Stories

BATTLE

His voice cut the air like a sharp knife in the stuffy classroom that warm summer day in 1948. ‘Who can name me a famous battle?’ An arm shot up in the second row desk, the boy waving his hand for added effect. ‘Yes boy, what’s your name?’ commanded the teacher with...

THE VIRGIN PILOT

THE VIRGIN PILOT - by Will Roe 24th February 2024 The first light of dawn had barely lit the sky over the airfield on that August morning when the orders to scramble broke the reveries, personal dreams and crafty cigarettes of the pilots stationed at the RAF base....

DAWN

DAWN - By Will Roe 21st September 2023 The airman stood at the edge of the airfield watching the dawn light slowly reveal the huge grass area that was the runway. He shivered suddenly as the cool air got through both his tunic and the overall that he wore and reminded...

After all – ‘luck is what you make it’.

Sarah’s fingers crept slowly through the clover scented meadow grass; parting it gently she repeated the count in her head, ‘One, two, three – one, two, three - one, two, three’. In the half an hour of painstaking searching, she had never reached the magic four....

‘Christmas Selection’ (gone wrong)

Dateline: Weekend prior to Christmas 1971 Place: Royal Engineers Regiment – ‘Assaye Barracks’ Nienburg - West Germany I had occasion between “Rufty Tufty” assignments overseas, to rest my weary bones (upon my Army issue steel framed bed). This was one such time, when...

The Brother’s

The two brothers sat opposite each other, there was no love lost between them, even though they were identical twins, they had an intense dislike for each other, well at least John had for Brian. Being the eldest by thirty six minutes, John always thought that Brian...

FAME

Mary Smith sighed as she prepared her meagre evening meal. Bloody rationing… As if life were not miserable enough, what with the bombing, people going away, close friends and acquaintances wiped out overnight with no chance to say goodbye properly; I mean, you just...

The Unlucky Puddle

My friend Lee Harper was a Signaller undertaking a 2 week arduous ‘cadre’ course on the cold Catterick training area that anybody who has served there knows is rather cold in January. Lee, along with myself and 30 or so other young Royal Signals soldiers were trying...

Three Birthday presents

Mark and John lived just round the corner from each other in London, with their parents. Both families had struggled a bit to afford it, but they had been able to give their sons a good education. In fact, Mark and John had been best friends since they were at Prep...

That day in his mind

“Ladies and Gentleman, in a few moments time we will be arriving into London Euston, our final station call for this journey - all change please” As the train door slid slowly open, he was welcomed to the big smoke. Lifting his suitcase, Karl took a long deep breath...

Be on your Guard

Seven am, still a trifle pissed from the night before is not the best time to be swaying off the end of a sharp pitchfork in any stable! Let alone those at the end of the mall. “How’s your head Jones?” I asked though I didn’t care! You see I was just lining myself up...

Spilt milk

The wood was darker than she imagined and the noises of the scurrying animals frightened her more than she would admit. It had seemed such a good idea to run away from home and escape the inevitable punishment that must surely have followed after spilling the contents...

His name was Alfred Hughes

His name was Alfred Hughes. There was a lot about him in the paper that week. They called him the Hastings Hero. He not only saved my life, but apparently he then ran straight into the hotel and dashed inside. If you look carefully at the helmet you can see where the...

We are all still here

How am I still enthralled by this place? After how long? Since I broke the watch Noriko gave me, I can’t tell the hour of the day let alone the year. But its been at least twenty five monsoons from when I first started counting. Five since Ichiro died, an old man at...

My dinner guests

I didn’t expect him to turn up with a monkey. Very cute though; the monkey, that is, not David. He said he had picked it up in Indonesia and out of all the animals he had filmed, he had found this one hard to resist. So, as Mij the otter, had become part of Gavin...

A Circus with no clowns

Circus and childhood are like bread and honey – excitement and the sweet smell of sawdust in a large multi coloured tent, whilst one sat hunched on a rough wooden bench – waiting for the whip to crack and the voice of the red-coated ringmaster to peel out, ‘Welcome to...

Model Manuscript Retribution Part four

For the next two days Nick emerged only for the toilet. He worked into the early hours of the mornings and then slept on the very comfortable couch at night. Each of the two days at mealtimes a tray was placed outside of the study door with plain but well prepared...

Model Manuscript Retribution Part five

Two days later they flew by Quantas Airlines to Changi Airport, Singapore. During the flight Nick had time to acquaint himself with his new assistant Twinkle. Born in East London to Gillie and Ron Campbell, the boy had been a bit of a rebel at school and after a spell...

Model Manuscript Retribution Part six

It was dark and quiet in the basement cellar of the office block with just the murmur of the air conditioning unit. A mouse scampered across the floor then stopped, all nerves trembling because it could smell cheese and was hungry enough to risk anything. Carefully...

Model Manuscript Retribution Part seven

Paul met them at Zurich airport as instructed. His wound was only a bullet graze to the temple. The ambushers left him as dead, but he was able to follow them to a warehouse on the perimeter of Zurich airport. The main floor of the building was used as a meat storage...

The Model Manuscript. Retribution Part One

It was a winter night, wet and dark: not the sort in which to be walking back to the hotel. Christ, Nick Alum thought, I should have driven to the meeting, but it's too late now. Better to be curled around a good book and a fine bottle of Australian red or white wine....

The Model Manuscript Retribution. Part two

He opened the door to be confronted with the Manager of the hotel arguing with two very smartly dressed men. - One of them was carrying what looked like Nick's jacket. The very same jacket that Laura had wrapped the young girl in that afternoon's fracas. Nick observed...

Model Manuscript Retribution Part three

The body of Laura was to be returned to the UK. How would Nick face the Colonel with this devastating news of his beloved daughter? God help the killers! The funeral of course was held in Laura's home town in Scotland. Many of Nick's army friends attended the funeral,...

Grindal Wax

Charlie was a very quiet man who lived by himself in a little country bungalow. The bungalow where his Mother and Father had lived.....He'd been out of work for two years now, and was a very bored and lonely person. The only money he possessed was his tiny Army...

Return to Unit

10th July 1943. The aircraft flew unsteadily through the thickening sea mist. Flight Lieutenant Mike Peters struggled wearily to keep it straight and level. He was an old hand--a survivor of the Battle of Britain and now he needed all his skill to nurse this failing...

Perfect Innocence

When I was a child my mother told me it was imperative I always did what an adult told me to do, so I always obeyed. My actions now haunt me, engulfing everything in their path like a gigantic wave eating a tiny boat. Looking at my reflection within the mirror, I see...

Like a bad penny

“So, these DNA strands really do match?” I asked. “Yes, if we just fill in a few gaps, as usual.” “An exact match? Really? Yeah. Right” My research associate Daniel looked understandably jaded after a considerable stretch in the lab. He frowned. “Ian, I’m telling you,...

Dear John

We were a family. Thirty young airmen thrown together in wooden hut No: 44 on an RAF School of Technical Training back in the1950s. Days of parades, kit inspections and hours of demanding study the evenings spent revising for the end of course examinations that would...

First Solo

There are many of life’s first experiences that are etched indelibly on our memory. First girl friend, first day at work, first bike ride, first ski run, first fish landed. All of these have a special place that is held in affection –or terror- or wonder. My most...

Grandpa Tom’s Limp

Even I was shocked how bad it was. I trudged through the early-summer Ayrshire rain with the school-report. My fourteen year-old spirits lifted on seeing Grandpa Tom's red Jaguar three-point-four in front of the house. My mother read in silence. After Grandpa read it,...

A lucky Man

I walked. No! I swayed across the living room remembering where the furniture was, where my wife Eve had arranged it. Lovingly arranged in the early years of our marriage. A time so long ago before that eventful day of that terrorist bomb in Malaya when a piece of...

Donnie’s fireworks

1995 Donnie Malloy was fat. He hadn’t always been fat. In fact, unknown to the majority, Donnie had been quite a hero once, a thin military hero. He’d fought his battles from Northern Ireland to the Gulf and back. Now, in his middle age, he faced a new battle, a...

Lock up your Daughters

The cold steel doors slammed closed again. I distinctly remember thinking that night that it didn’t seem like a moment since I had locked up the night before. This was always the case when living by routines and, more so perhaps, a sign of age. I double-checked every...

Wireless Ridge

( The Falklands 1982 ) We'd tabbed around the back of Mount Kent,passing the mortar positions. Some of the guys on the mortar line, had broken their ankles. This was due to the boggy ground, and the inability to get the mortars to bed in properly. So they'd stood on...

The Crown Agent’s Horse

There was a polite knock on the office door. The Naval Lieutenant Commander looked up from his paperwork and called out 'Come in!' A smartly dressed WREN opened the door and stood in the doorway. 'Chief Petty Officer Bickerell to see you, sir.' 'Oh yeh, ask him to...

Lonely march

As the years pass by, I sit in corners dark and safe Not the young carefree man of yesterday, but a lost and lonely grey man hopelessly drowning in my own thoughts, living with the knowledge of unchangeable yesterdays. I was so much but it means so little to so many...

Journey to the stars

I stand outside in my back garden. I have a glass of whiskey, it is warm from being held in my hand whilst I sat inside watching the night through the patio doors from the warm comfort of my sofa. The night sky is black crystal, perfectly clear, and yet impenetrable,...

My first trip to Pas de Calais

First a smooth ferry crossing, then down from Dunkerque to our friends for a meal. Woke up next day, by the sea in Wimereux! Did the shopping thing, the first day! Next day, Nigel and I walked up to Wimereux cemetery, along rue McCrae. First thought, was of pure...

My first (very) Short Story:

Driving home from a trip up north, having a terrible cold, i noticed i was beginning to doze off. With my brother in tow, already asleep by my side in the passenger seat I decided to stop off at a gas station by the side of the highway. I parked on the unmarked...

My Boyhood

My mother was an actress, dancer and singer on the West End stage in London. She usually performed in musical comedies which were very popular in those days. This was an era before the invention of radio, television, movies etc. Everybody would go to the theatre. My...

My Other Story

( Two years in Pakistan ) During my last few weeks in Calcutta, I received my embarkation orders to proceed back to the UK for demobilization. So I went through a period, once again of bidding farwell to all my many friends that I had made in Calcutta. Sir David Ezra...

Christmas Story

Once upon a time in a plush pad in Neve-never-land there lived an auntie and two ugly birds called Priscilla and Anastasia. Living with them was an au pair called Cheze. Now it seems that one day the auntie, who looked like the back end of Ella Sphiz, (Ella Sphiz, by...

A series of short stories

The ‘Entomologist’ It was a dark and dismal day and New Zealand lived up to its soggy reputation. The driving rain lashed almost horizontally at the building site, driven by a ferocious wind that snaked and curled around the temporary structures causing them to rock...

My career in the Military

TO ALL MY CHILDREN [And Friends} MY CAREER IN THE MILITARY by Guy Cecil During the summer of 1938 there had been talk of war against Hitler due to his demands in Europe. In October we all thought war was about to break out, so I went to the drill hall at Catford on...

Spring

Bobby was really fed up. I mean, he loved Lizzie desperately, with a passion that he had not known he was capable of feeling. Surely he constantly made that obvious in a million ways? Her health was so fragile that he worried incessantly about her, to the extent that...

Cage and crazy heart

It was Kiran’s tenth visit. He wanted a definite answer from Meenu. He asked, “Meenu, how long will we go on like this? You are inside the cage. I am outside. In between there is the iron mesh. We can talk for hours. At the most we can only kiss through the holes of...

Honour Thy Brother

His name was Christopher Gordon Rayment. Born July 2nd he grew into the Rayment regime History Background and was lively full of soul and passion for helping those around him those who needed to laugh, those who needed support and encouragement, those who needed a...

An unexpected Weekend

I didn’t mean to get separated from the tour group, only I’d lagged behind because I couldn’t take the incessant nasal tone of the pinched faced little man from York Tours by Moonlight a moment longer. I wanted to be on my own for a while, to try to make sense of what...

In the wake of reflection

The sun broke through the clouds, shining its light upon the puddles, left by the downpour of rain. At one, a woman stood, looking down on her reflection. It scared her, frightened her, and disturbed her; where had the girl gone? Her innocence sullied and spoilt by...

Sports notice

Sports Notice On Thursday next there will be a cricket match against the RASC depot The team and order of batting and of bowling will be as usual. On completion of the match: bats, pads, wickets and bails are to be taken to the QM store, balls to the RSM.

Camerone 1863

The cell-phone blared out Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' alerting the drenched figure to the arrival of a new message. The screen lit up with the message,'Camerone 1863.' As the impact of the text penetrated his tired mind, Johnny Watson felt a massive rush of...

The fate of the protester

Michael Thorne could spend all summer listening to the sounds of The Doors and The Stones through the tinny speakers, the basslines reverberating under his feet and through his body. Every so often, a chant would rise above Mick Jagger or Jim Morrison, the voices of...

Coming home

It had been 4 years to the day since Robert had left to fight in Iraq. Jennifer felt a wave of emotions rush through her as she attached the balloons to the ceiling. She could almost feel the day he had left as if it were yesterday, not knowing when or whether she...

Mr Beecham’s coat

Sidney Pickles placed his cup of tea and newpaper in the space he’d cleared next to the till. He unfolded the Illustrated London News and scanned the headline. Blimey, what was the world coming to? John Lennon marrying a Japanese woman? That wasn’t news, that was –...

Navex RBS

( Navigation Exercise Radar Bombing System ) Having transferred fuel from one wing tank to another to bring the Vulcan aircraft's centre of gravity within the required tolerance, I set the calculator aside and relaxed. The soft lights from the instrument panel...

The flowers’ dawn

She opened her eyes as the dawn was crawling into the room through the badly-fitted wooden planks replacing now the broken window panes. She felt her husband’s warm breath on her shoulder and remained still and quiet like the red petals entangled in her long black...

John & Fred & Mary & Marcia

They were alone at last. He was feeling possessive, impulsive and seductive; she submissive. They were longing for it to happen, but they had difficulty putting their thoughts and desires into words. What resulted was a series of unfinished sentences, but they got...

Snapped

My heart, my brain, my life stopped the moment the words came from his mouth. “The Army? Jake, you can’t be serious,” my said mother in disbelief. Though she said nothing I knew her thoughts, I could see them in her eyes. The worry in her eyes mirrored my own. “I’ve...

Thirteen minutes

My back was aching, I was unbearably cold and I was sure my feet had lost all sensation, yet I refused to move. Moving would make it real. I looked again at the place where she had dropped. Just two hundred and thirteen minutes ago she had dropped there. Those first...

The Visitor

The town was dead. Like the air-con in my old Buick. In that Alabama heat it seemed my brain might swell and burst out of my hot skull, so I pulled up at a MacDonald’s near the edge of the small town and got me an iced Coke to put out the fire in my brain. An old...

The Pringle sisters

Violet was sitting at the kitchen table, totally absorbed in her book. Before her, on the table, was a cold cup of tea and a half-eaten biscuit. Her sister, Daphne, called out from her arm-chair throne in the sitting room: “Violet, are you going to just sit around all...

The rain in Spain

I remember running from the silence of the village to the silence of the fields; a small child running for help, running away from what he’d seen in the village. I remember stopping in the fields, held back by the smell of death. It’s still there, that smell, etched...

Waiting for war in the watchtower

Out there; they will come over the far horizon. The great hordes will come. And we need to watch for them, here in the watchtower. Do I want to die? says Lawrence--No, of course I don't want to die, but I figure if I'm smart I won't. Now, I'm not saying only the dumb...

The angler

Awakened by the stillness of the mother of dawn from the languorous valley of dreams, Charles stretched in his tent, rose to his feet, crouched through the flap to breathe in the morning-cooled air and put a pot of coffee on to start his day. Nothing was better than...

Come and see

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and See.” Revelations 6.1 In the last days of the War, we knew that their days were numbered. Our Guards were mainly gone, the only ones...

HIde the hurt

I’ve decided to say something to Arnold: to enquire how he’s feeling; ask if I can do anything for him; find out if he wants to talk. Mind you, I’ll have to watch what I say. You know how it is in hospitals: sometimes patients aren’t in the mood for conversation, for...

Project Ha Ha

High in the upper atmosphere the Mosquito flew… like a slingshot launched from England towards the heart of Germany. These airplanes flew alone and were immune to the dangers of the wartime night skies. The anti aircraft guns and the night fighters could not reach...

A fate worse than….

This river too was frozen solid like all the others we had crossed…but now the men were tired and cold. A thousand little fires sprang up beside the river with men pushing and shoving to get close. It didn’t help the frostbitten faces and smarting eyes. My lord had...

Trafalgar Square

Foreword “Some say it was a battle; the second Battle of Trafalgar. In military circles, I doubt the term is accurate. I was there, frightened and in fear of my life. I do find it convenient to draw on such comparison. At night, when I’m often not quite awake. I smell...

The secret history of the Haggis

Many people are of the opinion that the small, elusive mammal, the humble Haggis is indigenous to Scotland and is found nowhere else in the world. Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and son in law of Agricola, the great Governor of Roman Britain, speaks of the...

Eulogy for an Englishman

Estaires. Northern France 1915 Exhumed through French mud, In fear laced fascination she stared at a dead hand. Wired in rusted barb and stained in British blood, in defiance a curled skeletal finger cloaked in grey skin, beckoned from its decomposing grip. ‘A grim...

Remembrance day

‘Was that nice, Arthur? Did you enjoy it?’ Molly was just being her usual chatty self and didn’t expect an answer. She scraped the remains of Arthur’s half-finished breakfast onto one plate, piling the rest of the plates and cutlery together on the tray that she’d...

Gonna buy me a brand new car

Ma and Pa Gainey sat on the porch of their old house. It was sundown and they liked to relax and enjoy the transition from day into night. The screen door opened and banged shut as Jesse Gainey came out and started down the rickety steps. He stumbled, tried to regain...

Ted and ED

So at last it was over, the war in Europe. Europe was finally free and Ted as he had done for the last four years, adjusted his cracked tatty cap, then after checking the pockets of his leather jerkin he shook the worn smooth reins as a signal for Ed to start pulling...

No man’s land

No Man’s Land Forward For all those who gaze in peace toward the night sky, I must recall, for soon it will be too late, a simple yet timeless story where Hell met Earth and ordinary people engaged in selfless acts of sacrifice. In the maelstroms and the furnaces,...

The last Housecarl

James turned the green stone over between his fingers. His chest boiled to a wound inflicted from the sword of a French Knight. Blood bubbled freely from its surface. The stump of his right arm, secured in a tourniquet bled dark clots into dirty rags used to dress it....

Old Lil

‘You wantin’ the Peckham bus love? You just missed it! Well, you know what they say dear: when you don’t want a bus, they come in threes!’ But I’m sure another one’ll be along in a minute. Why don’t you sit here dearie? What’s ya name pet?’ Christina? Nice name, ‘ow...

War training

Wagons Ho!, Having just been formed into an armoured division entailed a lot of training for the Guards Brigade, which were of course mostly infantry. Those chosen to be equipped with tanks , departed for special training in mechanics, and gunnery. All very exciting...

Reparation

The young man strolled along the Hastings seafront. Daylight was fading and the breeze from the sea was becoming cold. He turned away from the promenade and crossed the road. He was going to meet his girlfriend in the Bamboo Bar. As he walked along the bottom of...

Dying for life

As I walked down the same road as always, a thought entered my mind with such impulse that my legs turned into a state of stagnancy. For many years now it has been hard to actively involve myself in the world of other people, I can’t be trusted and I can’t function....

The Kit bag

I was searching in the attic of our house for something to stow odd items tidily in our motor caravan when I came across my old RAF kitbag. (For those who haven’t seen one the Serviceman’s kitbag was a strong canvas cylinder with one end closed and the other secured...

Felix

“I would like to introduce you to my son Felix” translated Sergio, my travel companion and interpreter from the local dialect to English. He was speaking on behalf of the youngish looking father who had just introduced himself as George. Standing in a remote village...

Do not iron on print

SALE!!! SALE!!! 75% OFF!! The large red signs cover the store. Everywhere I turn, I see red. I look down and stare at my hands. I still see red. I sit, while clothes, shoes and jewellery enclose me. In this obstacle of vanity, I observe people of all ranges. I see a...

Cry for freedom

The Holocaust Adara clutched her little brother Mica as she limped and stumbled on a jagged rock that tore a hole in her two sizes too small worthless shoe. She cried out in pain but couldn’t stop now. She’d come too far! Thoughts about her hometown were running...

Post-War love

George looked out through the window of the dining room at the rain that poured relentlessly. He sat with his arms rested on the table next to the carefully laid out cutlery. Every other minute Georges twitch knocked the cutlery together making a clanging sound....

Memoriam

I ran. I just kept running forward…through the water and then up the beach. The water was freezing. It was almost up to my chest at first. It held me back. I had a rifle in my hands and had to hold it over my head. I couldn’t use my hands to steady myself or anything....

Emma

The streets of London were quiet this afternoon, the roads were clear as Emma Smith walked down the newly Concreted road; she was about to open the garden gate when she stopped suddenly outside her house. She seemed worried for a moment and was looking around...

Miner

The woods of Northern Europe 1944 Hold thou thy light before my closing eyes Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies Heaven’s morning breaks, and earths vain shadows flee In life, in death, O Lord abide with me - Abide with me, English Hymn – Trad. The...

The air raid

As the evening draws near the people in the town begin to get their things ready for the night ahead. They have a quick meal and those who have shelters in their gardens put the blankets, food, torches and books etc, all the things that will help them through the...

Twin soliloquy

‘I hate flies, I hate heat, I hate the desert, in fact I hate bloody everything connected to the place.’ Simon stared around him; the detritus of human life, the sweat, blood, tears, the indelible mark of ‘mans inhumanity to man’ Who the hell did he think he was;...

It’s got my name on it

It’s so beautifully crafted Tipped copper, brass and there’s lead Seven six two Or so it is said Full metal jacket Well, it is dressed to kill Makes a big hole Seven six two mil Packed full of cordite To give it Gods speed Its got my name on it My fate is to bleed...

Final request

Adrenaline rushed through my veins, giving me a vital boost. Within 20 minutes, I had to reach Don Gattuso, otherwise I would never be able to settle the score. The night was damp and the smell of spring invaded my nostrils. A wave of despair took over as I realised I...

The candle that burns

It’s been almost thirty years since I last bought a vigil candle. They have seen me through some of the darkest times of my life, but I had hoped never to buy one again. Today, my vigil candle is the most important item on my shopping list. When my fashionable...

Forgotten horses

The promise of progress was stuck so thin, the glue on the billboards cracked wide in the harsh, March wind. By Central station - where lads like I'd once been left the northern city - the promise was of clean design, modern civic spaces: the developers' computer...

When H.M.S Alamein met The Argyls in Cyprus

It was during ‘the troubles’ that HMS Alamein was sent to patrol the waters around Cyprus. British Servicemen were considered legitimate targets for the Eoka gunmen so ordinary shore leave was not an option. Any shore leave was limited to sports events within British...

Return at sunrise

The night here is hot, stuffy and continuous: ever present rather than surprising, and brutal rather than clever or deceitful. It wallows through the street onto the buses, and between the gaps in the buildings, and through bedrooms and bars. Its soundtrack is the...

The day before pass out

‘Dear Mam, I am bulling my boots’ ‘Dear Son, Why are you bulling your boots?’ ‘Dear Mam, I am bulling my boots because the Sergeant says that I must’ ‘Dear Son, Why does the sergeant say that you must?’ ‘Dear Mam, Because he is a bastard’ ‘Dear Son, you should not say...

A tablecloth and a jigsaw

Dense air blossoms in the drawer to which I am confined. Claustrophobic heat nestles between the layers, like a mouse. I am at the bottom of the hierarchy. Forgotten. Left to dwell upon my own neglect. I am a messenger of dark news for this girl whose lifetime is...

%

of people exposed to mass violence have been shown to develop PTSD

Million Adults are diagnosed with PTSD during a given year

Women are 2x more likely to suffer from PTSD than men