To me, although it's a work of fiction, this is my one and only serious book. It is based on the real life events of my father's experiences during World War 2.
After serving in the cavalry pre-war, at the outbreak of hostilities he ended up in a mechanised unit as a tank commander.
His first taste of action was 'Operation Torch', the invasion of North Africa, the largest sea-borne invasion at the time. He had just been delivered a son, my eldest brother, and managed a 24 hour pass to visit my mother in Leicester, which meant travelling from his ship in the Clyde to Leicester and back within 24 hours. No mean feat in peace-time and a miracle in war torn Britain where the rail links were being constantly bombed by the Luftwaffe, not to mention cities such as Glasgow, the North-east and others along the route he had to take to get to see his new son. He managed to be with my mother and brother for a few brief hours before he turned round and journeyed back. This was 1942 and my Father managed to make it back to his ship just in time before the fleet set-sail. My father did not see his family again until late in 1945.
The war took it's toll on people around him and he lost many friends along the way. By the time the closing months of the war were upon him, my father had gone from a tank-commander to refusing a field commission to Lieutenant to being seconded to MI6 - no mean feat for a butchers assistant born in Hartlepool while German Zeppelins bombed the town in World War One.
As the war was ending my father found himself in a specialist SOE unit who's leader, a mysterious army Major whom I am still trying to research, had spent most of the war as a British agent in Germany setting up German resistance cells. His role was now to head the Major's army unit in their role of searching for high ranking Nazis who were trying to flee Europe as the Allies tightened their noose around, Germany, Austria and Italy.
It was in Austria that they came across Odilo Globocnik, a man so steeped in murder and cruelty that his name is synonymous with the industrialisation of mass murder.
The man was captured in Austria and initially he refused to admit who he was. It was my father's job to get a confession out of him, which he did with the simple action of getting the man on his own, separated from his 'party of businessmen' and walking to a snow lined hillock. While Globocnik smoked a cigarette my father stood behind him and cocked his Thompson sub-machine gun. Globocnik fell to his knees and begged for mercy, admitting who he was.
It was later, after the arrested men and women had been taken to the local British Army HQ that Globocnik committed suicide by biting into a cyanide capsule hidden in his teeth. Death quickly followed.
The war soon ended, but not my father's unit were now searching for what were now classed as Werewolves, the few remaining pockets of German resistance. It was on one of these searches that my father was shot from behind on his way down from a mountain in Austria. His left arm had a small entry point but the exit point had taken out most of his upper muscle and a beloved tattoo that was only a few weeks old.
My father's next memory was waking up in a large Mercedes staff car as it careered down a muddy track on an Austrian mountainside. The driver was a young boy in his early teens that my father's unit had befriended. This young boy saved his life as the loss of blood was significant. This is where the opening sequence to 'Operation Werwolf' came from.