One hundred years ago today the Hundred Days Offensive began on the Western Front. It led to the end of World War I.
Here's to a happy 2018. With New Year resolutions in mind, I will be well occupied with the new book. Beginning in 1890 in Richmond, Surrey and ending in 1997 in Watford, there are many years and much ground to cover.
Just returned from extensive travels across India, exploring places that my father and grandfather knew from their time in the services. In addition, in the far north-eastern states of Manipur and Nagaland, there were battlefields, military cemeteries, memorials, museums, tribespeople... all with a bearing on my research for the book... an altogether overwhelming and moving experience.
Special thanks to Yaiphaba (Yai) Kangjam of Battle of Imphal Tours, a most capable and knowledgeable guide (and not forgetting his skilful driver, Tutu); and my husband Bob for his patient planning and delivery of this unique and memorable trip.
Another year passes into history. 2017 promises to be even busier with the new book. Much to consider.
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first landings at Gallipoli, where my grandfather was shot. It is a hauntingly beautiful place, untouched by time. Silence dominates and the well maintained graves of the war dead are in stark contrast to the wildness of the terrain. I'm pressing on with book No. 2, which is slowly evolving.
A word of thanks to those of you who purchased my father's book for Christmas. Happy Christmas to all.
These extracts are from my father's letters from Burma, 70 years ago:
A couple of nights ago when Japanese acceptance of peace terms became more than a possibility there was shouting and guns flying into the night. We thought at first that we were behind with the news but apparently we were not and I hardly dare think of what will happen if and when it does end. There has been so much speculation, especially the question “shall I be home for Xmas?” Never would I say morale has been so low – and yet so high!
Next morning we heard a salvo of 24 guns firing not far away. There were one or two faint-hearted cheers but mostly there was silence as if the total and complete realisation of the fact had not dawned upon them. To most you see, it meant that they would still be out here despite peace, world peace.
Ted finally arrived back in Southampton on 28 October.
70 years ago my father, then 24, was in India with the RAF. The news of VE Day felt unreal to him.... He was to remain there until nearly the end of 1945, despite promises of an earlier return home.
His personal thoughts, the deprivations and the uncertainties he experienced, coupled with the surprises, the momentary joys and frustrations will be included in 'Two Lives, Two World Wars, as will his amusing pen and ink sketches of life in the RAF.
One hundred years ago tomorrow my grandfather, Reginald William Parrish, landed on `X` Beach on Cape Helles, Gallipoli. A regular soldier and musician with the 2nd (City of London) Regiment, Royal Fusiliers, he fought in the 29th Division, termed `The Incomparables`.
Reginald`s own story of what happened on that fateful day will be included in `Two Lives, Two World Wars`. The book will encompass both his life and war experiences and those of his only son, Ted. Reginald came to live in Watford in 1919 and died there in the early 1950s.
Let us not forget those who lost their lives in Gallipoli 100 years ago.
After much preparatory work and visits to the Western Front, Gallipoli and, most recently, Malta, I'm commencing work on a related book - Two Lives, Two World Wars.