In the Autumn of my years, I consider wryly how it was to be at the foot of Everest, looking up to see the summit disappear from view in dense low cloud. So filled with hope and yearning, I set my foot firm and began the climb. I knew it was a challenge. But I was doing it on behalf of so many people, veterans who deserved recognition, respect and honour through their stories I carried with me. Six months on and the book I was writing was ready and with the publishers. Finally then, I could breathe ...
So how does it happen that I now find myself asking another publisher to take it on board?!?
Even when you've signed a contract in the writing world, it seems, the tables can be turned against you.
Meanwhile, I haven't been idle having already signed a contract with another publisher for a 3-book series about RAF 100 Group Operations, illustrating how much of an impact electronic warfare made when the Group came together at the end of 1943, turning the war around, saving so many thousands of lives. Book 1 begins with Chamberlain's infamous broadcast: 'This country is now at war!' Imagine the shudder, the feeling of gloom and despair that rippled through the nation.
The day comes alive in a very real way as I read through people's shared experiences of that time. It makes compulsive reading. And so the book begins on a knife edge, before attempting this time, not to climb Everest, but the Pyrenees. It's a roller-coaster ride, a voyage of discovery. Young men sensing adventure signed away their lives believing that good would triumph over evil. Those who survived came back as battle-weary men so much older than their years. And as with all veterans of war, had to find a way to settle back into a country so very different to that which they left behind. Minds played over and over all they had seen and heard. It was a time for heroes, courage and commitment, kept alive by hope, writings from home, and a deep respect and love of their country.
And yet at what cost?
Meanwhile, families mourned those who did not return, torn apart, unable to comprehend their sudden absence.
This year commemorates so many Anniversaries. I had believed that RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits would be published in time for Remembrance Day, in memory of my mother's wartime fiance Vic Vinnell and his Canadian pilot Jack Fisher, both of whom disappeared into a cold November night in their Mosquito DK292 and were never seen again. They took the secrets of the operation they were on to the grave. My mother and Vic were to have married a few days on. Imagine spending the rest of your days thinking back to those times, holding back the lake of tears with his dear face gazing back at the one he loved so much. All that she had was the rusty nail from the gate of Blymhill Church where they exchanged marriage vows in preparation for The Day, his inner silk flying gloves, and five precious photographs, together with hundreds of letters shared ... now in my tender care, his legacy lives on.
The veterans of RAF 100 Group give me purpose. They inspire me. Their stories, letters, poems and writings spill over, and I love each and every one of these very special people. I remain passionate about preserving both their history, their very secret work, and the story of how they lived and survived the war. I also have families who write, asking questions about those who did not return, needing answers. And I give my all in trying to bring comfort and strength. Answers are not so easily found because this was a very secret Group whose main aim was to identify and jam enemy radar, to make them believe things were happening in other places to where the main attack would be, and who used very experimental equipment, becoming adept at challenging the faceless enemy and defeat the evil which raged across our lands, threatening loved ones, trying to take away our freedom and all that we held dear.
My heart spills over with love for these precious souls who gave so much for the kind of freedom we enjoy today.
Out of the one story shared by my mother, I now have so many hundreds more, each a part of a complex picture set against a world at war.
Miracles can happen. Miracles DO happen. We just need to believe in good, and that precious gift of LIFE!!