The Very White of Love 5


This weekend marks the 70th. anniversary of the epic withdrawal from Dunkirk, in which 330,000 allied troops were plucked from the beaches after the collapse of the British Expeditionary Force’s campaign in France and Belgium. Many British soldiers did not make it home. One of them was my mother’s fiance, Martin Preston, nephew of the poet Robert Graves and an aspiring poet himself. He was killed in action on May 28th – the day before the evacuation – in Hazebrouck, on the French-Belgian border, as his regiment attempted to hold back the Germans so that his fellow British troops could be rescued. In 2004, as I was going through my mother’s effects after her death, I found a cardboard chocolate box full of his letters to her; and a handful from her that were returned after Martin disappeared. These extraordinary, and moving, letters will form the basis of my next book, The Very White of Love ( the title is a line from a poem by Wrey Gardner that they refer to several times in their correspondence). So, here’s remembering all those who fell in that fateful year, 1940.


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5 thoughts on “The Very White of Love

  • D. Stowe

    Just heard your incredibly moving piece on FOOC. Your book will be a fitting way to honour and remember Martin’s life and loss and what your mother went through. Good luck with it.

  • sworrall Post author

    Thank you very much, Deb: it was a real honour for me to be able to tell that story. I’ll keep you posted about the progress of the book. Happy Easter, Simon Worrall.

  • sworrall Post author

    Dear Deb – just to let you know: The Very White Of Love will be published by Allison and Busby in the UK in mid-September. I look forward to meeting you at one of the readings that are being planned. Best, Simon

  • sworrall Post author

    Hi Jerry – no, unfortunately not. We had to change publishers as they did not share out vision. It is now coming out on Armistice Day 2016 with John Blake Books. Do check back here for updates …..how did you find out about it?