Hilarious and affectionate reminiscences of Army life in the 1950s
Published by CONSTABLE & ROBINSON in association with ROGERSON PRESS
By Tony Thorne
Paperback, illustrated with Eric Heath cartoons, 245 pages
Reviewed by Col (Rtd) Tim Rogerson, May 2009
For anyone who has put on army boots and marched, Brasso Blanco and Bull will provide many laughs as they identify with its stories.
Using pretty much the same methods Britain’s National Service and New Zealand’s Compulsory Military Training Scheme of the 1950s and National service of the 1960s, brought together diverse young men and turned them into soldiers, but not without some amusing stories along the way. I joined the East Surrey Regiment’s 1st Battalion as a regular in 1956 when it was serving in the British Army of the Rhine in Germany. Brasso Blanco and Bull author Tony Thorne also joined the battalion at that time, but he was a national serviceman. Nonetheless we formed part of a group of friends who have remained very close throughout 53 years. Whenever, wherever members got together there were reminisces and laughter, followed by more laughter and stories. Eventually it was suggested to Tony, who seemed to have the clearest memory of those times, he should write the stories down before they got lost in the mists of time. He duly sat down and wrote. At first the book was written for fun and for the amusement of friends who had shared in the experiences. I have lived in New Zealand since 1966. I was holidaying in England and staying with Tony, I read the book, which made me laugh long and loud. I laughed so much I became determined to publish Brasso Blanco and Bull for a wider audience. Tony Thorne and I published it privately. The Duke of Westminster wrote a stunning foreword and Brasso Blanco and Bull received endorsements from Bernard Gibbens, Windsor Davies, Freddie Trueman, Leslie Thomas, Paddy Ashdown and General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley. Well known Brits who had themselves served in the armed forces at a similar time. We printed 3000 copies, which quickly sold these themselves through word-of-mouth. We then formed a joint venture with Constable & Robinson and Brasso Blanco and Bull was re-launched at the Imperial War Museum with all of the characters in the book present. Although set half a world away I am sure New Zealand veterans of CMT and National Service will recognise the characters and the situations they found themselves in. I’m equally sure they will enjoy having this book on their bookshelf.