Waugh’s April 1946 letter to Randolph Churchill about his visit to the war criminal trials in Nuremburg is reprinted in the latest edition of The American Reader: A Journal of Literature and Criticism. The editorial introduction to the letter suggested that Waugh’s military service had started only when he joined the mission to Yugoslavia in 1944. Your correspondent sent the following comment to The American Reader to correct this suggestion:
The editorial intro to Waugh’s letter is a bit misleading as regards his WWII military career. After considerable efforts to overcome objections arising from his somewhat advanced age (36), he managed to join the Royal Marines in late 1939. He saw action in the abortive raid on Dakar, West Africa, in Summer 1940 before transferring to the Commandoes in late 1940. He participated in a raid at Bardia in North Africa and in the Battle of Crete in 1941. After his return to England in Summer 1942, he was shunted among units, trying but failing to secure another overseas assignment. After an extended leave in early 1944 during which he wrote his bestselling novel Brideshead Revisited, he was (as noted in the intro) invited by Randolph Churchill to join the mission to Yugoslavia.
The original letter appeared in Mark Amory’s 1980 collection (p. 226). Thanks to EWS member Prof. Robert Murray Davis for calling this to our attention.