Tony Bradman discusses the Gallipoli campaign which he wrote about for his book Anzac Boys, published by Barrington Stoke.
“I visited a lot of schools last year to talk about the anthology of First World War short stories that I’d edited, and the three books about the conflict that I’d written with my son Tom. In most of the schools the children had done at least some work on the war – I saw plenty of projects and displays and heard about their trips to museums and war memorials. But many of the children had also been encouraged to ask their parents and grandparents for stories about family members and the war.
I was surprised – and also quite moved – by many of the family stories I was told. Again and again I heard about distant great-grandfathers or great-great-uncles who went off to war and never came home. Many children brought in ancient photographs or letters, the fading ink showing through fragile paper. One little girl brought in a diary which her great-great-grandfather had kept during the Gallipoli campaign, and which ended abruptly because he had been killed.
I was particularly struck by this phenomenon because I had my own family story in the publishing pipeline. Anzac Boys grew out of a story I heard my mum tell many times during my childhood. Then a few years ago I realised that the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign was coming up in April 2015, and I realised it didn’t matter if that last bit was true. I knew it would make a wonderful story, and suddenly I was writing out a whole plot about a boy who promises to look after his little brother after they’ve been orphaned, and then feels he’s failed when they’re separated. What would happen when they’re reunited?”
This extract is taken from a longer article Tony wrote for Books For Keeps which you can read here. Anzac Boys is available to buy now, published by Barrington Stoke.