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  • A Soldier's Story

  • Neville ‘Timber' Wood's War, from Dunkirk to D-Day
  • By: Mike Wood
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Tomlinson, Mike Wood
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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A Soldier's Story cover art

A Soldier's Story

By: Mike Wood
Narrated by: Malcolm Tomlinson,Mike Wood
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Summary

The son of a Hull butcher, Neville 'Timber' Wood volunteered in 1939, at the age of 18, to join the British Army's Tyne-Tees 50th Northumbrian Division. Timber was in many ways an entirely unremarkable soldier - he won no medals for gallantry, though he exhibited conspicuous bravery day after day, for years, and he rose no higher through the ranks than Lance Corporal. Nonetheless, he had an extraordinary war. As a driver for the Royal Army Service Corps, Timber's job was to get ammunition and high explosives to the front line. It was a job with a high casualty rate, sometimes higher than frontline troops.  

The 50th Division was the principal fighting division of the British Army in the Second World War. Four men of the 50th were awarded Victoria Crosses, more than any other division. It was last off the beach at Dunkirk and the first back on it on D-Day; the division was at the heart of El Alamein and the major actions which followed; it took part in the invasion of Sicily and fought all the way from Normandy to Germany, where Timber saw firsthand the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. 

Timber's story is pretty much the British war experience from the point of view of an ordinary soldier. He was even captured, saw Rommel and escaped. This book, written by his son Mike, is based on Neville's extensive wartime diaries and original documents he retained from the war as well as on long conversations between the two of them when Mike transcribed the diaries as a gift for his father in 2006. Timber died in 2015. 

©2020 Mike Wood (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"This captivating account...is the story of an ordinary soldier, but an extraordinary man. I commend this book most warmly." (Richard Dannatt, General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, Chief of the General Staff 2006-9)

"The amazing account of a young man, Neville 'Timber' Wood, who, despite fighting in many of the major engagements of the Second World War, including Dunkirk, El Alamein and D-Day, survived to become a much-loved husband and father...brilliantly written.... I highly recommend it." (Eleanor Tomlinson)

What listeners say about A Soldier's Story

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Excellent

At first I was personally excited to see this book, having had a great uncle lost in the retreat to Dunkirk, who was also a driver in the RASC (though not with the 50th) so I was keen to hear what life was like (I've found so little history on this). Turns out these guys were right at the sharp end, and in the thick of it. Authentic and excellently written, very human, exciting, funny, and fabulously brought to life by the narrator (I loved the voices). Neville Wood's experiences were remarkable. I have read/listened to numerous war time biographies in my life, and this is up with the best. Well done and thanks to the author and narrator, I got a lot from listening to this.

4 people found this helpful

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Easy listening - the mark of a good audiobook

Went for this book as I usually go for accounts from the German perspective of the war and fancied a change.

As well as a personal interest in the Battle for France and Dunkirk, the book provided a great insight into the theatres where my grandad served, himself a veteran of the desert, Sicily, Italy so really enjoyed this book from that perspective as well (he was the total opposite to 'Timber' though as he hated Monty).

Thoughtfully written, nicely narrated, highly recommended.

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Great story well written. I did enjoy it.

Great story well written and i would highly recommend this book to all my friends. what an experience best book every

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Truly great 👍

Written by a son, of his father, based on secretly kept diaries, and interviews snd conversations.

This book truly brought the time alive for me! I could be that 19-26 year old growing up in absolutely extraordinary conditions.

The true beauty of this book though, is the author’s ability to transplant his fathers genuine humour and character in to my experience of the book. His description of his falling in and out of love at the drop of a hat, his reactions to letters, all through the lens of horrific hardship and violence through war.

Absolutely loved it!!

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Great book.

This is a very good book full of great personal experiences and also very well read!

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Brilliant.

If you’re interested in WW2 this is a must read. I’ve read quite a lot about this time and this is probably my favourite of them all. A real insight into daily life of one of the lucky ones that came home.

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Good in site to RASC in www2

What a fantastic Account of war time drivers.
Thanks for keeping those diaries Timber.
Great listen.

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A good listen!

Well read personal story. Liked the attention detail by the son, and his mate the reader.

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A must for anyone interested in ww2

Ive read a lot of factual books on ww2 & was sceptical of this being a single persons story but wow! what an amazing book & brilliant that he kept the diarys, it bought back a lot of memories of my grandad who served in the same places all over the world with 79th armoured division, wander if he ever crossed paths with Neville!

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first hand history

I enjoyed this very much real life history told through the eyes of somebody who was there.