If you’ve been following our latest literary project, you know how passionate we are about books of all shapes and sizes, themes and genres. Calling us book worms would be an understatement! This year’s highlights include our Hotel Manager Katrin, who is on the judging panel of this year’s Berlin Writing Prize, and this time, it’s our Hostel Manager Jim’s time to take over the spotlight!

Andrew, much better known as Jim, has a unique passion for history. And not just any history. His latest project has seen him track down his grandfather’s movement during World War II – we are talking about a man who served with the 52nd Lowland Division. Mountain Trained, they were the only specialist mountain winter warfare troops of the British Army. Their first action took place in Holland, where they marched in attack at Vlissingen, a town that is actually below sea level!

In fact the highest they ever got during the campaign was a height of 100m above sea level. as they fought their way through northern Europe during the Second World War! And then write a book about it!

His main motive was to retrace the steps of Sergeant Norman Penders, his grandfather, who fought along his comrades of the 5th Battalion of the King’s Owns Scottish Borderers. Here’s the man himself, in a portret taken in 1940, when the war was heating up. However, it took four years before he actually marched into the warzone and the battlefield in 1944.

Sergeant Norman Penders (Jim’s Grandad), June 1940

The journey has been a mixture of root tracing, history learning and reliving past adventures of World War II fighters. We asked Jim about the usual things you ask someone who spent years creating something like this. We were curious to hear about what inspired him to take on this epic journey into the unknown and relive the faith of his ancestors. Here’s what he said…

  1. What inspired you to write the book, is there a special reason you set off on this adventure?

If I am brutally honest, I wrote the book for one reason. Not fame and certainly not fortune but I wanted to go on holiday without the wife and kids. Of course I love them to bits and our family holidays are simply super but there is still an old wanderlust in me. As a younger fellow I have lucky enough to have travelled quite extensively but as you get older circumstances somehow clip the wings.

  1. And what did you find on this historic journey?

Of course I was always interested in where my Granddad had been in the war. I was totally shocked at how much action he was in. He let on a bit and told a few stories but the amount of times in  the 8 months while he was posted in abroad that people tried to kill him (and his comrades) was a considerable.

  1. Is the book written in the form of a memoir or more as a history book?

The book is however not a history book as they have already been written by people that are far more talented than I. It is what I found when I went on this journey with a couple of jokes thrown in.

The book is now available for purchase online, get your copy here!

With Jim’s great-grandmother Martha (June 1940)