Heading Off To War

Extract from the novel read by Major Mark Luson.

When war was declared the Hanham boys answered the call and were soon leaving Eva and Amesbury Avenue to start their training and prepare for the war being fought across the Channel. No doubt they would have been excited but spare a thought for Eva, she had to watch her three sons head off to a war and place where she could not protect them.

letter, August 1911

A touching letter from Stuart to Basil, August 1911. So much can be learned from correspondence and their love for one another is clear to see. Imagine then, if you can, what it must be like to go to war with your siblings; to not only worry about yourself and your men but your loved ones fighting close by..

Read by Major Mark Luson.

Kathleen Comes Home

Before and during the First World War Kathleen was an actress performing in a variety of plays and revues, a family orientated woman at heart though she moved back home with her mother when her three brothers shipped off to war. How will this marvellous woman deal with all that will befall the Hanham family during four long years of war whilst dealing with her own complicated life?

Read by Major Mark Luson.

THE boys are off to war

As their training came to an end the Hanham boys and their comrades in The Kensington Battalion left the sanctuary of Abbots Langley and headed toward the coast and their rendezvous with war. Try, if you can, to imagine what they would have been feeling in November of 1914 when they head off into the unknown. Excitement at the coming adventure no doubt, but also fearful of a war that had already proved costlier and more devastating than expected…

S.S. Matheran takes the boys to war…

Converted into a troop ship at the outbreak of war the S.S Matheran was the ship that ferried the Hanham boys thousands of troops across the channel to the war on the western front. She finally met her end on 26th January 1917 when torpedoed by a German warship off the South African coast whilst on a supply run. How many young men took their first and last voyage on this great lady?

The Front Draws Near…

The Hanham boys and the Kensingtons are getting closer to the front and it all begins to feel very real. As the icy grip of winter takes hold the long summer days of excited training fade into the past.

Journey to line 

In this extract from Eric Hanham’s diary he talks about the journey toward the front. What must have been going through his young mind as he witnesses the devastation all around him? It would have been getting VERY real for the Hanham brothers as they trudged toward the trenches and the unknown...

Private H J Perry

Private Perry was the first of too many Kensington soldiers killed during the First World War. Husband to Annie, 38-year-old Henry John Perry was killed by a single shot on the 21st November 1914. He is buried and Rue-David Military Cemetery in Flanders.    

“Baptism of Fire”

On their first night in the frontline trenches the Hanham brothers and their Kensington comrades experienced their ‘Baptism of Fire’. Whilst harrowing and incredibly frightening the Hanham boys and the Kensingtons were glad to be doing the job they had trained for, it wouldn’t be long though until the novelty became stark reality. Can you imagine what it must have been like to experience such a night as a young man fresh into the fray?!

A Short History of Neuve Chapelle…

It was tremendous honour to work with my father – a military historian, battlefield guide and retired soldier himself – during the writing my novel Hanham. We have followed the route of the Hanham boys through France and Belgium twice now, both times it has been a humbling and thought-provoking experience. Here he is in Neuve Chapelle giving a short history of the battle where Hanham boys and Kensingtons fought along soldiers of Ireland and The Empire in March 1915.

Stuart at Neuve Chapelle

 In this extract from the novel read by Major Mark Luson we hear of Stuart at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The Hanham boys fought ferociously alongside their Kensington comrades during the battle and Stuart was in the thick of it throughout. Even for those of us who have seen recent wars, it is impossible to imagine what it would have been like for them back in early 1915.

A Lucky Escape...

In this video the tobacco tin that saved one of the Hanham boys, and the inspiration behind the novel Hanham, returns to Neuve Chapelle. How fortunate this young man was to receive such a stroke of luck when so many around him were not so blessed. Divine intervention or simply the right place at the right time? To think about such things for too long blows the mind!

Life on the Line

In this extract from Stuart Hanham’s diary, read by Major Mark Luson, he talks of blizzards and terrible cold that froze men to their rifles! All this while fending off a driven and capable enemy. It certainly doesn’t appeal to me, so let’s not forget men like the Hanham boys who fronted up when they were asked…

Eric The Runner

 During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 Eric was a Brigade runner. Men like him relayed messages to and from commanders in the fight back to the Brigade Headquarters as there was no radio communication on the battlefield in those days. Soldiers like Eric were crucial and in this extract from the novel read by Major Mark Luson Eric does his best to comfort a young soldier acting as a runner for the first time.


In this short video my father explains the significance of Westhoek Ridge and Polygon Wood to the Hanham story. In August 1917 one of the Hanham boys was here and what a different view he would have had… Impossible to imagine. I

Eric at Westhoek Ridge

In this extract from the novel expertly read by Major Mark Luson, Eric is fighting on Westhoek Ridge just outside of Ypres. This was the scene of bitter fighting for many months, as these words portray it would have been a horrific scene...

A short history of Aubers Ridge

In this video, military historian Allan Wood explains briefly about The Battle of Aubers Ridge in which Hanhams and their Kensington Battalion fought bravely. Allan will be speaking at the Hanham launch about the role of Territorial Units during The First World War.

Stuart at Aubers Ridge

In this extract from the novel read by Major Mark Luson, Stuart is fighting at the Battle of Aubers Ridge. After crossing the horror of a No Man’s Land he is immediately into the fray…

A Special Place

In this video I am as close as physically possible to the site where the Kensington Battalion fought during the Battle of Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915. Among these brave men were members of the Hanham family. When you read the book, you’ll understand why this is a place of profound significance to me…


In this video military historian Allan Wood explains the use of the German ‘Blockhouses’ which were built all along the Western Front during WW1. They proved to be formidable obstacles but, as Allan explains, they were not used in the way one might expect…