Prose & Poetry - Norman Cliff

Norman Cliff Norman D. Cliff (1893-1977), a journalist by training, served with the British Army during the First World War.  His memoir of the conflict, To Hell and Back with the Guards, was published in 1988.

Born on New Years Eve 1893 Norman Cliff was educated at Coombes College in Torquay.  Taking up the pen as a means of earning a living his first journalistic post, at the Torquay Times, was cut short by the arrival of war in 1914.

Cliff's wartime experiences brought him service with the Grenadier Guards in which he won the Military Medal for bravery while under fire.  He was a participant at both the battle of the Somme and at Passchendaele (Third Ypres).

Following the armistice Cliff restarted his journalistic career, this time with the News Chronicle in London.  From 1936-46 Cliff served as the newspaper's foreign editor.  By now a convinced pacifist he actively opposed the coming of war in 1939, calling upon pacifists the world over to prevent renewed conflict.

Remaining with the News Chronicle after the end of the Second World War Cliff served as the paper's New Delhi correspondent from 1946-57 during a momentous period in India's history.  During this period he struck up a friendship with Gandhi with whom he shared many philosophies.

Having retired from journalism Cliff died in 1977 in Devon.  For many years he was President of the Labour Constituency Part in Honiton, Devon.

His wartime memoir, which described at length his traumatic experiences both in the trenches and on the battle front on the Western Front, was published 11 years after his death in 1988 as To Hell and Back with the Guards, and featured a short preface by the former Labour Prime Minister Lord Wilson.

A "listening post" was an advanced post, usually in no-man's land, where soldiers tried to find out information about the enemy.

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Prose & Poetry