Scientist Henry turns his hand to war novels

IT may seem a giant leap from working as a bio-medical scientist to writing a wartime thriller, but Henry Holloway - after 40 years of toiling in the laboratories of various hospitals - has opened a new, diverse chapter in his life.

His book ‘Sew the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind’ has reached the shelves of Eason’s, and while it is fiction, its main character is none other than Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, the Second World War SAS hero and British Lions rugby star lock forward.

Mayne was one of the British Army’s most highly decorated soldiers during WW2, although it is stated that he was denied the VC due to the fact that he knocked out his Commanding Officer in a fit of pique at one stage.

In Henry’s work of fiction, Mayne leads a group of SAS soldiers to try and rescue a German officer who holds vital information about the Churchill plans to shorten the war.

The plan has many twists and turns, with a surprise ending. The plot includes British spy Josephine Butler who liaises with the French Resistance.

There is a romantic turn in the book where Mayne has a brief affair with a beautiful member of the Resistance Movement - and a child is produced through the liaison, although Mayne never knows. (All fiction, of course).

The book is receiving excellent reviews, and is published by Lurgan-based James Hamilton Group and retails at 9.99.

Henry, who is married with a son and daughter - and three grandchildren - attended Portadown College, after which he worked in Whiteabbey and Lurgan Hospitals before moving to Craigavon.

He is just past retirement age, but works one week in two on a teaching basis.

He said, “My daughter worked in Ballykinlar and I suppose that gave me the taste for writing a wartime novel. They say we all have a book in us and I’m delighted to see mine in print.”

Well, he obviously has more than one in him, as he has the manuscript of a second ready for the printing presses, depending on how the first one sells.

It’s called ‘Faugh-A-Ballagh’ (the motto of the Royal Irish and means ‘Clear the Path’)

“This one is set in the Northern Ireland Troubles, and moves from the province to England and to Iraq,” said Henry.

It’s about a secret group called ‘FAB’, agreed by the Irish, UK and US government to eradicate suspected terrorists where the authorities are certain of the killers but low in evidence. The killers are plotting germ warfare, and must be eradicated...

“Hopefully that one will make it to the shelves as well,” said Henry. “It’s all very different from being a bio-medical scientist, and just as satisfying.”

Long-standing Portadown Times readers will remember Henry’s father - the Rev Henry Holloway - who wrote the fabled column ‘Random Thoughts’ for many years.

“It was a very popular column and maybe I inherited dad’s love for words,” said Henry junior.