Life-sav­ing tin in­spired tale of broth­ers at war

Bristol Post - - NEWS - Heather PICKSTOCK heather.pickstock@reach­plc.com

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.

Visit www.an­drew­wood­books.com.

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

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