Journal

The 9th Lancers and the assault on the 'Quadrilateral' during the Battle of the Somme, 15 September 1916

I wrote this article for the 2018 edition of the Chapka, the Regimental Journal of The Royal Lancers (the Chapka was the distinctive helmet adopted by British lancers in the late 19th century). The Royal Lancers incorporates the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers, the regiment of my grandfather Tom Verrinder and his brother Edgar during the First World War, and this article is based on their experiences on 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme - the day that tanks were first used in action. A comprehensive account of my grandfather’s experiences with the 9th Lancers during the war forms the basis of a book currently in preparation.

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A blended Somme trench image, 1916/2018

I created this image by blending two photos, one taken during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the other by me on the battlefield in 2018. While researching the Imperial War Museum collections I had been struck by the 1916 photo, which seemed to encapsulate much about the battle, and war in general – the bleak vista, the almost casual litter of death, and – looking at it from an archaeologist’s perspective - how much of that could still lie just under the surface, buried in filled-in trenches such as this one …

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Gunner Charles Gerald Cook, Royal Garrison Artillery (183, 93 and 224 Siege Batteries), 1916-19

Charles Gerald Cook – Gerald to his family – was born on 28 November 1880 in Billingsley, Shropshire, the son of a coal miner. His parents ran the sub-post office in Billingsley, and at the age of 14 he started work as an Auxiliary Postman. His elder brother John, my mother’s grandfather, was in the Shropshire Rifle Volunteers and fought in the Boer War, but Gerald was only 18 in 1899 and would probably have been considered too young to go …

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3-D photogrammetry on the wreck of the Schiedam (1684)

In my novel INQUISITION, Jack and Costas make an astonishing discovery on the wreck of the Schiedam off Cornwall in England. The Schiedam is a real wreck - one of the most fascinating I’ve ever dived on, with a cargo of guns and other objects being brought back from the failed English colony of Tangier in North Africa in 1684. For many years the wreck had been buried in sand …

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Historical fiction, ancestry and artefacts

 

My most recent novel, TESTAMENT, contains five chapters of historical fiction – a prologue set at the time of the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC, two chapters set during the British Abyssinia campaign of 1868-9 and another two chapters at Bletchley Park in 1943. That emphasis on historical fiction continues the pattern of my eight previous Jack Howard novels, all present-day thrillers but with settings ranging from the earliest seafaring in the Neolithic to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the final days of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War.

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Wrecks and wrecking at Gunwalloe: fact and fiction

Click on the image below to read a piece I've written for the National Trust's Natural Lizard blog, devoted to the natural history and history of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England. My blog is about the influence of my shipwreck discoveries in these waters on my novels, and the fine line between reality and imagination in creating archaeological fiction.

 

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