A FORMER soldier revisited some dark and difficult memories when writing his first novel, Rough Justice.

Keith Watson, 81, of Wadswick Green, a retirement village in Corsham, explained the inspiration for his first book, published in 2007.

He always had a passion for writing, but it wasn’t until he retired and joined a writing group in Oxford that he put pen to paper.

“The inspiration came from getting involved with a writing group in Oxford once I retired, I thought I would use my time up in a valuable and profitable way,” he explained. “They convinced me to write a story about an event that took place in my life. I had written a short story within the meeting.

“It was difficult to visit those memories. I was asked to present it at a particular meeting and I couldn’t I was too choked up. When I told the story everyone was very moved by it and the details of it.”

This short story became Rough Justice. A historical novel based on the true events that occurred while Mr Watson’s regiment were in Austria during the time of the Cold War in 1954.

Mr Watson said: “We had a week’s manoeuvers with the regiment and a week of extreme cold. We got to the end of the week and we were told to kip down in a barn full of hay. It was the middle of the day, but we had been up the whole night before and immediately went to sleep.

“The major decided to wake us with a bang, lit a thunder flash and threw it into the barn. There was a huge explosion that woke me and the others. The barn caught fire and the whole lot went up.”

Rough Justice follows Corporal Lloyd Freeman, telling how he and 100 other British soldiers were involved in a tragic barn fire in Austria. Four died and many others were seriously injured.

Mr Watson and the other survivors were sworn to secrecy about how the fire started, but his novel reveals the truth about what happened that day.