Echoes of Friendship

Andy’s school trip to the World War One battlefields is a chance to learn the history of his great-grandfather, Matt’s struggles and survival in the trenches.

Matt and his cousin James were affected differently by the story of the hero of Dargai, who they met as children. Matthew hears the melody of the fearless piper. James wants to emulate his valiant bravery. When war comes James is quick to follow the hero’s lead. Matthew, nicknamed Mac by his comrades, finds salvation through his friendship with a German POW, Hans. They discover a common bond that surpasses their country’s enmity.

Andy faces his own demons in the shape of the Squaddies, a gang of bullies who taunt him at school and on the school trip. The Anglo-German friendship echoes down the years when Andy befriends a German student, Sophe. He tells her the story of Mac’s friendship with Hans.

Can Andy find the courage to face up to the Squaddies?

The History of Echoes of Friendship

It all began with a handful of photos, three letters from a German and a novella entitled Viola Tricolor from the First World War. My grandfather had kept these souvenirs. I was interested in family history and fortunate to be able to ask my grandmother about what she could tell me of my grandfather’s side of the family tree. This was backed up by research in the days before the internet.

When Theresa Breslin told me I should write the story of my grandfather’s friendship with the German soldier who had written the letters and given him his photo and the book as a Christmas present, I wanted to do this for two reasons – to record and share the story for the younger generations of our family and in the hope that their friendship might resonate with a wider audience.

The artefacts and people are and were real but their encounters are made up. How they met during the war is a mystery – this is my theory of how and why they became friends.