10 MAY 1930, Page 19

The title, Service Trials and Tragedies, by Lieutenant- Colonel F.

E. Whitton (Hutchinson, 18s.) might give the impression that here was another volume of war reminiscences, but Colonel Whitton is already known as the author of several serious contributions to military history including an article in the Nineteenth Century on the death of the Prince Imperial. That subject is dealt with in this book, as also the history of Benbow and his captains, the shooting of Admiral -Byng, the charge of the Light Brigade, the capsizing of H.M.S. ' Captain,' the Dreyfus affair, and the death of Edith Cavell. Colonel. Whitton is a serious historian, and one who has a sense of drama and the ability to marshal facts ; although, then, he does not bring forward any new documents, he is able by an impartial reconsideration of existing records to illuminate many passages of our history. Which of us, for instance, is clear as to who blundered at Balaclava ; and what were the respective responsibilities of Lords Cardigan and Raglan ? Colonel Whitton describes the whole scene, in its bitterness and glory. So also with the trial and death of Edith Cavell, but one cannot help wondering, on rereading the final scene, at which an officer, a staff-surgeon, and six German soldiers of the firing party were present, whether the exact manner of her death will not one day be known beyond a per- adventure. This is emphatically a book to read and discuss.