The outbreak of WW2 means a Canadian teenager spends his formative years growing up in England. Intelligent and thoughtful, slightly naive, he does his best to fit in. A skill with electronics helps, but he’s always a bit of an outsider.
As Brussels falls to the Allies, a German mine blows up the truck he is in, killing his comrades, and he and a young Flemish widow with an infant daughter must deal with the aftermath, both immediate and in the post-war period.
September 7, 1944. Thursday afternoon. West of Brussels, Belgium.
Martin was sitting in the back of a Bedford RL 4-ton lorry. Or rather, he was trying to sit as the truck bounced over the badly repaired roads west of Brussels. The road ran unfenced between fields somewhere south of a town called Ninove. The truck had blown an engine gasket while the squadron – R.A.F. Squadron Number 247 – was at Glisy. A shipment of wireless parts was expected, and as one of the wireless mechanics, Martin had been detailed with two other aircraftmen to bring them and some “supplies” – otherwise known as booze – once the lorry engine was repaired. As it happened, only one box of wireless parts came.
Jack and Jim were in the front of the truck. They had made sure the gasket didn’t fit right the first time. Why rush? Glisy was near Amiens, where one could find a nice place to relax. And work awaited them at the new field, B58 Melsbroek.
There were a dozen crates of wine in the truck, a similar number containing bottles of beer, along with the wireless bits, some supplies, a couple of tents and some of their personal gear.
It was raining hard, windy and cold. They ground along the small road, occasionally sloshing through long narrow ruts in the minimal tarmac. The truck moved left and in a couple of seconds Martin saw that they’d done so to avoid a woman walking along the road.
He was just looking back at her when the world seemed to come apart in a blinding flash. Martin was in the ditch. There was mud on his face, some even in his mouth. Where was he? How did he get here? As the confusion in his brain cleared, he started to remember....