A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO DIE
By Michael Joll
Capt. Harry Haig-Mallory, second son of Admiral, the Earl of St. Austell, and American heiress Athena Fenhagen meet at a ball at the British Embassy in Washington in 1914. The attraction is immediate – and mutual. Their wedding plans for August in England are thwarted by the outbreak of the First World War.
Harry’s regiment goes to France where he distinguishes himself during the retreat from Mons. The regiment spends the winter at a château on the Franco-Belgian border near Ypres. There Harry meets a young, soon-to-be widow, Solange, with whom he has an affair which results in her pregnancy. When the regiment is recalled to England, Harry is promoted and immediately sent back as a liaison officer between the British and French Generals, now headquartered in the château recently vacated by Harry’s regiment. He renews his affair with Solange. Meanwhile, Harry’s feelings for Athena diminish with time, distance and his involvement with Solange, and he questions his commitment to her and to his promise of marriage to her.
With the birth of their daughter, Solange estranges herself from Harry. The job as liaison officer draws to a close and Harry convinces himself to go through with his marriage. Athena comes to England, where they marry. He returns to the front lines as commanding officer of his battalion and is badly wounded during a trench raid. After recuperating in England he returns to Ypres and the front lines where they prepare for the assault on the German positions at Passchendaele.
During the battle, Harry suffers grave wounds. For his actions he receives the Victoria Cross, and for his leadership a bar to his Distinguished Service Order. While at home recuperating Harry makes a startling discovery about his father which results in his father’s arrest and his death in custody. As the war enters its last phase, Harry returns to Flanders with the English press in tow to record his rescue of children orphaned by the war. In the village where he was twice stationed Harry finds six orphaned girls, including his daughter and her older sister, in the care of the parish priest. Harry takes them all back to England. As the story ends, the war is over, Christmas is upon them, all the children are still with them and Athena is expecting their first child.
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