Life-saving tin inspired tale of brothers at war
AFORMER army tank commander has realised his lifelong dream of becoming a novelist – following the discovery of a tobacco tin which saved a soldier’s life in the First World War.
Andrew Wood was inspired to put pen to paper and write the novel after his father Alan bought a tobacco tin at a military auction.
The tin saved the life of soldier Eric Hanham, preventing a fatal wound when he was shot while fighting in the Great War.
As well as the tin, the lot included pictures, postcards, letters and documents belonging to three brothers from Kent – Stewart, Eric and Basil Hanham – who all fought in World War One.
Alan, a historian and former solider, works as a battlefield tour guide taking people to visit former WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium.
He started researching the history of the three brothers – which inspired his son Andrew to realise his lifelong dream of becoming a writer.
Andrew was also a solider, joining the army aged 21 in 2007 to serve as an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment. When he left in 2016, he moved to Bristol and started researching and writing the book about the three brothers, entitled Hanham.
Andrew, of Bishopston, said: “The auction lot turned out to be much more than a rare piece of history and the truly inspiring story of the three Hanham brothers and their family was revealed.
“All three joined the Kensington Battalion and went off to fight for their country. What is interesting is how each of the brothers had a completely different experience of war.”
The book also features the story of the brother’s sister Kathleen – an actress and singer – and how she supported her family through the conflict.
It has taken Andrew, 34, 18 months to research and write the book, which is due to be published next April.
He will be issuing a limited number of the novels, just 100, later this year. Each will come with a physical piece of history from the battlefields where the brothers fought.
These pieces will be collected by Andrew on a trip to France with his father around the centenary celebrations.
“The tobacco tin was the start of a fascinating look into the lives of these three brothers, “said Andrew.
The ticker-tape machines stuttered to life. An Armistice had been signed ... The fighting was to cease at 11am ...
Above, the tobacco tin with its bullet; left, writer Andrew Wood; above, from left to right, brothers Basil, Eeric and Stuart Hanham