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DARKENING DECEMBER
A short anecdote from the Great War
by Peter Branchastre

This first novel, ‘A short anecdote from the Great War’, follows the fortunes of six young friends as they join a Pals Battalion at the start of WW1 and then train and deploy to the Western Front in time for the Somme offensive of 1916. Branchastre describes himself as ‘neither a writer nor a historian’, but one who was bought up and educated by veterans of one type or another who imbued him with a deep respect for our military history and those who created it. He writes in an unsentimental and occasionally unpolished manner to present a crystal-clear eyed view of life as a young soldier as momentum gathers towards commitment to battle and then the complete confusing awfulness of the combat itself. The chapters describing how these men fought through the first day of the Somme are the crux of the novel and impossible to put down. Horrible, terrifying and yet encouraging all at the same time. He deals particularly well with placing his subjects into the context of such a vast undertaking while ensuring we understand just how little each individual could see at a time and absolutely captures their developing understanding and leadership abilities as they adapt to the completely alien situation in which they all find themselves. An eye opening and thought provoking read which is hopefully just the first of a series following the main protagonists as they negotiate the major historical events of the last century. 

Simon Sosk

Brown Dog Books

© Crown Copyright