A World War II memoir following the adventures of a female ambulance driver as she serves across four fronts witnesses the best and worst of humanity, and navigates the barriers imposed by sexism in the British Army.
Train to Nowhere is a war memoir seen through the sardonic eyes of Anita Leslie, a funny and vivacious young woman who reports on her experiences with a dry humor, finding the absurd alongside the tragic.
Daughter of a Baronet and first cousin once removed of Winston Churchill, Anita joined the Mechanized Transport Corps as a fully trained mechanic and ambulance driver during WWII, serving in Libya, Syria, Palestine, Italy, France, and Germany. Ahead of her time, Anita bemoans "first-rate women subordinate to second-rate men," and, since the English army forbade women from serving at the front, joined the Free French Forces in order to do what she felt was her duty.
Writing letters in Hitler’s recently vacated office and marching in the Victory parade contrast with observations of watching friends murdered and a mother avenging her son by coldly shooting a prisoner of war. Unflinching and unsentimental,Train to Nowhere is a memoir of Anita’s war, one that, long after it was written, remains poignant and relevant.
With a new introduction by Penny Perrick.
Anita Leslie (1914–1985), daughter of Shane Leslie (Sir John Randolph Leslie, 3rd Baronet) and first cousin once removed of Sir Winston Churchill, was a writer of memoir and biography. She joined the Mechanised Transport Corps as a fully trained mechanic and ambulance driver during WWII, serving in Libya, Syria, Palestine, Italy, France and Germany. She wrote letters home from Hitler's office in the Reich Chancellery and took part in the Victory parade in Berlin. In the latter part of the war she drove an ambulance for the Free French Forces, and was awarded theCroix de Guerre in 1945 by General Charles de Gaulle.
Leslie later married Commander Bill King and had two children. She published seventeen books, the last in 1985 – the year she died.
"A remarkable memoir . . . A wonderful saga of one brave young woman's war experiences." -Publishers Weekly
"Train to Nowhere is the most gripping piece of war reportage I have ever read: particularly affecting is Anita Leslie's account of the Battle of Colmar, where her descriptions are almost too unbearable to take in. What a writer! Her observations, mixed with dry humour and compassion, place her at the heart of the conflict and somehow apart from it, as a good historian should be. Remarkable." - Joanna Lumley
"A vivid memoir, beautifully crafted, by a remarkable woman at a unique period in modern history. Her skills of observation are penetrating and make this book a marvellously accessible account of WWII. Unputdownable." - Mary S. Lovell,Author of The Mitford Girls
"Anita Leslie was a lionhearted heroine of the first order, whose extraordinary bravery and sangfroid knew no bounds...An astonishing life and a fascinating book." - Anjelica Huston
"A triumph of a memoir. Anita Leslie bears testament to the many courageous women who lived and fought in World War II." - Amanda Foreman,author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
"For every distressing episode there is the leavening effect of Anita Leslie’s indomitable spirit, her canny observations and wry sense of humour in the face of unimaginable adversity, all of which turned the book into something quite unexpected and extraordinary." - Dovegreyreader
"A vivid reminder that a woman can experience and write about a war, and seventy years on, her words stand the test of time: precise and compelling." - Kate Adie,BBC Broadcaster
"It's glorious! Had me utterly gripped, I couldn’t put it down. I wish I’d been able to meet her and ask her a thousand questions about the war." - Caroline Wyatt,BBC War Correspondent
"The emotional truths of front-line war revealed – a charming writer, bold, female and brave." - Fay Weldon,Author of Death of a She Devil
"Train to Nowhere speaks of another mood, a different time and a grittier generation...This, surely, is the second world war we want to rediscover in print." - Robert McCrum,Observer
"If Evelyn Waugh's Mrs Algernon Stitch had been possessed of a heart, a sense of humour, and a glorious prose style, it could be said that she was a dead ringer for Anita Leslie.Train to Nowhere is a glorious book, brought back to vivid life." - John Banville,Booker Prize winning author of The Sea
"Gripping…concise, brisk, funny, vivid and honest." - Ysenda Maxtone Graham,Daily Mail
"Anita Leslie's dispassionate account of her own extraordinary role in World War II is a rediscovered gem, and her harrowing description of the fighting in Alsace particularly stands out as one of the finest pieces of war reporting to come out of that or any other conflict." - Ray Moseley,Author of Reporting War How Foreign Correspondents Risked Capture, Torture and Death to Cover World War II
"A sharply observed account of one woman’s unique war. Surreal, funny, dark, and profoundly moving. Gold dust." - Rick Stroud,Author of Lonely Courage
"Train to Nowhere is a delightful read and very enlightening, Anita's obvious bravery and dedication is evident. I finished it with a feeling of admiration for Anita." - Victor Gregg,author of Rifleman
"Nobody else has written about the war like this, a mixture of savagery and fun; perhaps Evelyn Waugh comes closest." - Penny Perrick,Author of Telling Tales: The Fabulous Lives of Anita Leslie
"It remains one of the most remarkable insights into life on the frontline, offering a sometimes harrowing, sometimes heartwarming, but always candid account of five years fighting the Nazis." - Dan Townend,Daily Express
"Calm, youthful candour ... forthright acceptance of the whole duty of war service." -Observer, 1948
"A terse, keen reticence and the summing up of deadly situations in a line or two." -The Times, 1948