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Visiting the Somme

Earlier this month I went to the Somme, to visit the scenes where WWI was fought nearly 100 years ago.

I was there to make videos to attempt to help children to understand what happened between 1914 and 1918 in Europe and beyond, and about how I wrote my new book, Over the Line .

Some are set in the places where the book is set. Delville Wood. The English Channel. A network of reworked trenches.

The most important video for me was when I revisited Sid Wheelhouse’s grave. Wheelhouse played for Grimsby Town and features as an uncompromising defender in the first chapter of Over the Line. I also described his death in a gas attack in 1916.

When I visited his grave two years ago – while I was writing the book – I was deeply affected. I knew I had to work harder to get his character and circumstances right.

But it wasn’t easy. How do you describe a man choking to death under gas attack over 95 years ago? I am pretty sure my first visit to his grave helped me to understand the gravity of what I was describing. I hope my second visit and the video I made are respectful too.

Over the Line is out now. You can get it in bookshops and libraries. I can post out signed copies too.

You can watch the films here …


Video 1 : Introduction

Take the quiz on video 1 here.

Video 2 : watch me read from Over the Line chapter 1

Video 3 : The Channel

Take the quiz on video 3 here.

Video 4: Inside a Trench

Take the quiz on video 4 here.

Video 5 : Delville Wood

Take the quiz on video 5 here.

Video 6 : Sid Wheelhouse’s Grave

Take the quiz on video 6 here.

Video 7 : The Flanders Cup

Take the quiz on video 7 here

Thanks for reading.