Christmas Message from James

After I’ve had a few days of down time over christmas – which for me constitutes divorcing myself from the laptop for a few days! – I have had a chance to sit back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

This time last year I had just started work on my first book, ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’. The contract was inked in January, and after a mammoth effort the book was handed into the publishers in June. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about the writing process, the publishing industry and much more besides! In particular, in future I would give myself much more time, and in particular, I would try not to move house three days before the hand-in date!

After a bit of a rest – including a nice trip to the Dartmoor Folk Festival, and settling in to my new quarters in Chichester, I have started work on my project looking at Portsmouth’s fallen heroes from the Great War. Research is still ongoing, and I am still considering how best to present this research, but I do very much have my eyes on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014, or the 100th anniversary of the Somme in 2016.

The most popular topics on my blog this year have been ‘The Sinking of the Laconia‘, a BBC docu-drama in January, and the visit of the US Aircraft Carrier George H.W. Bush to the Solent in May. Anything to do with the Falklands seems to go down pretty well. Sadly I haven’t been able to post as much as I would like, due to work commitments, lack of internet at times of the year, etc, I am still pretty pleased with the hit rate I am getting. But I won’t pre-empt my review of the year, which rightly belongs on new years eve.

When I think back to the time that I started this blog, it’s almost like it was a different person who started it. I literally began blogging through boredom, and thought that if I was going to spend my mid-twenties singledom reading military books and visiting museums, I had might as well do something constructive with it. Now, over two years later, my first book is due out in a little more than a month, I’ve written text for display at the Spinnaker Tower, and certainly by no means least, I have moved in with my Girlfriend Sarah. I don’t mind admitting that when I started my blog in the summer of 2009 I was still recovering from a period of suffering from some pretty severe depression. Realising that what I have to say interests people has motivated me more than anyone could ever know, and its certainly helped me move on and up in life. I just want anyone reading this to know, that if you really want to achieve something, you can if you work hard enough. It doesn’t matter what illness you may suffer from, or what school you went to, or where you grew up. True, that might mean that you might have to work harder, but in the process you will have earnt it so much more.

I would like to thank you all for your support, participation and kindness throughout the past twelve months. You all really help make it happen. I am always very interested to hear comments, feedback, ideas or the like. We live in a very uncertain and very unpredictable world, and it has never been more important for us to champion the understanding of the past, and in particular study and understanding of military history.

From my Girlfriend Sarah and I, a very happy Christmas to you all.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Christmas Message from James

  1. x

    Seasons greetings to you both.

    As somebody who fell out of love with studying history at degree level I find the site something of a minor revelation. At uni’ there were radical politicised teenagers doing politics, sporty teenagers doing physiology, etc. but I don’t think there was one teenager actually enthusiastically interested in history.

    Your are really “doing history” both as a job and as a hobby; though hobby seems to be a bit of understatement and infers a dash of amateurism which is not appropriate to the undertaking. (Saying that we British do tend to flourish as amateurs and fail as professionals………)

    So BZ!

  2. John Erickson

    Oddly enough, my other early blog discovery (over here) was a gent working off the shackles of depression after being crippled by a botched back surgery. (Funny how we gravitate together, ain’t it? :D )
    I can only echo X’s comments, congratulate you on some excellent work,. and urge you onward to greater success, not the least of which will be to become an honourable gentleman and marry that girlfriend of yours! ;)
    Looking forward to more great discussions and fascinating facts in the New Year. Congratulations, well done, and thank you!

    • James Daly

      In both the Army and the RN it is possible for soldiers and sailors to transfer to the AAC or FAA on secondment, do some time with aviation, and then go back into the ‘mainstream’ as their career progresses. I am reading a book on an AAC squadron at the moment, and at one point roughly half of the pilots were officers from Infantry, Artillery etc who felt like doing a stint as a pilot. In a similar sense, it is good that in the RN submariners and aviators can command surface vessels – keeps the skills base broad. An AAC pilot who has commanded a platoon on the ground is going to know more about what an infantryman wants from a helo, and an ex-submariner Lt-Cdr is surely going to be better at ASW?

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