About two weeks ago Marilyn and I were tidying up the front garden in Bishops Stortford and a passer-by asked us if we knew anything about the history of our house.
We only moved to our current home in April, so we said that we didn't. The passer-by introduced himself as David, and told us something that really surprised us. Basically he gave me the idea for a true story, and a target date for publication, the anniversary of the events he told us about are just eighteen months away - 14 March 2015.
So here's a sneak preview of the story that David told me:
In the early hours of Sunday 14 March 1915 Private George Harrison of the Sherwood Foresters died as a result of inhaling his own vomit. He died at the house where I now live, and where I am writing this story. George Harrison was a twenty-seven year old soldier from Nottingham who was attached to the North Midland Divisional Cyclists’ Corps. Seven members if his unit were billeted at my house the previous evening.
Harrison's senior officer, nineteen year old Second Lieutenant Albert Ball was also billeted here. Ball was also from Nottingham and would go on to join the Royal Flying Corps, where he became the most decorated airman of World War I. Ball was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross and three Distinguished Service Orders. He was killed in action a few months before his twenty-first birthday on May 7th 1917.
I intend to write something about these two men, and the five fellow soldiers they were sharing our house with. Ball's story is well documented, as is the sad but brief tale of George Harrison. But what about the other five? did any of them survive the War; are there people still alive who remember them?
It's very early days in my quest to write something about these men and those times. At the moment I'm not sure whether to write pure history or to try to fictionalise something about that evening.
I'll keep you posted as I go along.