Reiver by David Pilling

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tales of Old...


...when knights were bold, etc. Unusually for me, this particular tale, 'Nightingales', has nothing to do with knights and castles, but is a ghost story set in Wales during the First World War. Tales of Old, an online audio magazine for historical short fiction, have kindly put it up as a podcast.

World War I has always fascinated me. The old BBC comedy series, Blackadder Goes Forth, has stayed with me over the years, especially its depiction of British generals as arrogant port-brained buffoons who cheerfully sent their men off to be slaughtered in the trenches. This view has been challenged in recent years by historians such as Andrew Roberts, and certainly the German tactics were no wiser. Even so, I find it difficult to walk past the equestrian statue of Field Marshall Douglas Haig on Whitehall, without wanting to give it a kick.

Words don't come easily when writing about this subject, but the scale of the casualties inflicted on both sides during the 'Great War' still beggars belief. The Battle of the Somme, for instance, was considered a tactical Allied victory, even though 'we' suffered six hundred thousand casualties in just under five months.

Six hundred thousand.

Enjoy the story.

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