After yesterday’s review on a war memoir, I give you…another review on another war memoir! Aren’t you guys lucky?

Though it reads like a story, from a third person perspective centred around Bill Cassidy, Private Bill: In Love and War is actually told from the perspective of his son, Barrie. What could come across as corny or trite actually leaves an endearing touch and provides an emotive view on what can sometimes be a category devoid of emotion (more details on yesterday’s post if you’re confused by what I mean).

Private Bill was an Australian soldier who fought in World War Two – except the actual ‘fighting’ of his time spent during the war was minimal. After witnessing the only paratroopers to be used in the war (unsurprisingly, they were useless), Bill was shot and injured and taken as a prisoner of war. Over the next four years, Bill tries in vain to escape his captives, as he deals with the frustrations and fears of being stuck in a war on the opposite side of the world. On top of all this, Bill has also left a young wife Myra behind, who is facing her own battles in Australia, some with devastating consequences.

Shamefaced, I have to put my hand up and admit that my knowledge of Australians and their impact on World War Two is minimal. While I know about the attack on Darwin and our actions via the Kokoda Trail, I’ve visited Pearl Harbour and seen firsthand Dachau in Germany, if you asked me what countries Australia infiltrated in Europe I wouldn’t have a clue. Quite embarrassing, really. So in that regard, Private Bill was great – even if Bill did spent almost all of his time as a prisoner of war.

Barrie Cassidy’s writing throughout flows with ease and the way that he has gone about telling his dad’s story reads just like that – a story. Private Bill doesn’t face the challenges that many memoirs do – that of becoming stilted and bogged down in facts, without the emotion to pull them together.

One thing that could have been improved was Cassidy’s use of timing throughout the memoir – in particular, the suspense that he used surrounding Myra and her actions during the war. Though he achieves it in the first few chapters and her actions are drawn out nicely, the truth isn’t revealed until the end of the book, by which time I’d half forgotten that she’d done something naughty.

Overall, Private Bill: In Love and War is an easy, informative read about a real-life account of what it was like to be a prisoner of war. If you’re interested in war, or how Australians contributed to World War Two, then give this one a read.

Have you read Private Bill: In Love and War? Are you a fan of memoirs? Let me know!

private bill: in love and war by barrie cassidy

Private Bill: In Love and War – (image taken from