Friday, 18 September 2009

Jo's family tale of heroism in Iraq

Pembrokeshire author Jo Hammond has launched her book, Battle In Iraq, the tale of a marine engineer who got caught up in the fighting on the Mesopotamian Front during the First World War at Haverdfordwest Library.

It's the story of her grandfather, William Reed, who as a young Merchant Navy seaman supported the British Army in its fight with Turkey. Reed took part in a doomed attempt to relieve one of the longest sieges in military history at Kut-el-Amara and was incarcerated in a Turkish prison for two years.

By the time the fighting ended in 1918 both his own life and the course of Middle Eastern history had been transformed.

Battle in Iraq weaves together William Reed's personal story, as told in his diaries, with the wider historic events of the time.

"Through my grandfather's personal story I hope to shine a light on a part of history that is very little known about," said Jo, who is from Narberth.

"Everyone knows what happened in Europe and Gallipoli but not many people know what happened in what is now Iraq. And there are so many parallels with what is happening in recent times and what happened then."

Jo, who moved to Pembrokeshire with her family 12 years ago, never knew her grandfather, who died before she was born.

She only found out about the true nature of his exploits - which won him the DSO - when she read his diaries many years later.

"He was an engineer not a writer so his dairies are very matter of fact, but they tell a moving and often brave story," she said.

Battle in Iraq is dedicated to the Merchant Navy - as well as her grandfather two of Jo's four sons are also in the service as is her husband.

The launch was jointly organised by
Pembrokeshire County Council cultural services department and publishers IB Tauris.

Picture: Jo Hammond at the launch.


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