Wigan author finally shares island's war stories

Author Julie Peakman
Author Julie Peakman

A Wigan author is finally seeing the fruits of her labour after spending 16 years researching her latest book.

Julie Peakman wanted to tell the stories of those involved in a battle on the Greek island of Leros during the Second World War.

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She spent years carrying out research and interviews, and now her book Hitler’s Island War: The Men Who Fought For Leros is available to buy.

She was inspired to share the stories as she spends half of the year living on Leros.

Julie, a former pupil at Wigan Girls’ High School, said: “I landed in Leros in 1975, which was the first time I went there. I went to the cemetery on my 18th birthday and the memory of that must have been with me for all these years.

“When I bought a house there, I started to trace the veterans. I heard there had been a reunion in 1988 and a man on the island collects memorabilia and he had letters from some of the veterans, so I started tracing them and decided to write their stories before they died.”

The battle in 1943 saw thousands of British, German and Italian men lose their lives and others detained in prisoner-of-war camps.

Julie began work in 2002 and carried on over the following years, alongside writing her other books.

She said: “I had to wait until I had collected all the information I could and traced all the soldiers I could. They in turn put me in contact with other people who fought in the battle.

“I did lots of archival work in the Imperial War Museum and the National Archives in Kew.”

She was keen to record the stories of the men before it was too late.

“They would be completely lost if I didn’t record them. Some of these men had never spoken to anyone about their experiences, not even their wives or their children.

“I think I got more of a story from them and much more of their emotional experiences, mainly because I was a woman,” she said.

After all her hard work, Hitler’s Island War is now on sale and Julie said it had received a good response from readers so far.

She has also finished writing her next book, entitled Licentious Worlds, which is about women in global empires and could be published later this year.

Her previous books include several looking at 18th Century culture, sexuality and pornography, and biographies of women from that period.

Her first book - Mighty Lewd Books, The Development of Pornography In Eighteenth Century England - was published in 2003.

Julie, formerly of Whitley Crescent and Crooke Village, now spends the rest of her year in London with her partner Jad Adams, who is also an author.