Review by Steve Cooke
History is mainly written about the elite who dominated events and bestrode their eras. Such as Churchill, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Oliver Cromwell. What is in much shorter supply are the stories of the ordinary people who were caught up in these momentous events and whose lives were shaped by the era they lived in.
Bucking this trend and recording the lives of ordinary folk who did extraordinary things is Gary Bridson-Daley with his Debt of Gratitude Project.
Gary with various WW2 veterans
Gary has been Working non-stop as a one-man band to find and honour WW2 Veterans throughout the UK, to interview them, record and publish their stories. His tireless work has produced 2 amazing books containing almost a hundred Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Forces, Intelligence and Home Front Civilian WW2 Veterans. A Debt of Gratitude to The Last Heroes (foreword by Dame Vera Lynn) and The Last Stand - Memories of War (foreword by The Last British Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson) that was published in May this year and has now also just been released in December in two 'Special Edition' formats which contain a new D-Day and Arnhem Veteran in time for next year's big 80th Anniversaries and 10,000 words more and additional pictures and illustrations.
Debt of Gratitude is relevant not just during big war anniversaries but is timeless due to what has been captured! The special Editions are in Black and White and Colour and are highly recommended Christmas presents or gifts for anyone at any time who has an interest in World War Two, UK History, history in general and most importantly the ordinary unsung folk who made our history.
[View all Editions whilst on the Amazon page for the new book, look on the right-hand side under the main book title for a link that says - 'See all formats and editions', click on there to look into any of the 3 available versions.]
I first met the impressive Gary Bridson-Daly as he embarked on this vital project and have kept in touch ever since. On a recant catch up he told me, "My work to capture the precious stories of our dwindling World War Two generation as part of my 'Debt of Gratitude Project' still continues, its principle aims being to find, record and capture the vitally important historical testimonies of a generation who very sadly will soon disappear over the horizon of human history, and by being one the few recording as many of these stories as possible to save them for this and future generations, by getting into the public domain through the books I write and feature them in, I feel I am passionately pursuing something very important that can and will benefit many people both now and in the future!
Gary with an Arnhem veteran in Holland in Sep 2023.
"I have now been running my 'Debt of Gratitude Project' for nearly a decade, and have personally funded every aspect of it myself, having used all my savings to do so, having to pay for transport, accommodation, food, and all other related costs in order to reach and be with the Veterans all over the country so that I can personally conduct the interviews and get these gems of stories in little time we have left! I have done over 150 already but have now exhausted all my financial means to continue doing this, and with other interviews lined up I desperately need help with funding to reach these people before it's too late and we lose their stories forever which is why I have launched my GoFund Me Appeal! Any and All help is greatly appreciated."
Gary is local lad, Manchester born, now living in Salford who has written his books here in the North-West and has interviewed a lot of local WW2 Veterans from greater Manchester who are included in both books!
I urge you to give what support you can to this wonderful project to enable Gary keep going as our WW2 Veterans are passing at an alarming rate!