ISBN 978 1 84884 389 9
An excellent account of Sergeant Murrell's experiences whilst on active service during WWII. The quality of his sketches publish in the book is excellent and the accuracy of his verbose recording of events seems to be good and he wrote them down just after they had occurred and often while they occurred. Murrell, who had already served with the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards before the war from 1933 to 1937, served the whole war with the same Infantry Battalion but during the spring of 1940 he was attached to General Headquarters, Royal Corps of Signals as a temporary relief and in 1944 – 1945 he served with the Intelligence Section of the Battalion. These two sections of his diaries are covered in the book. Because of his pre-war service he seems to have had the attitude more like that of a regular than that of a conscript to the war and to the British Army. Most clearly this is shown when in 1940 he had got to sand dunes near Dunkirk and was told by a staff officer that it was not just an evacuation of non-combatant troops, but the whole BEF, Murrell found it impossible to believe that a British Army can be beaten by a German one.
He didn’t participate the actual fighting but in 1940 he experienced the chaos of the retreat to Dunkirk and the air attacks, once he was waiting German armour armed with a Boys Anti-Tank rifle, on which he noted that “We have little confidence in the weapon, and our belief is that it is ineffective except against something like a Bren gun-carrier. Against a tank I think it would be quite useless – even against a light one.” So he had fairly accurate prediction on Boys capabilities, even if a bit too pessimistic, in fact .55in Boys A/T rifle was capable to pierce even the frontal armour of the German light PzKfw I tank and that of un-up armoured light PzKfw II, which was the status of some 30 % of the German PzKfw IIs in May 1940, from a short distance. Only the sides and the rear of the up armoured PzKfw IIs, 70% of the stock, were vulnerable to Boys.
In 1944 – 1945 he served with the Intelligence Section of the battalion which formed a part of the infantry component of the Guards Armoured Division. So his story isn’t that of a front line rifleman even if he took part some combat patrols onto no-man’s land without contact with the enemy but he experienced lot of artillery fire, mortaring and the ʽMoaming Minnies’ German Nebelwerfer multiple rocket-launching projectors fire, the latter he hated most of the German artillery weapons. He tells what it was to sit in one’s trench during a heavy artillery barrage. While not participating to the sharp edge of combats his position with the intelligence section allowed wider picture on situations than that of a man in the foremost foxholes.
At the beginning of the each chapter there is a short general view of the situation, in 1940 from the viewpoint of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and in 1944 - 1945 from the viewpoint of the Guards Armoured Division, so the reader gets some background information on the events Murrell describes.
So a book well worth of its price and highly recommended.