Based on the true story of my great uncle, Allen Green, the book I’ve just published retells a nineteen year old’s journey in 1918 from his family farm in Somerset through the Somme battlefield during the Great War, culminating in a dramatic ending on Armistice Day.
The book came about after a family member found in 2011 a bag full of letters written home in 1918 during this journey together with a diary, wallet, smoking pipe and tobacco pouch.
The family didn’t know these old artefacts still existed in the attic. The letters and diary told the story of how Allen was called up into the army late in the war in the summer of 1918. He trained at an army camp in Wyke Regis near Weymouth and then travelled to France in October 1918 and fought with the Dorsetshire Regiment.
The book also explores what farming in Somerset was like during the Great War and how this brought many changes to the countryside and beyond.
In the letters, my great uncle wrote to and received letters from my grandfather (who was just eleven years old at the time), their mother and sister, and a few close friends. The letters are full of warmth and shine a light on the times they were living through.
I retraced my great uncle’s journey through France in 2018, one hundred years after he made the same journey. It was a memorable and incredibly moving experience to travel through the Somme region discovering the stories of the people who lived and died through the war and finding out what happened to Allen. I visited some of the many war grave sites there; something I will never forget.
Over the years, I have done various types of writing, from poems to short stories, as well as magazine articles and more latterly as a songwriter. I had always wanted to write a full length book and as the centennial of the end of the Great War approached, I felt like it was now or never. My great uncle’s photo had been on the wall of our family home when I was growing up but his story had never been told.
The process of researching and investigating his story became an emotional journey both for many others and myself who became interlinked with Allen’s life. I made connections with local history groups and family members of some of Allen’s fellow soldiers from his time in the Dorsetshire Regiment. The culmination of this was a trip to the village in France my great uncle and others died liberating one hundred years ago. A group of around sixty family members of those soldiers travelled there for the centennial Armistice commemorations. The Mayor unveiled a plaque in their honour and a service was held, followed by a banquet where the local French people and the British family relatives came together to remember their forefathers. It was an extremely touching moment in time.
Back in England following the publication of my book, I’ve undertaken numerous talks about my great uncle’s stories and it has been fascinating to connect with lots of other people who also have a family story of their own to tell. Countrywide there seems to have been a collective remembrance of those extraordinary times a century ago.
I chose to go down the self-publishing route for my book so I could be in control of the process and get the book published to meet the centennial Armistice deadline. Traditional publishing appears long winded and archaic with only a random chance your manuscript will ever get to see the light of day. I submitted my manuscript to Silver Crow Books, a self-publishing wing of the Frome Writers’ Collective, for a critical appraisal. Once it had passed their initial quality threshold approval, my manuscript then underwent a series of editing and proof reading processes to get it to the stage where it was ready for presentation to a publisher. I chose the Self-Publishing Partnership (SPP) in Bath as they were one of only three publishers recommended by Silver Crow. Both Silver Crow and SPP were fantastic partners during this process and I’ve been really pleased with the quality of the book that was finally published. All that remains now is deciding what I’m going to write next!
It Leaves Me The Same is available for £12.99 on Amazon and local bookshops, or direct from Ed for £10 by contacting him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org