Horndean author tells parents’ Second World War love story through new book

David Bickerton with his book Parents at War
David Bickerton with his book Parents at War

AFTER finding almost 150 letters his parents exchanged during the Second World War, David Bickerton was drawn in on a journey of discovery.

For the Horndean author his newly-published book Parents at War is a touching record of the wartime lives his mother and father lived, while events on the world stage unfolded around them.

David uncovered their stories through their letters dating from 1942 to 1945.

He said: ‘I was impressed with the passion of my parents’ words and realised I knew so little of their time in the forces.

‘Like many of their generation, for all they’d lived through, they spoke so little of it after.’

Born on the Isle of Wight David found out his father Don, who was from Liverpool, began service in the Royal Navy in 1940 as a rating on battle cruisers. 

He was on HMS Dorsetshire when the ship took part in the pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck. After passing his officer training he was second in command of a Coastal Forces minesweeper and based at Milford Haven.

David’s mother Linda, from the Isle of Wight, volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force aged 20 and found herself tracking enemy aircraft on their bombing missions.

The young lovers met by chance in a Haverfordwest hotel in 1942, while Linda was stationed at nearby RAF Hayscastle Cross.

But their sudden deep attraction was swiftly interrupted as Don was promoted to lieutenant with command of his own minesweeper, ML 338, and immediately sent to the hostile waters of the Mediterranean.

Not deterred, they kept in touch by air and sea mail.

David added: ‘It is to my regret that I did not ask questions during their lifetimes.

‘I am hopeful that the contents of the book will be of interest to those fascinated by the lives of two ordinary people who volunteered to do their bit during the Second World War.’

As the war ended, the couple were finally able to reunite and were married within days – but were soon parted again while Linda was pregnant. 

The £16.50 book includes all the letter transcripts, services documents, the author’s narrative, and photos and illustrations.