A Martial Medley (1931) is an engaging collection of Great War fiction and non-fiction, edited by Eric Partridge. It contains a few mysteries, some of which I have solved, but what I want to know is: Who is C.W. Grundy?
The collection opens with Grundy’s story ‘Lost and Found’, about WAACs in France. Partridge’s introduction states that ‘lengthy first-hand knowledge’ is ‘the sine qua non of each contribution’, so we can assume that Grundy is writing from first-hand experience, though that is strongly suggested by the text itself, with its detailed presentation of camp life and attitudes. She describes the ‘warm hairy bite’ of an army blanket, and the time when the Unit Administrator walked on parade with a cigarette sticking to her lower lip, because she had forgotten it was there (‘But how damned slack! Why the hell couldn’t they, the smartest unit in France, have a smart officer?’). This same U.A. gives the women a jaw at roll-call, warning them ‘not to muck about with the fellers ’cause of V.D.’
The story is about a mildly discontented WAAC who receives news from home that her brother has been killed. Distressed and looking for consolation, she throws herself at an officer.
The story is slight and the tone slangy (reminding me slightly of J. Maclaren Ross’s stories from a later war) but it’s got the authenticity that readers look for in Helen Zenna Smith’s Not So Quiet… (which is not as genuine as some would like it to be).So who is/was C. W. Grundy, and did she write more? Grundy is maybe a pseudonym, because Partridge’s anthology is full of them. ‘Corrie Denison’ is Partridge himself (though he also contributes an article on soldiers’ slang under his own name). ‘Miles’ is Stephen Southwold, and ‘Charles Edmonds’ is Charles Carrington.
The only other work by Grundy that I have found traces of is a novel, Egyptian Portrait. This review (from The Tablet 6th September 1930) gives an idea of it.
The perusal of Egyptian Portrait, by C. W. Grundy (Dent ; Cr. 8vo ; pp. 288; 7s. 6d.), must raise in the mind of the reader the question of the utility, or advisability, of trying to superimpose European culture on a non-European foundation. It is apart from our function to decide the question that must arise; experience alone can give the answer. There is no doubt, however, about the fact that in this “Egyptian portrait” we have a powerful study of a character which, having been subjected to several different influences in early life, turns out nondescript and undesirable in the long run. It is the old story of the development of the body outstripping the development of the mind, producing a child with the emotions of a man, and the faulty handling of the lad by a certain type of white woman, who failed to see the harm she was doing. This danger being removed, the lad, in the possession of a competence, is sent to a school conducted by the Franciscan Fathers (where, by the way, the only religious exercises seem to have been Benediction and Confirmation) ; and at this school, as the result of a shock which recalls the “vocation ” of Luther, he becomes a Catholic and even thinks for a time of the priesthood. Life in Cairo follows; then Oxford, with a new set of ideas overlaying the basic Egyptian character. Finally the young man returns to Cairo ; and we leave him lying by the Nile in the chill before the dawn when “he lifted his clenched fist above his head and swore to serve Egypt with life itself.”
The book is by no means a pleasant one, but it holds by the sheer force of its truthfulness.
This sounds very different from Lost and Found. Are there any more Grundy stories out there somewhere?