Towards the Dawn (published 2001)

Highly Commended, Cumbria Tourist Board "Book of the Year Competition 2002"( Barclays Bank Prize).

All old soldiers have tales to tell. Joe Corry, a Cumbrian brought up in Kirkoswald and Penrith, certainly has. The pivot of his book is his war-time experiences as a specialist commando with the Royal Navy. His first mission was an attack on installations in the port of Rotterdam and the "neutralising" of a key German scientist, who was working on the V1 bomb - a polite term for killing him with a bolt from a crossbow. Joe on the run was sheltered by a friendly family and later hid in the crypt of a church. On the move again and posing as a Norwegian worker, he was challenged at a German checkpoint. He bluffed his way through by a burst of "Norwegian" - a Cumbrian dialect advertisement which regularly appeared in the "Cumberland and Westmorland Herald" recommending the tea supplied by Parkin's of Appleby. To German ears, "It hods oot weel ; sic a laal bit gans a lang wae" sounded convincing Norwegian. - His next adventure was being torpedoed off Newfoundland and the perils of twelve days adrift before being rescued. Other duties took him to the icy wastes of convoys to Russia and to the highly dangerous task of minesweeping - "Mission Starlight" called for even more daring and courage. Its aim was to capture a Jewish scientist from a concentration camp in the Netherlands - no less than Professor Oppenheimer, who was to be involved in the development of the atom bomb. -

Joe's wartime adventures are balanced by his account of his early days. Hodgson's shop in Kirkoswald was the boy's weekly destination where, clutching his penny pocket money, he agonised over the relative merits of two gobstoppers, or a spanish pipe, two ounces of sugar teacakes or four ounces of Pontefract cakes, a sherbert dip or a toffee apple. -

After the war, he returned to his job with the Co-op and, not surprisingly, found it boring and irksome. There was some solace in long explorations of the lakeland fells and other activities such as Youth Leader at the YMCA and helping to form the Penrith Search and Rescue Team. Eventually he left the Co-op and joined the Cumberland Ambulance Service.

Joe's story is one of an ordinary man rocketed into extraordinary circumstances. The contrast between his care-free boyhood and his pre-war daily round with the traumatic experiences of his military duties is the dynamic of a gripping narrative. His uninhibited catalogue of the "dark and dreadful deeds I had carried out in the name of freedom and justice" leads to a frank confession of the desperate difficulties of adjustment to civilian life and values. Joe's final words serve as an apt conclusion to a poignant and forthright book: "Cherish your freedom and beware of those who would steal and destroy your birthright in the future."

George Bott in the "Keswick Reminder"

ISBN 0 9537203 0 6   (£9.99) A5 format, 104 pages, 42 illustrations, softback, perfect bound.

Now reduced to £6.00

Price in UK £6.00 Online order: post and packing £1.00