One of the oddest things about writing fiction, be that novels or short fiction, is that you never know where it will end up, or how it might return to you – if ever.
With that in mind I was very surprised when I was contacted this week by The Valkenswaard War Cemetery,asking about my uncle who is buried there.
I never knew him of course because Pvt Alfred Gedded Graham 2nd Bn. Middlesex Reg. was killed during operation ‘market garden’ (?) in October 1944 – some 10 years before I was born – and was buried in this tiny war cemetery.
His burial was noted by the Daily Mirror:
Daily Mirror News Archives dated August 20th 1945.
“First Allied Forces wedding on occupied soil took place this month between Lance-Corporal Jean Nunn, age 20, and Sergeant Harling Jones, age 28, at Eindhoven church. The wedding party went on to the Valkenswaard military cemetery where the newly married Mrs. Jones laid her bouquet on the grave of a British soldier. In memory, she told waiting reporters, of all the fallen. She asked the press to find the soldier’s family.
Valkenswaard was the first village to be liberated on the main line of the British advance into Holland in September 1944. Its woodland cemetery contains 220 graves of armed forces personnel from Great Britain and the Commonwealth, who fell in the fighting there during that month.”
The reason Valkenswaard War Cemetery knew to contact me is because I wrote a story about him – or rather I should say fictionalised his passing – in a story was titled, rather plainly, ‘Valkenswaard’.
This was first published in the excellent publication Unspoken Water #2 edited by Ian Hunter in 2011, and later reprinted in my collection Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties.
The Valkenswaard War Cemetery are attempting to produce a memorial site listing not just the names and memorial stones of these men but also the faces and personal histories.
Just goes to show that when you release a story out into the wild there is no telling where it will end up, or what will return to you.