In Good Company — First World War Letters and Diaries of The Hon. William Fraser, Gordon Highlander Edited by David Fraser (Michael Russell, £16.95).
William Douglas Home THE title of this volume — In Good Company — is taken from a letter Willie Fraser wrote about his brother Simon's death at Ypres to George, another brother, who was serving in the navy at that time.
"Poor old Sim, he went in good company, George" was the phrase employed by Willie in the letter and it serves to illustrate just how deep were his feelings of companionship towards all those he served with of whatever rank.
This volume of his diaries and his letters, to his parents mostly, has been edited by General Sir David Fraser, Willie's son, who has himself become a writer of some note since his retirement from the army, his biography of Allenbrooke being outstanding. Not to mention a set of five novels with a second World War background.
After reading In Good Company one reaches the conclusion that the son was lucky in his father not only for his military prowess but because his style of writing was both illustrative and informative to a pronounced degree, and worth inheriting.
His strictures on staff officers were stern and deeply felt though later in his life, according to his son, he grew to tolerate them, having learned from personal experience in the second World War how difficult a task the high command is invariably faced with.
Apart from that his heart was right behind the war as he was totally convinced that Germany must be defeated, never mind how many casualties were suffered in the process.
To this writer, such a policy of unconditional surrender (a phrase used by Willie in this volume, incidentally and much to my surprise), has never made appeal, whether applied to that war or the last one.
Nonetheless one unreservedly admires the courage of all those who fought for unconditional surrender in both wars (and with success).