Officers and Gentlemen
Sword of Honour
Sent home from the war at the first novel's end, Guy Crouchback—heir of a declining aristocratic English Roman Catholic family—eventually manages to find a place in a fledgling commando brigade training on a Scottish island under an old friend, Tommy Backhouse, the man for whom Crouchback's wife Virginia left him. Another trainee is Ivor Claire, whom Crouchback regards as the flower of English chivalry. He learns to exploit the niceties of military ways of doing things with the assistance of Colonel Jumbo Trotter, an elderly Halberdier who knows all the strings to pull. Crouchback is posted to Egypt, headquarters for the Middle East theatre of operations. This involves him in the evacuation of Crete, where he acquits himself well, though chaos and muddle prevail. At this time he meets Corporal of Horse (Sgt equivalent) Ludovic (based on the man who grew up to be notorious MP and press tycoon Robert Maxwell) and they and a few others escape in a small boat, a most perilous undertaking. Ludovic wades ashore in Egypt, carrying Guy. All the others in the boat have "disappeared". Apparently a hero, Ludovic is made an officer. In Egypt, Mrs Stitch, a character who turns up in other Waugh books, takes Guy under her well-connected wing. She also tries to protect Claire, who was evacuated from Crete even though his unit's orders were to fight to the last and then surrender as prisoners of war. She sends Crouchback the long way home to England, possibly to prevent him from compromising the cover story worked up to protect Claire from desertion charges. Guy finds himself once more in his club, asking around for a suitable job. Thus ends the second book.
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