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Temporary Heroes (Paperback)

Lieutenant Norman Cecil Down

WWI 1915 1916 Military

By Richard van Emden
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399074667
Published: 27th April 2022

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This is a short book based on the letters written between 1915 and 1916 by an officer serving with the 1/4th Gordon Highlanders. Second Lieutenant Down wrote regularly to his girlfriend/fiancée throughout his time in France, letters which were published in 1917 after he was wounded and discharged from the army.

Cecil Down is a superb writer, but more than that he has a natural wit that translates easily to the page, making this one of the most enjoyable books I have read on the war.

I have chosen this book because it is so different from anything else I have read. He captures life in France with great accuracy while remaining steadfastly upbeat and humorous. Nevertheless, there are moments when he is serious, and that makes his words poignant and attention-grabbing.

Norman went to France in February 1915, serving continuously until July 1916. He died on 14 March 1984 aged 91

Makes for excellent reading. 10/10

The Great War Magazine

As seen in the Isle of Thanet Gazette.

Isle of Thanet Gazette
 Richard Van Emden

About Richard van Emden

Richard van Emden interviewed 270 veterans of the Great War, has written extensively about the soldiers' lives, and has worked on many television documentaries, always concentrating on the human aspects of war, its challenge and its cost to the millions of men involved. Richard van Emden’s books have sold over 660,000 copies and have appeared in The Times’ bestseller chart on a number of occasions.


He has also worked on more than a dozen television programmes on the Great War, including the award-winning Roses of No Man’s Land, Britain’s Boy Soldiers, A Poem for Harry, War Horse: the Real Story, Teenage Tommies with Fergal Keane and most recently, Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs. He lives in London.

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