Two Brothers, Two Wars: From the Western Front to the Burmese Jungle

Author Tom McAlindon
Condition Very Good
Cover Type Softback

The author’s namesake uncle, Tom McAlindon, joined the Royal Irish Rifles in 1908 aged seventeen and fought on the Western Front from August 1914 until late 1918. He died agonizingly from dysentery in a military hospital in the south of England, to which he had just been sent from France. His mother and eleven-year-old brother Denis had made the grim journey from Armagh to be with him. The sight of his beloved and admired brother dying in such distress seemed likely to haunt Denis forever. Years later Denis became a missionary priest in Burma. In 1941 the Japanese routed the British army there and captured his fellow priests, but his remote mission station remained undiscovered. In that sense he was untouched by World War II; yet this war recruited his active compassion in such a way that he finally laid to rest his ghost of Tom. Drawing on family recollections, letters, military records and memoirs, and the archives of the Columban Missionary Society, the author tells a strange and moving story about the early life and war experiences of his two uncles, from the rat-ridden horrors of the Flanders’ trenches to the leech-infested jungle tracks of Burma. Their intertwined lives reach a symmetry seldom found in the haphazard progression of events, and find resolution in this masterly and consoling narrative.