Review Blog

Jun 21 2010

Somme Mud by Private Edward Lynch

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Edited by Will Davies. Random House Australia, 2010. Abridged Edition.
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. This gripping and memorable account of Private Edward (Nulla) Lynch's experience of the French battlefields during the First World War is highly recommended for students. The story begins with Nulla's departure by ship from Sydney and training near Stonehenge in England before the baptism  of mud and horror in the area of the Somme River during the winter of 1916-1917. Soldiers sink to their knees in mud and have to use blankets to stand on.  Action in the trenches is described in horrifying detail as soldiers are pressed into hand-to-hand combat in a stark landscape full of noise, stench and fragmented bodies. Warfare's effect on the Australians and their enemy, physical courage, psychological disintegration, bravery and acts of mateship are vividly described. Private Lynch is wounded and briefly describes his recuperation back in England before once again going into battle. The reader is amazed at how luck influences life and death situations right up to the German surrender in 1918.
Each chapter is accompanied by a brief introduction that puts the action in appropriate context. Excellent photographs enhance the text which includes attitudes and vocabulary used at the time. A glossary is included as well as maps showing the battlefields and a discussion guide for History students.
Paul Pledger

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