Hugh’s real life story of five uncles at war

A former engineer turned author has written a book about his family’s experiences during the First World War.

Saturday, 5th April 2014, 1:00 pm
Author, Hugh Neems, with his new book, A Rough Ride. Pictured at home, Victoria Road, Todmorden

Hugh Neems, who trained as an electrical engineer and served in the Royal Navy in the 1940s, has written “A Rough Ride”, based on first hand insights from his five uncles about what it was like to be in the midst of the turmoil.

Hugh, who lived in Hipperholme for many years before moving to Todmorden when he retired, said: “With the centenary coming up, I started writing a family book just for friends and family.

“The story is about my uncles’ involvement in the different battles and the different stages of the war.

“It’s a history of the war but with a personal link.”

Hugh, 86, said it was sobering to recall what happened to his uncles during the conflict.

“One was killed and one was badly injured,” he said.

“My uncle Arthur was killed by a grenade in the trenches surrounding Arras.”

Hugh found out about his uncles’ experiences while he was growing up in Worcestershire.

Seeing memorabilia from their time serving in the Armed Forces inspired him to research their stories.

“After discovering more about them, I wanted to write about these children who were born in Worcestershire and served on the fronts in France and Gallipoli,” he said.

Hugh served in the military himself before joining the London Missionary Society.

He spent 14 years in the Samoan Islands overseeing a junior boarding school.

He returned to the UK in the late 1960s, when he and his family settled in Hipperholme. Hugh was the minister at Lightcliffe United Reformed Church for more than 20 years.

He moved to Todmorden in the early 1990s - he was attracted to the area by its scenic walking routes - and since retiring has written several books about his ancestors and their historical settings.

“A Rough Ride” is available from book shops around Calderdale including The Book Case in Hebden Bridge and Border Books in Todmorden.