How fast the months fly by! When I look back and think, what have I done this month that might be of interest, it is hard to remember.
I gave a talk to the Ellesmere Port ladies luncheon club on Sept 9th about the inspiration behind my WWl novels and as usual it was very well received. I also spoke to the Manorgate society in Burton on the same topic. People are fascinated by the stories of Grace Ashley Smith, the commandant of the FANY, and Mabel Stobart, founder of the Women’s Sick and Wounded Convoy, and the exploits of Flora Sands. They should all be better known.
Work continues on preparation for the publication of TWICE ROYAL LADY in May. I have been sent a picture of the front cover and it is absolutely gorgeous! As the book is being published under the new Hale Broken River imprint I think it is getting special attention. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
Another topic that has been in my mind, with the commemorations for the outbreak of WWl, has been the fate of my paternal grandfather. He was killed during the retreat from Cambrai within days of the end of the war. He has no known grave but my sister has recently been to France with her husband Lyndon and found his name recorded on the great memorial in Arras. I copy her account of her visit here:
‘I have been researching my family tree. My grandfather Alfred William Gladdon born 1881 died in March 1918. He was originally in the Royal Flying Corp and enlisted in 1916 in the 10th battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment . In World War 1 he saw action at Albert, Vimmy Ridge, Beaucourt, Arras, Messines and Passchendaele, and qualified for the Victory and British War Medals. He was killed during the retreat from Cambrai in March 1918 and has no known grave. In September Lyndon and I visited the Arras Memorial in northern France and miraculously amongst 20,000 names found his name carved on one of the walls. We laid a bouquet of poppies beside the official Lincolnshire Regiment wreath. We also went to the Menin Gate in Ypres for the very moving Last Post ceremony performed every evening by four buglers from the local fire brigade. A representative of the Last Post Society recited the famous “Ode of Rememberance” by Laurence Binyon with the line “At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them” repeated by the hundreds of people who had gathered. An excellent visiting UK choir sang Herbert Howells edgy setting of the prayer which ends “God be at my end and at my departing”, and the Kernow Pipes and Drums paraded in full Scottish regalia. We also visited the “In Flanders Fields” museum where we were given bracelets so that we became participants in World War 1. I was a nurse at the Front and Lyndon was a French soldier. When we returned to our B&B we discovered that the owner`s grandfather was a stonemason who worked for five years on the building of the Gate. He showed us unique photographs of various stages in its construction.’
One project I have been busy on is some research into which libraries stock my novels. I’m glad to say all of them do, to a greater or lesser extent, but some had never heard of THE LAST HERO, so I took the opportunity to bring it to their attention and I am please to report that a good many of them have now ordered copies.
I have been asked to judge a short story competition run by the village of Curry Mallet in Somerset. They have an annual history festival and this year the theme is WWl. More details can be found at
www.currymallet.org . It is quite a big commitment but I think it is right to encourage other would-be writers.
On Saturday I shall be at the Society of Authors meeting in Manchester and at the end of October I am going to be at the Harrogate History festival. This is a really vibrant event and thoroughly recommended for all you history buffs out there. Go http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/history/ for details.
All this has rather interrupted my research for the next book, but I shall get back to it eventually!
I hope all is well with all of you.