Author, John Hickman, recalls memories of life with his father, Bill. Writing fact in the form of creative fiction, he merges testimonies from those who knew Bill, and gives the reader an affectionate biography of an ordinary man who triumphed during extraordinary times.
Beginning in Notting Hill, London, during the 1920s, and coming from a poor background, Bill first experienced and overcame intimidation from the local bullies. Suffering the brutality of gang violence, Bill’s first battle and victory came in 1936, when he took down and beat Alf, the gang leader, giving him the business end of a cricket bat and a much-needed taste of his own medicine. Bill walked away from that incident a more confident young man and spent his time dreaming of a better life, with aspirations of one day becoming a successful cricketer, as the dark clouds of the coming Second World War gathered and the Nazi war machine rumbled through Europe.
We follow Bill through three sections of his life: childhood and teens; the war years and Bill’s experience of the boot-camp regime of flying school, to the trials of the bombing missions, where he flew as a pilot of Lancaster Bombers, with the hardship and terrors endured throughout each run; and finally adjusting back to civilian life afterwards with his beloved Alice.
True life stories of war time – any war – are important for future generations to study and learn from. When dark times such as these are forgotten, therein prowls the danger that they can be repeated. An apt quote from George Orwell is included in the book: “we didn’t know how bad it was until they told us.”
Real heroes, reluctant or not, never die.
Their deeds are remembered and their lives and sacrifices are honored.