Real Lives. Memories in Print

Whilst writing A History of Woman’s Lives in Scunthorpe  for Pen and Sword Books Ltd I was struck by just how important it is to keep our history alive. In particular I feel very strongly that our military history should not be forgotten. However, many publishers are not interested because they are too niche or unlikely to make any money, so I have decided to try and preserve these individual memories myself by publishing memoir books for family and friends and anyone else who would like to read them.

There is NO cost for this. Instead I will keep any royalties and this will go towards my costs. Most books will probably only sell a few copies anyway, but the point is to preserve memories for future generations and to honour those who fought for us. I am also interested in publishing women’s wartime stories as well as those who served in the Merchant Navy and the Emergency Services either during the war or at any time in the 20th Century.  If you would like to know more please contact me.
My Ashes to Yours. Eternal Love

‘There are two things I would like to do before my ashes are laid to rest. One is to take a trip to Scotland and visit the place where I was bought up in the Braes of Glenlivet, and the second trip would be in November to visit the Kinkaseki POW Memorial, Taiwan, to pay my respects to the many friends I had who lost their lives in that horrible copper mine and POW Camp.’

John Emmett was only six when everything changed. Life in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1920s and 30s was difficult but John was happy until he had to leave to find work. In 1935, John escaped a rather unusual situation by enlisting into the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders and by 1937 he had transferred into 2nd Battalion and found himself in Singapore. When the Japanese attacked the Gordon Highlanders fought bravely but they didn’t stand a chance. In February 1942 they were taken prisoner, spending the next three and half years in conditions that were beyond anything John could have imagined. Somehow, he survived, only to be told by people who had no idea what he’d gone through, that he was a deserter and a coward for surrendering Singapore to the enemy.

My Ashes to Yours. Eternal Love is a story of courage and endurance, a story of survival against the odds and a story of love. But above all it is the story of an ordinary man who survived hell on earth.

Those Women Who Wait

 ‘Those Women Who Wait’ is the companion to Lawrence’s first book, ‘Women Are Now Doing Men’s Work,’ following the contributions of women to the British war effort in the First World War.

The British home front played an important role in the outcome of the war which ultimately led to the signing of the Armistice in 1918, this was primarily a war of factories, and Britain was ill prepared on the outbreak of the war. Within two years, Britain had created massive industrial capacity for the production of arms and munitions, and a workforce of women to work in the factories. Here they were exposed to toxic chemicals and the dangers of highly volatile explosives. Women proved they were capable of doing jobs thought only applicable to men, they worked on Britain’s farms, attended technical colleges to improve skills vital in the aero industry, rerolled as ambulance drivers, police women and in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and Women’s Royal Air Force. They advanced in the field of science working at Imperial College for the Trench Warfare Department.     

In the First World War the civilian population of the British Isles were thrust into the front line, the women took their fair share of the sacrifice, and earned the respect of the men at the front. I leave the comment of Captain Henry Gilbert Knobbs of the London Rifle Brigade, blinded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, who perhaps spoke for many men in the firing line. 

‘Fighting men acknowledge it! And when your ears are no longer deafened by the cheers of others, take off your caps, fill your lungs, and cheer to the echo the real heroes of the war. All honour to the woman who waits.’

The London Rifle Brigade 1914 – 1918

The London Rifle Brigade were part of the London Regiment, at eighty battalions, the largest Territorial Force Regiment of the Great War. Those men who enlisted in the 5th Battalion, The London Regiment, The London Rifle Brigade before the outbreak of the war were of the same educated social class, worked and socialised together and served with a self-discipline unknown to their regular army comrades. This pre- war pride in their battalion proved vital as the London Rifle Brigade went off to war in November 1914.

A second and then a third battalion were formed to provide reinforcements for the first battalion as casualties mounted in 1915 and 1916. These new riflemen were enthused with the record of their comrades fighting on the Western Front, and soon the second battalion joined the first in Belgium. Although the men now were of a different social class, the spirit and discipline of the old pre- war battalion lived on for they, as well as the rest of the British Army, faced defeat in March 1918 as the German Spring Offensive might force an outcome in any peace negotiations in Germany’s favour. The London Rifle Brigade would  find themselves in the thick of the action once more, and in the advances of The Hundred Days which led to the Armistice in November 1918.

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Women Are Now Doing Men’s Work

They stare back at us from the pages of books and photographs; their stories are known to historians, but to many they represent a relative who, to quote one old veteran, ‘saw the Great War in colour.’ While the photographs of male relatives, staring out from history in the uniforms of their country’s armed forces, are well known and rightly treasured, there are fewer photographs, and much less known, about the women who also donned uniforms and work clothes and also ‘saw the Great War in colour.’

An equal number of women answered the call and volunteered to serve both at home and abroad. The women of Great Britain and her Empire served in organisations such as The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), Dr Munro’s Flying Ambulance Corps, Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC), and the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). All provided ambulance drivers, nurses, clerical staff, and Imperial War Graves Commission gardeners and all served with distinction on the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli.

On the home front women proved they were more than capable of carrying out work once thought only suitable for men. These jobs varied from bus conducting, policing, mining, construction, and farming. One occupation stands out, that of the munition worker, or munitionette. Without women filling hand grenades, sea mines, and artillery shells with explosives it is likely Britain would have found itself on the losing side of the Armistice in 1918. This book will only follow a few characters and stories but will provide names of places to help those looking to follow the exploits of these and other women, and pinpoint some of the munition factories that have now disappeared under Tesco car parks or business centres.

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Chasing Terrorists. Denis and the Ghost Squad
Major Denis Campbell’s family had such a long and illustrious history of service to the British Empire that despite his own extensive service, and being mentioned in despatches, he was known to some in the family as ‘Disappointing Denis.’
In 1951 Denis was sent to Malaya where he saw active service with 1 Royal West Kent’s fighting Communist guerrillas in Malaya for three years with the Ghost Squad, a Top-Secret unit whose account of action in Malaya has never been previously published. He was Mentioned in Despatches for actions against terrorists.
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The Fairfield Campbells were part of the British forces in India before the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Whilst there they served with several Indian regiments, taking part in numerous battles, skirmishes and military expeditions. The Fairfield Campbells were also involved in fighting in China, Tibet, Africa and the USA. Boasting several Generals, Admirals and Colonels and numerous gallantry awards, their service continued through both World Wars and subsequent conflicts.

The book outlines the military history of the Fairfield Campbell family from 1830 through to the 1960s using narrative, background information, personal accounts and numerous original photographs.

It is over sixty years since I was regarded as one of Lady Astor’s D-Day Dodgers in sunny Italy.

In Sicily and Italy over 30,000 so called D-Day Dodgers sleep on, victims of a most harsh and fiercely fought campaign which involved troops of many nations whose main task was to draw enemy troops away from the landing areas in France and the Russian Front. Areas like Salerno, Cassino and Anzio were just three of the many battle fields that chewed up thousands of Allied Troops who because of the Normandy landings were never to have their casualties replaced.

Germany’s best troops always fought from prepared positions and there is no doubt with every defensive line that was taken there was another one behind in the next range of hills. Regardless of the regime the German man in the sharp end in Italy was a formidable enemy who without air support never admitted defeat. Kesselring was, with his men, a worthy opponent.

Being over 80 my family asked me to put pen to paper so that they may further understand why I volunteered in the first place, why I stayed on after the war and then left the country I had fought for.

Stanley Buckmaster 2004

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Published by Pen and Sword Books Ltd.

A History of Women’s Lives in Scunthorpe

Stalkers, bigamy, murders, domestic violence, hard work, continuous childbearing, starvation, illegal abortions, suicides. What was the reality of life for women in the masculine environment of an merging steel town? Steel manufacturing began in Frodingham in 1890 and as agricultural workers came in from the surrounding villages and skilled workers came from other areas in the country the population in the villages grew rapidly. The fastest growth was in Scunthorpe which had reached urban district status in 1883 and by 1891 the population had risen to 3,417. The first council elections took place on 17th December 1894. There were 45 candidates chasing 15 places, but Scunthorpe only had one seat on Lindsey County Council– Councillor J Foster. Most women did not have a vote.
There was little or no Suffragette activity in Scunthorpe, the women were too busy surviving. But these ordinary women had a hidden strength that only really came to the fore in both the First and Second World Wars after which they faded back into obscurity.
Using previously unpublished school diaries, original Co-operative Society documents and newspaper accounts from the time, A History of Women’s Lives in Scunthorpe shines a brief spotlight on the unsung heroes without whom the town would never have thrived, the women from the 1840s to the 1950s whose story has never been told.