The British Empire Library

Letters To Her Mother: War-Time In The Sudan 1938-1945

by Helen Foley

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by Margaret Pawson (Sudan 1948-55)
This book evoked the spirit of war-time and showed how the ordinary citizen helped in lots of ways, collecting for the Red Cross, offering to work at many different jobs. One of the things I found most impressive was the description of the Sudan Defence Force workshops, where there was even a man who spent his time straightening nails for re-use! It is a book full of nostalgia, humour and sadness. I went to the Sudan myself as a bride soon after the war, first in the South, then in Khartoum, and can appreciate the awfulness of the climate, but the kindliness of the Sudanese stands out, as it always did, so also does their stoicism in war, and readiness to fight on the Allies' side. The humour shows up in the article entitled Home Cursing from the Sudan Daily Herald - giving an account of how much (or how little) the V.A.D. knew about medical matters!

The horrors of war are evident in the description of casualties from various battles in Abyssinia, Eritrea and the Sudan itself, and the war in the Western Desert. Sorrow for Helen in the death of her brother and the imprisonment of her other brother, who mercifully survived. I was also impressed by her remarks while in Kenya about the lack of education given to the local people and how the Indians were the ones with the responsible jobs and the "White Highlanders" being altogether too powerful - very prophetic! It wasn't all doom and gloom - she managed to travel round the Middle East quite extensively and met very many interesting and influential people during that period. All in all I enjoyed this book and found it an interesting and revealing read about matters as they appeared at the time to someone who had no thought of future publication.

British Empire Book
Helen Foley
Castle Cary Press


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe