‘The poignant farewells encapsulate the final words of servicemen to their loved ones before they were killed in action.’ The Telegraph
In this profoundly moving collection of ‘farewell letters’, written by servicemen and women to their loved ones, Siân Price offers a remarkable insight into the hearts and minds of some of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the past 300 years.
Each letter provides an enduring snapshot of an impossible moment – when an individual stares death squarely in the face. Many were written on the eve of a great charge or battle; others were written by soldiers who experienced premonitions of their death, or by kamikaze pilots and condemned prisoners. They write of the grim realities of battle, of daily hardships, of unquestioning patriotism or bitter regrets, of religious fervor or political disillusionment, of unrelenting optimism or sinking morale – but above all, they write of their love for their family and the desire to return to them one day.
Be it an epitaph dictated on a Napoleonic battlefield, a staunch, unsentimental letter written by a Victorian officer, or an email from a soldier in modern day Afghanistan, these voices speak eloquently and forcefully of the tragedy of war and answer that fundamental human need to say goodbye.
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Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
Author's Note x
Foreword Saul Kelly|xi
1 At War with France 7
2 The American Civil War 35
3 The Anglo-Zulu War 68
4 The Boer War 93
5 The Great War 122
6 The Second World War 161
7 The Falklands Conflict 199
8 Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan 230
Picture Credits for Plates 264