I gave a talk recently on “The Joys of Writing.” In this I dwelt on the immense pleasure, which is hard to describe, that an author gets when he creates a character in a work of fiction. There are so many memorable characters from the pages of fiction: Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain, Jeeves and Bertie Wooster ( and indeed a host of others) from P G Wodehouse, Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell and closer to our times, James Bond from Ian Fleming spring to mind.
In an earlier post in this blog, I have written about Characters that I created as an author. Col. Belliappa and Alice Hatchman may not make history but I do think they created some impact among my readers.
Military history and human psychology have been subjects I have loved for long. In this context, my mind went back to the characters from the military whom I had read about and admired, Here, I am not talking about non-fiction and the stories of Generals, Admirals and others from the Second World War which I hungrily devoured. General George S. Patton, for one, is unforgettable!
In fiction, here are a few that stayed in my mind, though I read of them decades ago:-
- Lt. Col. Rodney Savage created by John Masters: “Bhowani Junction” had a huge impact on me as a kid. As I had many Anglo-Indian friends, this book enhanced my interest in wanting to know more about them as a community. Savage was a tough as nails soldier and I suspect some elements of Colonel Savage would have crept into my Colonel Belliappa.
- Commander James Bond, created by Ian Fleming: Although we know of Bond as Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he served in the RNVR and hence finds a place in this list. I loved all the Bond novels and remember chunks of them even today, many years after I first read them.
- Captain Richard Vallery, RN created by Alastair MacLean: The story of “HMS Ulysses” was one of those war novels that impressed me immensely. Captain Vallery and his leadership under very daunting circumstances still stand out out in my mind.
These are a few names that immediately came to mind. Do you have some favourite characters from fiction who were associated with the military? Would you like to share your list?