Writers Abroad Blog
What Made Me Need to Write
Posted by SBBorgersen

What motivated you to write?

They do say a picture speaks a thousand words. But we are writers, we have thousands, nay hundreds of thousands of words to share. Sometimes though the pictures speak to us like no words can. They hold a universal language.

They can also be the inspiration behind our writing, canít they?† At this time of the year I am inclined to think again to what inspired me to get back to writing. It was in the mid 1990s. I had received my birth fatherís military file from Ottawa - not available until 50 years after his death.

There were over 300 pages of copies of telegrams, of reports, of hand written notes. But just one photo:

My father, FJ Roberts †RCAF. Before his promotion to Pilot Officer.

Before being awarded the DFM for courage.

He was a Sgt. then in the RCAF, before he embarked for England for further training and to join RAF 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds Lincolnshire. Part of Bomber Command in WWII.

Photo courtesy Ed Suarez (RIP Eddie).

RAF 103 Sqadron Elsham Wolds.

My father is the tall guy beneath the second prop. from the left.

This (very large) photo was sent to me by a survivor who knew my father well.

I visited what was left of the base over twenty years ago. I stood in the remains of the mess hut. I could hear the clamouring of voices having breakfast after returning from a night mission.† I still have a chunk of the old runway from which the Lancasters took off on their night raids. The crews all so very young.

I met with the elderly lady whose job it was to hand out the emergency kits. She knew my father as one of those young boys. She had many stories to tell and gave me this:

Photo courtesy J. Rooke (RIP Joan).

The crew of the Lancaster JB400/401 in 1943.

My father back row far left with the big ears.

The Lancaster took off from Elsham Wolds on 2 December 1943

and never returned.

***

It was this experience that cause me to begin writing, creatively, after a long career in only writing technical documentation.

My first book evolved into more fiction than fact and I rewrote it during my first Nano. I have done nothing with it. I have no desire to do so. But writing it did two things. I was able to lay my thoughts down in print. And it got me writing again. Now there is no stopping me.

75 years ago, 5 days after I was born, my father died along with the entire crew of his Lancaster in the 5th Berlin Raid. They are together in a collective grave in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Charlottenburg, Berlin.

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