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:

Wednesday 27 November 2019


Mosquito night intruder equipped with airborne Radar

On the night of 26/27 November 1944, two airmen were preparing for an Intruder Operation over Germany. Nothing would have suggested this was different to any other, except these were experienced men who knew every operation depended, not just on their flying and navigational skills, but also the cunning cat-and-mouse games of the enemy. It was well known that Mosquitoes were both hated and envied by the Germans with their speed and agility. Small wooden crafts, yet with such extraordinary powers! Shooting one down was worth two points instead of one ... as long as the German who did the shooting lived to tell the tale!

Official Records show this Mosquito and its crew were accompanying bombers on a raid to Munich, with instructions to call at RAF Ford on its return journey home. They would therefore have been flying high above the bombers, acting as their Guardian Angels, tasked with identifying and jamming enemy Radar. The Mosquito had a two-man crew. The Pilot sitting to the left, his seat slightly forward of his companion's; would focus on keeping a steady course through the darkness. The Navigator was also a Special Operator and in the tight cramped space next to his Pilot would be using on-board vital and very secret equipment to confuse the Germans.

This was one of many Operations they had flown together. They were at ease in one another's company, although for the duration of this night mission they would be on high alert, tense, focused, eager for it to be over. 

Job Done! 

Both airmen were based at RAF Foulshan, Norfolk, England, and part of the lead 192 Squadron of RAF 100 Group under Bomber Command. As such, they flew in all weathers, with information gained being given direct to Bletchley Park on their return.

Canadian Pilot Jack Glen Millan Fisher

Jack Fisher was a Pilot Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Born on 30 August 1923 on a farm homestead in Canada, Jack was eldest and the only boy of seven children. His father had served in World War One in France and Belgium. His youngest sister recalls:

'Jack was a good son, the apple of his Mum's eye; with a bit of an adventurous streak, like trying to ride a bull as soon as our parents were gone, or attempting to ride the unbroken stallions. And of course, with six younger sisters, he was a big tease!'

Jack was always scribbling little rhymes and verses in his school notebook and liked to read. Determined to finish High School, he took several jobs to qualify. His first job after Graduation was with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, a Government Agency to improve farming methods and ways. He joined the RCAF as soon as he could in 1940 in Regina, Saskatchewan; the same day his father rejoined the Army. Jack loved every minute of his Air Force training in Ontario

'I remember Jack coming home on Leave when I was about ten years old and he would come to school with me in his Pilot's uniform, holding my hand'

remembers sister Audrey.

Jack joined 192 Squadron, RAF 100 Group, under Bomber Command, in August 1944, based at RAF Foulsham, Norfolk. He was just 21 years old.

Navigator/Special Operator: Henry Victor Alexander Vinnell

'Vic' as he was known was a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves.

In October 1943, as a Navigator, he moved to the RAF Base at Wheaton Aston, pending a further posting; and there met and fell in love with Nina Chessall at the Christmas Eve dance that year. Nina was a WAAF and worked as Secretary to Group Captain Browning, fondly known as 'Brownie'.

In the Spring of 1944, Vic was posted to 192 Squadron at RAF Foulsham, Norfolk, where he became part of RAF 100 Group - a Special Operations Unit aimed at seeking out and jamming enemy Radar and radio signals, flying above the bombers to mask their approach,

Every spare moment, Vic would write to his beloved Nina. He had met and stayed with her family, having none of his own, and there was huge excitement as they became engaged, looking forward to a wedding in Cheshire later that year, with Jack Fisher, his Pilot, taking the role of Best Man.

Vic was twenty-two years old.

Their Mosquito, numbered DK292, was known as 'N for Nina', which brought Vic great comfort in knowing that Nina was close to him, surrounding him with her love. 

WAAF: Nina Chessall

Nina was born in Cheshire on 9 April 1918. Her parents were both firm Christian believers, and known as local Speakers who openly shared their faith. Nina was just six years old when her father unexpectedly died, leaving her bereft. They had been particularly close. Yet somehow, amidst her grief, she needed to find the strength to look after her mother who was ill, and also her two younger brothers. She was taken out of school for a year to spend time at home, her father's death continuing to deeply affect her. This became the first of what she referred to as her 'Desert Experiences' where she sought God as a solace and strength, feeling very desperate and alone. At such a tender age, it is understandable that death became her breaking point.

God was a living breathing entity, the core of family life. Prayer times were important. Grace was said before every meal. While her mother would play on the family organ, singing out the words:

'Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee ...'

Her mother never married again, a firm believer that there was only one love meant in this life, and she went on to spend thirty-nine years as a widow. However, despite her grief and loneliness after losing her soulmate, she became a renowned Speaker, sharing her own experiences of faith.

During the year away from school, Nina read the Bible several times over, thirsting after the strength and love that would see her through this most difficult of times.

In 1939/40, Nina's two brothers went away to war. Their home was bombed. Living in rented accommodation, her mother's health rapidly deteriorated. Nina became her Carer, her one constant, until, in 1940, she joined the WAAFs and was posted away from home to RAF Wheaton Aston, Little Onn, Staffordshire, where she met Vic.

It was on Nina's 21st birthday in 1944, that she and Vic exchanged wedding vows at Blymhill Church, a small wayside chapel where they would often cycle, enjoying the daffodils splayed among the graves. As they stood alone in the darkness this particular evening, making their promises to one another, the clock outside chimed the hour ... 9 pm. Thereafter, that time became their trysting hour, a time when each would stand for moments, thinking of the other, praying to God to keep their loved one safe.

On 27 November 1944, Vic and Jack in Mosquito DK292 failed to return. 

Nothing was heard from them since taking off from their base at Foulsham. Their names were up on the blackboard, and everyone was thinking of them, wondering what might have happened, dreading the worst.

On the day Mosquito DK292 and its occupants disappeared, Nina was unexpectedly posted to RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, another Station under Bomber Command. She had been asking for a transfer, hoping to reach RAF Foulsham. But this place was something else, and not at all what she had imagined. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, there were no telephones for her to ring Foulsham as had become the custom. She had to walk miles in the moonlight ... but then walk back, miserably wondering why no-one was saying why she couldn't speak to her fiance Vic.

This became the second 'Desert Experience' of Nina's life.

For weeks, time stood still.

She would gaze up at the moon when the clock turned to their trysting hour, wondering if he was looking at the same moon ... where he was, when he might return. He never spoke to her of his work. He had signed the Official Secrets Act. It made it impossible to share any of his operations and the work in which he was involved. She had no idea what RAF 100 Group was involved in, nor what made their work so special, so secret. Her mother had been rushed to hospital, and the post mounting on the front doormat underneath the letterbox included telegrams not yet read.

One week on from the date of that fateful Operation, Vic and Jack's names were scrubbed from the blackboard. No-one knew what had happened. There was still hope. But hope was fading fast. Their Squadron had the highest number of fatalities due to the extreme dangers of their work, especially in a Mosquito. It was a fast and agile machine. 

But it was not infallible!

Official Document dated 1 December 1944

On the night of 26/27 November 2019, 75 years on, I wonder what Vic might have been thinking during those final moments of his life. Given they landed on a mined beach, it might have been so sudden that there was no time for reason or thought. I hope that is true! Vic had a morbid fear of death by fire ... But I have no doubt, in the event that there were precious moments, he would have been visualising his beloved Nina. Their wedding had been postponed from July 1944 because of her mother's illness. So they were both eager for their Big Day to arrive. It had been tricky, planning it for when both were on Leave, including Jack his Best Man. But the plans were in place. All it needed were for the two of them to make their dream a reality.

However, that final fateful mission on 26/27 November meant it could never be!

Nina wrote her feelings, her thoughts, on page after page after page. She had no idea whether Vic would ever read these pages, but it was all she could do. They needed an outlet, a release.

On the 60th Anniversary of Vic and Jack's deaths, I had my book published: 

'Nina & Vic: A World War II Love Story'. 

To mark their 75th Anniversary, in August this year my 30th book was published entitled: 

'A Wing & A Prayer'. 

This latest edition sheds new light, and the words of others, such as Phil James MBE who was there, serving in 192 Squadron with Vic and Jack at the time ... now Lifetime President of the RAF 100 Group Association.

It was a book which brought me so much peace in the writing of it I didn't want it to end ... but then, something very new and unexpected happened.

Jan, a Dutch researcher I'd written to previously, came through with a document dated 1946, which shows with absolute certainty the place where they landed on a mined beach on the coast of France: 

1946 Document relating to Mosquito DK292 crash
Courtesy: Jan (The Netherlands)

They would have had some reason, probably engine trouble as had happened previously that year, definitely something wrong with the plane; to have landed on the coast of France. The one thing they wouldn't have known was that the beach was mined!

I am still convinced that someone must have heard the explosion. Perhaps a witness actually saw what happened from the window of their home? At least finally, after all these years, it provides an ending to the story of Vic and Jack ... and despite offering little comfort, ultimately shows where the two Merlin Mosquito engines might still lie, visible only at low tide:

Map showing location of crash-site as per 1946 document

Nina was my mother. She believed 'Love is Eternal'. There is no end. Finally, she is at peace, at rest, with all her questions answered. She knows the truth of what happened ... and in time, so will I when I join her in that 'Land of Far Beyond'.

Meanwhile, I needed to mark the 75th Anniversary to show these brave men are still remembered, sharing their story with a wider audience, speaking their names aloud that they are never ever forgotten.

Henry Victor Alexander Vinnell
Jack Glen Millan Fisher

Rest In Peace


Thursday 21 November 2019


Copyright: Janine Harrington

A new day struggles into wakefulness. I wonder what it will bring as I step through the gateway to embrace the dawn. My mind wanders. But it can't go far these days. Yesterday is but a memory ... and not even that, given the dark velvet covering, with twinklets of stars the only source of light, reminding me that once upon a daydream there were good times shared. Tomorrow presents a fog of uncertainty. A nothingness stretching beyond. I have no idea how long I have left in this life. A dis-quietening thought, not because I have any kind of Bucket List or challenges I still need to achieve, nor have I a 'To Do' List requiring urgent attention. It's simply the way it is ... a certainty yet to be realised.

I have only Today. 

This hour. 

This moment. 

And it is living in this moment that provides the key, unlocking the essence of that Inner Peace.

My Faith remains the strongest part about me. I am not afraid of Death. However, it is while I still 'walk in the valley of the shadow of ...' which gives me endless cause for concern.

I was diagnosed with Cancer over two years ago. From the start, I made it clear I wanted no treatment. I believe in Quality not Quantity of Life. When my time comes God will take me Home. Just as I am. And through the journey which has evolved through these past two years and more, it is that thought alone, that belief, that certainty within that brings such Peace ... together with an almost desperate longing for ... My Time To Come.

I am ready.

My soul has already lived through too much. I have only two regrets if I am to be completely open and honest:

1. I will never know a lifetime of living with a Soulmate, feeling the true empathy, understanding, support and Love that comes in knowing and loving another so completely we become One.

2. I miss children, young children, holding and cuddling them, looking into their eyes, seeing the innocence and trust, playing with them, being a part of their lives. I will never be a grandmother, and feel again that sense of motherhood, pride and overwhelming Love which comes in watching and learning, seeing the world through a Child's eyes, being part of who they become. Always, it is a unique and privileged position ... a Gift.

I am reminded of how cruelly my own innocence was taken as a child, which is the reason I have lived with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress) since the age of four years old when a Specialist at the hospital where I was being treated for my disabilities sexually abused me. I had no words to explain, to share the secret which slowly crept like a living, breathing entity, consuming me from within, taking over every aspect of my life. Yet at six years old, my mother thought enough of what I was saying to note in her diary of the day: 'After our hospital visit today, Janine told me 'he hurts me''. Abuse was never spoken of then. Authorities were people to be respected, even revered. They could do no wrong. No-one spoke out against them, as we do today. I had been taught never to say 'No' to an adult. Only when I reached the age of 14 did I finally take action, the only action I could, and went on strike, refusing to return ever again to that place of madness and nightmares. But nightmares didn't stop, they didn't diminish, nor did they go away as further nightmares fused with them as life struggled on. More and more I had gaps in my days I couldn't fill. Hours passed. I had no idea what was happening to me. No idea that everyday happenings triggered feelings and memories, which in turn re-opened that black box of bad memories in my mind, taking me in with them, returning me to that state of childhood, repeating over and over again what happened. I had gone through five experimental operations. None were successful. I wore calipers on both legs and feet until the age of nine, then hospital shoes. It set me apart from other children. Abuse and bullying became a way of life.

Today, going through the doors of a hospital returns me to that child state of confusion and dread. I wandering corridors, lost somewhere deep within myself, unable to find a way out, or return to the present. In technical terms it's called a 'Fugue' or 'Disassociative State', breaking from the present, living in the past. There is nothing I can do to take back control until it runs its course.

This is one reason I refused treatment for Cancer.

It has nothing at all to do with imagination, or responding to 'snapping out of it' as some people suggest. PTSD is a recognised condition following a trauma. However, I am fortunate now to have a wonderful Counsellor who surprisingly understands enough about PTSD to work on strategies to help me cope. We use Visualisation techniques ... and remarkably, after all these years, I can finally find my Peace, overlaying painful memories of abuse with a country scene of which I become a part, and which ultimately brings sleep.

Mum died of Cancer in 1996. I recall that January when she phoned to say she was bleeding, and it wouldn't stop. I drove straight over to be with her, to talk, to share. Initially, she was diagnosed with a prolapse of the womb. But she deteriorated quickly. I drove almost daily, accompanying her to hospital appointments for Radiation treatment, assessments, etc. As with many of her generation, she was a very private woman. She hated intrusive investigations, having catheters inserted. Once she was in hospital, in a bed next to a young girl with Cancer, she spent more time supporting and talking to her than anything else. She was an incredibly caring, compassionate lady. It hurt her to see someone so young struggling through Cancer, with a young child to care for. At night, she phoned, talking about how much the treatment hurt, saying the treatment was worse than the Cancer. But she didn't feel she could say 'No' or stop the procedures which, for her, became an interminable dread. Almost six months down the line, I went in search of her doctor in the hospital. They didn't want to talk about 'Death'. They couldn't even say the word. However, they had drawn the curtains around my mother's bed, effectively isolating her, making her feel cut off from the world, and particularly from the young girl she had befriended. I asked if she was dying. If so, how long did she have, persisting that she would want to know? Finally, a lady doctor took me into her room, and told me she didn't have long ... days rather than weeks. I insisted she needed someone in authority to tell her and my father who was making plans for when she returned home. When I was back at Mum's beside, she looked at me, and nodded. I knew she knew. She died 22 July 1996 in a Sue Ryder Hospice to which she was moved.

My second reason for refusing treatment therefore is related to Mum. She wasn't afraid of death. Her father taught her that as he died when she was six years old. But like me today, she became afraid of the time leading up to her death ... because of the treatment. She simply wanted to go home, and be in familiar surroundings when came her Time.

In a life where someone else has always taken control, for me, I need to know that, although I can't have control over when I die or how, I can at least have a voice.

When first diagnosed, I asked what choices I had, and to have them fully explained. Initially I accepted Letrozole tablets. Taken with my cocktail of other tablets for a range of disabilities stemming from birth, they seemed so small in comparison. Yet the side-effects were massive, immediate and devastating. I was so sick I could do nothing at all. I took them for three months, all over that first Christmas until, at the end of January, when I next saw the Specialist, not having tasted a Christmas Dinner, or been able to share in any of the festivities; I said if this was the way the rest of my life would pan out, then I would just let the Cancer take its course. And that's the way it's been ever since. But then, I wasn't prepared for simply being unexpectedly discharged from hospital, spending most of the next two years feeling abandoned, isolated, alone.

Perhaps I was being punished for saying 'NO!'

That was my first thought ... which in turn, brought memories of the Specialist treating me at the age of four years old. But then, yes, I'd wanted him to leave me alone. In later years, when I became an Abuse Consultant, supporting families in abuse, working one-to-one with paedophiles in and out of prison, I learned from them just how devious and manipulative this first Specialist in my life had been. Always, he'd spoken to my doll, never directly to me. Matron would take my mother out of the consulting room with her when she became pregnant with my sister, as she was so ill. I was left alone with my abuser. It's how Mum and I worked out when the abuse began, when finally I shared my experiences with her when I was forty years old. Always, he'd nod towards the cubicle, drawing the dark green curtains. I knew by then what was expected of me. I was a good girl. What I couldn't work out was, if I was a good girl, why did all these bad things keep happening to me? Why did I have to undress when all he was meant to do was measure one leg against the other as if the shorter one would somehow catch up? My legs were five inches different in length ... leading in later years to chronic arthritis in my spine, hips, knees and legs. I took to wearing dungarees. Five pairs of pants. My mother couldn't work out what was going on with me, as, even at school, I continued wearing layers of protection. My trust was betrayed at an early age. Innocence was no more. I didn't know what he was doing, or why, but I felt the pain, the burning sensation he caused. All the time his back was turned towards me I very reluctantly lay back on the couch, gazing at the awful aging green curtains surrounding us, withdrawing to a place deep inside, disassociating from what was going on.

Even today, almost 63 years on, it is still that shade of green that brings back painful distressing images of that consulting room, making me physically sick.

I see the Cancer as a slow train chugging along its track through my body, stopping at stations before proceeding on its way. The original growth is much bigger. Another growth is now on my lymph gland. Only a scan will show exactly how far the Cancer has spread.

I'm on a high dosage of Morphine per day, together with the same cocktail of pills I've been on for years for other disabilities. Chronic Fatigue kicks in around midday, although there are days which I need to write off altogether, so exhausted I can't even raise my arms, or walk on jelly legs outside the door. I have the challenge of a new book written as a legacy for a Veteran who recently died, offering a challenge for the New Year. And my worldwide Family of Kindred Spirits remains in daily contact ... Veterans of RAF 100 Group and their families. I thank them all for giving so much, and for who they are, what they've done, the inspiration and strength they continue to offer me.

My gift for Christmas is that Jo, my daughter, will be sharing it with me. It fills my heart to overflowing with Love.

I'm battling finance, with Disability Living Allowance having been dissolved, applying for Personal Independence Payment which has taken its place. I had thought this to be an easy changeover. However, having been on the High Level for Mobility, given I have no transport, and it's impossible to walk at all without chronic pain; unexpectedly PIP has taken away completely any Mobility payment I was receiving, leaving me only with a level of Standard Care. I appealed the decision, but that went back to the person who originally visited me and wrote a Report in which there were glaring errors, despite having an Advocate with me. So I'm now waiting for it to be heard at a Tribunal. Meanwhile, getting anywhere is impossible, unless someone is kind enough to offer a lift. Attending appointments at the Hospice means paying out a hefty sum of money to a taxi driver.

I should say that it's a Postcode Lottery as to what is available in terms of help and support. I am a great believer in self-help groups. But where I live there is nothing, not even on a one-to-one basis where people make home visits. I wish there was a group where I could meet others with Cancer to talk and share. Yes, there are Forums online. Macmillan has an excellent one. But it isn't the same as seeing someone in person. And it's the lack of seeing and touching and sharing that makes this awful sense of Aloneness all the more difficult to bear. Sometimes, all it takes is a hug. Often, there's no need for words. Just knowing that someone listens, understands and cares can be valued.

Over these past two years, I have done more writing than ever before in my life. Words and emotion pour out of me, with a growing sense of urgency to be shared. It is draining, yet at the same time immensely rewarding, offering gifts of Healing and Peace. Without the ability to write, my life would be over. So I continue on, spending time at the Hospice when I can with the Counsellor and Specialist, knowing there will come a point when I've gone as far as I'm able, but happy I will have done ALL that I can for as long as possible, hoping to have made a positive difference to the lives of people around me in some small way. 

My heart goes out to people living with Cancer. Accept it as a Journey. Live in the moment. Small steps only. I've said it before, but it's worth saying again - out of every negative must come a positive. The greater the negative ... the more that positive must be.

Copyright: Janine Harrington