Friday, 3 January 2014

In Foreign Fields

It’s now 2014, almost one hundred years since WW1 began in August 1914. My grandfather, a territorial soldier, was one of the first to cross the Channel to fight in that war. He was badly wounded twice and had shrapnel embedded in his chest to the day he died. Unfit to go back to his old job as an electrician in the Yorkshire mines, he travelled the country during the depression looking for work. He wasn’t the only one of the family to suffer because of his injuries. I recall hearing how my grandmother had to sell her mangle to pay for the family to move south. By the time of the Second World War, my grandfather was working in Devonport Dockyard and my grandmother had another mangle. That was where my parents met during that war. I had good family reason to want to write about that First World War and the terrible effect it had on the men who took part in it.

I began my research with the opening days of the war, the retreat from Mons, the Schlieffen Plan and the German advance across Belgium. I learned about the brutality suffered by the Belgian population, especially in the city of Leuven. It was an illuminating experience and taught me far more than I would otherwise have learned. I think I now understand far more about it than the simplistic concept I once had, a concept of muddy trenches and soldiers badly led. By the time I finished writing book one, “In Foreign Fields” I felt compelled to keep writing, to keep on telling the story as I now saw it. These past few weeks should have been a seasonal holiday, but I have been using my time to build up the manuscript that will eventually become book two, “In Line of Fire.”

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