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Sunday, 9 December 2012

General Sir Peter de la Billiere - Supreme Courage

review live on show by Sue Major 6th December 2012 “ Supreme Courage “ tells of the development of the Victoria cross and the stories of some of the recipients of it during the 19th and 20th centuries. . The VC was developed for those under military orders ( that meant men) who “ showed conspicuous courage and bravery under circumstances of extreme danger”, and was first awarded by Queen Victoria in June 1857( who was riding side-saddle in public for the first time!!) Interestingly, 1919 the King extended the possibility of being awarded the VC to women as well as men..... The stories span campaigns and wars , and are all poignant reminders of selfless service by modest men. One such brave and courageous man was Captain Noel Chavasse a member of the Royal Army medical Corps who was posthumously awarded the VC for refusing to leave the men around him as one after another fell at Passchendale in 1917. He died with them . Another Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis of the Green Howards gained his VC for outstanding courage at the Normandy landings in 1944, capturing two pillboxes and 26 German prisoners , before going out under heavy fire to rescue two men in his Company. Sir Peter de la Billiere was of course a career soldier,

commissioned into the Durham Light Infantry in the 1950s.  He saw active service in Korea, Egypt, the Middle and Far East , much of it with the SAS.
His book is I suppose a very masculine one, with much use of words like heroism, gallantry, bravery. It's written with  an unsentimental soldier's eye for military detail but the reader can't help but feel the  author's admiration for these courageous men.

I found the book fascinating.....would I read it again? Probably not. Has it enlightened, entertained and amazed me? Definitely yes.

                                                                     Sue Major

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