Why I wrote this book.
I was born in Africa, but in 1972, at age 15 years, my father brought all his family back to England.
In 1985, a year or so after he had retired, Dad moved out to south west France with Mum. It made sense that he chose to retire to France as he spoke fluent french - but I had no idea why.
It was only after my first child was born in 1987 that I became interested in the childhood of my father. I knew nothing about where he was born, who his parents were or what kind of childhood he had had. Dad was English, as far as I knew, and my mother was Swedish. A strange mix one would think. I had no recollection of meeting his father, my grandfather, or my grandmother for that matter.
On a visit to his retirement home in Biscarrosse, just south of Bordeaux, I asked him if he would write a little about his younger life so I could tell my children about him and his family. He said he would have a go and no more was said. He had never spoken to me about his childhood and did not seem keen to do so.
Sadly, in 1992, he passed away. A few years later the subject of Dads' history came up and I asked Mum if he had put anything in writing. She told me that he had and sent me the few notes that he had written. Only 28 pages of foolscap and written by hand.
I read his story for the first time and found myself in tears. I also discovered why he spoke fluent French. I really could not believe what had happened to him and his younger brother during the war. It was incredible that they had survived - and he had said nothing!
I had to find out more and write it all down, for my children and family.
Using his notes as a base, my wife and I began visiting the places in Belgium and France that he spoke of in his writings and I set about writing this novel.
It was an amazing journey. I found out much about the war, his father, his mothers' Belgian family and met some of my family that I never knew I had.
The places, the people and most of the experiences told within the pages of this book are true.
This book is his story.