A Family History of Service to Crown and Country by Jane Risdon

Last year I had the opportunity to contribute a short story for an anthology which would go on sale in celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE-Day. I jumped at the chance. I’ve contributed towards various anthologies in the past but this one was and is special.

The Anthology is called, VICTORY 75 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE-Day: 8th May 2020. It is available on Amazon (Toad Publishing/Electric Eclectic).

My contribution is called, ‘We’ll Meet Again.’  My story is obviously set in WW2.

I was asked to contribute a blog post about the service my family has given to Crown and Country over many decades, and centuries, so forgive me if my post does not just touch upon WW2 and VE-Day. The consequences of going to war reverberates down through the generations. Even today.

Photo© Jane Risdon 2021. My Paternal Great Grandfather served in several campaigns including WW1.

My family has served in the British armed forces for generations, mostly in the Army but not exclusively, and we have long connections with various regiments, and with the Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Sandhurst.

My maternal Grandfather served at the RMA, my father was an Instructor there, so was an uncle, and a cousin and his two sons have passed out as Officers, during the latter part of the 20th century, and their cousin has also passed out during the mid-21st century. They all went on to serve in the various conflicts we all know about and many of which are still on-going, sadly.

Indeed, one of my cousin’s sons who served in Afghanistan in recent years was awarded the MBE for bravery, leading his men out of an ambush through enemy territory under fire. He has progressed in the army and became Commander of the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment in Aldershot, later becoming Colonel of the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment.

Sovereign’s Parade, RMA Sandhurst Photo courtesy of the RMA.

My maternal Grandfather served in WW1 and was in France. He was gassed more than once and discharged eventually with ‘influenza,’ which I soon realised when researching family history, is a euphemism for being gassed. He suffered all his life from what was called, ‘spongy lung,’ and he eventually died from being gassed, in 1955.

He didn’t get any help, either mentally, physically, or financially, and therefore when he was laid off work at the RMA every winter for three months, he and his family struggled to survive on money they put aside every month in a small insurance policy which paid a pittance per week when he was unable to work, fighting for every breath.

My Grandmother’s first husband served in WW1 and various other conflicts including in Afghanistan, South Africa, and India. He was wounded at the Somme and discharged with shrapnel injuries which eventually led to his death in 1923. Again, he did not receive any financial or psychological help. He served with the 2nd Sherwood Foresters.

Photo Durham Light Infantry & 2nd Sherwood Foresters 6th May 1960 in Fermoy Ireland. Proclamation of King George V.

He and my Grandmother served in the RFC (Royal Flying Corps/RAF) after his discharge from the British Army, even though wounded.


Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Maternal Grandmother in her RFC (later RAF) uniform.

In 1916 one of my Grandmother’s brothers was giving his life at The Somme whilst another brother was arrested and incarcerated in HM Prison Wakefield, for his part in the Easter Uprising.

My great uncle is buried in France. He was with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.


Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Grove Town Cemetery, Meulte, France.

I often think of this and wonder what conversation around the dinner table must have been like for the others left behind in a small village in Tipperary.

My great uncle who was imprisoned in Wakefield later went on to become a Sergeant in the Garda Siochána in Dublin, despite his prison sentence for being part of the Easter Uprisings.

Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Great uncle in the Garda Siochána

Of course, every household in the British Isles and beyond experienced their loved ones being sent off to war and they had to deal with the consequences if/when these men and women returned possibly (probably) injured, both mentally and physically.

The photo above is of my Great Uncle George in his Duke of York School uniform before he went into WW1 aged 14 Photos (c) Jane Risdon 2021.

My paternal Grandfather and his brothers went off to WW1, having lied about their ages so they could join up. All three had been through the Duke of York School in Kent which was a boarding school for children of soldiers who were orphaned or whose family couldn’t afford to keep them.  The three brothers who went off to war together in WW1 posed for a photo before leaving. Happily, they all survived the war.

Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Three brothers in WW1 – my paternal great uncles and grandfather.

I know my Grandfather was 14 when he was in the trenches in France I have seen his army records. He served in France and was later posted to India (early 1920s) where he was part of the British Indian Army. He was sent to Africa in WW2 with his men – mostly Indian Sikhs – to fight Rommel. Later he returned to see India gain independence in 1947 when he and his family returned to England, except my own Father, who had joined the British Army in India (IEME – Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and was posted to Africa, and various other conflicts before being sent to the RMA (Royal Military Academy) Sandhurst as an Instructor to the Officer Cadets.

The photo above is of my paternal grandfather later in his career when he was an acting Lt. Colonel. He retired as a Major having left India after Partition in 1947. Photos © Jane Risdon 2020.


Photo RMA Sandhurst. My father is in this photo June 1949 – Instructors at the RMA.

In 1952 my father was sent to Korea and took part in the Korean war – I was just a baby and apart from his seeing me aged 3 months, we never set eyes on each other again until he was posted to Singapore and Malaya (Malaysia) to rout bandits raiding rubber plantations in Johore Bahru – where my Mother and I joined him in 1954.

We lived in many countries whilst he was still serving, including Germany and England.

Photo Crest of the British Indian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Photo Badge of the British Army Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

One of my brothers became a ‘boy’ soldier and eventually joined the same regiment as my father (REME) and served in Bosnia, Ireland, and elsewhere. His son joined the RAF and was Awarded a Commendation in the Queen’s Birthday Honours a couple of years ago. He has served in The Falkland Islands, and in Afghanistan.

A paternal Great Uncle served on submarines in WW2: one he was on sunk. He returned home a shadow of his former self following his experiences trapped inside for a long time. He was a talented artist and had hoped before the war to study in Paris. Sadly, he suffered the rest of his life with mental illness, and he didn’t get the help our Forces hope to get today. He used to book himself voluntarily into a local psychiatric hospital whenever he felt himself losing control and he’d stay there until he felt well enough to leave. He was not violent, just someone who’d become agitated and withdrawn, tormented by what he’d seen and experienced.

I could go on listing relatives who served over many years, going back to the very first Army/Navy we had as a country, but I am sure every family can do this.

Our family detests war, but many have heeded the call to arms when necessary and have fought proudly and bravely for Crown and country. Including one of my stories in Victory 75 has been an honour.

Jane Risdon © 2021

All photos © Jane Risdon 2021 All Rights Reserved.

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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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Story Behind the Story

by Karen J Mossman

What is it that makes a writer want to write a story? Where does the idea come from?

Sometimes it is a single image that will inspire them. Other times, it’s a song, or a place, or just something they overhear.

Today we are looking at Toxic as shown below. Two books, two authors and one story.

Why would you have two different books if they are one story?

I’m going to answer that question by telling you the story behind the story.


The idea came from Karina, and so I got in touch to ask her about it.

I am not a huge Science Fiction fan, but have always wanted to write about a world that lived underground. It was more dystopian story that I wanted to write.

I have never collaborated with an author and it had been a long time since I had written anything new. I’d worked with Karen J. Mossman before, as she was one of my clients at KKantas Author Assist, and I put the idea to her.


My initial thought was to write one book with both our names on the front. After the story came together we realised how much science fiction was involved as well as romance and thriller. Toxic has a lot of sub genres and will appear to most lovers of dystopian and romance.

We talked online about it as I am in Greece and she is in Wales. The first thing we needed was a brainstorming session to build a world for our characters. I set up a Zoom meeting and we spoke, wrote, and chatted for over an hour and one important thing from it. Both of us wanted something different, and we weren’t at first, sure how to reconcile it. I wanted the romance to be erotica and Karen didn’t. So this was a stumbling block and it was Karen that came up with the idea of having two books, same story, just differently written. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. So that is what we did.

I have never brainstormed with anyone before, never mind write with another author. When I spoke to Karina she mentioned that during our Zoom session, it was amazing how our story laid itself out in front of us as if was magic. We had our world, our characters, and the plot was there, and as we wrote it changed and took on a life of its own. It was a real pleasure to write and work with Karina.

We each wrote a chapter and sent it to the other to look at and add to it or change it. Not always easy when you write what you think is a good scene only to find the other has changed it. That’s why you need an author who you trust, and have respect for. Changes were never a problem because it only enhanced the story.

A hundred years ago acid rain fell to earth and the people took to living in the mountains. Over time the humans developed into Maloks, just a new name for those who lived and worked in this new environment. With a committee to govern them, life inside was never easy, as young Lexi finds out.

We knew that we couldn’t leave it there once we had finished, and Toxic 2 is currently in the process of being written. After that a third, and final novella will be penned by Karina and I, where the magic will once more take us on a journey that we are not expecting.

Toxic 2 will be out late summer or Autumn of 2021.

Meanwhile, why not choose a story to suit you.

Blurb

Lexi isn’t your normal Malok. She craves adventure and freedom from the mundane life forced upon her. 100 years ago, the first drop of acid rain fell. Maloks fled to the mountains, building a new way of life—a desolate life—a life Lexi knows all too well. 

Lexi has a plan, her ticket out of this miserable existence, becoming a ranger. Aron, her partner, believes she’s not strong enough to fight alongside him. Lexi will stop at nothing, no matter what the danger, to achieve her independence, even if that means defying him.

Amidst everything, Marcus, Lexi’s childhood best friend makes a sudden return. Before she can rejoice in a reunion, her happiness is crushed when she sees Mae, the bully that had terrorized her in her teens. Marcus was aware of the mental abuse Lexi had suffered and yet the person she loved and the person she hated the most, stand before her, together.

“A powerful dystopian thriller that captures the heart and imagination”.

New from Electric Eclectic books for 2021

Deep Waters is the latest Electric Eclectic book, and the first new release of 2021.

For Deep Waters, Paul White has taken a totally different approach from his last offering, the superb, gritty and surprising crime drama, A New Summer Garden‘.

With Deep Waters, we follow the main character, Gary, as he struggles to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife.

After a failed suicide attempt, Gary take himself off to an isolated island, far away from the distractions of daily life and the people he knows, as kind and as helpful as they try to be.

This touching and emotional tale allows privileged insight into Gary’s mind as he stumbles onward through life and unveils an understanding of why he chose this island to execute his last wishes.

Electric Press magazine says,

“Paul White uses his protagonist, Gary, as a device to explore the depths and fragility of the human psyche.

I doubt if you can read this book without shedding a tear, or two… or more.”

Deep Waters in available in both eBook format, and as an Electric Eclectic Pocketbook Paperback

EXCERPT:

“…My first thought, rather obviously, was to name the boat Francis, after my deceased wife, bless her soul.

But then, I felt it was not the right thing to do. Francis had never been here, never been to the island. Neither of us knew this place existed before, before… now, which was part of the reason I came here. To get away from those haunting memories, as callous as it may seem.

You see, that is what life is all about, the memories. The memories of shared experience. The things you do with family, mum, dad, siblings. The adventures with friends and, of course, all the things you do, all the places you go, all the battles you fight and all the little victories you celebrate with your lover, your soulmate, the one you wish to grow old with.

Francis was my soulmate. It was the memories we shared from the life we were building together which haunted me now.

Don’t get me wrong. I did not want to forget. I do not want to erase them from my mind, but neither did I want to be reminded of every detail each time I walked into a room or got onto the boat.

I want to remember Francis when I want to recall her voice or touch or tell a story about her antics. I want to remember her on my terms, not as just some random flashback.

So, no. I could not call the boat Francis…”

Amazon UK  https://amzn.to/2WocchI

Amazon. com USA  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QVL3PYV

For all other orders (eBook only) https://books2read.com/Deep-Waters

VJ Day/Singapore surrender. A family witness.

“Lord Louis Mountbatten delivering a speech from steps of Municipal Building at the conclusion of Japanese surrender ceremonies. L to R, front row: Admiral Sir Arthur J. Power, General Sir William Slim, Mountbatten, Lt. General Raymond A.Wheeler, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park. Singapore.” Sep. 12, 1945

This year, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Probably the most momentous historical occasion in living memory.

Many military and veterans’ associations and charities planned special events, shows, exhibitions and displays in remembrance of VE-day, D-Day and VJ-Day, which, due to the Coronavirus pandemic necessitated cancellation.

Every day, memories of World War 2, its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs, disappear. Yielding to the inalterable process of ageing, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their late 80s and 90s. The oldest reported, 110 and 105 respectively.

It is doubtful how many may still be with us to observe future milestone in our history of remembrance. One of the main reasons 2020 was to be a major worldwide commemorative event.

At the time I write this post, both the VE-Day and D-Day dates have passed which is one reason I write of VJ-Day.

Another reason is, my grandfather, Percy Doswell, a Royal Airforce doctor, witnessed the surrender ceremony at the Municipal Building of Singapore, headed by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia Command, who came to Singapore to receive the formal surrender of the Japanese forces in the region from General Seishirō Itagaki on behalf of General Hisaichi Terauchi.

A photograph montage, near the end of this blog post were taken by my grandfather and have never been published or publicly displayed before.

However, let me start with a simple historical explanation for those who may not know too much regarding the ending of World War 2.

D-Day; the popular name given to the Normandy Landings, on 6 June 1944. (D-Day and H-Hour being common military terms of the period.)

This event marked the allied fightback against the Axis Powers, notably Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. It was the beginning of the end.

VE Day marks the end of World War II in Europe, (Victory in Europe, hence ‘VE’.) May 8th, 1945 the date the Allies celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Reich, formally recognising the end of the Second World War in Europe.

VJ Day signals the end of World War II in its entirety. It is when Japan finally surrendered. (Victory over Japan Day, VJ-Day, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, or VP-Day.)

In Japan, August 15th is known as the ‘Memorial Day for the end of the war‘. 終戦記念日, Shūsen-kinenbi); the official name for the day, however, is ‘the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace.’ (戦没者を追悼し平和を祈念する日, Senbotsusha o tsuitōshi heiwa o kinensuru hi. (This official name was adopted in 1982 by an ordinance issued by the Japanese government.)

In the UK and the US, VJ Day is celebrated on different dates.

The initial announcement of Japan’s surrender was made on 15 August 1945, the date the UK marks as VJ-Day each year.

However, the surrender documents were officially signed on the USS Missouri battleship on 2 September 1945, which is why America celebrates on 2 September.

Foreign minister Shigemitsu, signing Japanese surrender instrument on the battleship USS Missouri

This blog, however, concentrates on the 12 September 1945, the date the surrender instrument was signed at the Singapore Municipal Building, (now known as City Hall), simply because, (as stated above), this was the part of the war’s official ending my grandfather witnessed and of which my family have personal records.

On 12 September 1945, Supreme Allied Commander (Southeast Asia), Lord Louis Mountbatten, accompanied by the Deputy Supreme Commander Raymond Wheeler, was driven to the ceremony by a released prisoner-of-war. As the car drove by the streets, sailors and marines from the East Indies Fleet who lined the streets greeted them.

At the Municipal Building, Mountbatten was received by his Commanders-in-Chief and high-ranking Allied Officers based in Singapore. Also gathered in front of the Municipal Building were four Guards-of-Honour, from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Indian army, and Australian paratroopers. Mountbatten led an inspection of the officers before proceeding to the chamber where the ceremony was to be held. During the inspection, a fleet band played “Rule Britannia” accompanied by the firing of a seventeen-gun salute by the Royal Artillery.

The Instrument of Surrender was signed by General Itagaki, who signed on behalf of Hisaichi Terauchi, Field Marshall Count, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Japanese Forces, Southern Region.

Terauchi was not able to attend the surrender ceremony as he fell ill due to a stroke. However, he personally surrendered to Mountbatten on 30 November 1945 in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city).

He also surrendered his two swords: a short sword forged in the 16th century and a long sword forged in the 13th century. Mountbatten later presented the short sword to King George VI.

The Japanese signed a total of 11 copies of the Instrument of Surrender; one each for the British, American, Chinese, French, Dutch, Australian, Indian and the Japanese governments; and one each for King George VI, the Supreme Commander, Mountbatten and the South East Asia Command’ records.

The ceremony was also witnessed by 400 spectators (one being my grandfather, Percy Doswell), made up of commanders and officers from the navy, army and air force, as well as senior officers from the Supreme Headquarters of the South East Asia Command, 14 leaders of the Malayan communities, the Sultan of Johore, Sir Ibrahim, and released prisoners-of-war, who were all seated behind the Allied representatives.

In the chamber, flags of Allied forces were hung and at the bases of its pillars as were one officer representing the different fighting forces; the Gurkhas, Sikhs, Australians, British airmen, Dutch, Americans, French (from the battleship Richelieu) and the 5th Indian Division.

The surrender ceremony ended with the hoisting of the Union Jack and the playing of the national anthems of all the Allied nations. The Union Jack used was the same flag which flew over the Government House before the war and which was hidden by a Malayan civil servant, Mervyn Cecil Frank Sheppard in his pillow during his captivity in the Changi Prison during the Japanese Occupation.

The official ceremony was followed by a celebration at the Padang, which included a victory parade.

A British military administration, using surrendered Japanese troops as security forces, was formed to govern the island until March 1946.

At home, in England, Prime Minister Clement Atlee‘s announcement: “The last of our enemies is laid low”.

King George VI addressed the nation from a balcony at Buckingham Palace and streets across the nation were filled with people singing, cheering, dancing in scenes which echoed the declaration of peace in Europe three months earlier.

Bonfires were lit, fireworks sent soaring into the sky and historic buildings floodlit as the whole country celebrated the news that their remaining troops would soon be returning home.

Immediately operations began to repatriate some of the 130,000 Allied prisoners held by Japanese troops in POW camps across the region. The RAF parachuted in 136 teams to negotiate the release of prisoners in Operation Mastiff.

My Grandfather, Percy Doswell. (While stationed in India.)

Sadly, the end of World War 2 did not bring the everlasting peace so many wished for, war and conflict still rage around the world to this day.

I note two books you may wish to read, the first, an anthology from the authors of Electric Eclectic, written to celebrate the 75th VE-Day anniversary, is simply called ‘Victory 75. This can be obtained in Paperback from Amazon, here, or as an eBook/Kindle, here

The second is ‘Life in the War Zone, n award winning collection of short stories classed as fiction, yet are based on true accounts given by those living in areas of conflict around the world. Paperback only. Here.

Suppression… a short story.

 

morality

This is the shortest story from Tales of Crime & Violence, (Volume 1) which falls into the ‘Violence’ category… but not how you may initially think… which is all part of what these books are about.

Enjoy.


studinski-blog-determining-fault-in-a-car-accident

Suppression

 

I pulled the car to a halt, two wheels on the grass verge and switched the engine off.

Immediately the engine died the radio seemed dreadfully loud. 

So strange the way you get used to the noise of a running engine. The way your mind cancels out the rhythmic growling.

I wondered if it was always that way, if we have the ability to disregard repetitive or intrusive sounds?

I mean, did the cavemen do such? Was there a need? Maybe during a storm or a gale, they could close their ears to the sound of the howling winds or the consistent noise of heavy rainfall, maybe?

Or it could be a newly acquired skill since… since when?

At first, I supposed it would be during the industrial revolution. The sound of looms, presses and steam engines; thumps, clashes and clanging’s, a metallic cacophony the likes of which had never been heard before.

But then, before then, there was war. Iron forges for portcullis and armour, stonemasons chasing rock into blocks for castle walls; the incessant repetitiveness of hammer, of chisel, of mallet.

Then the battle. Masses of men, horse and oxen meshing and mashing themselves into bloody quagmires of gritty bone and blood.

If ever there was a sound to blanket I believe I would choose to smother that one.

Especially after the events of this morning.

Those screams sent sensations tingling the entire length of my spine. I could not tell if they came from the nape of my neck and ran down, like a streak of lightning to the base of my back, or if they started there, at my coccyx and travelled upwards to strike my atlas bone.

You see, it was not the volume, the earth splitting frequency of those elongated screams which caused my vertebrae to quiver. It was the intensity of which they were emitted.

I actually felt them. Felt the full ferocity of their energy within every organ, every cell of my entire being.

That ferocity was only equalled by the way she fought. Limbs flailing like broken masts in a force ten gale. Vicious nails, the talons of werewolves, and sharp teeth with the uncanny ability to locate exposed skin without conscious effort, seeking to rent chunks of flesh from my arms and face.

It took me a long time to subdue her. My face was gashed, long rips of bloodied skin hung from my cheeks. My arms were cut, bitten and bruised, as was my ego.

It was during that process, while I was trying to overpower her, I could have done with the capability to eliminate noise. I am certain I could have restrained her far quicker had she not been screaming so loudly, so constantly.

Even now, as I sit in my car with the radio on, volume so low it is barely audible, I can hear her screams echoing in my ears, my bloodied hands still shake a little, the remnants of the violent trembling the episode left with me.

I know her screams shall be a sound I shall carry within my memory forever, carry to my grave.

Fortunately, before she could do further damage before she managed to totally dismember and disembowel me, other nurses came to my assistance. Together we were able to subdue and sedate her.

As I left the ward I looked to where she now lay, sedated and sleeping. She looked so calm and serene, so peaceful and content.

I cannot help but wonder what demons inhabit her tortured soul.

Tonight, I shall pray for her.

<<< >>>

You can find all three volumes of ‘Tales of Crime & Violence’ on Amazon and other good bookstores.

They are available as Paperbacks

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or ready to download eBooks/Kindle

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Where did Wally Twitchett come from?

The following article is from a wonderful author whom I am lucky to count amongst my friends.

Julia Blake is warm-hearted, funny and straight-talking; her words dance across the page, keeping you entertainingly captivated from start to finish.

In this guest post for Electric Eclectic, Julia addresses a question many authors are asked.

Author Julia Blake

One of the questions readers ask me the most is, where do you get your ideas from? The honest answer is most of the time I have absolutely no idea. I’ll be going about my daily life and suddenly a scene, or a name, or a scrap of dialogue will float into my brain. For a few days, weeks, months or even years, it will simply sit there, putting out little tendrils of ideas that twist and grow and take root in my imagination, until suddenly, bam, I have a complete plot in my head, fully formed, as if from nowhere.

Occasionally though, I can pinpoint the exact moment when a book was conceived and can say “there, that was when it all started.” It was like that for The Forest ~ a tale of old magic ~ my most popular book to date. Over a decade ago I was at a family party. It was one of those parties where ages ranged from babes in arms up to great-grandfathers ensconced in the corner with a glass of sherry. It was getting late, the party was winding down, parents of very young children had taken them home and I was sitting on a chair sharing the dregs of a bottle of wine with my brother. Behind us, a group of elderly gentlemen were reminiscing about the good old days. Only half-listening, my attention was abruptly grabbed when one of them came out with the best line ever. Leaning towards the other gents, he enquired…

“Whatever happened, to old Wally Twitchett?”

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Wally Twitchett? What an amazing name. My imagination started humming. By the time I went to bed that night I could “see” Wally in my mind right down to his patched but clean clothes, his beak of a nose and protruding Adam’s apple. I could imagine him rattling around the village where he lived on his old boneshaker bike, because, of course, he had to live in a village. An old, isolated, insular village in a forgotten corner of Britain. A village that appears suspended in time and peopled with quirky characters all with names as odd and memorable as Wally’s. Maybe, the residents of this village never leave, ever. My, that is interesting. Why do they never leave? Because the village is slap bang next to a big old creepy forest with something evil at its core that’s placed a curse on the village and its people. Ooh, a curse! I love it. What type of curse? And so on…

You can see from this process how one simple name can spark a chain reaction in an author’s brain, where one idea tumbles onto the next and the next and so on until the whole plot lies before you. Rather like those domino effects where one tap sends the first domino falling onto the next and it’s only when the whole lot has fallen the picture is revealed.

I wrote the book.

Over a decade later, I published it.

To my joy, others loved the village and its characters as much as I did, and even though Wally ended up a minor character, he still finally found his voice in my story.

A sweet postscript to this story happened last year. I work part-time for a mattress and bed retailer and was one day putting through an order for a lovely young girl and her husband. They wanted to finance the purchase so in the course of completing the form I asked her for her maiden name. Twitchett, she replied.

I stared at her in disbelief.

“No relation to Wally Twitchett?” I tentatively enquired.

“Oh yes,” she replied, he was my great-uncle.

I couldn’t help the smile of disbelief that spread over my face and explained to her the significance of that name. Intrigued, she ordered the book there and then, wanting to share it with the rest of her family. It is touching to think that even though the real Wally Twitchett died childless many years ago, some small part of him will live on forever in The Forest.

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“I met a man made of leaves, with roots for hair, who looked at me with eyes that burnt like fire.”

An impenetrable forest that denies entry to all but a select few. A strange and isolated village, whose residents never leave. A curse that reappears every generation, leaving death and despair in its wake.

What is lurking at the heart of the Forest?

When the White Hind of legend is seen, the villagers know three of its young people will be left dead, victims of a triangle of love, murder and suicide. This time, Sally, Jack and Reuben have been selected, and it’s their turn to be tormented by long-buried jealousies, aroused by the dark entity existing within its shadowy glades. Only by confronting the Forest’s secrets, can they hope to break the curse and change their destinies – if they have the courage.

Keeper of secrets. Taker of souls. Defender of innocence. Existing on the very edge of believing, there is the Forest.

This is its story


Love reading, find Electric Eclectic books on Amazon’s @open24, the store for bookworms, readers and writers.

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Writing for Healing

In 2013, I received the most devastating news anyone could ever hear. I was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, I had AML, a type of leukaemia, a blood cancer.

I was 37 years old.

The next eight months of my life are still a blur in my memories. Chemotherapy and everything that goes along with the treatment of cancer is incredibly stressful on one’s body and spirit. Many of the drugs cause damage to cells other than cancer cells, and this takes its toll. During this treatment, and for a long time afterwards, I was unable to work.

I published my first book in early 2012, a novel I began writing while still in high school. After recovering from cancer, I was still unable to work outside the home, and so I returned to my love of writing to keep my mind occupied.

Just like reading, writing can be very cathartic. When you read a book, you step into the world of the author, meeting new characters and falling in love, rejoicing, and grieving with them as they journey through their lives. Writing is also a good way to escape your world while you create another one. Your characters become your children, in a sense, as you give birth to them and nurture them.

But writing for healing doesn’t have to involve a novel. Even keeping simple journal entries each day can help you express feelings you can’t quite get a grip on. Or short stories where you explore dreams and desires that you can never experience in real life can provide you with an outlet for emotions. You can write as much or as little as you want, without putting any specific goals on yourself.

So, how do you begin to write for healing?

Maybe you think you’re not creative or have no idea for starting something like this. My advice to you would be to start with your dreams. Keep a pad of paper and a pen (or a notes app on your phone if you’re more technologically savvy) next to your bed. As soon as you wake up in the morning, jot down what you can remember from your dreams. Many people might say they don’t remember their dreams, but if you do this when you first wake up, you might be surprised what you can recall.

The idea for my Undead Unit series actually stemmed from a dream. It was like a spark lit in a dark cavern, and I could see my characters in vivid colour. I had a plan formed and a sense of where the characters (in general) might go.

Now, 6 years later, I have 6 books wrapped around these characters, with more to come! 51S87abp4xL._SY346_

Once you have several dreams in your notes, go over them when you have time and see if there’s anything you can make a story about. Don’t worry about punctuation and grammar (unless you’re really picky like I am), just start to get the bare bones down. Any refining, should you choose to do so, can come later. Just sit down and let the words flow and see where your imagination takes you.

If you really can’t remember your dreams, think about something you would really like to do but can’t (skydiving, horseback riding, whatever it may be). Or imagine going to a foreign country or into outer space. Maybe you like medieval history or camping in exotic places. Find something that interests you and do some research.

My Pharaoh Queens series began because I have an intense interest in ancient Egyptian history. More specifically, I was intrigued by the first female Pharaoh, King Hatshepsut, who lived in 1400BC. Her story, as history knows it, is so fascinating because she was a strong female figure in a male-dominated culture.

516vaUhQdWLThe series originally started out with a single book called The Pharaoh’s Destiny, but in my time researching and writing this character, I discovered other ancient Egyptian women who were just as interesting, and so the book expanded to a series of three and then four other stores.

 

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Liberty is an Electric Eclectic novelette that explores another possible ending to the story in The Pharaoh’s Destiny. Check it out if you would like a quick read about an ancient time.

 

 

Today, I have been in remission from leukaemia for more than 6 years, so medical science considers me “cured”. I have returned to work full time and, though I’m not as strong or healthy as I was before cancer, I’m doing fine.

However, without my writing, I wonder if I would have made it this far.

Perhaps, but perhaps not. All I can say is I’m thrilled my journey included creating these wonderful worlds and characters!

Writing healed my spirit. I hope it can heal yours, too.

For more about me, check out my Amazon page or visit my website at www.metamorphpublishing.wordpress.com.


You can find all our Electric Eclectic books together at @open24

The Amazon store for readers, book-lovers, writers and authors

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My Poem for Valentine’s Day

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It depends on which cards land, ‘cos the devils in the deal,

The King and Queen of Hearts are what you wish to feel,

So, pick them up, fan them out, take a look and see,

There’s the Jack of Clubs, his grinning back with glee,

And sitting just behind him is the ace of spades, bad luck,

Like the hand life’s dealt you; they don’t give a flying fuck.

 

The King and Queen will only be in your nightly dreams

And the Heart you so desire is much father than it seems.

“I’ll raise you ten,” he says, with an evil sneer,

You want to tear his face off, rip it from ear to ear,

Your watch your last silver dollar as it rattles into the pot

That’s it, your all up, it’s the last you’ve got.

 

Just one slender chance, you willingly embrace

Because nothing can now fill what is an empty space.

And nothing will leave you just about level,

Until you sell your vacant soul to Beelzebub the Devil.

You lose again, just like every fucking day,

So get up from the table, again you walk away.

 

Tomorrow is Valentines, a day of true romance,

When lovers reveal their passions, hoping for a chance.

Where wine and chocolates and bouquets of red flowers bloom,

And a thousand pairs of feet scuttle off to some hotel bedroom.

Where the lost and lonely sit and weep, in darkened empty homes

And stare at the blank glass screens of their silent mobile phones.

 

Where your life’s gambles lay in ruins upon the green baize

And those who’ve lost wander the streets in a lonesome daze.

When love is some distant recall which is hard to find,

Something fleeting, passing, just escaping your mind,

Where the fallen Jack of Hearts lays upon the floor

With one arm raised, finger-pointing, showing you the door.

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© Paul White 2015

Hey, why not check out ‘Teardrops and White Doves’ a collection of my poetry. Available in a fully illustrated, full colour, Hardcover book direct from my printers, or as a standard Paperback from Amazon

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