The “honest and brutal” life story of a Welshman who served with the US Army during the Normandy Landings has been written by a regional daily journalist.
Geraint Thomas, senior reporter at the South Wales Evening Post, has published GI Limey: A Welsh-American’s Second World War about Clifford Edwin Guard.
Geraint first met Mr Guard, now 92, three years ago, while reporting on the unveiling of a memorial to the US troops based in Swansea during the war.
After hearing his story Geraint asked straight away if he could write Mr Guard’s biography, described as a real ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure, and the pair spent most Sundays over the next two years working on the project.
Born into a life of abject poverty, Mr Guard joined the Merchant Navy aged 15 and took part in the Atlantic convoys, before enlisting in the US Army after finding himself in New York following the Americans entry to the war.
He landed on Omaha Beach, as part of the 3rd Armored Division, and he and his pals spent the next 11 months at the forefront of the battle to push the German Army all the way back to the heart of Germany.
Said Geraint: “For two years I spent most Sundays listening to his incredible journey through life, never failing to be humbled and feeling utterly privileged during the drive home to transcribe and make order of the exploits of Limey and his buddies.
“While there have been times when I have loathed the busy world of newspapers, I realise that my job enabled me to perfect the art of interviewing that allowed me to coax and cajole memories out of this 92-year-old soldier in order to write what I am convinced is one of the most honest and brutal accounts of life on the line during the Second World War.”
Geraint decided to self-publish in order for Mr Guard to be able to enjoy the fruits of his labour, and the book, pictured above, is available on Amazon.
He added: “I published the book myself, through Createspace on Amazon, instead of running the gauntlet of getting a traditional publisher on board, because I wanted Clifford to enjoy seeing the legacy of him and his pals in print while he is still with us.
“It is available to buy on Amazon but I can honestly say money was not the motivation in writing it. Quite often journalists come across a story that is worth far more than what we are able to give it in a newspaper or magazine.
“The next time, however, take my advice, and if you can find the time, give it the treatment it really deserves. You won’t regret it.”