THE CARVED ANGEL
by John Hutchins
When 14-year-old Tommy Wagstaff starts work as a miner in North Yorkshire his
father carves him a small angel out of wood ‘to protect him wherever he goes’. This is soon put to the test when arrogant Archie Tilsley causes an explosion
in the mine endangering Tommy’s life.
Three years later, with the First World War in full flow, Tommy is swept up by
patriotic fervour and enlists into the army with his best pal Bert – a decision Tommy soon bitterly regrets and one that is much against his loving
ma’s wishes. Then his misfortune continues when he unexpectedly finds himself
plagued by his nemesis Archie Tilsley during training and later in the front
line trenches on the Somme.
Amidst all the horrors of fighting, Tommy witnesses Bert being blown apart
before his eyes. In his grief, and to the astonishment of both the British and
German troops, he ignores the dangers and buries his dead comrade in no man’s land. This caring action becomes his purpose – to give friend and foe alike a Christian burial; his only protection being the
carved angel. It is almost a mania, which at the same time offers some solace
from the horrors of the battlefields and trenches across France and Flanders
that surround him.
Even on returning to his home village his prayers still seem unanswered and
there remains something missing within him, but once again the little carved
angel miraculously appears to come to his aid.
The story is enhanced with the inclusion of black and white illustrations by
the artist Jane Andrew.
The author was born in Plymouth, Devon where he now continues to live. Having
originally studied for a degree in drama and public media at Trinity and All
Saints College, Leeds, he has spent most of his working life on local
newspapers in Devon and Cornwall.
John now works as a reporter and sub-editor on the Tavistock Times Gazette, previously being employed in a similar post at the Falmouth Packet and South West Farmer. He has also been a reporter for the West Briton in Truro, The Sunday Independent in Plymouth and an editorial assistant on Housebuyer magazine in Teddington, Surrey.