Monday, November 28th, 2022

Sevenoaks: The Great War and its Legacy – a new book by local author Matthew Ball

A FORMER Sevenoaks resident, whose grandfather’s striking image appears on the cover of a new book, Sevenoaks : The Great War and its Legacy, returned to the town this week to meet the author at the Sevenoaks Bookshop.

BOOK LAUNCH: Author Matthew Ball (left) with Barbara and Keith Reddy and Town Mayor Roderick Hogarth at the Sevenoaks Bookshop. Barbara is the granddaughter of Private Albert Kent who appears on the front cover of Matthew’s new book. Albert originally lived with his family in Beech Road, Sevenoaks

Barbara Reddy is the granddaughter of Private Albert Kent of 2nd Battalion The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and she and her husband Keith joined historian and author Matthew Ball and Sevenoaks Town Mayor Cllr Roderick Hogarth at the bookshop as part of the book’s launch.

Matthew’s first book, Sevenoaks War Memorial, The Men Remembered, was published in 2014 and detailed the lives of the men named on the town war memorial at The Vine. His new book tells the stories of those who served and survived, many fighting with the Royal West Kents. The book also looks at the role of women, as nurses in local hospitals to those who worked in the munitions factories.

Matthew said: ‘I really wanted to tell those untold stories. By autumn 1914, Sevenoaks had changed radically with the arrival of wounded men and Belgian refugees. Thousands of soldiers were billeted in the town in places like Knole Park and in private homes. The local paper even printed a guide to the odd ways of soldiers from the north of England! It’s important for me that we remember these things, how difficult life was on the Home Front; how the artillery in France could be heard in Sevenoaks and how people at home were affected in ways that wouldn’t have been fought possible only a few years before. For example, Percy John Brooks, was killed in a Zeppelin raid in Croydon in October 1915 and his body returned for burial at Greatness Cemetery’.

‘I’ve tried to make the book of interest for the general reader and those who already know a bit more about the subject.

Matthew will be signing copies of his book at Sevenoaks Bookshop on Saturday, 10 November from 2.30pm and at Cafe on the Vine after the Remembrance Sunday Service on 11 November.

He will also be guiding the last of his WW1 talks at Greatness Cemetery on Saturday 10 November at 10.30pm – meet at the chapel.

You can find more information on Matthew’s website at: Sevenoaksww1.org

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