As the book surges into print and I start to receive emails about marketing and distribution from the publishers, I find myself escaping back to the box files that hold the bulk of the research and photographs I collated on 1 Suffolk’s war in Europe.
As I open box 6 of 8, entitled “Goch, Holland, Altenlingen, Hallen-Seckenhausen” I find the folder that contains a copy of Jim Hanson’s diary for 1945.
I never knew Jim. His son gave me a copy of his diary some years back and it’s truly a remarkable survivor, telling of the battles he fought with ‘C’ Company from Wanssum Wood in Holland, to VE Day at Bramsche.
The original diary is no bigger than a book of stamps and his tiny writing fills every page. He had a knack of recording day-to-day life in a simple terms and was not afraid to criticise (privately) those around him who he thought were sherking or not mucking-in.
At the moment, his entries for the fighting at Lingen in early April 1945 are uppermost in my mind as it’s 75 years to the day since they were written. I find myself imagining him sitting in a foxhole in the drizzle, dressed in a leather jerkin or greatcoat, writing up his thoughts under a groundsheet whilst his chum keeps a lookout for the enemy. Imagination can be a dangerous thing!