Waugh’s own unhappy experience of being a soldier is superbly re-enacted in this story of Guy Crouchback, a Catholic and a gentleman, commissioned into the Royal Corps of Halberdiers during the war years 1939–45. High comedy – in the company of Brigadier Ritchie-Hook or the denizens of Bellamy’s Club – is only part of the shambles of Crouchback’s war. When action comes in Crete and in Yugoslavia, he discovers not heroism, but humanity.
Sword of Honour combines three volumes: Officers and Gentlemen, Men at Arms and Unconditional Surrender, which were originally published separately. Extensively revised by Waugh, they were published as the one-volume Sword of Honour in 1965, in the form in which Waugh himself wished them to be read.