Hugh’s own famous five

Author, Hugh Neems, with his new book, A Rough Ride. Pictured at home, Victoria Road, Todmorden
Author, Hugh Neems, with his new book, A Rough Ride. Pictured at home, Victoria Road, Todmorden

A former engineer turned author has written a book about his family’s experiences during the First World War.

Hugh Neems, who trained as an electrical engineer and served in the Royal Navy in the 1940s, has written “A Rough Ride”, based on first hand insights from his five uncles about what is was like to be in the midst of the turmoil.

Hugh, who lives in Todmorden, said: “With the centenary coming up, I started writing a family book just for friends and family.

“The story is about my uncles’ involvement in the different battles and the different stages of the war.

“It’s a history of the war but with a personal link.”

One of his uncles, Samuel Jukes, was from Todmorden and served with the 29th Lancashire Fusiliers.

Hugh, 86, said it was sobering to recall what happened to his uncles during the conflict.

“One was killed and one was badly injured,” he said.

“My uncle Arthur was killed by a grenade in the trenches surrounding Arras.”

Hugh found out about his uncles’ experiences while he was growing up in Worcestershire.

“After discovering more about them, I wanted to write about these children who were born in Worcestershire and served on the fronts in France and Gallipoli,” he said.

Hugh served in the military himself before joining the London Missionary Society.

He spent 14 years in the Samoan Islands overseeing a junior boarding school.

He returned to the UK in the late 1960s, when he and his family settled in Hipperholme.

Hugh was the minister at Lightcliffe United Reformed Church for more than 20 years.

He moved to Todmorden in the early 1990s and since retiring has written several books about his ancestors and their historical settings.

“A Rough Ride” will be released on March 27 and will be available at The Book Case in Hebden Bridge and Border Books in Todmorden.