Two and a Half Deserters: And How the Turmoil of War Brought Three Combatants from Opposing Sides to the Bond of Friendship Andrew Sangster
The remarkable true account of two English soldiers and a Waffen-SS warrior who formed a lifelong friendship after deserting their respective units during the military campaign in war-torn Italy. Each of them offers their own viewpoint as to what happened, and why and how they felt. The two English soldiers, one an officer, the other an NCO had known one another as schoolboys. The one emerged from a working class background of the 1920s and 30s, the other rising from a professional middle-class and Public School milieu. Their backgrounds were very different and it was a single incident that brought them together and made them friends for life, but it was the war and its consequences that eventually levelled the class distinctions, and in some ways reversed their social standing. The third member, whom they met in Italy, was a dedicated member of the Nazi SS organization, and his own detailed account of his upbringing in Germany explains to a certain extent why he became what he did. Bizarrely, it was his English friends and an Italian soldier who helped to keep him stable. The third part of the book describes their post-war efforts to return to normality. One Englishman and the German soldier seek redemption through the nature of their life's work; the third insisting he would be content to remain listed as 'missing.' It is an account of how national identity and class form our characters, how individuals react to violence, and how, in each one of us, there is a need to seek personal redemption.