Softcover Black Watch Novel: Mud, Blood, and Rum: A Year in the Trenches with the 42nd Battalion
By Brian Pascas
Published by General Store Publishing House, 2009
The novel “Mud, Blood, and Rum” presents a factual portrayal of a typical Canadian infantry battalion’s experiences surviving the mud, misery, and mutilation of trench warfare in the Great War, as well as behind-the-lines daily living in rest areas and on leave in England.
The story traces the trials and tribulations of three Montreal-born brothers through the moves and principal operations of the 42nd Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada, Canadian Expeditionary Force from January 1, 1917 until December 31, 1917.
Jimmy and George belong to the rifle section of No. 3 Platoon, “A” Company. They are original members of the kilted battalion, having landed in France in October 1915. Billy is a battalion stretcher bearer. Conflicts abound not only on the battlefield, but also on the home front. Inner anxieties and self-doubts are not easily suppressed even while the brothers become battle-hardened combatants of the Canadian Corps. George’s morbid fear of shells, be they 5.9s or whizz-bangs, tests his character to the limit in the Slough of Despond – Passchendaele. The brothers struggle with the concepts of duty, moral courage, and physical courage as they endure the daily deprivations.
Each of the twelve chapters of this historical fiction book depicts a month in 1917. For example, chapter four is titled: ‘Easter Monday’, alluding to the commencement of the battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9th. Approximately 300 sources were referenced to authenticate the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele as well as raids, patrols, trench life, and leave. Three maps and an extensive glossary are provided to assist the reader.