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Margaret Hill pictured with a copy of her book Leonard's War.

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Labour of love for Margaret

A fascinating insight into what it was like serving King and country through the Battle of the Somme has been told in a new novel by a member of the congregation of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

In Leonard's War Margaret Hill tells in her grandfather Leonard Folwell's words what it was like for a 19-year-old working in the Royal Army Medical Corps on the ambulance trains in France in 1916.


The book has been a labour of love for Margaret, who writes under her maiden name of Garfoot, after she came across a diary Leonard wrote after leaving Aldershot to travel by steamer for France on January 20th of that year with his friend John. 


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*Leonard Folwell.


Both men were from Woodhouse Eaves in Leicestershire and trained in a busy field hospital complex set up on the horse racing track in Rouen.

The book looks at the pain of serious injuries, to life in the trenches and the workload of the stretcher bearers. It introduces "Woodbine Willie," or Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, MC, an Anglican priest and poet who got his nickname for giving Woodbine cigarettes out along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers. It then takes us home to Woodhouse Eaves, where a convalescent home is set up there in Beaumanor Hall. 

Margaret will be signing copies of her book at a special launch at 2pm on Tuesday, February 26th at Melton Carnegie Museum to which everyone is invited. Copies are £10 each, with £2 from each sale going towards the Air Ambulance Service.

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Above and below: The diary kept by Leonard Folwell. 

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Phil Balding, 30/01/2019

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