Story – The Ghost of Tommy Atkins

February 20th, 2013

The short story on which the play `The Ghost of Tommy Atkins` is based is now available from Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HUZRG2  or from KDP Select.

`The Ghost Of Tommy Atkins` is a story about two boyhood friends who patriotically enlist as riflemen in a British army infantry Pals Battalion to fight for their country during the First World War.  Only one returns home but they both meet again once a year. Their one and only battle began in the trenches of France on the 1st July 1916 at the Battle of The Somme.

There are two versions of the story. The first, shorter, version is written in the East Lancashire dialect that would have been spoken by the two lads at the time of World War One which hopefully adds flavour in an age of disappearing regional British dialects. For those readers not familiar with the dialect or who may find the reading hard going there is also a `translated` and longer version.

Since the dawn of democracy it has usually been politicians who start wars by signing a piece of paper. It has usually been Generals who end wars by signing treaties on another piece of paper.

Between these two flimsy pieces of paper are countless millions of ordinary men and women, be they soldiers or civilians, who pay for those signatures with their lives, their health or sanity.  This is a story of just two of those millions, two boys who patriotically volunteer to fight for their country. Only one returns home but they always meet again once a year. One will never grow old and can`t remember. The other will never be young again and can`t forget.

You are not so much reading a story as eavesdropping on an old man reminiscing with a long lost friend.

Try to forget about air travel, mobile phones and television. Forget all of the negative press that you might have read about British troops being `Lions led by donkeys`. Close your eyes and turn the clock back almost a hundred years to a time when life was `simpler` and when attitudes were much more black and white than they appear to be to us today.

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