• Don't Say Goodbye by Fiona Stanford

    In Don't Say Goodbye, Fiona Stanford tells the untold story of the people left behind when our Soldiers go off to fight, the stories of the wives, girlfriends, children, mothers and also the husbands & boyfriends. It covers the goodbyes, the homecomings, the love that stands months apart, the friendships that are formed for life and the harrowing times of deaths in theatre and also the uplifting stories of those injured that are fighting back at home with different battles.

    Click here to buy from Amazon

    Fiona's husband handed over command of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards to Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe before they deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. During the tour, seven of their men were killed, including Rupert, and many were wounded. The way the "interviews" with those that lost husbands are recounted, it's almost as if you are listening to the taped conversation or there as it's happening. It's a very intimate read. The part that gave me the strangest reaction, was the part about the children of one of the men that died. It showed how resilient and almost matter of fact children are, and how much we can actually learn from them. I can guarantee there won't be a dry eye in the house at that part!

    Although the majority of those featured lived on the patch, their experiences still ring true to those of us who don't. The only difference I could identify with seems to be the slight lack of a similar camaraderie with those of us who were not married and lived off patch, especially when it was miles away from the Barracks.

    Reading the stories of the men and women was hard, and even someone as hard hearted as me was in tears in a lot of parts, not all tears of sadness though. I found myself nodding in parts and laughing as I remembered similar incidents and stories with the last Mr Wench.

    Fiona has encapsulated the good and bad sides of being an Army wife/husband/partner and made it all come together. Hopefully, those who are not involved with the Armed Forces directly will read this and gain a greater understanding of what we go through. In turn, this may just reduce the endless "how do you cope" and "you knew what you were letting yourself in for" comments. I also think it would be a good idea for the "other halves" to read too, as it might give them a better insight into just what goes on when they are away, so that they may understand why we might be a bit snappy or low sometimes, or how they are not the only ones that have difficulty with the periods of adjustment when they come back from exercise or tour. That might sound harsh, but a lot of friends have said that their partners often get frustrated because "life seems to have gone on without me" and that they struggle to fit in when they come home. That's a 2 way street. Hopefully, in reading this, they will see it's just as much a coping mechanism for us as it is them - it's not that we don't need them!!

    I think it would almost make a good "handbook" for new partners coming through the ranks so to speak, a sort of "Gideons bible for Patches".

    All in all, a fabulously poignant, inspiring, deeply moving and heartwrenching read, not just for those of us involved with an Armed Forces partner, but for everyone! A "must read"!

    I give it 4.5 glasses.


    Click here to buy from Amazon