‘I think prison has done me very little harm and some good. I am now far better read, far less smug and conceited, far more tolerant and considerably more capable of looking after myself.’ In 1930, 21-year-old Roger Mortimer was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and would spend the next eight years stationed at Chelsea Barracks. He lived a fairly leisurely existence, with his parents’ house in Cadogan Gardens a stone’s throw away, and pleasant afternoons were whiled away at the racecourse or a members’ club – officers in the battalion were even allocated ‘soldier servants’.
Admittedly things got a little hairy in Palestine in 1938, when Roger, now a captain, found himself amidst the action in the Arab Uprising. The worst, however, was yet to come. While fighting the Germans in 1940, Roger was knocked unconscious by a shell explosion – he was then incorrectly reported to have been killed in action. Upon waking he was delighted to find that he had survived. Though he was somewhat less delighted to find that he was now a Prisoner of War. Thus began a period of incarceration that would last five long years, and which for Roger there seemed no conceivable end in sight.
Vintage Roger is Roger Mortimer at his witty, irreverent best. Exuding the charm and good humour that captured the nation’s hearts in Dear Lupin and Dear Lumpy, this uplifting account tells of Roger’s years in the Coldstream Guards and is followed by a collection of letters he wrote to his good friend Peggy Dunne from May 1940 to late 1944. Steadfastly optimistic and utterly captivating, the letters paint a vivid portrait of life as a POW.