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How a Totton World War II evacuee made his new life in Liverpool

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'My Northern Adventure' is edited by Maureen Penrose
'My Northern Adventure' is edited by Maureen Penrose

LETTERS revealing the impact of the Second World War on the life of one family evacuated to Totton from blitzed Southampton feature in a new book just released.

It was from that first horrifying summer of 1940 that one local youngster began writing letters to his mother of his experiences following the air raids on the city’s port and Spitfire aircraft factory.

My Northern Adventure, written by the late Edwin Henning and edited for publication by Maureen Penrose of Totton, is an insightful look into one man’s eyes in the aftermath of his life being burned to ash in front of him.

Edwin and his parents were bombed out of their house in Southampton in 1940. This triggered a series of events which led them to move to Totton, nearer his mother’s sister.

Just weeks later, 17-year-old Edwin moved with the shipping company he worked for, the Union Castle Shipping Line, to Liverpool.

Maureen said: “At least once a week he wrote a letter home to his mother describing his life in Liverpool – his lodgings, working life, food, travelling, and his musical interests etc.

“The letters also highlight his concerns for family and friends in the light of heavy bombing in both Southampton and Totton.”

Despite his young age, Edwin shines through as a very focused and determined young man. The power of his descriptions in the letters allows the reader to experience his life in a very different place to that for which his upbringing had prepared him.

Maureen said: “His descriptive writing style gives the reader a wonderful impression of his life while there – both working and rest.

“Even at his tender age he wanted to be a full-time musician and so through his letters he takes us to the concerts he attended and performed in. His daily travelling from ‘his digs’ and work in India Buildings meant a ferry across the Mersey and so a view of city slowly being ravaged by war.”

Maureen was brought up in Hampshire and, after marrying, pursued a teaching career and now combines teaching with lecturing.

Recently, she completed a theology MA in Christian liturgy, researching the changing liturgical needs in the trenches of the First World War. She has three children and two grandchildren.

My Northern Adventure is published by Austin Macauley, ISBN: 9781641828246. It is available in Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

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