Rifleman by Victor Gregg
Published August 19, 2013
- Author Victor Gregg
At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. The introduction gives away a lot of what Victor has done during his life, and I was worried it was going to be an improbable mass of incidents, talked up to seem interesting. It was nothing like that. The book focuses on the army years of Victor’s life for the first two thirds, and then the final third is what happened to him afterwards.
We’re taken on the journey with the Rifles brigade, where at first it seems like great japes and jolly fun, until the war breaks out and things get serious. Even after 1939, Victor seems out of most of the trouble by being stationed in the desert, but he makes his way back to the heart of the fighting, and we go too. It’s both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, very grim in places, but with an optimistic style that becomes a trademark throughout the book.
Seeing how his experiences impacted life after the war and his exit from the army is also enlightening. Post traumatic stress is well-known now, almost expected, but back then it wasn’t exactly spoken about, and there weren’t effective methods for dealing with it. The book does get a little bit James Bond towards the end, but it all happens in such a down-to-earth fashion that you just can’t help being swept along for the ride. There’s a sobering end, though, to show us that whilst Victor had a jam-packed and overall happy life, war will impact everyone it comes into contact with for a long time after it’s over.