We slept al fresco and even in early summer you'd wake with aching limbs and a bedroll damp with dew. Kipping at the Canal Turn with its famous ninety-degree bend was a treat for a lad who had lived and breathed horses on the farm. After three weeks of that we moved to a large civic building and at last we were out of the damp.
It was here I met Eddie Richardson for the first time. He was a fine fellow from an established military family so we called him Regimental Eddie, 'Reggie' for short. He was very well spoken, a little posh perhaps compared to the rest of us, and we shared a room. Months later he was to get into trouble in the desert on the same day as my fortunes turned south.
Training in Liverpool took on a different dimension. We were being prepared for house-to-house fighting in streets set aside for demolition. We learnt the delicate art of making and throwing Molotov cocktails, glass bottles filled with petrol. We mastered the Mills bomb, a hand grenade with a segmented steel shell and the appearance of a mini pineapple. I would become pretty familiar with them in the months ahead. They were mean and simple. You could alter the length of fuse, to give you three, seven, or nine seconds before detonation but you had to time it right. The last thing you wanted was the other feller hurling it back at you. You'd pull out the pin, run forward and throw with a straight-armed bowling action as you dived on your stomach. If you didn't blow yourself to kingdom come, the grenade was supposed to end up in a huge pit where the explosion was relatively contained. I had been able to throw a cricket ball a hundred yards when I was sixteen. It was still a game.
Excerpted from The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey and Rob Broomby. Copyright © 2011 by Denis Avey and Rob Broomby. Excerpted by permission of Da Capo Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
Life is the garment we continually alter, but which never seems to fit.
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.