The Baker Boys (illustrated) was inspired by one of this book's central character's grandchildren 64 year old Russell Baker from Te Anau, in the South Island of New Zealand.
I remember my grandfather, Victor Henry Baker, from a fairly young age. As an inquisitive young boy, when I realised he was in WW1, I am sure I asked all the wrong questions for when he did talk he always spoke as though he was an observer and not the participant he actually was, states Russell.
He was a wonderful grandfather who involved all his grandchildren in his special way. It was not until his WW1 diaries came to life that I was able to comprehend just how involved in the war he had actually been, and just how much life experience he really had as a consequence.
Victor's wartime story, along with that of his older brother, Malcolm Robert Baker, who was killed during the battle of the Somme, is recounted in the book from Victor's old diaries, along with extensive research and supporting images.
Victor Henry Baker had been born in Woolpit, Suffolk in 1896. Along with his older brother their war experiences were many and varied.
War took them from New Zealand to Egypt and Gallipoli; from England to the front lines on the Western Front; from hospital ships to recovery hospitals, from the Sinai to the Allied advance through Palestine and into the Jordan. With a family in Suffolk additionally experiencing the menace of night Zeppelin raids overhead, Victor would additionally experience the U-boat menace and continuing wartime aviation, along with both facing the true horrors of modern warfare first hand.
Victor Henry Baker died on his birthday on 22nd February, 1983, at Oamaru, New Zealand, aged 87 years.
If you are looking for little known history involving WW1 and the story of a family and two of its sons as 'average blokes from down the street', then The Baker Boys is for you.
Whilst not included in the book, Victor's grandson Russell has been involved in aviation since he took his first flight with the renowned Bill Black, MBE, in Southland, New Zealand, back in 1964.
I started my official flying training early 1966, but had to wait till I turned 16 so as I could be sent solo.
Russell started Air Fiordland as a tourist business a year after his grandfather's death, following seven years as Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) for New Zealand's Fiordland Aero Club. He is now running his own aero maintenance company at the Te Anau airfield. For his sins he was also elected Drum Major for the Waimatuku Southern Scenic Highland Pipe Band (WSSHPB-est. 1936), back in 2001. It is another love of his, along with his family.
I have followed Pipe Bands all my life up till then, now they follow me, as my grandfather would have liked, quips Russell.
Russell Baker has two married daughters; Amanda (Rea) who is a Physiotherapist, and married to her husband Gavin, an ex Royal Logistics Corp soldier; and Samantha (Marra), a Flight Sergeant in the Royal New Zealand Air Force RNZAF, along with her Sergeant husband Bradley. Between them they have five children who are also Russell's pride and joy.
Author of "The Baker Boys"
Clinton Mhic Aonghais who has a love of humanity and the human spirit, researched, wrote and complied "The Baker Boys" in remembrance of those who fell and were injured in WWI. As an author, he is a spritely 63 years of age, with a love also in the outdoors and military history's little known facts. Clinton currently lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.
"The Baker Boys"
By Clinton mhic Aonghais (Gaelic for McInnes)
ISBN: 978-1-49073 -911-3