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Om Ever Glorious
The Crookenden brothers – Henry, Napier and Spencer - were born into a military dynasty. Their father, Arthur, was a renowned Cheshire Regiment officer and had served as a Brigade Major in Gallipoli and on the Western Front during the First World War. Napier followed in his father’s footsteps - becoming an officer in the Cheshire Regiment - and saw action during the Arab Revolt in Palestine in 1936. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Napier’s brothers followed him into the army for war service: Henry in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles and the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and Spencer in the Royal Engineers. Spencer and Henry’s wartime service took a different course to their brother. While Napier languished in a succession of unrewarding posts in Great Britain, his brothers fought across North Africa and into Italy. Napier - desperate to see action - joined the new airborne arm and, as a Brigade Major, arrived in Normandy by glider on D-Day. Promotion followed rapidly and he took over a parachute battalion before returning to England. As the pace of the war increased, Napier found himself continually in the front line. His battalion fought in the Battle of the Bulge and he parachuted at its head during the Rhine crossing operation. Napier pursued the German Army across its homeland - reaching the Baltic, where he finished the war facing down the Russian Army in Wismar on VE Day. With the war over, the brothers’ fortunes once again took different paths. Henry and Spencer left with the effects of wounds and illness sustained during the war, and returned to civilian life to pursue full careers and lives. Napier stayed with the army and saw operational service in Palestine once again and Malaya. He retired in 1972 as a three-star General. Ever Glorious is written through the letters exchanged between Henry, Napier, Spencer and their father, Arthur. The book takes the reader from Gallipoli to the Baltic; North Africa to the Ardennes; Normandy to Palestine; and from Italy to Malaya. Often gripping - sometimes amusing and always insightful - these letters reveal the experiences, thoughts and emotions of a family involved in war across the 20th century.