One Musician's War
From Egypt to Italy with the RASC, 1941-45
- Jean Perraton
15th March 2011
He had one of the more unglamorous jobs in the Second World War, but self-taught violinist George Warner's letters home from the North African and Italian campaigns - in which he served as a dispatch rider for the Royal Army Service Corps - provide an enthralling, humane account of Europe's darkest years. Writing home to 'Dearest Maudie' and his young daughters, who had been evacuated from Eastbourne to the Midlands, George Warner fi lled his accounts of service in the No. 8 Petrol Depot of the RASC with the small and vital details of day-to-day life - aspects of wartime that are all too often absent from more conventional histories. Motorcycling around Italy, Warner found the time to learn to dance (he had crushed his ankle before the war), take up new musical instruments (including the guitar and the mandolin), and learn Italian. He met fellow rider Bill Evans soon after enlisting in 1941, and they remained together for four and a half years, working, playing and making music for themselves and their comrades. Their friendship helped to sustain them both during their years abroad. Throughout the book, what is most evident is Warner's articulate yearning to return home to his family and his beloved Eastbourne. He returns to the theme frequently, and for this soldier at least, it was a wish that came true: his violin and the longed-for South Coast were waiting for him in the country he had spent so long defending.