Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 383
George Sherston: George Sherston is the protagonist and narrator of Memoirs of an Infantry Officer. Readers of Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man will have already been exposed to him; a young man from a middle-class family, Sherston has grown up in Kent, leading a relatively sheltered life spent mainly hunting and writing poetry. He has never had a job, but when war breaks out, he immediately decides to enlist. This youthful idealism—which sees him ride his bicycle to the recruiting office, where he is immediately commissioned—soon fades over the course of the story, however. Sherston is quickly exposed to the horrors of war, passing through a training camp and immediately into the trenches. He finds war horrific and badly run, and although he makes friends, this only emphasizes his desire to save them, too, from this situation. Eventually he decides to protest against the war, and narrowly avoids being court-martialed. Instead, he is sent to a military hospital where he is diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock. Sherston is a fictionalized version of the author, Siegfried Sassoon.
David Cromlech: Cromlech is a large, widely-disliked member of Sherston's regiment, with whom Sherston nevertheless becomes fast friends. Cromlech has a broken nose, also writes poetry, and Sherston believes him to be misunderstood. This character was based on Robert Graves, and, like Graves, it is through the machinations of Cromlech that Sherston is in fact not court-martialed but sent to Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Edinburgh. Cromlech is a devoted friend of Sherston's, despite their disagreements.
Dick Tiltwood: Tiltwood is Sassoon's fictionalization of a man who was potentially the most written-about subaltern of the First World War—David Thomas. Thomas was a close friend of both Graves and Sassoon and was the subject of verse and prose from both of them. In this story, he appears as a gentle, pleasant Welshman, a brave soldier and a good officer whose death hits Sherston very hard and may have contributed significantly to the decline in his mental health.
Other figures appear in the story, such as other soldiers in the regiment, but for the most part the memoir lives up to its name. It focuses on the inner life of its main character and how he is changed by his experience of war in the years 1916 - 1917.
(The entire section contains 614 words.)
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