The Story Behind 99th Squadron by Audrina Lane

When I first thought of the idea for doing an anthology to commemorate VE Day’s 75th Anniversary in 2020, it was the end of 2019. I was with Karen Mossman at the Christmas book and Craft fair I had organised in November and you know what it’s like when two writers get together… ideas burst into life!

At the time, my Grandad (I always called him Gramps) was still alive, still healthy and I guess me and my whole family thought that we would have him in our lives for longer. Secretly willing him to be able to get his telegram from the Queen. Time transpired against us and he went peacefully in his sleep, at home in his 100th year. He was aged 99 and 12 days. I was lucky enough to share 46 years of my life with him and during the time we had possibly only had a few conversations about the war. When I was at secondary school we had to write about what our grandparents had done during the war and my Gramps, being quite a quiet, modest man told me to talk to my Nan. Between these conversations I learnt that they had met in the RAF, my Gramps a mechanic and my Nan helped to taxi the planes onto the runway or back into the hangers. She confessed that she really wanted to be working on the parachutes as they got to keep the spare scraps of silk to turn into underwear.

I vividly remember sitting on the sofa as he got out this battered photo album and started to show my black and white photos of his time in India and then onto the Cocos Islands (also known as the Keeling Islands). It almost looked like they were having a great holiday, sitting on the beach under palm trees or swimming in the Indian Ocean. The full horror was never talked about, especially as he fought on after VE day until VJ Day on August 13th and even then he never returned home for nearly a year as transport was so sporadic and disrupted. It was only recently and watching the Stephen Spielberg series ‘The Pacific’ that I discovered the hardships of those left fighting the Japanese on these small islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Later in life I learnt more through talking with him and my Dad as he said that he was quite often chosen to accompany the RAF Officers to meetings in Great Britain which they would fly to in a small plane. A mechanic would go with them in case there was any difficulties and he remembered an occasion when they were flying in thick fog and the pilot asked if he would help to guide them down by peering through the window. He said he’d been scared that if he made a mistake then the plane would crash. On the other hand, he would have to wait while the meeting took place and spent many hours sitting in the Officer’s mess, even though it was above his rank. I wish now that I had asked him more about this period, what it was like, what it felt like, but I always thought I would have more time for that. I was and still am fascinated by the photo of the falling bomb over fields, so powerful an image as I have only ever lived through peace.

Writing the tribute story in this anthology was my acknowledgement of his sacrifice for our country today, one I knew too little about but which I am so proud. This story was hard to write as I wanted to keep certain things based on fact’s, but I never knew my Gramps’ full story. I found little online but with what I could I was able to add to the few parts of his life that I did know about. In my own words it was a story of true emotion as I let him fly free for the final time, yet still have a part of him close to me in the words of his story – 99th Squadron. A carthartic write in the middle of the turmoil of bereavement and a pandemic that can be likened to a war with an invisible enemy.

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Excerpt

‘We had a radio to keep in touch with the news and as the 8th May, 1945 dawned nothing felt any different until we all heard a shout from the NAAFI and we scrambled from our places on the sand or in the sea to find out what was happening and whether it was good news of bad. It was good, the war was over in Europe with Hitler and Germany surrendering to the Allied forces. But would it be the same for us, forgotten in the Pacific Ocean. We raised a quick glass to our boys on the Western front but then it was back to work. More screws and bolts to check and tighten before the next flight sortie took off. Then it was the long wait until they returned.

I always found that part the hardest, waiting to hear the drone of the Liberator engines returning to base. As chance would have it our bombing raids were very few as the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and that was the beginning of the end of the Pacific war. I had been in the RAF since the start of the war so I was lucky enough to be one of the first men to start the journey home. I remembered the buzz of the plane engines as we took off, we actually had to stand until the plane was in flight and it was one of the memories I always came back to in the years since. Through the chink in the bomb doors I watched the landing strip fall away before a view of the small island, surrounded by the bright blue of the Pacific ocean. We had been such a small part of a huge operation, with so many lives lost along the way.’

The Story Behind The Dome of St Paul’s by Karen J Mossman

I was seven when Grandpa died, too young to really remember him. I was told it was partly due to the problems in his back through being in the water for so long during the war. I didn’t know what that meant and later learned it was on the beaches of Salerno and the length of time he and his comrades were standing in the sea whilst waiting to join the fight.

I looked it up and according to Wikipedia the Salerno landings took place on 3 September 1943 during the early stages of the Italian Campaign of World War II.

The operation was undertaken by General Sir Harold Alexander’s 15th Army Group (comprising of General Mark W. Clark’s Fifth Army and General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army).The main invasion landed around Salerno on the western coast at the ‘toe’ of Italy.

I admit to not knowing anything about the regiments but as soon as I read the above, Montgomery’s Eighth Army, stood out. My Dad often talked about the eighth as it was Grandpa’s regiment. He also talked about the toe of Italy and again at the time I didn’t know what that was. Now seeing it in black and white, reminds me of Dad who was fascinated with the history of war. Over the years he told me lots if stories about his father and what he endured. Being dropped off in the water at Salerno was one of them.

There was also The Battle for Monte Casino, and how Grandpa earned the honour of wearing the Canadian emblem his uniform. He and his comrades came to the rescue of Canadians being blocked in by German soldiers. He also talked about the miles and miles the armies walked during the war years.

In November 2019, author Audrina Lane invited me to a Christmas Craft and Book fair which she had organised in Hereford. That evening as we sat on her settee reflecting on the day, she spoke about her Gramps and what he did during the war and how VE Day was on the 8th May. I said how nice it would be to capture some of those stories in a book. We talked some more both liking the idea and the beginning of Victory75 was born. We then took the idea to Paul White, the founder of Electric Eclectic books, and he rounded up some authors to write stories to capture what it must have been like when the war finally ended. Several of us incorporated real war stories into our fiction and wrote dedications to those people who gave up so much so that we could live the life we do.

Before I came up with a premise for my story, I was privileged enough to see the book cover first. The Dome of St Paul’s, which played an iconic part in London’s War history by simply remaining there, and not being bombed. It gave me the inspiration for my story. Because I’d heard the tales s through my Dad, this became the starting point. Thinking I was being clever, I based it on the celebrations planned for the 8th May in London, where people originally flocked to when the announcement about the war ending came. The anthology was to be launched on that date and we would have our own celebration with the book.

My main character Jack was bang in the middle of what was to take place on the 8th May 2020. So people who read the story, would probably have seen the Queen meeting old soldiers and the parades and wreath laying. It would make it all the more real as the nation came together to remember the momentous time.

However, there was no way to predict the events that would unfold during 2020, and along with so many things, the celebrations to mark the occasion were cancelled.

The world was reeling from Corona Virus, specifically COVID-19. Over half a million people died, just like they did in the war, except this time from an invisible enemy.

You can still enjoy the stories of this special book including mine called The Dome of St Paul’s dedicated to my Grandpa, Cyril Parry from Chester. The other stories, all with a common theme will keep you entertained until the very last page.

Look out, too for Audrina’s Lane’s poignant story, where she holds her Gramps’ hand in his last hours, his war stories coming to life through a photograph album.

My Grandpa loved music and was a dedicated follower of The Salvation Army. I don’t have any photos of him in his war uniform but do have this one in his Salvation Army one along with his beloved trumpet.

Excerpt

Gran got to her feet and opened the sideboard drawer and handed me a dark blue table cloth. “This is the sea,” Grandad said. “Get your boats out too, you’ll need them for this story.” I ran into the front room and brought back several vessels, eager to know what he would tell me and what we were going to do. The table cloth was now on the table, and Grandad was setting up the soldiers.

“I was in the British 8th Army, and we were taken by boat and dropped off at Salerno. Have you heard of it?”

“No,” I replied, looking at him earnestly.

“It’s in a place called Scilly. The Canadians and American were already there and fighting the Germans on the beaches. So they dropped our regiment off in the sea under the cover of darkness. But the Germans, the canny buggers, knew we were there and took pot shots at us. We were defenceless, standing waist deep trying to get ashore and dodging the bullets at the same time.”

“Couldn’t you get back onto the boats?” I asked.

”They’d gone, lad, soon as they dropped us off, they headed back. We were abandoned us to our fate, and many men died. I thought I was going to die too, but somehow made it onto the beach which we got control of it. We helped the Americans to fight the Germans, and the battle raged for hours. We won that one, but it was at a high cost. Too many young men lost their lives.” He looked over at my Gran who was watching and listening. “We should never have been left like that.”

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Living on an Island

Karen J Mossman lives on an island in the UK. Anglesey is just off the north Wales coast. She spent all of her life living in a big city where it was always busy and full of traffic. Moving to an island meant she not only lived in the countryside but also near many beaches. Life became very different, a whole new world in many ways.

On her blog, she writes about living on an island and this is one of the post, with a little more information for this blog. This post was originally shared in 2016, a few months after moving there.

On Mondays, we, that being hubby and me, try to get out and explore our new island home.

This week we went out to lunch at Red Wharf Bay, as I’d seen The Ship Inn advertised on Social Media, so we thought we would visit.

It’s an historical pub going back to 18th century. We sat outside because it was a beautiful day, not sunny, but a with a warm breeze and light coloured clouds. The food was delicious, I had a steak and onion sandwich, with chips and salad. Hubby had the same with a crab sandwich instead.

I couldn’t resist taking a look inside and wasn’t disappointed. There were oak beams, white washed walls, stone floors ,and wooden furniture. It was like walking back in time. Charming in every sense of the word. Follow the link above to learn more about it.

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We then went a walk around, and the tide was in splashing up against the sides. The breeze had picked up and the dog loved the grassy walkways, sniffing her way through and stopping to do what dogs do. The children had gone back to school and the people walking around were our age all older. It just felt right. So peaceful and everyone smiled and acknowledged each other. In Manchester, people generally ignored each other.

Back in the car we drove over to Benllech Bay, and you’ll see from the link how beautiful the sands and beach is. The tide was right in exposing just a small patch of sand and on the promenade it splashed up against the wall. It reminded me of being a child and the excitement of getting wet when the waves spilled over us.

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It’s lovely to see the water bouncing about and unfortunately dogs were not allowed on the beach until the end of September, so we watched from the promenade and said we would come back at the end of the month.

We drove over to Moelfre, a little cove with a lifeboat station. It’s winding road to the front was full of cottages and reminded me of the beauty of Cornish coastlines.

We finished off at Cemaes Bay another really pretty harbour. We bought an ice cream and wandered down the front promenade which had been much improved over the years. They even had a bell on the beach and when the tide is in and splashes against it, it rings out. As you can see the sun came out and we walked on the beach finishing our day beautifully.

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Find out more about Karen J Mossman and her books on the Electric Eclectic website.

Answering Questions…

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Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of people asking who or what is Electric Eclectic.

So, it is the question I shall answer here.

Technically, Electric Eclectic is a decentralised international co-operative alliance, managed by members in various countries around the globe, forming a strong branded synergy of collaborative association specialising in authorship, book branding, publishing, marketing and promotions.

Okay, I hear you say, but what does that all mean?

The best way for me to answer that question is to give a little history of Electric Eclectic.

A few years ago, I was browsing the net, looking for some books to read.

A simple task.

Well, no, not really. As I searched I quickly realised this was a bit of a minefield.

Not only is there a plethora of titles on major bookstores websites, but there are also books on offer, or discounted, or offering gifts, or vouchers and even a vast number available for free.

Now, while there is such an overabundance of free and heavily discounted books, why on earth would any sane minded individual want, or even consider buying a book?

Clearly, this trend of giveaways is damaging the publishing world as deforestation is killing our planet. Readers DO NOT follow reading a free book buy purchasing the authors’ other titles, they simply move onto another free book, then the next and the next and the next. (See, FREE is killing indie)

Not only do the industries own figures show only 2% of free books are ever read, but they also show 97% of those who collect free books do not make any other literary purchases.

This got me wondering.

Why, if the book is well written and entertaining, should authors be offering their books at a vastly discounted price anyway, or even trying to bribe someone by giving away goods and vouchers?

After all, these are books which they have invested a great deal of time, lest to say money, in writing and publishing. Are their efforts not worth a few pounds or do these authors know their work is of such poor quality their book would not stand up to the competition without some form of enticement to gain a sale?

I was at a craft fair not so long ago and small handmade trinkets, bracelets, necklaces and such were on sale at what I thought were very high prices, as were the greeting cards and other craft paraphernalia.

After talking with a few of the stallholders I understood the investment of money and effort they spent in producing each individual item. I then realised that £15.00 (GBP) for a handcrafter sterling silver beaded necklace (on leather) with polished semi-precious stone was indeed a very reasonable asking price.

The cost of this necklace was bought further into perspective when I realised I spent £3.50 on a paper cup half-filled with lukewarm weak coffee, a price I accepted without flinching.

I know which was the better value.

My thoughts are, if you have something of quality, especially something created with the uniqueness of original thought and conception, then you have something which, by its very nature, holds an intrinsic value which should never be diminished.

This experience cumulated with me founding Electric Eclectic in 2017, which I originally referred to as Electric Eclectic books. 

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My original concept was a simple but effective one.

I knew most, if not all authors, have a vast accumulation of unused stories, part works, short unpublished tales and so forth. Mostly, these sit in a desk drawer or on a computer file gathering the dust while waiting patiently for the ‘I’ll finish that one-day’ promise to be realised.

I thought, why not encourage my fellow authors to dust off these neglected, forgotten, orphaned stories and publish them as short works, as eBook Novelettes to introduce readers to their writing style.

As I am a firm believer people do not value-free, as it holds no value whatsoever, my idea was to price these Novelettes at a simple 1.00 price, be it Pounds, Dollars or Euros.

By giving each of these books a light edit, a uniform format, and a consistent cover design we were able to create a brand image, bolstered by the edition of the Electric Eclectic logo.

These books, our Electric Eclectic Novelettes, would give readers a low-cost opportunity to sample the works of all our Electric Eclectic authors and, once they found the authors whose writing style and narration they enjoyed, they could then purchase the author’s main books knowing they were getting a quality read they would thoroughly enjoy and not be taking a chance on an ‘unknown’ writer.

For our Electric Eclectic authors, they would earn a small royalty on the sale of a story which would, in all probability, still be languishing in a dead file and have the chance of gaining new fans and followers.

I do not know of any other marketing programme which pays an author to promote their own books.

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By having all our author’s books sharing a common brand, Electric Eclectic, gave us all a far higher prominence in bookstores, such as Amazon and, of course whenever any of our books were promoted the brand was promoted too.

This way, each author is also helping their fellow Electric Eclectic authors showcase their works along with their own.

Since then Electric Eclectic has somewhat evolved.

We now offer far more than just our original Kindle Novelettes, although they are still a major part of our library. Electric Eclectic now have paperbacks (novels and short story collections) and are currently introducing a smaller version paperback, called pocketbooks; these are still complete, whole books, but are printed in a smaller size to make them easier for carrying, whether commuting or travelling on vacation.

All this is a boon for readers of Electric Eclectic books, they now have a much wider choice of formats in which to enjoy our author’s books and, as we are frequently introducing new authors to the Electric Eclectic fold, there are new books and stories to discover.

There’s more…

Electric Eclectic has grown far beyond its original concept and is firmly focused on developing the emerging new independent authored publishing market, a ground shift environment for future generations of writers.

Electric Eclectic boasts its own Amazon store, a YouTube channel, online magazines and catalogues, marketing services, Author Assist services, blogging networks and an influential social media presence across and beyond the major platforms, using core and micro-social influencers to reach both broad and niche market demographic targets.

Visit and browse, https://electriceclecticsblog.wordpress.com/

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Become an Electric Eclectic author.

Each year Electric Eclectic welcomes a small number of authors to our ranks. This year is no different.

To join us, email: EEbookbranding@mail.com

I hope the above answers your question about Electric Eclectic, of course, should you have more questions or need clarification about anything Electric Eclectic, please contact us.

Keep Happy,

Paul White

Founder, Electric Eclectic.