JIM&NANCY – Two Paths Merged by War is creative non-fiction. It is the story of my mother’s British family and my father’s American family in the Great Depression and World War II. By necessity, I had to create much of the dialogue, and battle scenes based on stories I have heard – sad, terrifying, joyous, and humorous – from both sides of the Atlantic, my whole life. I write them with the intention of as much authenticity as possible.
JIM&NANCY will appeal to a varied audience: men and women; people of strong family ties; soldiers and veterans; people who have fallen in love under “impossible” circumstances; those interested in cultural and national differences within one family; history buffs; and historians. I have interspersed copies of genuine war documents, letters, and photos throughout the book. This novel is, however, not academic, but about real people living and dying in WWII, as well as living spirited lives, despite the war.
Two different worlds meet in JIM&NANCY – that of Jim Creasy, my father, and that of Nancy Hemington, my mother. Their gentle, unlikely love story holds quietly as the story’s center in the middle of devastating war. Nancy Hemington from near Southampton, England, is sheltered, but both polished and vivacious, whereas Jim Creasy is more reserved and from a poor family in rural North Alabama. Most often, I transition, chapter by chapter, from my mother ‘s world to my father’s, in order to give the reader a broader view of their parallel lives that finally converge near the end of the war.
Full-bodied and robust, the characters in JIM&NANCY stand on their own, distinctly apart. Among the main characters are four of my uncles – two maternal and two paternal. The odds ruled for these servicemen, out of three Creasys and two Hemingtons, one is killed in action. My mother’s sister Margaret served in a Rosie the Riveter role – she worked at a factory manufacturing Spitfire fighter planes.
Primarily, the story is told through my father’s perspective. He shows how the ordinary soldiers won the war through courage, determination, blind trust, camaraderie, and spontaneous ingenuity. Correspondingly, my mother is an example of how the British living near Southampton, a plum German target, dealt with scarcity, air raids, bomb shelters, and communal and personal loss.
The battle scenes, including those from the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Meridian, are as accurate as possible, suspenseful and sometimes poignant. I focus on the emotional responses of individuals to trauma and fear, as well as other “enemies” – extreme cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, boredom, and homesickness.
I am a thorough Alabamian born and raised in “the Shoals” area and a former banker. I double majored in history and economics earning a B.S. from the University of North Alabama in 1979 and received an M.B.A. from the same institution in 1989. I am also a graduate of the United States Air Force Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas, and the Alabama Banking School in Mobile, Alabama. After 38 years in the banking business, I took retirement to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. After my short story White Flour was published in the Savannah Anthology 2015, I was imbued to self-publish my work of creative non-fiction Jim & Nancy – Two Paths Merged by War. I am currently writing a novel entitled Slingshot 8.
I am truly happy these days. A man amongst women – I have a loving and supportive wife of 31 years, two equally talented daughters, a curly-haired “grand girl”, and my 15-year old Shiba Inu companion – Nessie. I enjoy target shooting and competing in matches with .22 rifles. I love reading a good book or magazine and watching documentaries, the occasional quality series or movie, and college football on TV. I am blessed to have such a loving family and good friends. They help me live each day to the fullest and make life a joy.
Around 20:00, German artillery fire began to rain down on the town and the hills out near the roadblock. It was much heavier than before. A couple of rounds landed out in the square, and some shrapnel whined into the store both times. Artillery fire went on and off until after midnight. Jim and his squad gave up on sleeping. They just stacked anything they could find in the front of the store to slow down any more shrapnel and draped the blankets over their heads and shoulders to defeat at least some of the cold. There was an eerie silence after midnight.
At 02:00, Jim had actually dozed off and was startled awake by the unmistakable ripsaw sound of a German machine gun. He thought to himself, “Oh, my God! They’re in town. They are assaulting the town. Lord, help us now!”