64k…

I did a quick tot-up on the word count so far of my hoped-for biography of Henry Coombe-Tennant of Cadoxton. I’m about to finish chapter 9 (first draft, plenty of fine-tuning to come) and the total word count of chapters 1-9 stands at 64,000. That’s 64K…

I think the work will run to 12 chapters so the final word count might be around the 85,000 mark. But who’s counting, eh? Oh, well, me – obviously!

 

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“A Tour de Force…”

I gave a talk to the Blackpill Local History Society (Swansea) yesterday morning on the lives of Christopher Tennant and his younger brother, Henry Coombe-Tennant. I enjoy giving the talks (though I would not claim to be a very good speaker) but, in the vote of thanks, I was told that the story of Henry (in particular) was a “tour de force” that would provide the basis of a film or TV screenplay.

It’s not the first time I have been told this because – quite simply – Henry’s story is rather jaw-dropping. And all backed up by archival records.

I have just started Chapter 7 (44,000 words so far) of what I hope will be Henry’s biography. His mother, the formidable Winifred Coombe Tennant (no hyphen between Coombe and Tennant for her), is about to go to war on behalf of British POW’s…

 

Henry Coombe-Tennant of Cadoxton, Neath.

I’m now into Chapter Six and have 40,000 words written on the life of dear old Henry. I’ve called this chapter “Into Battle: Holland and France, May 1940.” I’m very pleased with the progress made but there is still a lot to write and then edit, correct and polish etc. And I need to find a publisher, of course.

One episode that amused me: with a number of Welsh Guardsmen having barricaded themselves into a house in Bologne they await the arrival of the Germans. Suddenly, there is a loud knocking on the door. They can’t see the door from the windows. Who is it? Only one way to find out…

Phew! Chapter 5 Underway…

I’m now writing Chapter 5 of my planned biography of Henry Coombe-Tennant of Cadoxton. He’s left Cambridge and (1936) joined the Welsh Guards. Promoted to Signalling Officer he’s heading for some service at the Tower of London and then Gibraltar before war breaks out. I’m at 34,000 words. About halfway, I think.

Action in the Hook of Holland and then Boulogne (1940) is not far away. Leading the German Panzer forces at Boulogne? General Heinz Guderian, one of Hitler’s top five generals and a master tactician of tank warfare. And the Welsh Guards’ anti-tank guns are still in Britain…

I plan to tidy up (add, delete, correct, edit, expand, contract, polish, polish and polish again) three of the five chapters and send them off to a publisher (or four) in November to see what interest there is in the work. Fingers crossed on that…and I keep writing in the meantime!

Answers on a Postcard (not!)

I’m about 24,000 words into my hoped-for biography of Henry Coombe-Tennant of Cadoxton, Neath. I’m writing chapter 4 at present – he’s now at Cambridge University. Much of what I am writing rests on the extensive family archive created by Henry’s mother, Winifred. Though I have accessed many other sources…

Fancy sitting the 1933 Cambridge University exam paper for Part I of the Moral Science Tripos?

Henry sat that paper and it included these questions:

  1. “If a man believes an action to be right, it is right for him.” Discuss this dictum, and state precisely in what senses you believe it to be true or false.
  2. Discuss critically any ONE definition of good.
  3. Are there any actions which are (a) right but not obligatory, (b) intrinsically good but not right.

There were ten questions, of which five should be answered in three hours. Henry was 20 years-of-age when he sat (and passed) that examination. I’m sending in a sick-note!

The next chapter sees him join the Welsh Guards in the mid-1930s…