Officers and Gentlemen

Part Two of the »Sword and Honour« Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh

Officers and Gentlemen, Evelyn Waugh

In this second book of the trilogy, Captain Crouchback is transferred to the Commandos, because of a letter of recommendation from his former brigadier Ritchie-Hook. At the Commando training camp in Scotland he meets his former friend Tommy Blackhouse, second ex-husband of Guy's ex-wife Virginia, who is now a colonel of Commandos. He gets to know Colonel Jumbo Trotter, an old Halberdier, who acquaints him with the many priviledges of the life of a British officer.

Eventually, the Commandos are deployed to Egypt, and thence to Crete, where they act as a rear-guard of the retreating British, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian troops on the island. When the allied forces on Crete surrender, Crouchback and Corporal Ludovic manage to evade capture and return to Egypt by fishing boat.

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The author, Evelyn Waugh, was a staff officer of Layforce, at the rank of brigade-major. Layforce, the Commando brigade of Colonel Robert Edward Laycock, consisted of three British Special Service Battalions, and one battalion from No. 50 and 52 (Middle East) Commando. Waugh's historical novels are strongly autobiographical, they show the futility and absurdities of war from a warriors perspective.

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