Ron Swore, a new memoir by retired Calne GP Norman Beale, is a powerful reminder during these difficult times of how adversity can be overcome with strength of mind, resilience, optimism and friendship.

Dr Beale’s father Ron, from Woolaston in Gloucestershire, was reluctant to talk about his experiences during the Second World War. Just mentions of being ‘at Dunkirk’, a Czech ‘underground’ that saved his life - any detail of what he went through remained a mystery after his death in 1980.

Only after many years of research and travel across Europe was Dr Beale - the eldest of Ron’s three children - able to retrace his father’s wartime footsteps and uncover a locked away history. His father’s unit, the 2nd 'Glosters', had been part of the forgotten Dunkirk rear-guard in 1940, sacrificed to allow more than 300,000 other Allied soldiers to be evacuated from France and fight another day.

“It all began with a scrap of paper in my late mother’s effects, with a name and address in the Czech Republic neatly written on it”, explained Dr Beale.

“This turned out to be the family who had sheltered, at great risk to themselves, two escapees – my father and his comrade, Lloyd Randall - from one of the Long (Death) Marches, in the closing - but still dangerous - months of the war.”

Dr Beale then pieced together the bits he had from his father with elements from official histories.

The 22-year-old Lance Corporal was captured during the retreat from the defence of Cassel, a hilltop town south of Dunkirk, and went on to survive five years as a prisoner of war in Silesia, Poland. He was weakened by horrendous conditions travelling to his prison camp and then forced out to work alongside concentration camp victims and Russian prisoners of war.

“When Dad escaped - from a death march away from the camp in 1945 - he and a comrade were secreted and supported by a very brave Czech family. They still live at the same address – where we met them - and viewed the hiding place. Their address was the one in my mother’s effects. They eventually helped the fugitives home.”

Westcountry historian and Hobnob Press publisher, Dr John Chandler, said: “It’s a tough read, even if you know a lot about the Second World War from books and films, about the evacuation at Dunkirk and what happened to those left behind to be captured, incarcerated, and put to slave labour in quarries, down mines and factories. The brutality and cruelty of war can still shock us.

“What started as a labour of love, and a family history for the grandchildren, no doubt, is now made universal in 'Ron Swore' and is a valuable addition to the library of Second World War memoirs.

“The book blends biography with military and social history. But it is also a tribute, driven by gratitude. If the story had ended differently the author would never have existed.”

Ron Swore – £8.95 from Amazon