Secret Journals of a World War II Rifleman
Author: F R McMillan | Format: eBook | Published: 19 December 2012 | ISBN: 978-1-909370-07-4
The secret, brutally honest, daily diary of an everyday soldier, serving in the British army in the Middle East during the second world war.
Have you ever wondered what life was like for the average soldier during World War 2?
This diary contains no heroic deeds that shaped the destiny of millions. Instead, it is a real-life, honest account of the day-to-day life of one man, miles from his family, struggling to remain alive in a hostile world.
In June 1941, ‘Mac’ McMillan then aged 27, left his job as a baker’s roundsman and was drafted into the B Company of the 9th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. Following a period of intense training, Mac and his fellow companions left England and to the sound of a marching band and cheering locals they sailed off for their tour of duty in North Africa.
Mac left 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 first son—whom he would not see for over two years.
On the day that he left Mac decided to start a personal diary through which to catalogue his experiences throughout the war. This he kept religiously until the date of his return to England some twenty-seven months later.
For many years after his death, Mac’s wartime diaries remained forgotten about until his daughter, Janice, happend to discover them one day,
The result of her edited and transcribed work is the remarkable Diary of a Common Soldier– a true and detailed record of her father’s wartime experiences first fighting along the coast of North Africa and then onto through Libya and Egypt.
This is a chastening and informative read for anyone who is interested in micro-histories- the stories of what the real rank and file people did in war. My own father was in the army in North Africa at the same time as FR, and I have done some historical research with many WW2 veterans, so this lively and detailed book filled in some gaps in what I knew about the experience. Some editorial clarification here and there adds to the value of the text, and this book would be very useful reading for anyone who needed to understand the British military processes and daily routines of the 1940s.
I would have liked to see some photographs and maybe some more maps, but that is a small quibble about what is a very moving book that reads in a direct, human and honest way.
My father severed in the 8th Army in the Western Desert fighting at El Alamein. Not knowing how my father lived, the diary provided an excellent insight along with the frustrations of army life as a private. Having served two years in the army can easily identify with these frustrations. Recommended for those interested in history of the Western Desert.” — Dr David Evans (Smashwords Customer)
“Read what the soldiers daily life was really like & his longing to get home to his loved ones. Very good account of the frustration of army life.” — Amazon Customer
“Excellent book – a real life diary of a real man. Gives a real insight into the mind of a common soldier.” — glend5 (Amazon.co.uk Customer)
About the Author
F. R. McMillan, or ‘Mac’ as he was more commonly called, was born on the 25th June 1914. His father had a sports shop and Mac became a tennis racquet stringer,