Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Saturday 31 December 2016


When I was a child, one of my favourite pastimes, apart from writing and discovering the infinite beauty of words; was gazing through the small hole of a long gaily-coloured metal tube, entranced by a myriad of bright vivid colours shimmering in the light. It was called a 'kaleidoscope', made up of fragments which came together in the most wonderful way to form a unique pattern. Gently turning the lower half of the metal tube made the coloured fragments within shift and shape, subtly altering the pattern into something entirely different.

There is nothing really magical about the object I held in my small hands. But it was enough to capture the imagination a thousand times over. Technically, it was a tube containing mirrors and pieces of coloured glass or paper, where reflections produced a constant changing pattern or sequence of elements when the bottom half of the tube was rotated. The effect was produced using a prism of mirrors to generate symmetric patterns of light and colour from asymmetric objects. The joy that comes when looking into a kaleidoscope can come from the simple amazement of changing colours and patterns. In later years, it can come in discovering symmetry in objects where none is expected. However, for me, the true wonder and magic came in the fact that, in looking through the eye-hole, the pattern was never exactly the same. Ever. No matter how many times I twisted the lower end, another pattern would form completely different to any which had gone before.

It was the Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster, who created the kaleidoscope in 1815 when conducting experiments on light polarization. He came up with the name 'kaleidoscope' by combining several Greek words meaning: 'observer of beautiful forms'. Something so simple, yet effective, still offers today a complex pattern of constantly changing colours and shapes, providing countless hours of stimulating, vibrant, visionary, exciting fun to pique any child or adult's imagination.

How easily we discard childhood things, when even in adulthood they could bring back simple wonder and joy in a world where buttons now do it all for us! 

It occurs to me that the true joy and wonder comes in the way a child views the world ... at least those not already caught up in technology who have retained the gift of imagination. It's not about wanting to know how something works, but instead focuses on the magic of the moment. Those of us in adulthood still in touch with our Child within, can always return to that point when the world was new, filled with hidden beauty we can only realise as we reach out to touch the purity and innocence of being Child again.

If only the world could remain that beautiful, with shifting changing fragments of texture and colour freely moving around to form their own unique concept of multiple reflections!

Life is a network of invisible threads, and if those threads were to be seen, perhaps we would see those same shapes and colours drawing us in. Like the kaleidoscope, I wish our world today could be just as beautiful, untarnished, clean, without any hint of shadow smearing this wonderful scene ... shadows made up of fear, confusion, jealousy, envy, hate, all those dark negatives which cut through beauty and change forever, in one fleeting moment, what was once perfection reaching outside and in. Perhaps it is in viewing the world as a kaleidoscope that we realise just how fragile those threads truly are ... threads of faith and hope, threads of relationships which once we believed would last a lifetime, because we thought that love could never die. 

I share these musings as, standing on the threshold of a new dawn, looking back on all that has been over the past year, not knowing what is yet to come; I realise that NOW is a moment caught between Past and Future.

It is in this moment, Here and Now, that God is holding us, giving us what we need to grow.

Not everyone shares my faith. There are those who mock and scorn, who have not experienced their own very personal relationship with God. Being brought up in faith, I now know, was like standing on the threshold. It was only as I came to know intimately the miracles God was performing through my life, that a deep lasting personal relationship came into being.

Born disabled, I was taught to accept my limitations. I was never supposed to work, to drive a car, to walk properly or far. The list of 'could be's but can't' was endless. Yet, in faith, I learned instead to explore outside the box. I was told I could never have children because of damage from past abuse. Yet again, in faith, I 'saw' my daughter before she was born, not once or twice or in dreams, but a few times standing right there by the side of my bed. Not even her father could explain the fact I was talking to someone he couldn't see, but I knew once again, medical science was wrong. Just before Christmas 1980, I gave birth to the same child who grew to the image of the little girl who a few years before had been standing beside me in her nightdress one dark depressing night when all hope of being a mother was gone. No logic can explain or define what happened. But it is through such 'happenings' that, for me, God became more than a name in the Bible, more than an image hanging on the wall of my parents' home, more than 'One' unseen we spoke prayers to at night. God became a firm thick rope reaching back through the years to the moment of my birth, when I spent twenty minutes and more in the birth canal, as if sensing both the physical and emotional pain waiting for me in Life, wanting to go back from whence I came. While God drew me on into the oxygen tent, holding me secure, living with me through the pain, the trauma, bringing me to the place I am today. That rope, I realise, is the light of His everlasting Love ... an unconditional Love which can never fail. I'm not perfect by any means. As Christians, we make mistakes. After all, He gave Man free choice, to make our own choices and decisions, otherwise we would live in a controlling world. Instead, we become the authors of our own life and destiny ... although personally I believe there is rhyme and reason to everything that happens, steering us in faith on the path we were always meant to be, as long as we are ready to listen and learn.

However, for every action, there is always a reaction. Sometimes, the pain we cause another is just too great, and there is no way back. We don't always see or understand the consequences of what we have done, but remain confused, unable to understand why suddenly the thread of a relationship becomes fragile, breaking under the weight of emotion, in turn shifting and changing the overall pattern of what could otherwise have been forever. As with the kaleidoscope when turning the lower half of the metal tube, the effect has an impact on every other thread. The pattern shifts and changes. It will always be different.

I doubt I am alone when I say, in looking back over 2016, I see my life speckled with trails of darkness, growing bigger, darker, like a murmuration of starlings taking on its own unique shape and form, slowly blocking out my world.

Murmuration of Gretna Starlings
Some lives become more marred than others, depending on the severity of what is happening to them. Dark brooding thoughts born out of confusion about what to do for the best, can produce an abyss, a tunnel of helplessness and despair, growing deeper, blacker, when compounded by a host of further negative occurrences. Sometimes things happen which are just too much to bear on an already heavily-laden soul. Life can feel as if we are wrapped in a blanket of doom, filled with layers of fear and dread, with moments when we don't want to go on. In turn, it shreds our confidence, our self-esteem, our ability to think and feel freely, impacting on our physical and mental well-being. It's a complicated network of emotion, impossible to explain. Only those who know it as their own experience will ever truly understand. Testing times. Times when we need to know we are not alone. We need someone to care. To reach out and draw us close, keeping us safe, unafraid to touch our inner turmoil and pain.

It is in the light of recent events which have devastated me and had a huge impact on my health, that I feel the need to include here a plea for people to listen with hearts wide open when someone tries to share in whatever way that comes. Truths can prove unpalatable. People walk away. They don't want to get involved. They don't need that uncomfortability in their lives. Then again, especially where there is a past trauma, despite years of therapy, unexpectedly survivors can be triggered back into their past by words or action. Emotion leaks out instead of words. There's no time to put measures in place to stop the flow. Suddenly, totally unprepared, they become overwhelmed, feeling as if they are living past events over again, triggered by the words of another ... and that person's next actions are crucial as to what happens next.

Post Traumatic Stress is associated today more with those who have served in the Forces and seen firsthand the horrors of war. However, it can happen to those surviving a car accident. Any kind of trauma. And as increasing numbers of victims come forward with historic sexual abuse as part of their experience, PTSD as it is known, will already be part of their everyday life ... as it is mine.

Children and adults shouldn't keep historic sexual abuse a secret. Otherwise, you suffer in silence. And there will be a large part of you that no-one will understand or know. You need to find someone you trust and tell them what has been going on in your life. Together, you can then seek the kind of help and support you need. But even therapy cannot block out the past. Nothing can destroy what happened. You need to learn surviving mechanisms, ways of confronting your fears, rather than pushing them in a black box in your mind, hoping the lid will stay tight shut.

Sharing is a powerful force for good. It creates a bridge. Sharing your own experiences more widely is a way of reaching others with like-experiences, helping them feel less isolated and alone, letting them know someone truly cares. Out of sharing bad experiences can come compassion and insight for those who have never suffered in the same way, as well as understanding and truths, which sometimes are difficult to understand simply because they don't know and have never felt the tangle of emotions involved. 

Sharing starts by learning not to feel ashamed of your experience or the person you have become because of it. I was alone with my terrible secret as a child. No-one supported me through. I know now that those close to me judged me by what they saw. They painted a completely different picture of me to what was really going on. It wasn't until years later, I started to share. Giving birth to my daughter, unwittingly started the process of giving birth to my memories ... up until that time, I had amnesia, which I now know enabled me to survive. But it was only through sharing, that for the first time, I discovered with surprise I wasn't alone. 

Too many accept people at face value, knowing someone from the outside, seeing what they want to see, accepting that judgement ... instead of reaching for the source. Often experiences are difficult to talk about because there are no words for emotion; too devastating to share. But then, that's when we need to share the most. To find someone. To talk. To reach out, and create that bridge towards understanding. Otherwise, how is anyone going to know? To have that chance to understand what is going on? Sometimes we trust the wrong person. We can know someone and unwittingly share what we're feeling, while they in turn respond by hastily backing away. They can't cope. It's too much for them. But in walking away, a line is drawn. And as the drama unfolds, we discover that, instead of openness, friendship, compassion, understanding and care, what we're left with is an impenetrable barrier through which neither side can pass.

My past year has been about living on the edge of reason.

In turn, my kaleidoscope has become tarnished, filled with deepening shadows, blocking out colour, until that point when life takes on the appearance of the old-style black and white TV, a growing murmuration shape blotting out all colour and light.

It is the reason why, in this NOW moment, on the threshold of a new dawn, I look back on past months, seeking God's Love in the stitches which hold the fragments of my life together.

His Blessings.


RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits
Voices of RAF & USAAF on secret Norfolk airfields during World War Two, Published by Austin Macauley
After a long seemingly endless battle with publishers, the voices of RAF 100 Group veterans were finally shared at the beginning of the year, together with those who flew in partnership with them, the U.S. Eighth Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron, based in Norfolk. It remains my passion to preserve both their history and stories for the future, and to give recognition to fifteen Squadrons of RAF 100 Group who gave so much serving under Bomber Command that we might have the freedom we have today.

RAF 100 Group - The Birth of Electronic Warfare, 
Published by Fonthill Media

This book is only recently published. Originally, it was part of a 3-part series of books spanning 1939 through to 1945, and it should be noted that the cover title which appears on Amazon is wrong! The actual book has the title as noted here. Of particular interest is the fact that George Stewart DFC seen sitting astride the aircraft on the cover of the previous book, has written the Foreword. 1944 Operations are followed, and in-depth discussion is included, evidencing why RAF 100 Group were neither recognised nor rewarded for their actions.

Another Trip to Flak Alley
The Story of B-24 Tail Gunner S/Sgt Jack Hope U.S. 36th Bomb Squadron, 8th Air Force 

I have spent past months bringing together the writings of Jack Hope, and the above book should be published shortly by FeedARead. Jack was an extraordinary man, and the book follows his life from being born on an airfield, through the Depression in America, his wartime experiences in a range of different roles, to present day.

I also have a collection of 12 booklets, each on a different airfield on which RAF 100 Group were based in wartime, including the history of the airfield and Squadrons for which they became 'Home'.

Writing continues to save my life.


Talks and book signing events stimulated by interest from these books and previous included:

2nd Air Division Memorial Library, Norwich
A lively audience culminated in discussion and questions, with book photos larger than life on the screen behind me, generating further thought about stories of the people involved in RAF 100 Group.

Lighthouse Cafe, Filey, North Yorkshire
Another lively affair, with people coming and going, while giving thought to the display set up inside the cafe. Paul, the owner, was wonderful in his attention to detail, and in joining me for the photograph taken outside by John Slater, Bijou Productions.

Filey Bay Today Booklet, November 2016

Bridlington (Filey, Humanby) Echo also produced a feature article about the book.

Vale Radio broadcast an interview with me about my writing, my work with RAF 100 Group veterans and their families, and the book: RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits.

The Dementia Support Group of which I am a Dementia One-to-One volunteer, recently hosted a talk about how and why I became an author and where that journey has led me. It became a powerful emotionally-charged afternoon, a gateway to others sharing their own wartime experiences.


Saying goodbye at The Mission Hall, Horsham St Faith
Living out of a suitcase was the least of my worries, as I embraced the chance to meet veterans I'd been in contact with for over twenty years. First came our annual May Reunion weekend held in Norfolk, for which I'd spent the past twelve months planning. Always an emotive affair, always special, it brings veterans and their families from around the world as a collective to Norfolk, where suddenly time drops away, and once again they become the beaming, scally-wag nineteen and twenty-year-olds they were in wartime. It is easy still to see their passion for flying, eyes opening wide, roaring with laughter as another story is shared about daring-do. It is wonderful to be a part of it all as kindred spirits gather, and always it is the highlight of my year where each and every soul becomes an intrinsic part of the all-embracing love, accepted just the way we are. The wonder, the fascination, the learning, truths shared, experience gained, it drops away the ocean of loneliness and sadness as we mix in friendship and love.

However, this year was different.

This year, I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

Stuart Borlase travelled from Australia, where he has his company Living History Films, and whenGreat Expectations'!! As such, it was everything we hoped for and so much more ... spending our days driving hundreds of miles around the south of England, seeing RAF 100 Group veterans in their own homes. What a thrill to hear them climb back into their experiences, to see their faces light up with memories, and to share in the joy, and the sorrow, they experienced so many years ago. At every home we visited, we were treated like Royalty, with the whole family gathered, hosting such a feast of delights I was sure to pile on the pounds! But then, the idea of creating a documentary film at the end of it kept us going further and further as we ventured into the past, seeking out places in Norfolk undisturbed by Time.
invited to join him, visiting and filming veterans, I jumped at the chance. For me, this was my first real chance of a holiday. The planning had been in the making ever since the previous Reunion, and our journeying could have been entitled: 'Episode Two of 'Great Expectations' came the end of September/beginning of October, when we repeated the exercise. We found favourite places to return to and eat of an evening after a busy day, while we went back over our adventures, recalling and reliving them, moving on to plan more.

We aim to continue our forage into the past next year, beginning in May following the Reunion, when once again we will take to the road, visiting and filming veterans we haven't yet met in person.

On behalf of Stuart and I, a heartfelt THANK YOU to all veterans and their families who took part!

As a way of celebrating our 'Great Expectations' journey, I came up with the idea of designing a Special Edition RAF 100 Group Calendar which, I'm happy to say, veterans and their families are delighted with:


Finally, this year's events ended with my public declaration of faith, thanking God with an open heart for His Blessings through this year.

It is always a rocky road for me. Life is filled with highs and lows ... higher and higher, lower and lower .. yet always, the ever-constant flow of God's Love is boundless. It has no end.

My thanks goes out to so many people who, this year particularly, have supported and helped in emotional and practical ways, seeing me through the bad times, sharing the good. There are, of course, my kindred spirits who write and ring every single day, letting me know they are thinking of me, holding me in their hearts - my Family of RAF 100 Group. They have shared so much joy, too much pain. Stuart and his endless energy, everlasting hope, eternal optimism and prayers. Tracey and David at Prontaprint who print the Association magazines. All volunteers and workers at the Dementia Support Group, where there is always mutual support. And Filey Salvation Army of which I am a member and who continue to share in God's Grace and Love.

My thanks also to readers of my books who write about what they have read, and aspiring authors asking advice about contracts and writing.

As a Collective, you give me the Will to go on, accepting me just the way I am, with Hope ... forging a pathway through my fears ... putting my confidence back on track ... leading me on with purpose and vision.


FOR 2017

Friday 2 December 2016


My special friend 'Snowy' above comes out each year, a reminder of magical Christmas' past. He sits to one side, drawing in all the memories, and each time we catch one another's eye, he sends out signals, cameos of the way it was in yester-year ... of times shared.

As the festive season gets into full swing, everyone is stepping into the Big Countdown, thinking of gifts to buy, creating lists, and lists of lists, food to buy before it disappears off the shelves, hoping to make The Day special, wondering who is hosting the party this year? However, for those living alone - lost, afraid, vulnerable, uncertain how to get through the holiday with festivities at every window, in every shop, showing on every channel on television, people chattering excitedly outside - it can be a very different experience. All they're left with are memories of times past, with the small things others take for granted taking precedence ... like whether to heat or eat. People laugh when I say that, but it is a harsh reality of life. I know. I'm one of them asking that particular question now.

No, this isn't a 'Poor Me' scenario, so don't switch off just yet. However, I need first to introduce a Group not mentioned before who have, over past months, become firm friends.

I am a Dementia Friend, supporting someone with Dementia. 

My background as an experienced Counsellor and Consultant of some twenty years and more, together with having worked as a Disability Co-ordinator in the West Midlands engaging with a range of disabilities including Dementia, gives me a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from. It is also a personal issue as Dementia took control of someone I loved. It's impossible to bury the memory of watching this awful disease take away the essence of a family member, draining from them precious memories of the way things were, gradually leaving them unable to recall how to switch on the TV or boil the kettle for a much-loved cup of tea; sucking from them the life that was, leaving them a shadow of their former self.

So what is Dementia?

DEMENTIA is not a specific disease, but rather an overall term describing a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 - 80 percent of cases.

However, it is important to know that each person is unique and will experience Dementia in their own way. There is no text book definition as such. Different types of dementia affect people different ways, especially in the early stages. How others respond to that person, how supportive and enabling they are, including their surroundings, also greatly affects how well someone can live with Dementia on a day-by-day basis.

A person with Dementia will have cognitive symptoms (problems with thinking or memory). They will often have problems with some of the following:

  • day-to-day memory - difficulty recalling events which happened recently,
  • concentrating, planning or organising - difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks, such as cooking a meal,
  • language - difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something,
  • visuospatial skills - problems judging distances (for example, on stairs) and seeing objects in three dimensions,
  • orientation - losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.

With Alzheimer's Disease being the most common cause of Dementia, it is important to understand what these terms mean and their significance both to the patient, their family, and their main Carer.

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE is named after the doctor who first described it - Alois Alzheimer. It is a physical disease which affects the brain. There are more than 520,000 people in the UK who are affected. It means proteins build up in the brain to form structures called 'plaques' and 'tangles'. This leads, in turn, to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. People with Alzheimer's also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brain. These brain messengers help transmit signals around the brain. When there is a shortage of them, the signals are not transmitted as effectively. Current treatments for Alzheimer's disease can help boost levels of these chemical messengers in the brain, which in turn can help with some of the symptoms. However, this is a progressive disease. It means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, more symptoms develop, and become more severe.

A wider awareness of these conditions is vital if we are to create the kind of understanding, compassion and sensitivity so necessary when meeting, speaking to and supporting people affected.

The ALZHEIMER'S SOCIETY leads the fight against Dementia.

DEMENTIA FRIENDS is one way they do this, creating a network of people which is proving to be the biggest ever initiative in changing people's perceptions of Dementia, aiming to transform for the future the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. Becoming a Dementia Friend means making a pledge to make a difference, actively supporting on a one-to-one basis a person with Dementia for a regular amount of time each week or month, depending on how much time you can offer. In turn, you receive training, support, and a huge welcome ... especially at the monthly Support Group.

With our older generation increasing, so the numbers of those with Dementia are swelling, meaning more and more people are needed to help and support and work alongside those for whom life has shrunk, memories lost, small everyday tasks proving frustrating and impossible to cope with. As we get older, we all get a sense of what this is like as we climb the stairs for something, and having reached the top, forget what it was we came up for. It's a common trait. But then, for those with Dementia, this state of being extends into all areas of their life, so that those who become familiar to them are all the more precious in an increasingly fragile, frightening world. Companionship is what they crave ... just sitting, holding hands and talking is a comfort, reassurance and strength ... the sound of voices talking, laughing, sharing ... a cup of tea and slice of cake lovingly handed to them. Such moments become an injection of Life and reality, acceptance and Love.

TALK: 'Confound & Destroy'
Tuesday 29th November 2016

In past months, I have been working and training with my local Alzheimer Society, gradually moving to the point where I support someone on a one-to-one basis. Once a month, we attend a mutual Support Group, together with families, Carers and workers. The Group offers a wide range of different activities aimed at stimulating the brain, with colouring books, puzzles, brain teasers, songs, discussion, with laughter filling the room between cups of tea and plenty of biscuits and cake. It is a place to meet and share personal experiences, presenting a wonderful safe, warm, welcoming mix of people. I enjoy our time together.

This week, I had been asked to give a Talk about my writings and the RAF 100 Group with whom I remain actively involved. We often have Speakers or Singers, and my idea was to inspire people in the Group to share their own wartime experiences.

My lift arrived on time to carry boxes of books and memorabilia into the Hall. Already, I realised from the mood of the lady and her mother she accompanied to the Group, how excited people were, reminding me of a child waiting for Father Christmas.

What gift would I bring?

For the past year, Life had thrown all kinds of unexpected curve balls. I'd had that wonderful time travelling around the south of England, meeting men and women veterans of RAF 100 Group in their own homes. But then I'd been laid low with a secondary breakdown brought on by recent events. With a low immune system never going to right itself, emotionally I'd been in a 'blue funk'. A head cold escalated into bronchitis, holding me breathless, with a bad chesty cough and on the edge of pneumonia like last year. I was threatened with hospital if it persisted or became worse. I'd remained home alone, wrapped up like a 'pig in a blanket' on the sofa, watching back-to-back films to take my mind off my condition and pain. Every which way, I felt fragile, vulnerable, afraid. Then, over past weeks, my legs went from having swarms of ants just below the surface of the skin, wriggling and squirming, giving me no rest, which my doctor explained were caused by nerve-endings. This condition worsened, first to painful raging toothache reaching down both legs, to losing the use of them altogether.

Scary when you live alone, with stairs to cope with!! There's always the fear, what if this is the way it is from now on? What if I can't walk again?

My first thought was to cancel this Talk and the Session. But now the day had arrived, I could walk small steps, while a lady promised me a lift to the door, otherwise there was no way to get there. However, finding the courage and confidence as a Speaker was something else again! My comfort came in prayer, having faith the right words would come when I needed them most from a place beyond. I tend now to speak from the heart, rather than prepare copious notes. There's nothing worse than watching someone shuffling papers, reading words he needs to say. But still, it takes confidence to stand and speak, however well you might know your subject. I knew the lady I supported on a one-to-one was coming. She worked with the MOD (Ministry of Defence) in wartime, and we'd talked and shared her memories so many times, discussing how they related to RAF 100 Group. She was happy just to sit with me over cups of tea and bikkies and breathe new life into past times. It was a wonderful gift to watch her eyes sparkle, and for her whole persona to come alive, throwing off the mantle of the disease even for the short time while we shared.

However, more and more people began arriving with families, Carers and support workers. It was the most they'd ever had attend, I was told after. The hall was now crowded. Tables kept being put up, more chairs laid out. Everyone had that air of expectancy, making the atmosphere electric. No-one really knew what to expect ... least of all me!

I began to lay out memorabilia, like wares on a table at a Fayre. People became curious, drawing close to touch, to hold, wanting to know and understand the story behind them. It was fascinating to watch. To be a part of the intrigue. A model of a Mosquito took centre stage as always, an exact replica of Vic and Jack's Mosquito Mark IV, DK292. This Talk was being given in their memory, killed a few days earlier, in 1944: 26/27 November. It was the only Mosquito lost on that night. Large glossy photographs freshly printed to their best lay beside the model ... one of Nina (my mother) in WAAF uniform, another of Vic, and one of Jack standing proud, each of them a head and shoulder shot. These represented the characters in the story which first inspired me to write in the field of Aviation, as Mum and I became founding members of the RAF 100 Group Association. She would have loved to be here now, sharing these moments. Misty-eyed, I placed an equally glossy colour photograph of Blymhill Church where Vic and Nina exchanged their wedding vows, and a pair of inner silk flying gloves, Vic's name still clear after over seventy years marked on the inside. They were the only thing sent by the Air Ministry after his death, yet I'd had them checked by an historian to prove they had never been in the sea, proving he hadn't been wearing them at the time of his death. Every airman had a spare pair. These were they. It endorses the fact that a mystery still surrounds where they were going on the night of 26/27 November 1944, how they were killed, and where their final resting place might be. Alongside, were two piles of books: 'Nina & Vic - A World War Two Love Story', and 'RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits'. A newly created Special Edition 2017 RAF 100 Group Calendar was set in position, illustrating two American crews of the Eighth Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron (RCM - Radar/Radio Countermeasures), two of the twelve wartime images each linked with a month in the year.

U.S. 8th Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron: Iredell Hutton w McCrory crew of The Jigs Up
U.S. 8th Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron: Lt McCarthy with Beast of Bourbon crew

These talks are a way of keeping memories alive, giving recognition to 'forgotten heroes' who served in RAF 100 Group, together with the U.S. 8th Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron (RCM) who flew in partnership with them. I would be sharing one of their many hundreds of stories to illustrate how war affects not just those who take part, but families left behind, sweethearts and loved ones, thus changing the course of history and the paths they would otherwise have taken ... in turn, offering a heritage of which we should be proud to pass on for generations to come.

Silence fell as strains of Vera Lyn filtered through, echoing around us from a CD. I let it go on for a minute or two, watching bodies sway in time, many mouthing the words with their lips, smiling wistfully, enjoying the soft threads of the past weaving in and around us, drawing us into another time, and a very different world. They knew nothing about me other than being a Dementia Friend. So, as the final notes of music began to fade, I told them of a child, known as the 'cripple on the street' who's favourite days were Saturdays. Her father worked in London through the week, but this day was theirs, and they spent it visiting the library down the High Street, walking hand in hand, playing peep-bo either side of the hedge opposite the Common where the fair would come. The library was her favourite place in all the world, filled with portals leading into other worlds. 'One day', this little girl would tell the librarian who gazed in pity at this small delicate child with auburn hair, feet caught in calipers, irons reaching up her legs, dragging one foot clumsily behind the other, tripping her way through the door; 'One day ... my name will be on one of those books on a shelf in the library, just you see!' The librarian would nod pitifully. 'Bless!' Then return to diligently stamping books which she handed down to the face peeking over her counter.

Hold on to your dream, little girl ... I want to shout back through the years!

The child could write and tell stories long before she went to school, inviting anyone who might listen into worlds she created, brought together on paper. Most were about Cinderella-style people who grew up to become Princesses, illustrated by colourful drawings, living happy-ever-after. Always there would be a pile of precious books at her side, inviting her to join the characters in a different world. Meanwhile, she cherished a dream that would lead her on a journey, opening out into the world she knows today as an author.

Looking around, I could sense the Child within, still with that sense of wonder and excitement, inspired by Life.

It was a golden opportunity to ask the audience whether they believed technology and kindles would ever take the place of books. Heads were vehemently shaken. A conversation opened as I picked up the book 'Nina & Vic', discussing how books become best friends. They understood what I was saying as I fingered the pages lovingly, with the ability of going back a page or two, re-reading a phrase which touched somewhere deep within, storing them on bookshelves, looking up and being inspired by titles that mirror life in different shades. Now, as silence fell once more, I held this book close to my heart, praying the words would come, using me as a vessel to tell the story, inspiring others to want to know more, thirsting after knowledge and truths.

I drew back the imaginary curtains on a scene being played out on Christmas Eve 1943.

There was a dance at RAF Wheaton Aston. A young WAAF met an Officer with sparkling blue eyes and a dimple on his chin. We followed them through New Year through to Spring 1944, peeking around a door as the couple shared their wedding vows in a small country church. It is nine in the evening. It sets the time of their trysting hour for the rest of their time on earth - their promise being that, wherever they are in the world, always at 9pm, they will each think of the other, believing true love is eternal. Not until I finish the story and the final curtain comes down do people in the audience realise their cheeks are wet, as are mine. Then I share the fact that this is my mother's story, one of hundreds who either served or became a part of RAF 100 Group in wartime. An audible gasp rippled around the room. Fresh tears appeared. They hadn't realised this was personal! It made it all the more poignant, more special, more profound ...

The Talk opened out to speak of 192 Squadron in which Vic and Jack served, and their journey which led each of them to become an integral part of the lead Squadron of RAF 100 Group under Bomber Command, made up of fifteen Squadrons each based on airfields built for purpose in Norfolk. I remained with the theme of stories, sharing different worlds from which these brave me and true came ... Poland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the States ... working together to help liberate us from the onslaught of the Germans, too many paying the ultimate price. Finally, the Association today made up of surviving veterans and their families and friends who still speak aloud the names of those who did not return from operations, Reunions when we gather to commemorate and remember, and the mutual support we share as kindred spirits.

You could say there wasn't a dry eye in the house! It could be true ... it certainly was for me, choked at times as I shared, feeling Nina and Vic standing right there at my side, encouraging and supporting me through. It was, as always, a journey we share together ... at the end of which, on this occasion, people who had listened, shared and asked questions, bought up all the books I'd taken with me, wanting to go online for more. The chatter went on endlessly, and I realised with a sense of shock, I'd been talking for more than an hour, holding a chair for support. Phew! I was exhausted!!

A taste of the emails I received after, offer a sense of what it was like sitting as one of the audience:

Hi Janine

So lovely to see you yesterday ... What a wonderful talk and session! We were blown away!! ... Never think that you are not doing enough ... what you can do is more than enough, and you are very much appreciated ...

Side-by-Side Manager
Alzheimer's Society

Dear Janine,

Just to thank you again for such a fascinating hour listening to you yesterday ... You had us all riveted ... a spellbinding story and ongoing project. I am so glad I was in the audience, and would have hated to miss it, and heard from others how good you'd been ... Many thanks for coming and talking to us all.


Sharing personal experiences is the only way to touch people's lives. To help them remember. I will continue to support and give what I can to my local Dementia Support Group. It is the precious gift of Time that matters most.


Tuesday 29 November 2016

RAF 100 Group: The Birth of Electronic Warfare


** OUT NOW!! **


ISBN: 978-1-78155-458-6

  • Declassified material illustrating the partnership between the RAF and USAAF, including private letters
  • Evocative and deeply moving accounts shared by people who were there at the time

During the Second World War, the threat of a German invasion of Britain was very real. The Royal Navy was at full strength in the belief that, as an island, the enemy would come from across the English Channel. The Army went to full conscription to boost its strength. However, following the Battle of Britain, the Government realised the folly of the R.A.F. bomber force using obsolescent aircraft and equipment as the skies over Britain brought waves of enemy bombers making determined attacks on major towns and cities causing mayhem, leaving a trail of devastation and grief in their wake.

It was following the Battle of Britain that the Air Ministry knew they desperately needed something visionary, something which hadn't been tried before if they were to stop the increasing bombing, and ultimately an invasion of Britain. Aircraft and crews were suffering heavy losses against flak and night fighters such as the Bf 100 and Ju 88. Hundreds of men were being killed. Hence, as early as the end of 1942, serious discussions began to take place behind closed doors seeking a new path to victory.

Enter the secret world of R.A.F. No. 100 (Bomber Support) Group.

Authorised on 11 November 1943, by working together with the Air Ministry, Bletchley Park and the Y-Service, this specialist group of Squadrons came together, based on airfields in Norfolk. It was uniquely responsible for the operational development and application of all Radar and Radio countermeasure programmes; using specialised newly-developed equipment. Using new methods of warfare, the Group was able to successfully disrupt the enemy and turn the tide of the war, flying day and night operations, including the sinking of the Tirpitz and the bombing of Dresden. Using a range of unique and secretive tactics and equipment, men within the Group were able to 'confound and destroy' the enemy - perfectly living up to their motto.

R.A.F. 100 Group: The Birth of Electronic Warfare provides an analysis of many of these countermeasure devices and tactics - including Chaff, Airborne Cigar, Jostle, etc - alongside a history of the highly secret 100 Group and how it helped to herald a new era of airborne and electronic warfare.

This book also illustrates the strong partnership between the R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. using de-classified material.  The U.S. Eighth Air Force's 36th Bomb Squadron (RCM) arrived in Britain, living and working alongside R.A.F. 100 Group, flying in partnership with them. Together they forged a formidable force, standing united against an enemy which planned to rule the world as it gradually invaded countries, clearing a path towards Britain and anyone or anything that stood in its way.

The book offers an evocative and deeply moving account of the birth of electronic warfare against the German Defence Network using the kind of language everyone can understand. 

Also available through Amazon and all high street bookshops.

Cover Price: £25.00
Currently priced at £22.50 on Fonthill Media Website
(saving £2.50)