Sergeant Nelson of the Guards

Gerald Kersh
Date Published
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Night and the City (1938) made Gerald Kersh’s reputation, but it was as a war novelist that he reached a wide readership in 1942, via a pair of books about British army recruits, led by Sergeant Bill Nelson, preparing to see service in France. This Faber Finds edition collects both books.

‘[They Die With Their Boots Clean] is a picture of life in the raw in the Coldstream Guards, with all its
rigorous discipline, its humour and comradeship.’ TLS

[In The Nine Lives Of Bill Nelson] the conversations are terse, ferociously slangy, full of hyperbole and outrageous wit, often irresistibly funny.’ TLS

[Kersh] has sure magic in taking us through the training of raw recruits… Each man’s story is briefly and dramatically told, the episodes are vigorous, and Nelson holds the centre of the stage, as he leads the battered troops over 63 miles of French territory to Dunkirk…’ Kirkus Reviews


Gerald Kersh was born in Teddington on August 26 1911. He quit schooling early, and took a succession of jobs while developing his ambition to write. In 1934 he published a roman a clef, Jews without Jehovah, immediately suppressed by members of his family who took exception to its contents. Following the outbreak of war Kersh joined the Coldstream Guards…

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