Wednesday, March 13, 2013
William James Blackledge
Blackledge also wrote a handful of books under his own byline, most notably Hell's Broth Militia, which concerned adventures with the Kurram militia on the north-west frontier, and The Legion of Marching Madmen, an account of the Tigris Expedition under General Townshend which was serialised in the magazine Liberty in the US in 1935-36 credited to Captain W. J. Blackledge. Other books ghosted by Blackledge include Digger Craven's account of his experiences in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
Blackledge was born in Bolton in 1886, the son of Joseph Blackledge (a warehouseman) and Sarah Ellen Blackledge (nee Banks). He was baptized at St. Matthew, Bolton, on 15 December. He grew up in Bolton along with his younger siblings Sarah Ann Blackledge (b. 1889) and Elsie Blackledge (b. 27 Feb 1896; d. 1979).
At the age of 24, at the time of the 1911 census, William was still living with his family at 77 Mortfield Lane, Bolton, his occupation given as Clogger – a clog maker – and his sisters both worked in the cotton spinning industry. Joseph Blackledge had died in 1908
Blackledge's circumstances changed dramatically over the next few years. One assumes he was involved somehow in the First World War, but the next trace of him is his marriage on 4 December 1920 to Mary Eveline Cherry at The Parish Church (St. Margaret), Toxteth Park, Lancashire. Now described as a Journalist, he was living at 36 Roseberry Street. The couple are thought to have had two children, Joseph A. Blackledge (b. 1921) and William A. Blackledge (b. 1926).
In 1935, his occupation described as Author, he travelled to New York. His work had proven popular with at least one magazine: Liberty had serialised or taken extracts from a number of his books, including Hell Hounds of France (with Ex-Légionnaire 1384), Death Squads in Morocco (with Terry Brennan) and "Night Raiders in China", with Gordon B. Enders (1937), which may not have appeared in book form (a book from that period, Nowhere Else in the World (New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1935) is credited by Gordon Enders and Edward Anthony.
The Second World War brought the accounts of warring in the Foreign Legion to an end. Blackledge attempted to turn to writing fiction, his final pre-war book being a novel, A Girl in the Spy Racket and his only known post-war book was also a novel, Give the Lady a Camel.
He died in Westminster in 2Q 1948, aged 61. His widow is thought to have survived him and died in 1965, aged 77.
Hell's Broth Militia. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1936.
The Legion of Marching Madmen. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1936.
Lovers in the Desert. London, Heath, Cranton, 1936.
A Girl in the Spy Racket. London, T. Werner Laurie, 1939.
Give the Lady a Camel. London, W. P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell, 1948.
Books as Ex-Légionnaire 1384
Hell Hounds of France, in collaboration with W. J. Blackledge. London, 1932.
Zillah: Child of the Desert, with W. J. Blackledge. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1932.
With the Secret Service in Morocco, as told to W. J. Blackledge. London, 1934.
The Soulless Legion, in collaboration with W. J. Blackledge. London, Denis Archer, 1934.
The Arab Patrol. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1935.
The Desert Patrol. London & Dublin, Mellifont Press, 1935.
Spies of the Sahara. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1936.
The Son of Allah. London, Rich & Cowan, Jan 1937.
The Mutiny of Fort Saada. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1937.
Eater of Women by W. J. Blackledge, in collaboration with Ex-Legionnaire 1384. London, T. Werner Laurie, Aug 1938. [About the north-west frontier province of India]
Books as Terry Brennan
Death Squads in Morocco, as told to W. J. Blackledge. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1937.
Books as Patrolman Craven
Hell Riders. An account of the Irak Desert Patrol, as told to W. J. Blackledge. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1935.
Books as Digger Craven
Peninsula of Death, as told to W. J. Blackledge. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1937.
(* Illustration by Walter Baumhofer from Liberty, 27 December 1935.)