Edward Casey, an underfed, under-sized and semi-literate Irish Cockney from Canning Town, was no war hero. Even so, his account of four years of war service with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers is a remarkable chronicle, revealing his personal and sexual insecurities, his remarkable experience of Irish unrest during periods of training and leave and his excitement as a military tourist in France, Salonica and Malta. The memoir was written in 1980, six decades after his departure for New Zealand, yet retains a strong Cockney flavour. The editor has selected the chapters with the greatest interest for Irish readers, placing Casey's story in the broader context of the Great War and its sometimes devastating psychological consequences.
Joanna Bourke teaches history at Birkbeck College, London. Her books include Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War (1996)