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Field Service ➵ [Reading] ➷ Field Service By Robert Edric ➪ – Morlancourt Northern France 1920In the aftermath of the world's bloodiest conflict a small contingent of battle worn soldiers remains in France Captain James Reid and his men are tasked with the ident Morlancourt Northern France In the aftermath of the world's bloodiest conflict a small contingent of battle worn soldiers remains in France Captain James Reid and his men are tasked with the identification and burial of innumerable corpses as they come to terms with the events of the past four yearsThe stark contrast between the realities of burying men in France and the reports of honouring the dead back in Britain is all too clear But it is only when the daily routine is interrupted by a visit from two women both seeking solace from their grief that the men are forced to acknowledge the part they too have playedWith his trademark unerring precision Robert Edric explores the emotional hinterland which lies behind the work done by the War Graves Commission in the wake of the First World War.

10 thoughts on “Field Service

  1. James James says:

    The best historical fiction provides a straight shot of how it feeling that non fiction can seldom replicate Field Service is a wonderful example of this Captain James Reid toils with his unwilling men to bury the dead from the recently ended Great War For me the book was about grief How do you mourn how do you live afterwards how did the society seek to address the aftermath of the carnage This novel unfettered by fact but completely realistic gave me the most depressing insight into these uestions An excellent uiet but telling addendum to the horror

  2. Gary Bonn Gary Bonn says:

    Bold and confidentI just love it when a writer strikes out into uncharted territory Edric hasn't ripped up the rule book just improved itThe setting came as a shock then a wonderful surprise a brave and successfully lateral moveCharacters and their interaction are very impressive; combined with the setting these are the essence of the bookEdric's subtle narrative tools are cleverly employed They will be of interest to students of English and creative writing some may find them inspirational I particularly like the evocative and sometimes charming last lines of each chapterEditorial input is of a very high standardTake the plunge as Edric did I can't imagine anyone not liking this book a lot

  3. Baz Baz says:

    Couldn't get on with this book I gave up before the end

  4. Roland Marchal Roland Marchal says:

    I thought this book was superb Having visited the battlefields and cemeteries of N Europe I was spellbound by the detail of how these cemeteries came into being and the personnel involved This book deals with the creation of a particular cemetery in N France following the 1st World War It deals with the difficulties of logistics some of which are gruesome but essential and with the rank and file soldierlabourers who jus want to go home and who never envisioned being glorified grave diggers when they joined up The characters within the book all come together to make a stunning background to a vey human and important part of our history

  5. Asb Asb says:

    The Great War had ended two years ago so British soldiers might expect to be back home rebuilding their lives in Britain Not so for many who were involved in the creation of military cemeteries in the fields of France and the burial of the remains of the fallen onesThis story shows how it was for different characters the one in charge of the labour who reports to seniors who are looking out for their own gain the workers the grieving women the French localsWell told and thought provoking

  6. Kay Kay says:

    This novel is set at the end of the First World War when the War Graves Commission was organising the identification of bodies and establishment of graveyards for the soldiers and in this case for some of the nurses The description of the morale of the men officers and local residents is really well done Definitely a worthwhile read

  7. Mark Mark says:

    Beautifully written as is always the case with this author He tells the story with a gentle touch and subtlety that puts me in mind of William Trevor and I can think of no better compliment

  8. ItchyFeetReader ItchyFeetReader says:

    “We bear that sorry weight And who knows it might only get lighter by a solitary ounce every passing year but we still go on bearing it” This is not a fast paced novel by any stretch of the imagination However it is one filled with rich characters and strong sense of place Together these components made for an evocative and moving story of both war and the pain of making the peace that stayed with me after completing the book Plot in a Nutshell The story opens in 1920 and follows Lieutenant Alexander Lucas Captain James Reid and their men who have the unenviable task of locating and identifying British war dead and the transfer and burial of those dead in what will become one of many War Grave sites The story is driven by a number of events The arrival of 2 women at Morlancourt – one a young woman seeking her fiancé’s grave and the second an older experienced nurse looking to oversee the internment of 24 nurses killed during the war Against this backdrop we also see Reid and Lucas struggle with being asked to overlook what appears to be the identification of a war crime site and them come to terms with the burial of a young soldier executed for cowardice The culmination of the story is a ceremony put together for dignitaries and journalists which offers a sharp comparison with the reality of the work being undertakenThoughtsI have been to France and also Belgium to visit a number of the war graves and memorials French UK and Commonwealth as well as German scattered across the landscape and on each visit have found myself very moved I had never however given a great deal of thought to how they were created and the effort involved Nor had it occurred to me that like Reid Lucas and Drake much of this effort would have been undertaken by soldiers not demobbed at the end of the War and as such living in a sort of limbo continuing in France Edric captures this sense of limbo incredibly well – perhaps because the novel is not fast paced or full of complex plot and story lines but rather focuses predominantly on the ordinary routine of the men with only small every day interruptions Both Reid and Lucas are well drawn and realistic characters Both have fought during the War before their current postings although it is clear both have been impacted in very different ways I however particularly enjoyed the interactions between both men and a cast of secondary characters I found many of Reid and Beniot scenes the French station master – struggling to come to terms with the death of his son and the changes to his village particularly moving There is something a little stereotypical in the characterisation of Wheeler Reid and Lucas’ commanding officer who is shown to be disconnected with the work his men are undertaking heavily political and bureaucratic Guthrie an army chaplain who appears midway through the story is also cut from the same cloth although both men are used to great effect to create and underline a sense that for our main characters the War is yet to really end Anything but stereotypical is the inclusion of Caroline Mortimer the nursing sister who enters the story awaiting the arrival of the bodies of a number of female nursing casualties I did not see Caroline as a love interest at all but rather another clever and well researched way to highlight the impact of the War across society where women are not only impacted by their losses at home but also through their active involvement in theatres of war

  9. Michael Davies Michael Davies says:

    A slow moving novel set in in1920 and centering on the work of the War Graves Commission responsible for the the recovery identification and burial of countless corpses from the killing grounds of Northern France In particular the book follows Captain James Reid officer in charge at Morlancourt Departement du Somme as he goes about the melancholy task of receiving and burying the bodies brought in virtually daily by a small slow moving train from Amiens or Peronne There is no great storyline in the novel which deals mainly with the mundane and freuently frustrating minutiae of everyday life for men who almost all would prefer to be back home trying to reintegrate into normal life Reid himself feels a pawn in a much bigger game as those above him manoeuvre for their own glory and advancement whilst still acknowledging the gravity of the job he is doing There are hints of a cover up when a burnt out building unearths a number of corpses with bullet wounds to the back of their heads and a suggestion of a possible love interest with Caroline Mortimer a former nursing sister come to attend the burial of over 20 nurses killed in various field hospitals but none of the plot strands are explored in great detail and at the end of the book we are no wiser as to the ultimate fate of any of the main characters Yet for all that this book rather grew on me It's very slowness reflected well the sombre and painstaking work involved in identifying and burying bodies years on from the battles in which they fell and occasional tales of horror and grief almost casually related by the various characters reminds us of what those battles consisted An absorbing and contemplative read rather than an exciting one then

  10. Lesley Lesley says:

    The contrast between the reality burial of nurses executed soldiers soldiers who appear to have been the victims of war crimes and the presentation pristine rows of graves belying the effort needed to keep the water out and avoid these new trenches becoming waterlogged is very interesting This is mirrored in the contrast between the desperation of the men undertaking the work long after the War has ended and yet still serving and still unable to return home and the arrogance of the officer ranks seeking to capitalise on work they did not undertake to gain political advancement Much of this is challenging about the kind of world being built post War be that the serviceable horses shot rather than passed to peasant farmers the return of battle fields to crop fields the new battle faced to return to a normal life in Britain after all that has happened and all that has been seen or the efforts of some to self promote while others fear what mankind will have become capable of having engaged in the War to end all wars The story does end abruptly but this fits with the device of showing that the stories of these men did not end and tie up neatly with the Armistice The uestion posed is as they gather up the pieces and seek to bury the dead how does life then go on? I really enjoyed this lots of food for thought

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