To enter Algeria, Africa’s largest nation state, visitors must either have an extraordinary handle on paperwork and a ready supply of cash, or one of the largest invasion fleets ever assembled. Ian manages to succeed in entering the country using the first of these methods. When his great uncle reached the North African coast in November 1942 under very different circumstances, he was following in the wake of the second.
In December 1940, aged 30, and like most men of his generation, Ian’s great uncle was conscripted into the British Army. And like so many of those men, he didn’t speak of the five years he was away from his family and life as a coach fitter in the quiet of the Surrey hills as he played his small part in the crucible that was the Second World War.
He did, however, leave an album of postcards he had collected, and photographs he had taken with a simple Box Brownie camera. They depict the people, places, and vital railway supply lines he helped to refurbish as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, first in North Africa and then in Nazi-occupied Italy. It acted as the starting point for Ian’s most inspirational journey to date, an epic five month, 1,000 mile, journey that transects history, travelogue, and reportage.
As he hits the age of 30 for himself, Ian heads behind the lines of World War Two in order to follow in the footsteps and rail tracks of his great uncle. Crossing through the political hotspots of Algeria and Tunisia in North Africa, and up much of the length of the Italian peninsula, he not only uncovers the story of his great uncle, but also the story of the thousands of men like him who are no longer here to tell their own astonishing tales.
A journey seven decades in the making, Into adventure and sunshine offers a unique window into some of the Mediterranean’s least – and most – visited destinations. It is an ‘everyman’ story that is not just the tale of one man’s relative, but that of all the men of the forgotten armies who fought behind the lines during this troubled period in our collective history.
Signed first edition copy of Into adventure and sunshine
The most basic reward is a signed first edition copy of Into adventure and sunshine. As an extra thank you, your name (or a name you nominate) will be included on the frontispiece - the page which faces the title page at the front of a book.
Double up on Ian's works with a signed first edition copy of Into adventure in sunshine (with your name included on the frontispiece) AND a signed copy of the latest paperback edition of Encircle Africa: Around Africa by Public Transport (released summer 2019).
Quite simply, 2 signed copies of the first edition paperback of Into adventure and sunshine, with the inclusion of both names as supporters on the frontispiece.
Into adventure and sunshine bundle
A signed first edition paperback of Into adventure and sunshine, with the inclusion of your name as a supporter on the frontispiece, plus, a signed limited edition (there's a run of just 50 worldwide) of the large format hardback Photographs from the Mediterranean Theatre, the complete published collection of then-and-now images from the adventure.
Hear about the journey behind Into adventure and sunshine or another of Ian’s adventures during a talk to a school, reading, or travel group. Talks last around an hour, and have been given to a wide range of enthusiastic audiences, including at the Royal Geographical Society’s London headquarters. This reward includes travel within the M25 (with travel further afield to be agreed separately). Check out a sample of Ian's speaking below:
Reading group bundle
Get 10 signed first edition paperbacks of Into adventure and sunshine, with the inclusion of each name as a supporter on the frontispiece, and save 10% on the retail price too.
Author’s third draft manuscript
The original third draft manuscript, signed by Ian, showing the continued evolution of the narrative with handwritten alterations and additions throughout. Worked on in June 2018 and 177 pages in length. Plus, a signed first edition paperback, with the inclusion of your name as a supporter on the frontispiece.
Author’s second draft manuscript
The original second draft manuscript of Into adventure and sunshine, signed by Ian, and with handwritten alterations and additions throughout, worked on in May 2018 and 177 pages in length. Plus a signed first edition paperback, with the inclusion of your name as a supporter on the frontispiece.
Author’s first draft manuscript
The original first draft of Into adventure and sunshine written in January 2018, signed by Ian, and incorporating large quantities of handwritten alterations and additions throughout its 138 pages. You’ll also receive a signed first edition paperback, with the inclusion of your name as a supporter on the frontispiece.
Original cover artwork
The framed original cover artwork (approx. 21 x 30 cm / 8 x 12 inches), signed and certified on the back, plus a signed first edition paperback, with the inclusion of your name as a supporter on the frontispiece.
It is a grey, overcast morning, and the trains are running late. Four years ago I left Africa with the words ‘what now? What’s next?’ running through my head as a thirteen-month-long adventure on the continent came to an end without any real thought to my future. As much to my own surprise as anyone else’s, I find myself heading back among the souks and whitewashed medinas of the north, where the waters of the Mediterranean lap almost silently against the straight, cove-less beaches of its southern shores under the gentle and near-constant rumble of motor traffic in the warm autumn air.
As I learnt to my enormous regret that first time around, to enter Algeria, Africa’s largest nation state, visitors must either have an extraordinary handle on paperwork and a ready supply of cash, or one of the largest invasion fleets ever assembled. Though I failed in my attempts at entry the last time around, this time I manage to succeed in entering the country, using the first of these methods. When my great uncle reached the North African coast in November 1942 under very different circumstances, he was following in the wake of the second. A full 18 months before the D-Day landings on Normandy’s beaches, British and American troops together took part in an earlier all-or-nothing yet largely forgotten invasion of occupied French soil.
Albert Henry Cooke grew up during changing times, and in a different era; one when boys were still regularly christened Albert and known to all as Bert. It was just nine years after the death of Queen Victoria. The British Empire was approaching its zenith, with sway over a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of its landmasses coloured pink. Yet it was a time when historic allegiances were shifting too. The ink on the signatures which brought about the entente cordiale, ending – officially at least – almost a thousand years of belligerence between England and France, was barely dry. Motor vehicles of any sort were still a rarity on the country’s unmetalled roads, while the only faces Bert saw outside of a book or newspaper were those of white native Englishmen not unlike himself. The first commercial airline flight wouldn’t occur for another four years, while the idea of television as we know it wasn’t even a pipe-dream. Born in 1910 amid the leafy hills of Surrey during the genteel years of the Edwardian period, had it not been to do his duty for the country he would probably never have left them.
His early childhood was overshadowed by the First World War, then known as ‘the war to end all wars’, in much the same way his prime years were to be eclipsed by the world’s second global conflict. Too young to truly understand either the significance or horror of the Great War, had he any perception of the goings on in Belgium and France it was with the glee children take from playing with lead soldiers, wiping out whole regiments with the sweep of a hand, and through the upswell of pride that tends to develop during times of national crisis.
Just as Bert was reaching adulthood, four years after he finished secondary school and undertook an apprenticeship in carpentry, the world shook again, this time as the Great Depression took hold. Childhood nonchalance turned into the anxiety of majority as he sought to make his own way in the world. Careful with money and savings though they were, no one in Bert’s family could have held out for long without a regular source of income.
The world’s major economies recovered to endure one further shock: the rise of European fascism in general, and the militaristic tendencies of the growing Nazi empire overseen by Hitler, a man who had come to power in the aftermath of the First World War and the economic tragedies that followed, in particular. No one wanted a second German war. Very few even predicted its occurrence until it was too late. When the worse happened, nothing would be the same for Bert again.
Neville Chamberlain’s words were significant. “I have to tell you now” the Prime Minister said, “this country is at war with Germany. I know that you will all play your part with calmness and courage”. It was followed by a recording of the national anthem and a long peel of church bells, a sound not to be heard again until the successful emergency evacuation of British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk seven months later.
Cutting across the south of Spain by air, Africa looks almost fantastical, like it is in reality a scale model created for a Hollywood blockbuster set on Mars. Even from 30,000 feet it stretches on almost indefinitely, all the way to Cape Agulhas at the southern tip of the continent 8,000 miles away, apparently flat and barren. As we approach the largest country in Africa it opens up before me, itself impossibly large. The sea is the colour and consistency of Prussian blue enamel, the air hazy. The line traced by the coast sets an almost ruler-straight contrast against the Mediterranean’s bright waters, the land clearly dry while speckled with the dark green pointillist marks of drought-tolerating temperate shrubs sitting out the harsh summer conditions until the rain of winter comes. The bed of a dried-up lake becomes a giant sandpit. Whole towns lie spread-eagled smaller than a fingernail, looking lost and unproductive against the khaki palette of the surrounding terrain. And when Algiers finally comes into view, I’m struck most of all by its ordinariness, that despite its history and the reasons for travelling here it is just another jumbled and difficult-to-decipher capital city reached by just another uninspiring airport; already the third of my journey.
Seats of government give little away about the true nature of a country, but a lot about the greediness of its taxi drivers. Its people tend to be busy, uninteresting and uninterested, too used to confused travellers to feel they should help. Traffic is routinely chaotic, and public transport baffling to anyone who isn’t an initiate.
Despite the ease of my arrival and the modern ability to be anywhere on earth in 24 hours I hate air travel. It’s not a fear but a lack of enthusiasm for hours spent waiting: for security, boarding, arrival, immigration, baggage and customs. There is more waiting as I try to convince the only bureau de change to open for me so I don’t risk being stuck here eternally, waiting. The journey sees me surrounded by other travellers, bored, excited, some portraying their nervousness in endless chatter. I peruse the bookshops to break up the ceaseless waits (‘They’ve got Game of Thrones’, ‘What? In a book?’), and sit as in a doctor’s surgery as the minutes slowly tick by, trying to look worldly-wise rather than anxious, an emotion that doesn’t come from waiting for a train. All the fears I had lost after 13 months of hard travel in Africa have come back to me in the intervening years. I have fallen back into the trap of believing my worst fears.
Risks and challenges
Five months of travel is complete, and the manuscript of Into adventure and sunshine is already being finalised in order to be proofread and copy-edited. Risk in supporting this campaign is therefore minimal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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