The Poppy Garden
I've always been obsessed by stories, ever since I can remember. If I wasn't reading them I was writing them or acting them out. I spent a great deal of my childhood with my Granddad, he used to wake me at six and take me to the beach. I always thought it was just something he did to get out of the house while my nan did the house work or baked. It wasn't until after he died that I found out the beach was the first place he came when he returned home from World War 2.
My grandfather, Joseph Robinson was around nineteen when he joined the RAF in 1940. He rose to the rank of sergeant, the tail gunner of LM471 in 576 Squadron Bomber Command. He married my nan on 12 February 1944 and on the night of the 24 March 1944 he was part of a bombing raid over Berlin when his plane was felled by shrapnel and crashed. My Grandfather was the last to parachute out alive; he landed in France and at some point was found by a farmer.
After being handed over to the Gestapo was held as a POW, he took part in the digging of an escape tunnel as per the Great Escape but before he could leave he was marched out as part of the Long Walk a death march from which he escaped.
He returned home to his wife and raised a daughter and then two grandchildren. He was a strong man, I never heard him swear or loose his temper and he never told me the whole story of his time as a POW.
As a child you don't really question the stories you are told, now I wish I had because his is a story I would love to read completely.
I tried for a long time to find a way to tell his story, the lack of information was always my stumbling block, until one day while digging in my garden it struck me how I had spent many an hour watching him work in his. It was then that I realised this was his way of coping with the horrors he had lived. He took the bad and made it beautiful, he turned the horror of war in to the beauty of a rose.
His story isn't a recounting of history but more a story of hope, of coming to terms with the experiences of his life and finding a way to live and thrive. So I started writing The Poppy Garden, a story of an injured soldier coming to terms with his experience and the family that support and fight for him. I only hope this story honours his memory and brings beauty from darkness the way he brought beauty to his garden.
The Poppy Garden is available for Kindle and in Print
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