This memoir was first published in Denmark entitled “No Man’s Land” but when translated into English that title for some reason was changed to ‘Merry Hell!” not in my opinion a very inspiring choice. Dinesen (1892-1979) was in Denmark when war broke out and despite efforts to get to the war with the French Army the French Foreign Legion and the British Army he was continually frustrated by officialdom who would not grant the necessary visa for him to get into France or UK. So he made it across to the USA where he tried again (for the American Army) and failed again. Finally he looked in on the Canadian HQ in New York and was given a warm welcome and advised to try for either The Princess Pat’s or if he liked the idea of wearing a kilt The 42nd Royal Highlanders of Canada The Canadian Black Watch. So he was transported in a group of fourteen to Montreal where on 26 June 1917 he enlisted in the The Royal Highlanders (Princess Pat’s were not recruiting at the time) issued with a kilt and handicapped by a limited knowledge of English spent some time wondering why the regiment was named after a black watch. The first hundred or so pages describes all this and his training in Canada and in England till finally on 15 March 1918 he arrives in France. His battalion was in 7th Brigade 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. This is certainly a rousing tale the way it is told with Dinesen frequently resorting to a sort of running commentary when describing the fighting. The action in which he won his VC near Parvillers in August 1918 during the course of prolonged hand-to-hand fighting through enemy trenches is written up with great gusto and makes a suitable climax to the book
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