Trial By Battle by David Piper #IWM #BlogTour

September 14, 2019


Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours and the IWM for my copy of the newly republished, Trial by battle by David Piper.

Written in 1959 this book tells us about young second lieutenant Alan mart, as he is first stationed in India then onto Malay to fight the advancing Japanese.

Alan by no means a fighting man is taken under the wing of Captain Sam Holl, a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed drunk, who plays a large part in the book and in turn making Alan the man he becomes.

Telling the tale of his transformation, from a quiet student, to the man fighting for his life in jungle warfare.

This a well written, uncomfortable story.

Poignantly described, it's a tragic tale that is sadly all very real, bringing home the true terror of War, it’s written from the authors own accounts of war.

An incredible piece of fiction that fully deserves its republication and to reach a new audience once again.


Trial by Battle by David Piper – A quietly shattering and searingly authentic depiction of the claustrophobia of jungle warfare in Malaya described by William Boyd as ‘A tremendous rediscovery of a brilliant novel. Extremely well-written, its effects are both sophisticated and visceral. Remarkable’, and VS Naipaul as ‘one of the most absorbing and painful books about jungle warfare that I have read’ and by Frank Kermode as ‘probably the best English novel to come out of the Second World War.’

David Piper was best known as director of the National Portrait Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The novel is based on his time serving with the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW. His son, Tom Piper, was the designer of the hugely successful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the First World War Centenary.


IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain's best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.



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