When Guy Crouchback returned to his regiment in the autumn of 1941 his position was in many ways anomalous. He had been trained in the first batch of temporary officers, had commanded a company, had been detached for special duties, had been in action and acquitted himself with credit; he had twice put up captain's stars and twice removed them; their scars were plainly visible on his shoulder straps. He had been invalided home on an order from GHQ ME and the medical authorities could find nothing wrong with him. There were rumours that he had 'blotted his copybook' in West Africa. When he was commissioned in 1939 his comparative old age had earned him the soubriquet 'uncle'. Now he was two years older and the second batch of officers in training were younger than those who had joined with him. To them he seemed a patriarch; to him they seemed a generation divided by an impassable barrier.
The second of the totalitarian powers has now aligned with Guy's cause and his chivalric ideals are fatally compromised. With the Soviet Union's entry on the Allied side seeming to assure an eventual victorious outcome, at what cost will this be established and what changed world will emerge?
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