by Terry Cassidy
Private Soldier is a work of fiction, but it is based on a factual narrative of an infantry battalion in the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in World War II. The factual framework is the regimental history of the Algonquin Regiment, Warpath. The history was written by his father, George Cassidy. A high school teacher in Cobalt, George joined the regiment in 1938 as a lieutenant, was a company commander when the battalion went to Normandy in July, 1944, was wounded once, finishing the war as a major, second in command of the battalion. He earned a Distinguished Service Order for bravery and leadership in the battle for the Kusten Canal. After the war, he remained on active service for a year, counselling returning soldiers. He then returned to teaching, first in Cobalt, then Kirkland Lake, before appointment as Principal of Haileybury High School. On the military side, he became Commanding Officer of the Algonquins, then Commander of 16 Militia Group as a Brigadier General. He was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Algonquins. The Armoury in Timmins, Ontario, is named after him.
George Cassidy was also a well-known artist, specializing in water colour landscapes of Northern Ontario, and an author, writing Arrow North, a history of Temiskaming. He died in 1988.
Private Soldier attempts to convey the experience of the Northwest Europe campaign of 1944-45 from the point of view of a soldier in a rifle company. Howie Richards is fictional. Some of the other Algonquins are actual people, and I have tried to keep their words and action consistent with the historical record.
The narrative is not strictly sequential. I have tried, through a series of vignettes, to follow Howie Richards through training in Canada, then Newfoundland and England and then in some of the battles fought by the battalion in France, Holland and Germany. What Howie saw and what he did are consistent with the historical record. What he said and what he felt is the author's invention, but is true to the experience of an infantry soldier in a very brutal war. Terry's qualification for writing this is his experience as an infantry officer in the Regular Force, 1957 to 1961. Fortunately for him and his fellow soldiers, their war was the Cold War.
After service in the Canadian Army, Terry Cassidy taught secondary school in Ontario for thirty years before retiring and moving to western Canada. He has also written Fortune's Fool and Walking Mountain, Missing in Cobalt, Quarantine as well as several other novels awaiting their turn to shine.
ISBN: 978-1-927541-67-8 | WMPub#1154 | 5½" x 8½" | 100 pages, trade paperback | $11.95
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