Tommy's War: July 1914 is a novel in 348 pages, available from many outlets, normally priced in paperback at £9.99 or the equivalent. An e-book version is also available.
Tommy’s War is a story of speculative fiction. Or is it historical fiction? It’s certainly a careful blend of detailed history and personal story. Real-life characters ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Josef Stalin feature in authentic situations. Or is this a love story crossing the rigid social barriers of the early 20th Century? Is it ultimately the story of a family, told over more than two centuries? Is it a story of adventure?
It is all of those things, told from the perspective of Tommy Green, a disaffected shopkeeper-craftsman living in Greenford, Middlesex. This is now a busy suburb of London but at that at that time it was still a semi-rural village. At the beginning of July, 1914, Tommy receives a mysterious visitor, who tells him that he, and only he, can alter history, bring sanity to the World for the future, and save millions of lives, including those of his as yet unborn son and his best friend. To do this he has to go to Paris to carry out a difficult and dangerous mission.
But Tommy has just learned that his life in the village, both romantically and in business, is set to improve in dramatic ways. If he goes to Paris his hopes for a new life in the village may be dashed. He is placed in an impossible conflict as his life is pulled in different directions. How can he even begin to resolve his dilemma?
This is the introduction preceding the 31 chapters (one for each day in the month of July, 1914, forming the narrative of the story:
This remarkable record, if record it is, was found in June, 2020, during a routine clearance of the archives of the psychiatric wing of a West London hospital. It was written in pencil in two tightly-inscribed (though entirely legible) blank foolscap notebooks produced for the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The notebooks were part of the contents of a box file marked “Miscellaneous Patients’ Documents, 1915-1924”.
No major editing of the text was needed for this book, except for the correction of wildly misspelt French words.
Slipped in between the pages of one of the notebooks was a used ticket for a cross-channel ferry, dated 27th July, 1914. No other related papers have been found. Nor was there an index or other record concerning these or any of the papers stored with them (the others are unrelated). The admission and discharge books from the hospital for the period under investigation are incomplete.
For the present, what has been written is being regarded seriously, and not as a modern forgery. Detailed investigations are continuing. One aspect of this research concerns careful checks against available external records of the people named and events recorded. As far as can be ascertained at present, there is close correspondence between the two.
Some of the people named, like Queen Victoria and Charlie Chaplin are very well known. However some of the events recorded for both are not noted elsewhere and these are a particular focus of interest. Similarly, the background events of July, 1914 are widely known from history. What may be termed the ‘foreground events’ noted in this record are unknown.
Most of the people named who are not known to history do appear in public records. For example, John Jakes is recorded as missing in action in Flanders during 1917; Archibald Montmorency Perkin did die of war injuries in 1919; Roger Arthur and Theresa Elizabeth Hartson were victims of the influenza epidemic in 1918. Even the shopkeeper Marcel Tresor appears in a number of French census and taxation records.
One puzzling feature is that there is no certain record of Thomas Percival Green after he volunteered for military service in August, 1914. Nor is there any unequivocal record of Mazod Betham in public records after her birth in Greenford. None of their descendants, as named in the text, can be traced. Various possible reasons as to why this should be so form an important part of the current investigations.