Recommended Reading: ‘Coward on the Beach (vol 1)’ by James Delingpole (2007)

Synopsis: Dick Coward is an ordinary chap forever caught up in the most extraordinary circumstances. Whether flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain or acting as military advisor at Stalingrad, he has a knack for ending up in the thick of the action. But to Coward there are worse things than war, not least the possibility of the family estate ending up in the hands of his undeserving brother James. And then there is the gorgeous Gina… Only by amassing military glory on the beaches of Normandy can Coward satisfy his father and see that justice prevails.

Review: James Delingpole, former ‘War Life’ columnist in the Spectator (he interview second world war veterans about their experiences) has created an extraordinary character in Dick Coward. He’s an amalgamation of many different people with vastly different experiences. Throughout the book you are teased with hints about Coward’s other military exploits (Burma, Stalingrad, Battle of Britain) and from a quick hunt around the internet I’ve discovered that this is the first in a series of ten planned books and let me say that I can’t wait until I have devoured all ten as it looks like it’s going to be one heck of a series. Think Flashman updated to WW2 and you’re on the right lines if you’re looking for a not-too-bad comparison.

This one throws Coward into the deep end with the Normandy landings as the backdrop, fresh out a military hospital and tricked into agreeing to re-enlist to keep an eye on a certain someone for a certain young lady, Coward has to battle through as part of the (fictional) 47th Commando Unit. Accompanied by his former bateman, now his sergant, Price, Coward finds himself in some tricky situations.

A nice antidote to gung-ho-charge-in American novels about war and is just begging to be made into a film where for once the British aren’t useless soldiers who have be bailed out, but really a TV series would suit the format much better. Very much an adventure in the style of the ‘boy’s own adventure’ series.

10/10, throughly recommended.

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