REMEMBERING THE FIRST WORLD WAR (1914 to 1918)
As we commemorate the First World War we may be overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information in newspapers and on television.
Sometimes a story which focuses on events in the war from the point of view of just one person, or a small group of people, helps us to understand in a more personal way the effects war has on individual lives.
My story, Danger Money, is based on accounts of the sinking of the Nelson, an armed fishing boat from Lowestoft, Suffolk, in August 1917. I was inspired to write it by reading The Trawlermen, a book about the East Anglian Fishing Industry, by David Butcher (Tops'l Books, 1980), where there was a young fisherman's eyewitness account of the sinking of the Nelson. This led me to visit the Lowestoft Maritime Museum. There I saw exhibits about the Nelson, including a local newspaper report and a model of the boat.
In the early years of the First World War large numbers of British fishing boats were attacked and blown up by German submarines, so it was decided to equip some of them with guns. The crews of these armed boats were paid extra, 'danger money', because of the additional risks involved.
In my story the armed fishing boat is called the Admiral, and comes from a fictional town, East Cliff. Some events have been omitted or changed, and all the characters are imaginary.
The Lowestoft Maritime Museum is in Sparrows Nest Gardens, Whapload Road, Lowestoft NR32 1XG. If you don't already have one you can buy a copy of Danger Money in the museum shop.