Felicity Fair Thompson is a writer and film maker and lives on the Isle of Wight. Her documentary Carisbrooke Castle was broadcast on SKY TV and three of her other fourteen independently made travel films for the retail market, were shown on Australian television. She has taught Creative Writing for Screen South, Connexions, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight College, and alongside Sir Andrew Motion for the Bi-centenary celebrations for Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as well as guiding young writers with learning difficulties, and teaching independently. Her published writing includes three children’s stories, an EU funded community play, theatre reviews, personality profiles, award winning poetry, scenic travel features, and three novels: Cutting In was one of three top finalists in the People’s Book Prize 2014. The Kid on Slapton Beach has received rave reviews. Hold Tight is her latest novel.
Exit the King, performed at the 2017 Ventnor Isle of Wight Fringe Festival, and in January 2018 at Carisbrooke Castle, was her first stage play.Now she and the writer and historian Tim Wander have combined their writing talents to produce this first of two stage play: Voices Over Passchendaele.
As World War One begins, twenty-two year old Peter Pendleton Eckersley is aiming at refining the hopelessly inadequate radio sets being tested in the planes of the Royal Flying Corps. Grounded and sent back to England by his C.O to the Brooklands Wireless Testing Development School in Surrey, Eckersley’s ideas work. In July 1917 with the Royal Flying Corps equipped with Eckersley’s ground to air voice radio supporting the artillery, the battle of Passchendaele is coming.
THE KID ON SLAPTON BEACH – the story starts at Christmas in 1943 when three thousand people are forced to leave the coastal area. Harry, her young hero leaves his home in the village of Torcross at Slapton Sands with his mother and his little sister. Imagine – packing up, leaving everything you know and love behind, and not knowing why.
But Harry has left his most precious possession behind. And he goes back. And it’s just as Exercise Tiger is about to happen….
American President Harry Trueman once said: “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
Seeing these poppies
she thinks of a quiet corner of a field,
wild poppies and fragments of dark slate,
white bones of a song bird, or
Them all. Him.
A spent shell risen. A rusted gun plate.
Huge rolled tangles of barbed wire
marking trenches on that drawn out line
and lives lived beside already buried men.
Dripping oil, and smell of fire and fear,
called up young men, and volunteer.
Horses. Screaming. Squelching mud,
and gunfire round.
Boots biting deep into that ground,
leaving pale thin scar,
and more over there.
A sign it might be where
These poppies glisten in the London sun.
He was his country’s man and King’s.
Like a cross she bears his name.
Coming here, the Tower,
listening to young voices
generations on, so strong and clear,
for her this flower field blooms in bright blood red
and though he’s long dead, she cares.
She holds the line.
She’s glad she came. She knows
Looking out into the misty bay here on the Isle of Wight, the sea is that wonderful cool grey, with shafts of sunlight breaking through to turn the water a glittering silver. There’ll be mist in Edinburgh too. And probably in Cardiff, and in Belfast. A new day. Our sea. Our coast. Our country. Our future.
This morning at Seaview there was a D-Day 70th Anniversary of Rememberance and Thanksgiving. Looking out across the Solent with the water sparkling in bright sunlight, I thought how wonderful it is to live is a peaceful and happy country. People in Britain think about the past, and care about the future. Because I did a great deal of research for my book which is about the D-Day rehearsals in Devon, I have spoken to many who remember themselves, or rememember their parents discussing what life was like in wartime Britain. They revere the men and woman who fought so hard, and take pride in their country’s bravery and sacrifice. The BBC caught the mood well on Friday evening: D-Day 70 Years On Radio 2 Concert at the Albert Hall shown in cinemas and available on line – well worth finding on your Iplayer.
In April of 1944 there were rehearsals for D-Day on Slapton Sands. You might like to read an extract of: THE KID ON SLAPTON BEACH
Published by Wight Diamond Press
War is hard enough when your Dad is missing action, and even harder leaving home and not knowing where you will go. Twelve year old Harry is one of three thousand people ordered to leave the Devon coast. Though the locals don’t know it, their beach will be used for secret full-scale D-Day rehearsals. In the Slapton churchyard, Harry and his GI friend Mike discuss dying as Mike piles sandbags up the belfry wall to protect the ancient stained glass window.
‘Off then, Harry?’ Mike asked cheerfully.
Harry shrugged. Over in the graveyard he could see two GIs helping the farm worker lower old Abraham Thorn’s coffin into the ground. ‘Will you play killing games? When’s the invasion?’
Mike balanced the sandbag he was holding against the belfry wall. ‘Look, I might not see you again, Harry Beere.’
Harry pushed his hands deeper into the rubber bands and rubbish in his pockets. ‘No one ever answers anything.’
Over in the grave yard the farm worker took up his shovel. A first shower of earth went back into the grave.
‘Look kid, you don’t want to worry about all this. That old guy was… old.’
‘I’m not talking about him. It’s my Daddy. He’s missing in Italy.’
‘That’s what Mum says. What if he comes home and we’re not here?’
Two rooks began to circle the tall church spire.
‘He’ll find you.’
‘What happens to dead soldiers? Are they buried?’
Mike took the sandbag’s full weight back and heaved it up and onto the heap. ‘Yes.’
Mike dusted sand off his sleeve and frowned. ‘Got to be where they die right now. Where they fall.’ He glanced over at the graveyard himself. ‘Some corner of a foreign field.’ After a moment he reached into his pocket. ‘I sure am going miss you, Harry Beere.’
Harry shook his head at the offered gum. ‘What if no one buries them? What if no one even knows?’
Mike looked at him carefully. ‘Time takes care of it, I guess.’
‘What? Bones and stuff?’
‘Uh, huh.’ Mike opened a gum for himself, peeling the wrapping back very slowly.
‘And some soldiers never come home?’
‘That’s right.’ Mike looked up at the black rooks circling one more time. Then they dipped and flapped out across the chill blue sky to the high hill pastures. ‘But I guess they get remembered,’ he said. ‘If they don’t come home, the people who love them remember them.’
‘Is that all?’
Mike considered it. ‘Maybe that’s all any of us get, Harry,’ he said. ‘Maybe being remembered is the best sort of love.’
Remembering the 70th Anniversary of D-Day – a new story…
THE KID ON SLAPTON BEACH
Published by Wight Diamond Press
HAVE YOU READ IT?
Superb on so many levels… I couldn’t put it down. I can see the landscape, feel its texture, smell it. And I can see twelve year old Harry, and all those villagers and their struggles. It’s powerful. I found myself close to tears when I read it and smiling too. A wonderful book! Michelle Magorian, author of ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’