A war story: times to re­mem­ber

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION -

Dur­ing the First World War, my fa­ther served in the in­fantry and a cav­alry unit, and I heard sto­ries about trench war­fare and charges on horse­back over fields raked by ma­chine gun fire. Later, when my broth­ers came home af­ter the Sec­ond World War, the sto­ries were to­tally dif­fer­ent, and yet sim­i­lar in vein.

I re­call that the sto­ries never re­vealed what war was re­ally like, what my sib­lings and my fa­ther felt and the ef­fect the fight­ing had on them. They told sto­ries, but their tales never re­ally con­veyed what it was like to be on the bat­tle­field.

I can say the same about many of the books I’ve read on the two great wars and the Korean con­flict. What I mean is that words in books sim­ply can­not ex­plic­itly ex­press the hor­rors of war and tell us what it was like to be in the trenches, what it was like to be bombed and shot at, what it was like to have your fel­low sol­diers killed around you. To put it an­other way, you truly had to be there, to ex­pe­ri­ence it your­self to un­der­stand what it was like to go to war.

Some books are the ex­cep­tion and they come close to cap­tur­ing what the war ex­pe­ri­ence was like. One of those books is a lit­tle known vol­ume of wartime rec­ol­lec­tions called Times to Re­mem­ber by the late Ma­jor R. G. “Bill” Thex­ton of Wolfville; this was first pub­lished in 1995 and reis­sued last year.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, An­napo­lis Royal na­tive Robert G. Thex­ton (1918-2013) served with the West Nova Sco­tia Reg­i­ment, from 1940 to 1944, in Eng­land, Scot­land, Si­cily and Italy. Dur­ing ac­tion, he was badly wounded but he re­joined his reg­i­ment af­ter re­cov­er­ing, even­tu­ally serv­ing in Europe af­ter the war with peace­time forces.

Upon re­tir­ing from the mil­i­tary, Thex­ton was em­ployed at Aca­dia Univer­sity for 20 years. Through this lat­ter pe­riod, he was ac­tively in­volved with his old reg­i­ment and it was through the West Nova Sco­tia Reg­i­men­tal As­so­ci­a­tion that the lat­est is­sue of his book was pub­lished.

Thex­ton’s book had its birth with a series of talks he gave at the West Nova Sco­tia Me­mory Club, which he was per­suaded to ex­pand upon and pub­lish. As Col. Ian Hope noted in the fore­word, in this book Thex­ton “shows us de­tails of life in wartime Alder­shot, on con­voy across the At­lantic, with the reg­i­ment in threat­ened Eng­land, ashore in Si­cily and through­out the lib­er­a­tion of Italy.”

To those in­ter­ested in his­tory, Colonel Hope also said, “this ac­count has so much to of­fer. Here is a glimpse of war on a grand scale. With Thex­ton, you feel the pres­ence of the com­bined armies and navies and air force that de­stroyed the Ger­man army in Italy. You sense herein the sci­ence of war circa 1944, with its mass and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, in which in­fantry bat­tal­ions were mere buck­ets of solid fuel to be burned al­most empty in a sin­gle night, re­con­sti­tuted again be­tween bat­tles, only to be burned empty again in the next.”

This is an ac­cu­rate sum­ma­tion of this book, but the colonel might also have said that Thex­ton bluntly points out hor­ri­ble er­rors by mil­i­tary com­man­ders that led to so many deaths in his reg­i­ment. This aside, Thex­ton uses his great re­call to tell us the im­por­tant role the West Nova Sco­tia Reg­i­ment played in Italy, a role that helped to win the Sec­ond World War. We see the war through the eyes of a wartime mil­i­tary com­man­der who was there and tells us how it re­ally hap­pened. A great read, in other words, for any­one for any­one in­ter­ested in the mil­i­tary his­tory of Nova Sco­tia.

Thex­ton’s book is avail­able from the West Nova Sco­tia Reg­i­men­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. Con­tact Garry Ran­dall at 902-680-6352.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.