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Walking Wales: The Art Lover’s Guide to the Wye Valley Way

As lockdown continues with hints of when it might all come to an end (possibly), now is the perfect time to start planning a trek along 136 miles of stunning scenery on the Wye Valley Way.

Start at Chepstow where the River Wye and the River Severn meet the Bristol Channel, then walk up through Wales to the source of the River Wye at Plynlimon, only briefly veering across the border into England.

Why start “at the bottom” and climb “up” to the source? Well, the whole journey includes uphill and downhill stretches, some quite steep, so the change in altitude over 15 days is not an issue, and the official Wye Valley Guide also starts at Chepstow rather than the source. Having completed this trek, I can confirm that there are some sections I would definitely not want to walk in reverse order.

The book “Walking Wales: The Art Lover’s Guide to Wye Valley Way” is a mix of guidance on how to plan and prepare for the trek, journal entries that follow the route over 15 days, and photographs along the way.

The exciting addition is 40 images featured throughout, all from the National Library of Wales collections. Beautiful old paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries that show how much, or how little, the rural landscape and towns have changed. From views of Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Hay on Wye, Rhayader then on to Llangurig and Plynlimon, these paintings and prints add a new dimension to the story of a memorable journey through Wales. See some of the images on our Facebook page.


  • Book and E-book versions are available through www.amazon.co.uk  as well as the publications page on this site

  • A PowerPoint presentation and a short version with excerpts from the book is available as free download on www.pencoedpublishing.co.uk

  • A positive review of the book was included in the March/April edition of Welsh Country magazine www.welshcountry.co.uk



The Virtual Book Fair with Pen Coed Publishing May 2020


As the lockdown continues, there are a lot of book fairs that will not go ahead for some time. Pen Coed Publishing had plans to be present at Llandeilo and Carmarthen Book Fairs in Wales for instance, as we have done before, but they are cancelled for now.

So, how can we get to show you our beautiful selection of books without face-to-face mingling? Our new Virtual Book Fair video is now available as a link on the Home page of Pen Coed Publishing website.

The table is set out as it would be for a normal Book Fair, with examples from the range of books we have available. There are titles written by Dr Jacqueline Jeynes our main author, plus the memoir edited and published for Dr Anita Rogers-Burrell. Another title is ready to join us, again edited and published by Pen Coed Publishing, this time a practical guide to planning for early retirement but we are just waiting for the physical copies to arrive.

The Virtual Book Fair video presents all the titles, each one described by Jacqueline. If you are interested in arts and crafts, there are several titles available. The first one we ever published in 2012 was “Peg Loom Weaving: all you need to know to get started”, starting from the basics with lots of ideas and projects to try – still popular through Amazon as it is one of the main books on peg looms. There is a companion book recently published on “Felt Making: all you need to know to get started”. The Book Fair video has a great example of a large felted panel in the background hopefully to inspire you to have a go at a new craft.

If you already know Pen Coed Publishing, you will have heard of the title about prisoners of war during WWII “Before Hiroshima: Forgotten Prisoners of War in Japan, Burma and the Far East”. Definitely an important story to tell as 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in the Far East. There is a free download on the website with a short summary of the book.

Of course, as we are based in Wales, there is the illustrated book “Walking Wales: The Art Lover’s Guide to Wye Valley Way”. Now is definitely the time to think about planning a long-distance walk when we are allowed out! Our inspirational memoir by Anita explores how she came to live in Ceredigion and overcame her initial feelings of isolation. It comes with lots of recipes for comfort foods too.

The link for the video is on the home page here www.pencoedpublishing.co.uk so please have a look and ‘like’ the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jackiepencoed to keep up to date with new titles coming out later this year.




November and December 2019 - soon be the end of another busy year for Pen Coed Publishing!

Two major projects in progress at the moment, the first is a major piece of work to complete by January 2020 (the second is a 2-part series on visiting Wales).

1.Strategies for targeting the mature travel sector

This is a new title aimed at those involved in Tourism and Travel, whether as students of the subject or tour operators and providers of services to the travel sector.

It takes a closer look at the growing group of mature travelers (US spelling for this book). Lots of statistics, but the aim is to identify existing and potential new strategies that tour operators and providers need to consider.

How do we define “mature”/ what are they looking for/ and how do they make the final decision? Publication in Spring 2020 by New York publisher BEP (Business Expert Press), distributing to US universities and general outlets worldwide.

If you would like to register an interest in ordering the book when published (no payment yet) then please complete the Contact Us form so that I can make sure you are the first to know!



August and September 2019

Look out for lots of exciting activities to promote our new author Dr Anita Rogers Burrell and her beautiful First Edition title (see our books pages). 


10th - 16th August 2019 A week away at the Writers' Summer School in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Always inspiring 

14th August - Halfway through the week now and enjoying every minute! Have even got some work done....



15th August 2019 - today is VJ Day, the official end to WWII, the conflict in the Far East although prisoners of war and internees were still working and suffering for a few more days. We should Salute them All!


VJ Day 15th August 2019 

Excerpts from article/book "Before Hiroshima: Forgotten Prisoners of War in Japan, Burma & the Far East" ( see the books page or this link to buy from www.amazon.co.uk ) - 1 each day from 1st August


Day 14 - Coming Home

There seems to have been little real support for individuals once they returned home to UK. Extra clothing and food ration coupons were supplied, although this also seemed to present problems for people when they tried to use them. One area that did cause problems was the assumption that POWs were paid for their labour during captivity, and this ‘assumed’ amount was then docked from whatever was due to them until proved otherwise.

People at home did not seem to understand what these men had been through. Quote from an employer at the time “while you have been lazing about in a POW camp, we’ve been keeping the country going”. An example of the lack of understanding by the authorities in Britain is a story in the 2002 COFEPOW Newsletter that says it all! 
"Martin [Prechner] tells me that when his father (a POW in Singapore and Java) was demobbed in 1946, he received a bill from the Royal Air Force for £1.18s. When he queried this he was told it was the cost of the greatcoat he did not return after the war".

When British women were repatriated, the Home Office asked relatives and friends not to meet ships when they docked, there was no formal welcome back or press coverage and L Warner (Warner, 1982) refers to “the shamefaced public attitude of the authorities towards these war victims”. Just as sad is the fact that the War Graves Commission has scant records of women who died as Far East civilian internees.

There are many Memorials to the prisoners who worked and died during captivity in the Far East. The JEATH museum is the open-air museum built in Kanchanaburi, Thailand in memory of those who worked on the “Death Railway” and the River Kwai bridge. The Kwai Railway Memorial museum and library was built at Hell Fire Pass by the Australian government as an official memorial to the workers of the railway. It was noted in 1997 that the British government would not support the project financially. 

The general feeling has always been that everyone in the Far East area of conflict was let down by incompetence and lack of any “expertise”, including the “low standard of some of the troop reinforcements which arrived late in the day” (Elphick, 1995). The loss of Singapore in particular was seen as “a critical event in world politics shattering the myth of white superiority and the end of European empire-building in the East”.


Day 13 - Liberation

One FEPOW recalled: "On 15th August most of the guards left the camp and a holiday was declared. We were told that it was to celebrate their dead enemies. Of course, it was the end but we did not know this until two weeks later when the B29 bombers came over unopposed, flying quite low.
They dropped supplies of food and clothing on huge parachutes, and a message to inform us of the end of the war and to stay where we were, and that we would eventually be picked up and taken home. Sadly, two American POWs were killed during this drop as parachutes failed to open."

Another noted: "In July, work on the airstrip stopped abruptly and we started to dig trenches 10 foot by 6 foot across the airstrip. At the time we did not know it, but the Japanese High Command had ordered the elimination of prisoners of war in the event of an invasion of Malaya or Thailand. We had dug our own graves!
On August 13th three of the Korean guards deserted and there was great confusion amongst the Japs. There were rumours of a new and powerful weapon which had been used on Japan and had caused “black rain” to fall and immense casualties. We did not believe it. Work parties stopped on 15th and 16th August.
The camp seethed with excitement and we were told that the British camp administration believed the war was over. But we were warned to remain calm. At the back of our minds were the trenches dug across the airstrip. To our dismay, work started again on 17th and 18th, but there was obvious confusion in the camp, records and papers were being destroyed. On that evening Major Cheda announced to a full parade of prisoners that the War was over and that we were free men. No fire or brimstone, no gunfire, no bloodshed – just the simple announcement that the war was over. As one FEPOW wrote in his diary “Peace has come to us peacefully – like a dove on quiet wings”.

Many of the prisoners were sent on to Canada to recuperate before coming back to Britain, generally because their health was so poor. A naturally tall, well-built man, my father only weighed 5 stone when he came back. His medical records for his War Pension notes he had had dysentery, malaria, malnutrition and beri-beri, pulmonary tuberculosis (the reason we were unable to emigrate to Canada 1952), dental caries and subsequent extractions (teeth broken with Japanese rifle butt), hearing loss and basal cell carcinoma left temple. Clearly, many of these conditions were found in the majority of other FEPOWs on their return.




Day 12 - The end of the war

Most people think of VE Day in May as the end of World War II, yet it did not officially end until Japan finally surrendered on 14th - 15th August 1945 – now known as V-J Day. The US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing more than 70,000 people, then three days later dropped another bomb on Nagasaki killing a further 40,000. Until this point, the intention had been to “exterminate” all FEPOWs still alive if allied troops on the ground had moved forward on the Malay Peninsular. However, given the scale of the US attacks, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Just before the war ended, every prison camp was issued with the following instructions (now held at the Imperial War Museum) to be carried out if Japan was attacked by Allied forces:

Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups, or however it is done, with mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, decapitation or what, dispose of them as the situation dictates. In any case, it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not leave any trace.

Plans were put in place to rescue the thousands of POWs in camps around the Far East, including many British, American, Canadian and Australian prisoners. My father described the day when they realised the war must be over. 
“We suddenly realised the guards were shouting, well screaming really, at each other with lots of running around. Definitely panic in their voices, so we wondered if there were some Allied troops nearby. Then suddenly, it all went quiet and we looked at each other in our hut, waiting for something terrible to happen. But, we could hear the gate creaking, and when I looked out of the window, the whole camp was deserted. Not a Jap soldier anywhere. And the gates were open! Next we heard the drone of planes overhead, and things started to drop from the sky.”

When they finally came to rescue my father, there were 50 men left from an original total of 500 in this camp. But again, he chuckled when he said they dropped food parcels before the troops came in to liberate the camp, expecting there to be more men. Even though they had not eaten proper food for so long, they did their best to eat as much as they could manage knowing they would just be sick. 


Day 11 - Lack of information

One gunner with the Royal Navy, Dennis Whitehouse, spent the whole of the war in the islands around Port Blair – a POW but not actually imprisoned. As the only European there, with no-where to escape to, they appear to have left him alone. He was found in 1945 when a destroyer landed at Ross Island and arrived back in UK in November that year. He had not been able to communicate with anyone during this time, so there had been no notification to his family. (Tett, 2002) 

Although the Geneva Convention states that every POW should have a postcard to send home to family to confirm his capture and the state of his health, we know this did not happen in the Far East camps. It dictates that this communication should be within a week of arrival at a camp and that it should not be delayed in any way.  
The War Office and the British Red Cross were trying their best to locate POWs and to find information about the thousands of “missing” men. Unfortunately, this lack of real information had dire consequences for the families. If he was reported as missing or thought to be dead, payments to his spouse were stopped. If he was thought to be alive as a POW, then payments continued. We can all see how devastating that would be as it was often 2-3 years before news came of those originally thought “missing”.

It was not until 1944 that HMSO produced a Handbook for the information of Relatives and Friends of PRISONERS OF WAR AND CIVILIANS in Japanese or Japanese Occupied Territory. Mind you, they charged 2 pence for it! It would seem to be a bit of a lottery whether you received any mail while in a camp, some receiving letters and cards regularly and others not getting anything. For instance, a sergeant (J Innes) didn’t receive his first letters until January 1944, but 22 of them then arrived together. In August that year he got another 44! 

In March 1943, there were a reported 5,000 letters delivered to Changi jail – they had received none for over a year before that. Obviously, this contact with home meant so much to the POWs who had no idea what was happening back at home. Delays were inevitable as mail arrived in large bags after being sorted at home, then had to be sorted once they reached Japan, then had to be given to the Japanese censor. 


Day 10 - Spreading the word about life as a POW or Intern

There are many examples of art works to illustrate what went on in the camps, and over the years there have been many exhibitions. Many of these drawings and paintings were produced and hidden in jungle camps in Thailand, and recorded events on railway construction. Obviously, materials were difficult to get hold of, and often these
images were hidden in sections of bamboo buried in the ground or a host of other imaginative places. Of course, a lot of the work was lost, destroyed by guards or insects, or soaked by monsoon rains.

There are many films made that intend to show what actually happened during these war years. I remember when I was very small, my father went to see the premier of “Bridge over the River Kwai” and cried when he saw it. Not everyone was happy with the way Lt Col Phillip Toosey was portrayed in the film (played by Alec Guiness) and the difficult decisions he had to make in order to “ensure that as many of his men as possible should survive their
captivity” (Butterworth, 1991). The recent film “The Railwayman” is based on this story told by a former FEPOW, Eric Lomax, and aims to give a less theatrical version of events.  
Perhaps just as significant is the work of the Japanese filmmaker, Akinori Suzuki, whose aim in 2001 was to produce a documentary that makes it clear to younger Japanese people exactly what happened during WWII (Macaulay, 2001). He states that there has been little coverage of this in Japan and that many people will be shocked at the atrocities committed. There is evidence of concern from younger generation Japanese who had been given a very narrow picture of what happened during the Japanese campaigns across Indo-China.


Day 9 - Religion in the camps

As a Chaplain, Eric Cordingley was instrumental in offering support to prisoners and, crucially, officiating at so many funerals. There are many quotes throughout this book, but it is also important to explain about the Changi Cross which represented faith and hope for so many FEPOWs.
During his own captivity, Eric consistently sought out places that could be used for prayer. Initially, this was a small, disused Mosque that the men worked hard to make into a place of Christian worship. It became known as St George’s Mark I and was a central point of learning and discussion among the men, whether they professed themselves ‘believers’ or not. 

As he moved to other camps and hospitals, this format was duplicated to make St George’s Mark II in Kanburi near the River Kwai, St George’s Mark III in No 2 Working Camp next the Changi jail. This Mark III was moved to the officers’ area of the jail near to the chicken runs so became St-George’s-in-the-poultry (Mark IV)! 

Wherever the church moved to, Eric made sure the Changi Cross went. What was so special about this cross? Basically, it was an incredible feat of engineering that symbolised the unceasing ‘human spirit’ in these dark times. 
The base was made from a 4.5 howitzer shell case, thick metal that was very difficult to cut, and the four arms from some “bits of brass from an ordnance gun shop” (Cordingly L. , 2015). Each arm has a trefoil soldered at the end and a POW Tim Hemmings, just aged 21 at the time, engraved the badges of the four regiments in that ‘parish’.


Day 8 - Women and children interns

There is generally less recognition of the situation for women who were captured in the Far East although there were around 130,000 Western civilians captured, 41,000 of these were women, many of them Dutch ( (Archer, 2015).
At the fall of Singapore in 1942, there were many families living there and supporting husbands in diplomatic or military service roles. Clearly, so many women and children as internees was not what the Japanese had planned for and anecdotal evidence notes how they were unsure what to do with them once they were captured.

The majority of women prisoners were taken to Changi, originally a purpose built prison, where women and men
were segregated – women in E Block – and boys over the age of 12 were put with the men. However, less well-recognised than the prison at Changi, many women were also imprisoned in camps in Sumatra, Borneo, Java and The Philippines and appear to have experienced a much more substantial death rate.
Banka Straits was notorious for Japanese ships sinking those trying to flee to the supposed safety of the Dutch East Indies. If survivors managed to swim to shore on Banka Island, they were likely to be massacred on the beach. A woman who survived the line-up of a group at the water’s edge was shot through, just above the hips, and eventually got to Muntok. This remarkable woman, Margaret Dryburgh, then gave evidence at War Crimes Trials in Tokyo in 1946.

The Changi Quilts: As garments rotted or wore out, they were reworked into clothes for the children. Any remaining scraps were incorporated into embroideries and the women also used rice sacking, hankies, pillow cases, tray cloths – anything they could stitch – in order to record their experiences. They used these unique textiles to “record their internment and at the same time created memorials to those who were interned” (Archer, 2015).
The Changi Quilt is made up of various squares stitched together, each depicting a scene or symbols that hold special meaning to the women producing it plus her signature. 

Hilda Lacey in Changi produced several images on a sheet including the Japanese flag flying over the prison with the words “Flag of Tyranny”. She also included a view of one of the cells at the prison and the special event “The dustbin parade”! When men and women prisoners took out the bins, this was the closest they could get to each other so, they often tried to arrange for husbands and wives to actually get a glimpse of each other. It clearly caused some amusement to the prisoners as they wondered what the Japanese thought of men and women all of a sudden wearing their best clothes to take out the rubbish!

By the time the war was nearing an end (although clearly prisoners did not know this at the time), rumours had started to circulate that the women moved to Sime Road camp were to be buried in huge pits being dug by the men. It had become impossible for them to be fed, even given the meagre rations they lived on.


Day 7 - life in the camps

Throughout the book, there is reference to the life FEPOWs lived in the camps around Japan and the Indo-China region, and the names of camps will seem to be familiar.  

In the first stages of surrender and taking of prisoners, the Japanese High Command issued lots of rules for POWs. It would also seem that at first, they allowed POWs outside the camps to collect their dead and bury them, sometimes where they were found if their bodies were too difficult to move. 
Eric (the Chaplain)was among those collecting identity tags and personal effects, and throughout his captivity he ensured that he kept the most complete records he could of the burials performed. Reference to Changi being one of the better camps was echoed by Ron Wilkinson in his account (Wilkinson, A Guest of the Japanese Government, 1997) below.
Apart from the lack of food, life as a POW in Changi was to prove the best POW existence. Our leaders had negotiated conditions where, apart from daily roll call, we were inside our own compound without direct contact with our captors.
He also refers to there being spare time (clearly a myth in other camps) for social activities, learning and concerts until they were drafted to join others on “the infamous railway between Bangkok and Moulmein” 11 months later. 
Any written materials were banned, so when Eric and an Indian doctor were caught with scraps of scribbled notes from men asking about friends, they were handcuffed together and put down a pit – around 12 foot deep and 4 foot square. In the night a young Japanese soldier came down a ladder with a banana each and some sweetened tea for the two captives, telling them to eat them quickly. He then disappeared. It was many hours before the two men were released from the pit. 
It is also amazing to read about the different ways small goods could be concealed about the person when ‘clothing’ was so skimpy! One of the most sought-after commodities was paper, whether this was as toilet paper, for writing or sketching records of what happened, or indeed for rolling some form of cigarette.  I love the following quote from Eric’s diary:
I would not have thought it possible to smoke a block of writing paper [air-mail paper]. I must consider a testimonial
to the paper manufacturers … “I have smoked your writing paper for the past three weeks and find it in every way satisfactory!” (Cordingly E. 2015).


Day 6 - Prisoners transported for work on the railways

60,000 British, Dutch and Australian POWs were sent to Thailand from Singapore and Java to help build the Burma railway.  Due to the difficult terrain, they were transported in cattle trucks, many of them sick already, in heat and cramped conditions travelling for around 5 days. Others were sent by sea to Rangoon where they worked on the track to meet those working from the opposite direction. (J Chalker). While approximately 100,000 romushas and 12,000 POWs lost their lives working on this railway, during the construction of the Pakanbaroe railway, 673 Allied POWs and 80,000 romushas lost their lives.

In September 1944, Allied forces sank three Japanese steamships carrying supplies, but unknown to them, these ships were carrying (POWs) and Javanese slave labourers
(romushas).The sinking of the Kachidoki Maru and the Rakuyo Maru meant that there were now eyewitness accounts from survivors about conditions on the Thailand-Burma railway. Just these two ships resulted in more than 7,000 men dying unnecessarily. 
Suffering severe illness, starvation and deprivation, the men were crammed into the holds of the ships with the hatches closed - 'a layer of men lying shoulder to shoulder' ( noted by Australian Private Philip Beilby) and a platform above them containing another layer of men. At 5.00am on 12 September, torpedoes from USS Sealion hit the Rakuyo Maru.

In total, 23 ships transporting POWs are thought to have been sunk by Allied forces during the conflict in the Far East, with the loss of nearly 11,000 POWs and thousands of romushas.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992610095 link to Amazon to buy the book


Day 5 - Fall of Singapore

While the war in Europe was well underway from 1939, no-one recognised the extent to which Japan was preparing for its proposed reign over the whole of South-East Asia. After all, they had invaded China in 1937, took control of Amoy in Southern China in May 1938, and by the end of that year they were just 45 kilometres from Hong Kong. By 1941 they occupied the whole of Indo-China (Tett, 2002).

February 1942 saw the invasion of Singapore. Although many people had been warned earlier to evacuate the island, few did so and were then caught up in fighting, slaughter of hospital staff and patients, and ultimately taken prisoner (see later chapters).  
By the end of the following year, the Japanese were in possession of most of South East Asia. As Churchill himself noted later, it was indeed “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”. How true!

FEPOW Chaplain Eric Cordingly kept a record of most of his time in captivity, in the early days in Changi typing the notes then later scribbling on anything he could get his hands on, including a child’s exercise book. By the later years, any form of written or drawn communication was prohibited by the Japanese so if a POW was caught by a guard, this resulted in terrible punishments (Cordingly E. 2015).

 In April 1943, he was sent from Singapore to Thailand as part of “F” Force, only to find the promises of “blankets and even gramophones” to be a distinct lie. 
Work on the Thai-Burma Railway
Instead, F Force worked on the Burma Railway. Within the first 4 months, 90% of the men were sick and by the end 45% had died. He actually spent most of the year in the Kanchanaburi area, close to the railway, and when the main work on the railway was finished towards the end of 1943, he stayed on at the field hospital.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992610095 link to Amazon to buy the book


Day 4 - The fall of Hong Kong

There is a lot of evidence in official documents, diaries and letters from serving men in the region, and commentators in Britain, America and Canada about the way decisions were taken to defend Hong Kong and later Singapore, the majority of this commentary being extremely critical about the whole venture. (Critchley, 1991) (Morris, 1987).

For example, Sir John Hammerton was mentioned in an article (War Illustrated published in WWII) as saying about the possibility of an attack by the Japanese “Presuming that they delivered their onslaught by land, sea and air together, their forces would encounter the determined resistance of a great fortress, a navy of strength at which we can only guess….an army which has recently been reinforced…and an Air Force much more than a match for Japan’s”. Not quite a true picture of the potential threat.

The article by Jan Morris about the Canadian action in Hong Kong is scathing about decisions made by those in charge – British and Canadian military and political personnel alike – and makes depressing reading into how so many soldiers were killed or taken prisoner unnecessarily (Morris, 1987). 1,975 inexperienced recruits who had never fought in battle were sent from Canada to a tropical, rough terrain they were ill prepared for in October 1941. Within 3 weeks they were in the midst of ferocious battle with little ‘coherent strategy’ to their defence action. By Christmas 1941 the battle was lost and Hong Kong was surrendered. 

Nearly a quarter of the Canadian soldiers were lost even as they surrendered, and the rest taken prisoner. Overall, “4,400 men were killed, wounded or missing, but more than 11,000 survived” and were taken prisoner (Morris, 1987).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992610095 link to Amazon to buy the book

Day 3 - Introduction to the book 

This book aims to present the stories of FEPOWs and their loved ones, those that were waiting at home to hear news of what was happening in the Far East during the war, as well as those that lived with them in the years after they were released.  Support was negligible, assuming they actually recognised that they needed help and were willing to ask for it. For families, there was no support at all. This book
includes reflections from many people over the years, and it is clear that everyone was left to find their own way through these traumatic times.
It is also interesting to note the later discussion about more recent events where civilians or military personnel are held captive, often as hostages for very long periods of time, and how little has changed in the way governments react and families are left to handle the situation.
“We are starving, not melodramatically, but slowly” wrote Eric Cordingly in his diary. “The grim thought comes into one’s mind that many of these crosses cover the mortal remains of men reported safe after battle. Men who need not have died but for the facts and conditions of our captivity.” 

(Cordingly L. , 2015)


Excerpts from article

 Day 2

Many of the prisoners were sent on to Canada to recuperate before coming back to Britain, generally because their health was so poor. A naturally tall, well-built man, my father only weighed 5 stone when he returned. His medical notes said he had dysentery, beriberi and a host of other diseases, as well as broken teeth from a Japanese rifle butt. When he finally came home, his Mum ran up and down the train station platform looking for him, but didn't recognise him. As a mother of five sons, I cannot even imagine what these young men went through, but clearly Dad’s sense of humour helped him survive.

I was born in 1948, and just remember my father as a happy, funny man, who was quiet and unassuming. I realize now that there must have been things that were very difficult for him. When I was in primary school, we had a supply teacher who was Japanese and taught us how to say ‘good morning’ in Japanese. I was so proud of being able to repeat this at home, yet my father said nothing to make me feel bad about it. I also remember that when we had to go to hospital with my little brother, Dad fainted in the waiting area as they wheeled someone past with lots of blood on the covers.


Excerpts from article

 DAY 1

“My Father as a Far East Prisoner of War”   

My father, William Albert Halls, was taken prisoner in Singapore aged 18, and was held for three years in various prison camps. During this time, prisoners were moved around and required to work on various projects. My father worked on the infamous Burma Railway and also in the docks on ship repairs. While he refused to speak about his experiences until the last couple of years before he died, he did always chuckle when talking about the safety of the rivets in the ships’ holds!


All prisoners of war are treated poorly, but it is clear that the Japanese were particularly cruel to their prisoners. Each day, prisoners lined up and waited to see whether any of them were chosen to be beheaded, and who it might be this time – some days it was no one. They were given rancid rice to eat and nothing else, which meant they sometimes resorted to eating grass, although apparently there was a rumour that a dog in the camp suddenly disappeared! Sadly, more prisoners died in captivity in Japan than in any other prisoner of war camp in Europe.


When he was finally rescued, there were 50 men left from an original total of 500. But again, he chuckled when he recollected how many food parcels were dropped before troops came in to liberate the camp, with the expectation that there would be more men. Even though they had not eaten proper food for so long, my father and his fellow prisoners did their best to eat as much as they could manage, knowing they would just be sick.

Excerpt from: DISCOVER YOUR HISTORY • JULY 2014 • ISSUE 55 • www.discoveryourhistory.net

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992610095 link to Amazon to buy the book




3rd August 2019 Cardigan County Show, between Cardigan and Fishguard

We have a stand there including our books for sale, so pop in if you can and say hello - it was a good day so thank you to everyone who popped by


Latest visit report submitted to Silver Travel Advisor following my overnight stay at Gladstone's Library in North Wales - a lovely, relaxing stay and definitely recommended if you want to write, read, or just chill!

Gladstone’s Library, Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire, CH5 3DF www.gladstoneslibrary.org

Just a few minutes’ walk from the tiny train station in village of Hawarden (pronounce it without the middle “ar” as in Hawden otherwise the locals think it is funny!), between Wrexham and Chester, is the impressive red-brick building holding Gladstone’ library.

It is impressive not just because of the books by or about Gladstone and his family, but also the splendid frontage as you enter through the squealing, ironwork gate to reach Reception. Anyone can visit, and there are short guided walks to introduce you to the collections, referred to as a Glimpse of the Reading Rooms, three times a day.

There is tea and cake available too until 5.00pm - delicious fruit scones, even better warmed with butter and jam. The real treat is the accommodation for guests, including dinner and breakfast, plus special access to the Reading Rooms “after hours” until 10.00pm. It is fairly basic, but clean and comfy with no TV in rooms or tea and coffee facilities, although there are soft drinks freely available in the lounge downstairs.

On this visit in late January, with biting cold winds raging outside, it was a pleasure to sit and relax in the guest lounge with lots of deep, inviting sofas and a real fire blazing in the marble and wood surround fireplace. There are jigsaws and games, plus a library of modern titles to help you unwind and relax.

Dinner is from 6.30pm (until around 7.30pm while I was here as there were few residents to cater for), freshly cooked with good choice of dishes including a vegetarian option. Wine is also available by the glass at dinner, at around £4.50 a glass, so a good option. Breakfast includes a good selection of cereals, fruit, porridge, croissants and toast plus juice and coffee/tea. Hot food is available to order at a nominal extra £2 – thee was plenty to eat without the hot option.

The library is a wonderful area on two floors, narrow winding stairs up to open area above, all wooden shelves, tables and chairs to sit and relax. This is an impressive collection – Gladstone’s private collection – including histories, letters and essays on the Gladstone family, political essays and studies of his life – for example, T.A.Jenkins’ study of “Gladstone, Whiggery and the Liberal Party 1874-1886”.

The collection is a recognized source of information related to politics and the Irish Question which is associated with Gladstone, a substantial source of information for scholars of Islam and religious studies, plus Theology and the Arts – all of specific interest to Gladstone.

A large proportion of visitors are from America, with regular voluntary placements of one month as a Pastor, with of course access to the library. It is a special place that has a relaxing, unassuming atmosphere perfectly suited to study and contemplation, but with good company, food and accommodation thrown in. When I am on a deadline for one of my books, I will choose here as a way to really keep focussed!

Details from the Library

  • The collection has more than 150,000 printed items
  • Gladstone wanted to ‘bring together books who had no readers and readers who had no books’
  • The library welcomes visitors from across the globe, with specific intention of building a network of writers and thinkers to consider social, moral and spiritual questions
  • Open 50 weeks of the year; 26 bedrooms; coffee shop/restaurant ‘Food for Thought’
  • Visit their website for information on events held throughout the year www.gladstoneslibrary.org or email amy.sumner@gladlib.org


 Gladstone library.jpg


Latest news is that we are acting as Development Editor for book on history of Carmichael Fire & Bulk based in Worcester UK, but now sadly come to an end. They built some fantastic machines over the years, and were renowned for the quality of their build worldwide, and I know there are many fans around the world with some brilliant data to collate!



VJ DAY 15th August 2018 - A Blog a Day


Excerpts from article/book "Before Hiroshima: Forgotten Prisoners of War in Japan, Burma & the Far East"




























https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992610095 link to Amazon to buy the book






Blog - Managing Risks Post-Brexit

In an uncertain world of global change, we still need to run our business and manage risks. Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations in Europe, the principles of Risk Management remain the same.

For the UK, membership of the European Union brought with it a desire to bring all member states into closer alignment on employment and worker protection, social issues, taxation and other fiscal measures. However, there are significant differences in the business environment we all operate in and, of course, different regulatory requirements around the world.

This is still the case with or without Brexit, the withdrawal of UK from membership of the European Union trading block, and whether trading inside or outside the EU. With ongoing development of new trading partners worldwide, it is now even more critical to take a positive step in managing risks whatever the national regulations require.

10 Ps of Managing Risk Post Brexit. 10 Basic Principles provides comprehensive guidance to those with responsibility for corporate governance at Board level, management staff responsible for establishing and monitoring procedures to support strategic objectives of the business, plus others who provide advice and guidance to the business community.

External factors are a potential risk for any size organization as they are outside your control and not always easy to anticipate. While the focus here is on internal risks, it also highlights where external factors need to be considered.

The ten elements of operation that represent the main risk areas are:

  1. Premises location, premises, amenities, distribution routes, access for customers
  2. Product  industry sector, product features, life cycle, trends, materials, green issues, quality
  3. Purchasing  supplies, storage/ warehouse facilities, stock control, payment terms, cost
  4. People  workers’ skills, training needs, motivation and commitment, incentive packages available, employment contracts
  5. Procedures  production procedures, record keeping, reporting systems, monitoring and review, use of standards, emergency procedures
  6. Protection  personal protection of workers and others, property and vehicle security, insurance cover, information systems, data security
  7. Processes production processes, waste, scrap disposal, skills, technology, new materials
  8. Performance  targets set, monitoring, measurement tools, consistency, validity of data
  9. Planning  access to relevant data, management skills, external factors, short and long term planning, investment options
  10. Policy  policies that support strategic plans of the firm.


Each element interacts with, and impacts on, others.

The 10 Ps approach considers each of these 10 areas of business management for risk factors and controls in place, providing prompts and tools for assessing risks and prioritizing subsequent risk reduction activities. These risk factors include:

  • employment
  • legislation
  • security
  • competition
  • finance

Clearly a wholly theoretical approach is of limited value when businesses do not operate in such a nice neat way. But, it is vital that all risks are considered strategically at the most senior level, not just financial risks.

Although these 10 principles cover the main elements comprehensively, it is hardly a nice easy number to remember. They are, therefore, broken down into 4 distinct groups of

  1. Physical properties  Premises. Product. Purchasing supplies
  2. People elements  People. Procedures they follow. Protection
  3. Actions  Processes. Performance against targets. 
  4. Management issues  Policy and Strategy. Planning and organizing

These all overlap or interact with each other constantly, so cannot be separated out too far. However, they do provide a structure from which to identify and evaluate risks to the business, and to initiate and monitor controls to reduce these risks.

While many text books focus on the Policy of the firm as a starting point, businesses tend to start from the concrete and move on to strategic issues in a more untidy, organic way. Wherever you choose to start with the 10 Ps, you will inevitably move backwards and forwards to the Policy and Planning elements, especially if a smaller firm.

As all OH&S legislation in EU depends on a risk assessment approach to managing and controlling risk, there is a lot of guidance available on what this involves. While this book is not exclusively concerned with health and safety risks, where there is a legal requirement to carry out such assessment, it is prudent to start from this point.

The principles of Risk Assessment:

  1. Identify hazardous conditions, properties, processes that could cause harm, injury or damage
  2. Consider what this harm, injury or damage might be, who could be affected, and how serious the result of exposure might be
  3. Evaluate the likelihood that such harm, injury or damage will occur, identifying any control measures that exist,
  4. Make judgments about adequacy of controls in place, identify gaps in provision, prioritize actions needed to correct the situation
  5. Monitor and evaluate over time, and when circumstances, materials, or processes change.

A site plan gives visual reminders about areas of activity sometimes forgotten. It is useful for highlighting movement of people and goods through the firm, plus potential for conflicting priorities of use. Assumptions about any existing controls should be questioned to confirm that

a)      they still exist as they were originally intended to and

b)      they are still appropriate for the changing risk factors facing firms today.

The 10 Ps approach brings together the most common elements in a way that recognizes the importance of all risk factors to the successful operation of the firm, and cuts across management functional boundaries. There is no single right way to manage the myriad of risks facing business today and other tools might include use of industry Standards, Benchmarking or Management System Standards. The emphasis is on tackling all potential risks to the business equally in the first instance, to overcome problems associated with financial risks taking precedence over operational-level factors. 

The 10 Ps approach encompasses all elements to demonstrate full compliance with any formal code, involves the holistic evaluation of risk factors, and positive management action to protect the interests of all parties against potential loss. 

4 Case Studies are included in the book:

  • Case Study 1: Health services
  • Case Study 2: Call Centres (Centers)
  • Case Study 3: Food production and/or Processing
  • Case Study 4: Engineering

[Checklists and charts can be downloaded from current book titles page].


Blog - Being your own Publisher

Fed up with hassles and restrictions when dealing with a publisher for your books? Me too, so I decided to do it myself. Five years ago, I would not have considered it – too difficult to reach group buyers, too much marketing effort needed – but now, your side of the bargain seems to be expanding while theirs shrinks and you are expected to do all this anyway.
Forget the “vanity publishing” tag – this is about becoming a professional publisher as well as an author. I am referring to non-fiction in this instance, as I do not write fiction, but many of the principles will still apply. There are three important elements to consider:
- ISBN – there is no point considering publishing unless there is an ISBN number. Most book shops will not stock without an ISBN and you need one to sell via sites such as Amazon. You usually buy them in a block of 10 for around £150, or you can now buy a single number, and register your details with Nielsen ISBN Agency for UK and Ireland. It is a simple process and they have lots of guidance online to help – see www.isbn.agency@nielsen.com . Once you register a title against a number, they include details on their own list that goes out to bookshops who can order online via Nielsen who pass the order on to you. You still have other numbers available, of course, so you can publish more titles in the future.

- Printing – the first book I published ‘Peg loom Weaving: all you need to know to get started’ ISBN 978-0-9926100-0-5 was A5/ full colour/ 145 pages/ illustrations on front cover and around half the pages in the book. As a practical crafts guide, I specifically wanted spiral bound so that readers can open it flat, though bear in mind libraries do not like spiral bound as you cannot see the title when lined up on shelves unless you include an outer ‘flap’ across the spine. My local printer was happy to take on the job as long as it was pdf-ready to print. Once set up on their system, they can print off small quantities as and when I need them, for example 20 at a time.  

- Other formats: so my printer recommended Cambrian Printers in Aberystwyth. They have a choice between digital or traditional printing methods. The digital print is from pdf-ready file and can be in any small quantities you need at a time. If you need a bigger print run of 1000 or more, they will shift to traditional printing to keep the prices lower. Digital print is around £5-£10 a copy depending on page size and number of colour illustrations.

- Practicalities – basic bits of information that have to be included in every book include the inner title page plus author name/ date first published. It also includes publisher’s name and contact details/ printer’s name and contact details/ standard statement about ‘all rights reserved’ etc ( provided by Nielsen)/ and a note that the book can be ordered direct from publisher. Once you have a printed copy, you have a legal obligation to send it to the Legal Deposit Office of The British Library within one month of publication. Also register the titles with Public Lending Right scheme www.plr.uk.com for any payments due from libraries if book is borrowed, and ALCS the Author’s Licensing & Collecting Society Ltd www.alcs.co.uk who collect payments made when photocopies of your books are made – I still get money from them each year for my Health & Safety books published 15 years ago!  

Remember to have several copies to send out to relevant reviewers – if you get positive feedback, there should be the option to add a few sentences to the back cover as the digital format makes it easy to amend. List the title and details on Amazon. They add their own p&p amount for the total price charged to the customer, then they take off their own fee before passing the payment on to you. It is usually a bit less than the full selling price, but it involves little effort other than posting books out to customers. Website and social media pages are important, under your own and the publishing name.

E-books – sites such as Amazon have a facility where you can set up the book as an E-Book – Kindle Publishing guides you through the process, or you can pay someone to set your text out for you. The structure is a bit different from how you might produce your version for print, and it is easy enough to do but can be very time-consuming.
The only other issue now is the volume of sales and how you keep the income as publisher (total sales received) separate from income as author (% of total sales received). It depends how many millions you make I suppose.

 “Non-fiction - Make the most of your life experiences”

Blog - What is the attraction of non-fiction over fiction writing?

Courses on Creative Writing encourage you to use real experiences, observations of people and events, to introduce into a fictional piece of writing so creating realistic characters and a believable plot structure. However, if your main skills relate to:

-          passing on information in an easy-to-understand way

-          encouraging others to have a go at a subject they are perhaps new to

-          avoiding the use of jargon where possible and getting straight to the point.

then non-fiction is a natural route to follow.

How do you choose a non-fiction topic?

Think about all the books, magazines or articles you have read where you have thought “well I could have written this/ explained it better than this” – what sort of topics were they on?

  • ·         Work related - what jobs have you done? Are you considered to be an expert, provide training to others, or the one they come to for advice?
  • ·         Leisure activities - such as exercise, dancing, learning a new sport whether in classes or by yourself. Planning to run a half-marathon or do a long-distance trek for charity? Hobbies such as crafts, textiles, baking, fishing, gardening or even wine tasting are interesting topics
  • ·         The arts - this could be the work of national and international artists, whether they are well known or a bit obscure, or contemporary artists. Study of a specific historical period, such as World War II or Welsh emigration to Patagonia, can have a wide audience.
  • ·         Theatre and entertainment – reviews of small-scale local productions or West End shows in London, live broadcasts of international exhibitions, regional theatres and museums offer a lot of scope for short articles or blogs
  • ·         Travel experiences - as a solo/couple/mature/family traveller at home or abroad, especially holiday packages, accommodation, and the journey itself.

All of these can form the basis of books and articles to be published.

Practical exercise to explore some of your ideas:

1.       Identify one topic you have experience of for EACH of the following

Work related/ leisure activity/ the arts/ theatre/ travel

2.       For each, make a note of what the experience is, what has interested you personally about it, and basically what you could say about it.

3.       Summarise the main sections or chapters you could break it down into for each topic.

4.       Using one of these ideas, produce a “mind map” to add details about who it could be aimed at/ what is the focus of the piece/ where would readers be likely to see it published?

5.       Change the focus to potentially appeal to 3 more target groups and ask the same questions for each.

Researching the topic

 There would be little to make it personal to you as the author if you rely only on accessing existing sources. With non-fiction, you are still giving something of yourself to every piece of writing, even more than in fiction. Basically, you have to get out there and do something in order to give a true picture of this topic for your reader. You both need to identify with it in some way.

For example, my publications on health and safety came about from my work representing small firms, a PhD based on this work, and therefore credibility when I approached a publisher about a simple guide. Now 15 years since publication of “Managing Risks: 10 Principles”, the revised version in 2017 applies to firms outside the UK and EU regions – “10 Ps of Managing Risks Post-Brexit: 10 Basic Principles”. The critical factor is that whatever the outcome of talks on Brexit, firms still need to manage risks wherever they are based.

Aims and Objectives

As with any writing, you need to have some form of plan in mind. Ask yourself:

-          What is it that is so interesting about this topic?

-          What is already out there and what will you be adding that is different?

-          Who will want to read it and why?

-          Overall, what is the purpose of the piece – to inform/ encourage/ entertain?

-          At the end of the piece, what do you want the reader to think or feel or do?

Structuring the piece

You will all know how important the introduction is for the reader – but this also helps in non-fiction when you finally sum up everything for the conclusions.

The topics covered in each chapter or section depend on the subject and length of the piece, but broadly you need to make sure it moves easily through each section with a clear logic. Unlike fiction, the cliff-hanger ending to each section is not a requirement but there does need to be something that makes the reader carry on!

Develop an outline plan for the structure of this piece as a book rather than an article.

Options for getting work published

Many more options for non-fiction than fiction.

  • ·         the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook has always been the starting point for finding a publisher- go through with highlighter to find the ones who publish your topic/ look closely at what their website guidelines state/ choose 5-10 possible publishers to approach to start with
  • ·         Specialist book publisher/ Specialist magazine or journal
  • ·         Online magazines/ Join a Forum or Review section of a relevant online magazine
  • ·         Letters to the Editor/ short pieces in weekly magazines/ in-store free magazines
  • ·         Self-publish as an E-book
  • ·         Self-publish and print locally especially if a short-run book
  • ·         Publish as your own Blog or on your own website as an article

Another question is whether you should consider having an agent, perhaps not such a vital consideration as for fiction.

Researching markets

There are many publication routes now, including on-line, so you do have to do some detective work. Once you have a specific topic in mind, this makes it easier – where do people interested in this subject go for information, advice, or simply to know what is current.


Non-fiction is a great starting point if you are new to writing for publication, or want to pass on information to others. Whether writing for a select few personal friends and family, or for a wider audience, the same approach is needed to make sure it reaches the audience in the way you want it to.

Being awarded Writer of the Year 2015 has been a further step in establishing credibility as a non-fiction author, and taking the step to become Pen Coed Publishing has opened further channels. Basically, the older you are, the more experiences you have to draw on – just use them!


Blog 1: Swanwick Writer’s Summer School 2017

This is the perfect place to help you focus on your own writing, whatever your preferred genre, hear what others are doing and maybe find a new approach you never thought of before. Mainly a “mature” bunch of participants, but there are also extra subsidized places for young people who show promise and, of course, a mix of those in their 30s and 40s.

I overheard it referred to as their “annual retreat”, a bit of “me” time with no distractions except maybe the bar and the evening entertainment. But, make no mistake, this is serious business! Everyone learns something from other participants as well as in the organized sessions.

These are either 2-session short courses or 4-session specialist courses covering a wide range of topics from fiction for children, poetry, comedy and script-writing, and even forensics or writing intimate scenes. Something for everyone, clearly.

Following positive reviews from my 2-session course last year, my 4-session specialist course this year was a more in-depth look at writing non-fiction. It was a great group of people with a fascinating mix of topics, either as magazine articles or full-length books. It ranged from writing a biography or nostalgia, self-help and development, how to write at 50+, family or food articles, to explaining concepts of Economics or riding a Harley Davidson around Saudi Arabia. Wow! We finished with discussions about who to target as potential readers, how to get published, and a plan of action to take forward.

It is a lovely venue with plenty of food (buffet-style), a bar open twice a day, tea and coffee available all day plus cakes and biscuits at break time. So, everyone comes away with lots of ideas, new friends, encouragement and plans to get published before next year’s Summer School. Oh yes, and probably carrying a few extra pounds from all that food. Swanwick is 70 years old next year 2018. So am I. Cause for celebration I think – next year I may talk about travel writing…





About the Author

About Dr Jacqueline Jeynes B.Ed(Hons), BA(Hons) Creative Arts, MBA, PhD

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