For those of us old enough to remember the Second World War, it was a defining period in our lives. I was just a small child but even so have vivid memories from it.
Recalling and reading about those days remains an important strand in our lives, so when I left the sea and turned to my other great desire, to be writer, I knew there were huge dramatic opportunities still to be gained from writing about that period.
This is World War Two with a difference. It was not just the men who went to war but women too, as this action-packed story tells
Set against a sweeping panorama of the war and the Royal Navy, Wren Jane Beacon goes to War shows just how close to the action a girl could get. Brave and feisty, independent of spirit so always at an angle to authority, from the start of the war she does brilliantly as the Navy’s first experimental boat crew Wren. But the story is much more than bullets and stormy seas; human life in all its complexities is there as she comes of age under extreme circumstances.
The young Jane Beacon not only has to overcome the entrenched chauvinism of the Royal Navy; she also learns about herself and her sexuality. She soon finds out that having an affair in a warship is a major naval taboo. Almost chucked out when it comes to light, only her exceptional performance in the boats saves her. As a rating she learns to live with the lower deck and its own particular ways but coming from a comfortable upper middle-class family she is just as at ease in the wardroom which in itself is a source of strife.
As she develops, neither corporal punishment nor naval bloody-mindedness can put her off. Typical of her impulsive nature, she takes a naval cutter to Dunkirk without permission to help with the evacuation and does great things, much to the annoyance of Naval authority.
World War Two saw the UK’s armed forces massively expanded and, as always, the fighting and dying was done by young men drafted in whether they liked it or not. This time, the conscription also took in the UK’s women on a mass scale, and without them the war would not have been won. While their work was mostly in support and production, there were some who got close up to the front line activities and Wren Jane Beacon goes to War is the story of one who did. It is much more than “a ripping good yarn”, as one reviewer put it, although it is all of that.
Quite instinctively she lives, loves and works close to the edge and the tale shows women can be heroes too but always with a warm human side.
Reviews of the book will be welcome here on OAPSchat, and if you could also post them on the Kindle page for my book that would be greatly appreciated.
To encourage this, I am offering a signed hardback copy of the book as a prize for the best – and most entertaining – review posted here by the end of June 2016. It is currently available both as a Kindle e-book and as a Createspace paperback. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
EDITOR: This is a fantastic prize and will be won by a lucky person at the end of June. Instead of the usual prize regulations, Douglas will choose the winner. Good luck everyone and thank you Douglas.