"Today is 'Remembrance Day', which over the years has become informally known as 'Poppy Day'. It is a memorial day which has been observed by member states of the Commonwealth since the end of 'The First World War' in 1919, to remember their armed forces who died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed to recall the end of hostilities of 'The First World War', which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It was hoped at the time that 'The First World War' would be a war to end all wars, but sadly as events have shown since, such was a forlorn hope.
Between 1990 and 2005, as a children's writer, I held over 2000 story-telling assemblies in Yorkshire schools. During this fifteen year period, I became very familiar with the school curriculum. During the early 90's, I was amazed to discover that the Department of Education had issued national guideline policy to all schools not to provide any lessons that related to the two world wars or our country's part in them, lest it ran the risk of being viewed as 'glorifying war'. It was indicated that all schools should refrain from teaching about The First and Second World Wars.
Around this time, there lived in the area of Leeds, a retired Headmaster who had also been a war veteran of 'World War Two'. When this ex Headmaster, who'd been retired over seventeen years, became aware of these national guidelines, he was disgusted and felt ashamed of the teaching profession for going along with this government policy. He believed that if brave soldiers and their families fought in the world wars to make our country a safer place to live, a country where democracy and freedom would continue to flourish in future generations, then the very least we, as a nation could do, was to tell our children why such brave men and women were prepared to die for them! The very least we owed our brave soldiers who gave up their lives on the battlefields, was to convey to our young 'what they did' and 'why they did it'! We owed each last one of these warriors no less than to honour the national promise, 'never to forget'. This headmaster held a belief that I shared wholeheartedly.
During the mid 90's, this ex-headmaster, ex-soldier approached me with a project in mind that he was prepared to financially back through the part payment of his pension fund. He had recently become widowed to a woman he'd met and married during the 'Second World War' years and offered to fund a 500 limited-edition of a book that told present day school children details about 'The Second World War', which their schools were reluctant to inform them of due to some warped sense of political correctness gone mad! He asked me if I was prepared to accept this commission, on the proviso that his name would not become public and that the profits from the sale of all 500 published books would be given to charity. I was more than happy to agree to undertake this task.
Over the next 18 months, I researched background details for the book and wrote it. Being a history buff, I found the research very easy, but it was the construction of the story plot, I found more difficult. Whereas I knew some children liked history, I also knew that for the overwhelming majority, and in particular all children approaching teenage years, that 'Second World War' history wasn't their favourite subject. I finally decided that I could fulfil my brief to the ex-head funding the book publication as well as write a story for the modern-day child/young person that was contemporary. At the time, another burning topic that was regularly reported in the national press, was the rapid increase in difficult-to-teach children being permanently expelled from school and essentially being written off as being too hot to handle and too disadvantageous to the school's position in the league tables.
So, I wrote, 'Butterworth's Brigade' which was designed to be a cross-over book that was suitable for any child over twelve, young person or adult. The book needed to be one that a teenager would find contemporary and interesting, while supplying copious details about the 'Second World War' years in Great Britain within the subplot.
The worlds of 12-year-old Axel Tyler and 73-year-old Brigadier Butterworth couldn’t possibly be farther apart. While one is content to live life to the full on the fast track of 1990’s Britain, the other yearns for the day when the country regains its senses and returns to those pre-war values that once made Britain ‘Great’. When events conspire to bring the 12-year-old rebel and the madcap Brigadier face-to-face, conflict becomes inevitable as the irreconcilable values and beliefs of two widely different worlds collide.
The war between the two combatants is fought within a privatised, concentration camp, which is situated deep in the heart of Arundel Forest. All of the school rebels around the country who face expulsion are rounded up and are ostensibly sent to a boarding school down south to be retrained, before being returned to the normal school system as reformed characters. Instead of landing in a boarding school, however, they find themselves confined within a glorified boot camp which is run by a mad-cap Brigadier who relives every day of his life through events of the 'Second World War.' Who will win the hearts and minds of the 59 teenage-rebel prisoners who have all been expelled from their schools and imprisoned in Arundel Forest: Axel or the Brigadier? At stake is nothing less than the future of Great Britain and the values of its young.
‘Butterworth’s Brigade’ was described by the media at the time of its initial publication as being 'a thought provoking story; a book of the 90's that will be remembered in years to come for the issues it raised and the questions it posed'; in particular the prospect of England leaving the European Union.(Please note that this book was written twenty-one years before Brexit).
The book is available in e-book format from www.smashwords.com or in paper/hard copy from www.lulu.com and amazon. All profits from book sales will be given to charitable causes, as have all of the £200,000 profits from the sales of my books since 1989/90. Enjoy." William Forde: November 11th, 2016.