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Sunday, February 28, 2010

John Lodwick

Peal of Ordnance by John Lodwick (Digit Books R511, Jul 1961).
Sergeant Tamplin was an explosives expert during the war; he knew how to carry out demolitions and fix booby-traps of all descriptions. That was his job in the Army.
__But, quite apart from his liking for explosives, Bob Tamplin had an incurable lust for action and adventure which led him into very strange waters after he became the victim of an accident.
__For sheer pace of action and nail-biting suspense this unusual story, which has its roots in the last war, can surely be second to none.
John Alan Patrick Lodwick was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on 2 March 1916, the son of the late Captain John Thornton Lodwick, D.S.O., of the Gurka Rifles, who died on 30 December 1915 when the S.S. Persia was torpedoed in the Mediterranean, and Kathleen, daughter of Sir Henry Ashbrooke-Crump.

Educated at Cheltenham College and R.N.C. Dartmouth, which he was later to describe in his book The Cradle of Neptune. He spent some time in Dublin, working as a journalist, before moving to France where he wrote several unpublished novels (or plays, depending on the account read). He joined the French Foreign Legion at the outbreak of the Second World War (he won the Croix de Guerre (palmes) in 1940) and was captured and recaptured a number of times. These experiences formed the basis for his first novel, Running to Paradise (winner of the Dodd, Mead War Novel Prize), which he began writing whilst in Vichy France. He served in the Mediterranean with the Special Boat Service and wrote an entertaining account of that arm's achievements in The Filibusters. He was mentioned in despatches in 1945.

Between 1943 and 1960 he published 17 well-received novels and five non-fiction books. Some of the critical reception of his work is discussed in his entry on Wikipedia.

Equator by John Lodwick (Panther Books 871, Jan 1959)

Newspaper reports dated 11 March 1959 noted that Lodwick had survived a car accident at Villafra ca del Panades in which four people, including prominent Spanish publisher Jose James. were killed. Lodwick, who had lived in Spain for fifteen years, and his friends were on their way to a local feast when their car skidded on a wet road and hit a tree. Lodwick survived his injuries for only a week; he died on 18 March.

He was working on the second volume of his autobiography, only completing an 80-page section which was published posthumously as The Asparagus Trench but which impressed reviewers. Jeremy Brook, in his Observer review (4 Sep 1960), said: "Had Lodwick lived to complete the book there can be little doubt that it would have been one of the most distinguished autobiographies to have been published in many years. But the fragment we have can stand alone: perfect in form, tantalisingly allusive, full of youth's irrecoverable imaginative vitality, and as passionately concerned with what lies below the surface of life as it is witty about the surface itself."

Lodwick listed his recreations in Who's Who as climbing and smuggling.

Novels
Running to Paradise. London, Methuen & Co., 1943.
Myrmyda. A novel of the Aegean. London, Methuen & Co., 1946; as Striking Force, London, Brown Watson (Digit Books), 1958.
Peal of Ordnance. London, Methuen & Co., 1947; as The Destroyer, London, Brown Watson (Digit Books), 1958.
Twenty East of Greenwich; or, A Barnum Among the Robespierres. London, William Heinemann, 1947.
Brother Death. London, William Heinemann, 1948.
Something in the Heart. London, William Heinemann, 1948.
Just a Song at Twilight. London, William Heinemann, 1949.
First Steps Inside the Zoo. London, William Heinemann, 1950.
Stamp Me Mortal. London, William Heinemann, 1950.
The Cradle of Neptune. London, William Heinemann, 1951.
Love Bade Me Welcome. London, William Heinemann, 1952.
Somewhere a Voice is Calling. London, William Heinemann, 1953.
The Butterfly Net. London, William Heinemann, 1954.
The Starless Night. London, Heinemann, 1955.
Contagion to This World. London, Heinemann, 1956; as Plague Within, London, Landsborough Publications (Four Square 19), 1958.
Equator. London, Heinemann, 1957.
The Moon Through a Dusty Window. London, Heinemann, 1960.

Non-fiction
The Filibusters. The story of the Special Boat Service. London, Methuen & Co., 1947; as Raiders from the Sea. The story of the Special Boat Service in WWII, with a new forward by Lord Jellicoe, London, Greenhill, 1990.
The Forbidden Coast. The story of a journey to Rio de Oro, etc. London, Cassell & Co., 1956.
Bid the Soldier Shoot. London, Heinemann, 1958.
Gulbenkian. An interpretation of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, with D. H. Young. London, Heinemann, 1958.
The Asparagus Trench. An autobiographical beginning. London, Heinemann, 1960.

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