A UTTOXETER author inspired by his own war-time experiences in town has released a new book about conflict, love and friendship.
Maurice Birks’ new offering, The Four Amigos, is available to purchase from Uttoxeter Shop, Redfearn’s Cottage and the Uttoxeter News office.
It follows three families working for a rich laird in Scotland and, in particular, four children growing up in the early 20th Century.
All four end up in the war-torn fields of France, where romance blossoms between two of the four friends, field nurse Lorna and soldier Alistair.
Mr Birks said he has had a keen interest in both world wars after growing up in Uttoxeter in the 1940s.
He said: “Although the book is a work of fiction, I did a lot of research to ensure my historical setting was accurate.
“And many of the wider events in the book are based on factual, historical events that add a bit more colour to the plot.”
One of the historial events covered in the book is the Royal Scots rail tragedy, which saw 226 deaths and 246 injuries during a fire on a troops’ train near Gretna Green in 1915.
“But the narrative is very much driven by human relationships.
“The way the four children’s friendship develops leading up to and during the war - and especially the budding romance between Lorna and Alistair - is the main theme of the story.”
Mr Birks told the Advertiser how clearly he remembered the Luftwaffer flying over Uttoxeter on their way to blitz Coventry and Birmingham during World War Two.
He said: “I can remember how everyone was told very clearly to keep their lights turned off - and that included street lights - and we didn’t hear any church bells during that period.
“We were told that, if they rang, it was a sign that German paratroopers were on their way and we were being invaded.
“I also remember how the town was overran by American soldiers stationed at Marchington.
“They’d be going around town flashing their cash and trying to chat up the women in the town.
“But racial tensions were quite high and the black and white soldiers would agree to go out on separate nights to avoid there being any trouble.
“It was an extremely security-conscious time and the difficulties families had in rationing is well-documented.
“Everyone had to unite, roll their sleeves up and do their bit for the Allied war effort.”