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"Rommel?" "Gunner Who?": A Confrontation in the Desert

(War Memoirs #2)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,886 ratings  ·  56 reviews
This is the second volume of Mr Milligan's reminiscences of World War II.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published 1974 by Joseph
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,886 ratings  ·  56 reviews


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Paul E. Morph
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second volume in Milligan's war memoirs concentrates on his time in North Africa. This volume is more poignant than the first but that was inevitable, really, as his friends started to be killed.

One passage has him describing some typically zany Goon-type humour with one of his mates in his outfit and then he slams it shut with the sentence 'He had eight days left of his young life left to live.' You can't help thinking 'well, fuck'.

Speaking of bad language, Milligan really ramps up the casu
...more
Cathal Kenneally
Uproariously funny

A comic genius. I read this in less than a day. He keeps you engaged all of the time. A word of warning. Don't have any drinks nearby as you're likely to spill them or choke on them from laughing.
He has a rare talent of finding humour in the most trying of circumstances. It was a depressing place. This volume deals with the desert: the heat,the mosquitoes the locals and the enemy. Who would want to be there? He is without doubt a gifted storyteller
Rob Kitchin
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Rommel’ ‘Gunner Who?’ is the second book in a seven book series charting the experiences of Spike Milligan during and immediately after the Second World War. Born in 1919 in India to an Irish father serving in the British Indian Army and English mother, and passing away in 2002, Milligan is widely regarded as one of Britain’s most famous and influential comedians in the second half of the twentieth century, known for his surrealist and off-beat sketches and wise-cracks, influencing acts such as ...more
John Defrog
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Spike Milligan is one of those legendary comedians who gets namechecked by lots of comedians I admire, and I’m aware of his role as a co-founder of The Goons, but I’ve never actually seen much of his stuff, and I haven’t read any of his books. So when I found this in a charity book sale, I figured it was a good excuse to try him out.

This is Volume 2 (of 7) of his WW2 memoirs, covering January to May 1943, in which his artillery unit arrives in Algeria and fights its way to Tunis. It’s a mix of
...more
Mark Sohn
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Following on from Adolf Hitler-my part in his downfall, Spike goes to North Africa to dish it out to ze Afrika Korps... funny, sometimes pant-wettingly, this is a fantastic sequel to the original war diary.
Donna Edwards
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read them all they are excellent.
Helen
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in a series of memoirs Spike Milligan produced about his time during World War II. I did not realise this when I first found it but it can actually quite easily be read as a standalone text so it was not a problem that I had not read the first one or any others in the series. It was certainly a very interesting and entertaining read so I will certainly look out for more of the books in the future.

I liked the black and white photographs included and the sketches done by t
...more
Lewis Clark
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This volume suffers from a near constant stream of racism that often manifests itself in the various "Hitlergrams" and off-colour comments from Milligan and his comrades. I appreciate that a bunch of white, British lads being thrown into foreign territory under constant threat of death by men from a different country is going to breed that sort of attitude, but it can overshadow the fact that Milligan has a great eye for detail and a fantastic sense of humour. One of the things I really like abo ...more
Stephen Hancock
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Genius

Milligan’s almost autobiographical books on his Army life are both historical and hysterical. Nothing cuts across divides of race, colour, rank or creed, like a British squaddie’s sense of humour. Imagine a 7.2” field gun firing, rolling back off a cliff and almost crushing one Gunner Secombe! The pain of loss, the relief of victory and any and all emotions in between. Seems that war has not changed much since L/Bombardier Milligan served in North Africa. Next book please ............
Paul Calhoun
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like the war, the longer it went on, the more miserable it got. I don't mean that in a bad way; unlike some mis-lit, this feels a lot more genuine, a lot more balanced. Milligan hasn't quite hit the depths from which he emerged a bipolar genius, but the cracks are certainly starting to show. The optimism of the beginning of the war is starting to give way to the horror and dull terror, and through it all Spike is trying his hardest to stay somewhat sane and optimistic.
Kieran McAndrew
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's surprising that a war could be fought with all the slacking going on in the British Army.

So continues Spike Milligan's anarchic autobiography. This forms a much better narrative, even though it is still a framework for hanging a variety of comic set pieces.
Jude Wright
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly funny!
Sourojit Das
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Milligan continues his adventures in the desert, as he prepares for a showdown with the Afrika Corps.
paul d.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and tragic

Hilarious and tragic. Excellent read even third time round still as fresh, funny and sad as the first time. The series is one of the best memoirs I have read.
Rob Pearson
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That bloody warsaw concerto.

One day i will look it up on google.
Meantime i remain in suspenders.
When will this bloody submit buton light up?
Ah! There you are.
Harry
Second part of Spike Milligans war memoirs. Hilarious, sad, poignant all at once. However time has moved on and the Goons casual racism grates these days. Not to be read by those easily offended.
William Paley
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madcap recap of Milligan's experience as a gunner in the Royal Artillery in Tunisia during WWII.
Andrew
The second volume of Spike's war autobiographies sees him and 19 battery RA engaged in the final battles against the Germans and Italians in North Africa. "Rommel? Gunner Who?' is a a book I have read and re-read plenty of times, and it has (like all its companion volumes) that unique Milliganesque mix of surreal humour, bad jokes, an insight into the reality of soldiering, pathos, erudition, anarchy and rehashed Goonery.

Unlike the first volume ('Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall') Spike wr
...more
Linda J. Sandahl
These memoirs of his World War 2 service by Spike Milligan, the great British comedian who was one of the founders of the truly iconic Goon Show, are indeed hilarious -- but they are also moving, painful, angry, and most of all, authentic (the soldiers language is authentic, too). This is why, in this case, I do recommend getting the audiobook read by Milligan himself. His wonderful voice illuminates his own words better than any reader could.
Volume one details Spike's joining up, undergoing tr
...more
Meo
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy
Second of Spike Milligan’s war memoirs, a book which sees him transplanted from the gentility of Bexhill-on-Sea to the front lines at Tunis, fighting against Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Milligan is part of the Royal Artillery, responsible for providing heavy fire in support of troop movements. The guns and observation posts are the targets for enemy action (heavy gunfire, mortars, bombing) and so life becomes decidedly more perilous. Jazz concerts and sex are replaced by foxholes and food.
With Death
...more
David
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well he's a smart-a$$ that's for sure. The flow seemed to improve as the narrative went on. It's a very easy read, but I didn't find it too engaging. It needed to be either just more farce, or, perhaps, more serious, but it seems neither. The photos chosen don't seem to be all that helpful. Maybe my sense of humor needs some work, but most just seemed juvenile, yet his own drawings are quite delightful.
rabbitprincess
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Milligan and the first volume
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
* * * * 1/2

The second volume of Spike Milligan's war memoirs covers early 1943 during Operation Torch, with Spike's battery in Algeria and Tunisia. The shorter timeframe suits the length of the book well; the first volume I found covered a lot of ground in relatively few pages and as a consequence felt thinner. This volume, however, is chock-a-block with entertaining anecdotes, good description, one or two very moving and poignant scenes, and some very, very bizarre interludes involving imagined
...more
Carnivorous Mower
The second volume of Spike Milligan's war memoirs. I haven't read the first, but it wasn't in the bookshop! This covers his time in North Africa, up until Rommel's surrender.

I've tried reading some of Milligan's other works, and they were just a bit too surreal, but this mixes diary entries from both Milligan and his wartime acquaintances, fictional accounts of what the likes of Hitler and Mussolini were doing at the time (Hitlergrams!), and oddball illustrations.

There's the odd bit which would
...more
Mike Steven
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This passage sums up this book:

"There was, however, an occasional cry of 'Fuck this for a livin'.' Lt Tony Goldsmith at the O.P. did some deadly accurate shooting, and remained stoically calm through the most blistering mortaring. In between shoots he would 'phone command post.
'Hello Milligan, I'm going to have a nap, would they turn the volume down on the guns.' He has eight days of his young life left."

As a book it's rude, a detailed retelling of the action of the Second World War, funny, sil
...more
Jack Gibson
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WW2 Interested, Spike Milligan fans and anyone up for an alternative read about WW2
Shelves: biographical, ww2
Gunner Milligan is back with Volume 2 and you can really sense that he is now in full flight with his established writing style; everything he can get a laugh out of he does, and then he goes back to get a further laugh out of the laugh! But as always and at the same time, the poignancy of war shines through.

And then:
Gunner: "You'll be glad to know that they've evacuated all our lads safely from Dunkirk."
Spike: "Thank God, one of them owes me money."

Then among the many illustrating imagery and p
...more
Sid Nuncius
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This second volume of Spike Milligan's war memoirs is even better than the first, I think. It is just as funny and just as readable, but has far more real emotional and human content, and gives a wonderful insight into the life of a regular British soldier in the North Africa campaign.

The book tells the story from Spike's regiment embarking in England in 1942 to the fall of Tunis in April 1943. It is very well written; it is extremely funny, very evocative in description and very moving in place
...more
Jim Kinsey
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worthy follow up to Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, I may just get addicted to this series. It is, of course, very funny but also an affecting and fascinating memoir of being a "normal" soldier in the North Africa campaign, capturing brilliantly the absurdity, boredom and horror of war. For me this book sits quite comfortably alongside the likes of Dispatches, which is not what I would have expected going in.

I like the Milligan that comes across in these books more than I expected to, a
...more
Raj
This is the second part of Millagan's war memoirs, this time in Africa, and I'm really not sure what to make of it. It's written in Milligan's trademark surreal style, with annotated pictures and occasional "Hitlergrams" (little imagined conversations, between Hitler others, often commenting on something earlier in the chapter) but it also has quite stunning description of the landscape and the odd touching moment when you feel the horror of war. But the problem that I had is that the book doesn ...more
Thomas Murphy
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another glorious romp which will keep you chuckling throughout. Milligan is as yet untouched by personal tragedy and the laughs keep coming.

Like the first book, this one is incident-driven rather than shaped by an over-arching plot. Milligan gives the reader a very clear sense of who he and his mates were during the Second World War and a keen sense of how amateurishly so much of the execution of it seemed to be.

The tone of this second book is still light and humourous and the characters in it w
...more
Ben
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lucky find at a car boot sale. It was great to have this book again. Some beautiful descriptions, clever jokes, some not funny (it was always a scatter gun with Milligan) but mostly very enjoyable. The boredom, weary banter and callousness of military life are superbly depicted; the war described could almost be any war, the men any soliders. If you enjoy a certain popular real ale from Charles Wells, you will discover, as I did, that a Bombardier is simply an NCO in an artillery regiment. Wa ...more
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Terence Alan Patrick Seán Milligan, known as Spike, was a comedian, writer and musician. He was of Irish descent, but spent most of his childhood in India and lived most of his later life in England, moving to Australia after retirement. He is famous for his work in The Goon Show, children's poetry and a series of comical autobiographical novels about his experiences serving in the British Army in ...more

Other books in the series

War Memoirs (7 books)
  • Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall (War Memoirs, #1)
  • Monty: His Part In My Victory (War Memoirs, #3)
  • Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall  (War Memoirs, #4)
  • Where Have All the Bullets Gone?  (War Memoirs, #5)
  • Goodbye Soldier  (War Memoirs, #6)
  • Peace Work  (War Memoirs, #7)
“runner-cum-slave” 0 likes
“Keep talking Milligan. I think I can get you out on Mental Grounds.’ ‘That’s how I got in, sir.’ ‘Didn’t we all.” 0 likes
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