"quick reads" book, "Out of the dark" coming out in February. (Quercus) The "blurb" on the back caught my attention because it is rather similar to a real-life story I was once told.
I knew a very old man, now deceased, in this district. He went off to WWI as a very young man, very young indeed. Tom had been brought up in an orphanage. He lied about his age to go - and they took him. I can remember him telling me "I had no idea of course. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just thought it was preferable to being by myself."
He was sent to France and endured the unimaginable horrors of life in the trenches. Next to him was another young man, one just old enough to go. This second young man had a sister who had knitted him a pair of socks. She had knitted his initials into the top of the socks. The two boys were, perhaps inevitably, both wounded.
When the owner of the socks was dying he elicited a promise from his younger, seriously wounded friend that he would go and see his sister and take the socks with him. Tom took the socks.
When he was eventually repatriated. He went to the address he was given only to discover that the family had moved. Nobody seemed to know where they had gone but eventually a postal employee gave him an address in another part of the country. It was over four hundred miles away.
Tom had no money and he was not in a fit state of health but he set out to walk - and he took the socks. He worked odd jobs along the way.
"I don't know what made me do it. I could have posted the damn things to her," he told me with a smile.
Eventually he found the house in the suburbs of another city. It took time but he summoned up the courage to knock on the door. It was answered by the mother who thought he was one of the many men tramping the countryside at the time. She was prepared to offer food but, for once, he shook his head. He held out the socks and told her how he had come by them. They were barely worn.
She looked down at his feet. He was wearing roughly fashioned "shoes" of kangaroo skin.
And yes, he met the daughter. They were married for fifty-four years before her death.