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Through the Hitler Line.

Through the Hitler Line: Memoirs of an Infantry Chaplain is an unusual book by an unusual author. It is the personal account of a Protestant padre's battlefield service in Italy during World War II, and its chief merit is its realism. Although the title suggests that its content would be mainly about the fight to break the German barrier called the Hitler Line, only fifteen pages are devoted to that action, and a further 50 pages are given over to the Gothic Line battles later that year.

Author Lawrence F. Wilmot was a very brave man and he lets the reader know it. Undoubtedly the West Nova Scotia Regiment, to which he was attached, was indeed fortunate to have such a man looking after both their spiritual and physical welfare. He was a front-line padre in every way and his Military Cross could have been awarded more than once if the Canadian Army policy on decorations had not been so niggardly. Wilmot was indeed a "beloved padre" and was not afraid to stand up to higher authority if he believed the troops were being given impossible tasks or lacking the other arms support required. Although he admired his colourful Commanding Officer, he frequently locked horns with him on tactical as well as theological matters.

The horrors of the battlefield and the heroism of the unit's stretcher bearers are brought into full focus by Wilmot's writing skill. Yet much of his narrative is repetitious--but then so is war! And it is this that puts realism into his recollections of his more than a year as the West Novas' padre.

The book is an easy flowing narrative, but Wilmot must have kept a meticulous diary. No man's memory could recall the detail that is contained in these pages. It is this detail of course, which provides so much realism. Indeed, here is a tale so well told that the reader feels he is in the thick of it, exhausted by the exertions of battle, horrified by the bloodshed, and angered by war's stupidities.

Title: Through the Hitler Line: Memoirs of an Infantry Chaplain

Author: Lawrence F. Wilmoth, MC

Publishers: Wilfred Laurier University Press

Price: $34.95 (hardcover)

Details: 148 pp, photos, maps

ISBN: 0-88920-426-8
COPYRIGHT 2003 S.R. Taylor Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Galloway, Strome
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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