Myles Hildyard

Landschaft is a wide ranging project encompassing music, photography, film-making and historical research, exploring themes of nostalgia. This short biography of Myles Hildyard is presented to support the memory of this remarkable man.

I have completed Myles Hildyard's Letters Home 1939-45; pubd Bloomsbury, ISBN 0 7475 7802 8. One of those books, I read slowly, cherishing every moment, my sign of an excellent read. The letters start in a very flippant, almost obnoxious tone in Myles' early idle days on cushy non combat duties in the Mediterranean - very much in Waugh's dry black humour style. The tone changes during his daring escape fom German hands during the invasion of Crete and yet again as he assumes more active duties across the North African campaign. After this he is part of the second wave at D-Day and there is another change of tempo - the weariness of five years campaigning is noticable through to the final months before VE day in 1945 when he was de-mobbed. Myles makes light of artillery bombardments and near misses by shot and shell - these are letters home remember, and he would not have wanted to alarm the family to whom they were addressed. A remarkable record, and one of the great personal records of the war. As a book, it works very well as narrative history - the editing has been carried out sympathetically and the continuity ensures Hildyard's tale is seamlessly told. As a personal history, it is up there with Edwin Campion Vaughn's acclaimed record of the First World War published as "Some Desperate Glory". That Antony Beevor, the big hitter of modern narrative history wrote the introduction is a testament to the importance of this archive.

Researching the life of Hildyard after reading "Letters Home" (the volume was published in 2003) I was saddened to learn he had died two years ago in 2005 - no more than that quite mournful. His ancestral seat was Flintham Hall not 20 miles from my home and I had planned in my mind a visit to talk to him. Sympathetic obituaries were published in the broadsheets:

Myles Hildyard obituary The Times

Myles Hildyard obituary The Independent

Myles Hildyard obituary The Telegraph

The artist Jonh Piper, produced a fine screenprint of Flintham Hall, the Hildyard family seat that can be viewed at Flintham Hall by John Piper

I would like to think Flintham Hall has stayed in the family (though Hidyard was childless) - and has not been sold off as a hotel, conference centre or divided into swish appartments for monied commuters.

Personal histories are important - they tend to tell the story straight unlike the official versions that distort and are selective in what they present. In this respect, Hildyard's history is priceless.