No words could possibly...

July 31, 2017

Could anyone have failed to miss the moving, harrowing news coverage of the Remembrance of The Battle of Passchendaele? Today, July 31st, marks one hundred years since the start of one of WW1 bloodiest battles. The numbers are mind blowing; half-a-million men lost their lives in 14 weeks for one side to gain five miles of territory. And what territory, a mud soup of guts and bodies and blood and death. Just five miles...


When I started writing my novel, The House With Old Furniture, I knew I wanted to explore life for an under-aged recruit in the WW1 trenches of France. I researched on the internet and in books, first-hand accounts of life during this hideous battle. I thought I was thorough. I wrote out how I imagined these brave and courageous men might have felt, what their conditions may have been like, and the terror of that whistle. I mined my imagination for words of terror and gore and waste and death. As I pressed save and choose a larger more attractive font for my chapter headings I thought I had it – had it captured there in words on a page. Even my working title: How to Model Mud, I thought might engender images of that evil battle field. But today how inadequate I feel, watching the BBC footage of Harry Patch recounting his memories of that battle, seeing that sea of muddy devastation, listening to the letters and diary extracts of those brave, brave and courageous men. The only word I can find is humble. I am humbled.


I will leave you with a picture of my Great Uncle, Richard Purdy, who incredibly survived Passchendaele, only to be killed in action three months before the end of WW1.




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© 2017 by Helen Lewis