by Ted Lewis
Published by Steele Roberts Ltd. Price $39.95.
Reviewed by George Kaye.
If you want to visit the past you knew during your service with the 2nd New Zealand Division in the Second World War, there is a fabulous book waiting for you. Apart from its written contents, it is also a collection of war orientated pictorial gems created by Ted Lewis and called I Was No Soldier. Ted takes you to Egypt, Palestine, Tunisia and where he spends most time, to Italy. Not only does his book contain some fantastic reproductions of paintings of the Italian wartime scene, it also includes numerous cartoons that excel in the incredible manner in which they have been created. Cartoonist and artist supremo is the least we can say of Ted Lewis.
If you obtain a copy of this outstanding book, you will own something almost beyond the bounds of description. A marvellous mine of creativity that evokes your memories and makes the past live again although the years have rolled, and keep on rolling into the caverns of time. The dust jacket of Ted’s book is the copy of a painting of the ruins of Cassino and what was left of the Benedictine monastery. To praise I was No Soldier is really unnecessary, because the book speaks for itself. It will certainly remain among the unforgettables of wartime history.
Names of places are in this superb publication. Most of these will be remembered. Various black and white photographs are included. Though not outstanding they are all pertinent. Ted’s text, which forms part and parcel of his "sure-to-be famous" book, is informative, interesting and easy to read. Whatever he writes flows smoothly, impressively and effectively to add lustre to his thoughts.
Ted was a member of the Medical Corps when he left New Zealand early in 1941 aboard the hospital ship Maunganui. He returned home and then, after a short leave period, was on his way tack to Egypt, where he was appointed a draughtsman attached to 2 Div HQ. He used this position to draw a personally signed portrait of General Freyberg.
In Casale, Italy, Ted was visited by the Official War Artist, Peter McIntyre, who was most impressed with his work and suggested he should join him to provide official drawings for records. This did not happen, though sometimes Ted was given special permission to make drawings.
Ted Lewis died in 1992, aged 84. His book was published posthumously as the result of the co-operation and support of admirers of his splendid work.