Steady, Old Man!
Derek Bond is better remembered as an actor then a soldier and certainly deserves a measure of immortality for his portrayal of Nicolas Nickleby. His career as an actor, however, was very much in its infancy when Hitler invaded poland, and Bond abandon the boards for the drill square. His height naturally propelled him towards the Brigade of Guards and he was soon bulling his boots with the best of them. Though his background was not such as is normally associated with Officers in the Brigade, he was judged to be Officer material, commissioned into the Grenadier Guards and posted to the Third Battalion. More intensive training followed before the Battalion was sent to North Africa invalided home, earning an MC for his pains. Recuperation was followed by a spell as an instructor before he was reunited with the Third Batalion in italy. An unlucky swan into Florence, which he had mistakenly been led to believe the Germans has evacuated, resulted in his capture and he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. This is not a book which sets out to expound the glories of war, nor does the author pretend that these were the best years of his life. He wrote it, as he says, because so many of his younger friends, to whom the war is a matter of history rather then memory, kept asking him what it was like. Whatever the reason, he tells the story of his military career with a degree of charm, wit and modesty which will come as no surprise to those familiar with the work of this highly talented actor- and writer.
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