A career soldier, Nap Murray spent his working life with the Colours and eventually reached the rank of full general during his service with NATO. His vivid account of a life in uniform takes us from childhood through to the immediate period of his retirement when he searched around for something meaningful to do. He had no intention of publishing his memoirs during his lifetime and it was left to his nephew, John Donovan, to get them in shape for publication.
There is something truly wonderful in this account which comes from the ability to recall things in great detail and the skill to tell a story. Nap Murray had this in spades and it must have been a delight for his nephew to put it all together.
We follow Nap from his childhood in Winchester, where he marvelled at soldiers on parade through to his gaining a commission in 1921. From there the story continues with the life of a subaltern during the inter-war years, including a stint training with the Germans a few years before the invasion of Poland.
Nap was a battalion commander in 1942 and was wounded at El Alamein. From there his career seems to have taken off and brigade commands in Sicily and on D-Day led to him being plucked from France to command a division in Italy. He said this was the high point of his career.
This book is easy to review because it is a lovely read and it is impossible not to warm to the author. A man of dignity and bearing, as you would expect of such a character, he oozes charm and sprinkles his account with chunks of sang-froid.
A varied post-war career and a contented marriage followed the travails of World War II. Nap’s career ended with him working to build community services in one of the less salubrious parts of south London. He loved the army, in particular the Highland Regiments he served in and was sad to see some of them disband or amalgamate. His was a life of service to his country and he should be celebrated.
A VERY FINE COMMANDER’
THE MEMOIRS OF GENERAL SIR HORATIUS MURRAY GCB KBE DSO
Edited by John Donovan.
Published by Pen & Sword. £25.00.
ISBN: 978 1 84884 370 0
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