by Georgina Crawshaw
Maybe, as a former military girlfriend, I can identify with the heartache contained within its pages; or perhaps it’s the honesty of Kitty and the other army wives, nicknamed the Daffodil Girls, which touched me so deeply. Either way, this book is like nothing else I’ve ever read.
Following the lives of a group of women married into the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh, an infantry battalion stationed in the same garrison town as Kitty’s husband’s regiment, the book is separated into three sections – pre-tour, tour and post-tour. It is the poignant and true story of those left behind – the families waiting for their loved ones, each fighting their own mini battle, until their boys come home. “One where you do not win or lose, just survive until your loved one returns to you,” Kitty says.
She certainly wears her heart on her sleeve – interspersing her stories of the Daffodil Girls with tales of her own tears and tantrums and anecdotes of the highs and lows of her induction into, and acceptance of army life. For the majority of civvies who have never had to experience waving someone off for months on end, waiting with bated breath for the next phone call and dreading every knock on the door, it’s an agonizing insight into the army wives’ world. From the pain of separation, to ‘the conversation’ about what your other half would want should, god forbid, he not come home; acting the roles of wife, father, electrician, chef etc., to dealing with the constant fear that he is somewhere the worst could, and does indeed happen.
It’ is not a life I would wish upon even my worst enemy, but the one thing these women can rely on is each other - and their comradery and bravery is simply breathtaking. Soldiering on, day by day, they pick themselves and each other up and keep the home fires burning – whatever they are faced with. After reading their stories I’m left feeling shell shocked but inspired by these wonderful women - the ultimate wives club.
In fact, their unassuming loyalty is summed up perfectly in a quote from General Viggers, former army adjutant general, towards the end of the book: “Thank you for your support because without it, I don’t think we could do what we do.”