Sand, Planes and Submarines is an unlikely title for a book about the role two small towns far from the sea played in the First World War. Yet this extraordinary account tells how Leighton Buzzard and Linslade provided the means to shorten the war.
Without the sand, the big guns could not have been made for the Front; the planes allowed the Royal Flying Corps to take on the superior German air force; and the submarine nets protected not only the British fleet but also the French, Italians, Americans and Russians.
The two towns were changed dramatically by the war. They ceased to be the playground of the rich from London. The army requisitioned the hundreds of thoroughbred horses that had been used by the aristocracy to hunt with the Rothschilds. Among these larger themes there are many personal stories like that of the Linslade postman and his horse, Bluebell, who took part in the last great cavalry charge of the war.
PAUL BROWN has been a journalist for 50 years and worked for the last 30 at the Guardian. He is currently co-editor at Climate News Network, an internet news service for journalists. He is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and the Royal Geographical Society. He has won awards for investigative and environmental journalism, and is Chairman of the Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeological and Historical Society. DELIA GLEAVE is an active local historian and member of the Historical Society.