THE remarkable story of a heroic veteran who fought during the Second World War has been told for the first time.

David Wilson published a new book which traces the life of his dad Phil as he battled alongside brothers-in-arms in the Wiltshire Regiment around France, Belgium, Holland and Germany in the last two years of the global conflict.

At the same time, Phil''s younger brother Fred served with the Royal Australian Air Force. The two brothers spent their childhoods in Barnardo's homes in the 1930s and were separated when Fred was sent to Australia as a nine-year-old.

Retired communications director David spent years researching his father and uncle's lives using orphanage records, war diaries and family papers, as well as swapping information with Australian cousins who he didn't know existed before embarking on this project.

His book Boomerang Boy tells a powerful tale of Phil and Fred's upbringing, their wartime efforts and their attempts to reunite before the younger sibling's premature death in 1968. David used the time he spent isolating during lockdown and recovering from heart surgery to complete the book.

He said: “One of the joys of the project was discovering and contacting the Australian side of the family, and filling them in with far more information about their father’s childhood than they were previously aware.”

“Lockdown has been a huge challenge for many, I know, but I saw it as an opportunity to finally turn all the research we had done on my father’s and uncle’s stories into a book.

“I obviously knew a small part of the story from my father, who died in 1988, but like many who came home from the Second World War, he never really recovered from his experiences and didn’t talked much about it.

“The more I found out, the prouder I became of his resilience in the face of terrible traumas.”

After returning home from the war, Phil became a groundsman at Garrard’s and Plessey’s sports grounds, and enjoyed honing his musical and bakery skills.

David added: “It started off as a family history project, and I knew there was a poignant human story in there too, but the more I learned about Dad’s heroism, the more important it also became to pay tribute to him and others like him, including his brother.

“I am so pleased that Boomerang Boy is finally a reality, and I would encourage everyone to dig up their own family tree and consider putting what they find into print."

His next priority is visiting the Australian cousins he has never met. David added: “Because of Covid-19, we haven’t been able to meet them but hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get together and raise a glass to Phil and Fred.”

Order the book by emailing

Copies are just £9.99, with 50p from every sale being donated to Barnardo’s. Phone David Wilson on 07557 405815 for more information.