Mac departed for Africa leaving behind him a wife and four daughters but, as he departed, he was completely unaware that his wife was, in fact, giving birth to their next child—their fist son—whom he would not see for over two years. On the same day that he left the United Kingdom, Mac decided to start a personal diary of his experiences during the war. This he kept religiously until the date of his return to the United Kingdom and his long-awaited reunion with his family some twenty-seven months later.
For many years after his death, Mac’s wartime diaries remained forgotten about until his daughter, Janice, discovered and transcribed them into a publishable format.
The result, Diary of a Common Soldier, is a true and detailed record of her father’s wartime experiences Ighting along the coast of North Africa and then onto into Libya and Egypt. It offers a fascinating and moving insight into the hardships and challenges that soldiers needed to overcome just to survive.
Throughout his diaries, Mac records his constant battle to cope with dust and sand in the equipment through to the endless search for supplies, water and fuel needed just to keep the company mobile.
Very often, their problems were compounded by poor sanitation, military red tape; whilst the terrain threw up its own challenges in the form of ants, clouds of flies, snakes, scorpions and spiders.
This was an existence only made barely tolerable by the sporadic air mail letters that he received containing news of his friends and family back at home in England along with the small snippets of war news that were broadcast by the BBC.
Despite its often sad and moving re^ections on army life during the Second World War, ‘Diary of a Common Soldier’ is not without its moments of dark and sardonic humour. It features poignant social comment from a man who often found more empathy with the POWs that he guarded than he did from from his own officers.
Mac has left behind him a truly valuable and insightful record of an important time in modern history and a pivotal time in World War Two. It is a story that will resonate deeply in the minds of both military men and the loved ones that they left behind them.