with Nazism than the excitement of an approaching war. “A continual backdrop of international tension accompanied the years of my transition from boyhood to manhood,” writes the author. In 1938, after considering various services, he joined the Hussars, formerly elite cavalry but now artillery. Readers will share Ellis’ dismay at the abysmal state of his nation’s rearmament as he and his mates encountered squalid facilities, foul food (even before rationing) and guns that were usually too old to function. By early 1940, his unit moved to Egypt for a painful introduction to desert campaigning with another group of soldiers who remained disorganized and poorly equipped. Fortunately, the author’s baptism of fire occurred against the Italian forces, who were even worse off. A year later, the newly arrived German Africa Corps routed the British, and Ellis’ unit found itself trapped in Tobruk during the legendary nine-month siege. Afterward, his unit advanced only to be wiped out in the April 1942 German offensive. During the fighting, most of his friends died. Ellis was captured and endured horrendous deprivations as a prisoner before escaping to live with surprisingly hospitable Italian peasants in Northern Italy until Allied forces drew near. Neither cynical nor nostalgic, the memoir is an engrossing account of life in the old British army, the actions of artillerymen in battle (exhausting and no less dangerous than infantry fighting), and the author’s experiences after capture, which required more moral fiber than battle.Readers will yearn for the sequel,Always a Hussar, not yet published in theUnited States.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781628737295
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
09/02/2014
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


Ray Ellis joined the South Notts Hussars in 1939 and served overseas as an artilleryman in Palestine, Egypt and the Western Desert, taking part in the battles fought at Tobruk and Knightsbridge where he was captured. He survived extreme privations as a prisoner of war, escaped and lived for a year on the run in the mountains of central Italy. After the war he became a teacher and, in retirement, wrote this remarkable memoir. He lives in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, England.

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