Linda Burkett describes the astonishing stories she found within her father-in-laws wallet and old collection of small diaries. The diaries describe the struggle, pain and brutality Auther Burkett had faced as a prisoner of war. Linda explains her self-publishing journey and her achievement.
Many years ago when my mother-in-law remarried, she gave me my late father-in-laws wallet and a collection of small diaries. They were tiny books with pencil writing that Arthur had kept during the time he was a Prisoner of War.
I have always been interested in my family tree and had many folders of information and research. As part of this project I had always planned on transcribing the diaries so the family would know more about Arthur (he died in 1971). I myself was suddenly widowed in 2013 and decided try to transcribe the tiny pencil writing before they faded. Around this time I was sent an additional diary that had been given to Arthur’s niece.
On properly looking I found I had a partial diary for 1943 and one partial diary for 1944 and day by day diaries from January 1945 to April 1945. The initial transcribing took around eighteen months as there were German words and Army slang to translate.
It gave a terrifying insight into the daily struggle of the POWs from freezing temperatures, hunger, exhaustion and health problems from his time in many different camps and then his time on the Lamsdorf March (also known as the Lamsdorf Death March). When the Germans realised the Russians were advancing it was decided to move the POW’s away from the allied troops, possibly to use as a bargaining factor.
The diaries covered where he went, who he met and what he saw at times describing the courage of men, kindness of civilians and the brutality of war in the constant effort to survive.
Once I realised this was a much bigger story I felt the POW’s suffering, and courage should be known.
I did try the route of getting a publishing company interested but I was one thousand words too short so looked at the self -publishing route.
When speaking to other people that found the lack of control if a publishing company takes up your book very frustrating but with self- publishing you are totally in control.
I called Douglas from The Self-Publishing Partnership was so helpful and talked me through everything we needed to consider with clear pricing.
Editor, Frances, helped us at every stage with clear instructions and allowed us to take a little longer where necessary. We chose what we wanted on wording, layout and design from the suggestions and help provided by the team.
We also gave a final check of the whole book before it was sent to print.
It really was a priceless moment when the first boxes of books arrived. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came round to celebrate.
When we posted on Facebook the book was finished, I was completely amazed at the reaction and comments, and even asked to sign the books! We can’t believe you can buy it on Amazon or read it on Kindle!
We are delighted with our achievement both for our family who are so proud of Arthur, but more importantly for all the POW’s that did not make it back, or sadly like Arthur never shared their war experiences with anyone.
All monies taken are to go to Walking with the Wounded and the Invictus Games Charities.
Arthur Burkett’s Diaries is available on Amazon now.