My New Book

We have just finished publishing my new book about the High School’s casualties in WW2. Here is the front cover:

And here is the blurb from the back cover:

In the Footsteps of the Valiant: The Lives and Deaths of the Forgotten Heroes of Nottingham High School (Vol.1).

This is the first volume of a series detailing the Old Nottinghamians of all ages who sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom during the Second World War. After nearly five years of ground breaking research, I have been able to add at least forty new names to the official casualty list. I have also uncovered details of the fates of almost all of these hundred and twenty casualties wherever they died, from Saskatchewan to Iran.

This is not, however, a book just about death. I also tell the stories of their lives: their families, where they used to live and their years at school with Masters very different from those of today. You will discover their boyhood hobbies and their sporting triumphs, where they worked as young adults and the jobs they had. Most of all, you will find all the details of the conflicts they fought in and how they met their deaths, the details of which were completely unknown until I carried out my groundbreaking research. And all this is spiced with countless tales of the living Nottingham of yesteryear, a city so different from that of today.

No tale is left untold. No anecdote ignored.

Now available for purchase through Lulu.com:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/john-knifton/in-the-footsteps-of-the-valiant-the-lives-and-deaths-of-the-forgotten-heroes-of-nottingham-high-school-volume-one/paperback/product-24309191.html

The book has 348 pages and is 24 x 19 cms in size (9½ inches x 7½ inches). Any profits will go to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The title refers to “the Valiant” because for the last hundred years or so, the hymn sung in the very first assembly of the school year is that old favourite, “He who would valiant be”. The hymn was the only one ever written by John Bunyan, the author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. Here are the words of the three verses. They don’t write them like that any more:

“He who would valiant be ‘gainst all disaster
Let him in constancy follow the Master
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound – his strength the more is
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit
We know we at the end, shall life inherit
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say
I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim”

Here’s the video:

Apparently the boys back in the 1920s wanted to sing the original unexpurgated John Bunyan version, but were not allowed to. Verse 3 lines 1 and 2 used to be:

“Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend,

Can daunt his spirit “

Verse 2 lines 5 and 6 used to be equally exciting with:

“No lion can him fright,

He’ll with a giant fight,”

You can read all about it here.

This hymn has nowadays become the Battle Hymn of the SAS.

One Old Nottinghamian was killed fighting with the SAS in the Mediterranean theatre. Another died at Arnhem:

And another in Iran:

Another in Burma:

Another in Egypt:

In Leicester:

In Greece:

And in Saskatchewan, Canada:

And now, after nearly five years of completely original and ground breaking research, at least forty new names can now be added to the old list of eighty.

And the hitherto unknown details of the fates of almost all of these hundred and twenty casualties have been discovered.

The full story is available here.

 

 

30 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, Canada, Film & TV, France, History, Nottingham, Politics, Russia, The High School, Writing

30 responses to “My New Book

  1. Congratulations, John.

    • Thank you very much. It was really difficult to take the decision to have so many volumes, but if any details about the casualty’s life were to be given, the book would have been an enormous cube to accommodate all 120 people in it. Hopefully, I have managed to turn them into real people rather than just names in a list, or worse still, on one gravestone of five thousand.

  2. Congratulations, John. I wish you well with sales.

    • What a task it was! Day in, day out, although it was always interesting to find out so many things that nobody had ever known before. And even more intriguing were the official documents that were closed for the next hundred years, as if HM Government had something to hide!

  3. Very best of luck

    Regards Thom

  4. Fantastic, John! Congratulations!!

  5. Congrats on your new book, John! I see that you’ve also published through Lulu. Thus far, I’m very satisfied with their author services. Marketing my book has been my greatest challenge. Wishing you success with getting your book into the hands of readers.

    • Thanks very much. Basically, I write the books and my clever clogs daughter turns them into the finished article. I have had no problems whatsoever with Lulu and they give you a reasonable sum as royalties too. This is important for me with these books, as I am going to give the profits to two services charities.

  6. Congratulations John and the best of luck with the book. It sounds like it’s been a lot of work but more than worthwhile. I hope it goes someway to keeping the memories alive not only of these many young people, but the history of the school as well.

    • Thanks very much for your kind words. It was a huge amount of work, but it at least allows the possibility of these 120 odd men not just being remembered, but being remembered in context, with the details of their service brought out into the daylight after so many years.

  7. Chris Waller

    Congratulations! I can imagine the hundreds, even thousands, of hours of work that goes into such a book. A daunting task. This sort of history is so fragile, so easily lost.

    • Thank you very much, Chris. I did begin to keep a record of how many minutes I had spent each day, but that was very difficult because at least a couple of times a week, I fell asleep at the computer! Still, with the exception of two latecomers, they are all finished now.

  8. Congratulations on finishing your book! You have made a substantial contribution to the history of your community.

    • Thank you very much for your kind encouragement. It’s a pity that there will have to be so many volumes, but it’s been very difficult to describe what kind of human beings they were without going into detail.

  9. HUGE congratulations, John!! That book represents SO much work!! You’ve done an outstanding service to mankind, IMO!!

  10. Jan

    Bravo John! I have ordered my copy today. All I need now is Kendrick opening up all the stops and giving it the “full welly” as the boys belt out the final verse Trent End style.

    • I didn’t really know Kendrick but, as a young man in my twenties, he always reminded me of a cross between Liberace and Elton John. Such a showman!!
      He would conduct a little group of kids at Prize Giving, and at the end, turn to the audience and bow, his gown swirling around him like he had just conducted a choir of two thousand singers in “Go West” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
      Eccentricity is a great asset in teachers. I just hope it hasn’t disappeared in our Brave New World of Facebook, where everybody must be the same, or else.

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