SYDE resident and local farmer Malcolm Whitaker, 80, is using his memories of life growing up on Harcombe farm just outside Cirencester during the Second World War to raise money for charity.
His book Malcolm’s War was written 10 years ago, but has been reprinted and is being sold at Cirencester’s Octavia’s bookstore to raise funds for the Salvation Army.
In the book Malcolm devotes a chapter to each year of the war from 1939 to 1940, with a fascinating look at war through the eyes of a seven year-old child.
Many of the Malcolm’s adventures, including discovering an unexploded anti-aircraft shell were shared with his best friend Roy, who died last year.
“It was at his funeral that one of his friends suggested I sell the book for charity. I passed the book onto Octavia from Octavia’s bookstore and she was thrilled with it. The reaction to it has been really favourable. One local primary school has even shown an interest in the book for its pupils.”
Although Malcolm grew up on his father’s isolated farm, where he still lives today, he was never far from the action during the war as they were on the flightpath for German bombers on their way to Bristol and Cardiff.
And with anti-aircraft guns at Cranham Woods, the sky around Harcombe would be lit up almost nightly.
“In 1940 I was in the playground at Winstone school when guns fired from Cranhams Woods and a dog fight started,” explained Malcolm. “We watched as the German plane was shot down. The excitement for a child was unbelievable.”
Back at Harcombe later that same day, all talk was about the sheep that had been shot in the head during the battle.
It is this wonderful mix of stories of war and farming that make Malcolm’s War such a delight to read.
* Octavia's Bookshop, 24 Black Jack Street, Cirencester, GL7 2AA Tel 01285 650677 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org