Monday, 27 August 2018
The books of your youth are rather special. I was very taken with the historical novels of Ronald Welch about the Carey family and their soldiering through the ages. The first two I remember reading (and then re-reading many times) were Knight Crusader (set in the Third Crusade) and For the King (English Civil War). The front end papers had a family tree of the Careys, showing how they related to the various bools of the series, going through to WW1 (Tank Commander). I borrowed all those I could find (repeatedly) from my local library, and I think they were where my lifetime interests in history and military history either started or were confirmed. They certainly sparked my interest in the English Civil War, which even survived A levels.
They bore the unmistakable signs of extensive historical research, which is no surprise as their author, Ronald Felton (1909-1982, was history teacher who served as a tank commander in the Second World War and took his pen name from his wartime regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
They have been out of print for a long time and second hand were expensive and hard to track down. In the last five years Slightly Foxed have been reissuing them in a limited edition of 2,000 copies and last week I bit the bullet and bought a complete set. Expensive but worth it I think.
The complete list of the Carey Novels (in chronological order) is:
Bowmen of Crecy
Sun of York
For the King
Captain of Dragoons
Escape from France
Captain of Foot
There is also an unpublished novella, the Road to Waterloo.
Other non-Carey novels included The Gauntlet and Zulu Warrior.
I've also had that particular thrill of now finding titles I had never seen at the time - last summer I found a Dalziel and Pascoe novel by Reginald Hill I had completely missed on publication.
I have the same feeling about these novels as I did when I discovered a few years ago that the TV series The Flaxton Boys, which I watched about the same time, had been in part written by Don Houghton, of At the Colonel's Table fame. Now I've thought about it again, I've just ordered the DVD from Amazon.
I'm sure some of you out there probably read these once upon a time. For the rest of you there is an undiscovered treat if you want to look into them. Written for children yes, but with a depth of historical background which still makes them satisfying adult reading.
They deserve to be better known.