Thursday, December 2, 2010

‘To The Last Round’ wins inaugural military history award

To The Last Round
The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951
by Andrew Salmon

On the eve of Remembrance Day 2010, a book on Britain's bloodiest - but almost completely unknown - post-1945 battle won the inaugural Hampshire Libraries (Special Collections) Award for the Best Military Book of 2009 from a field of 60 key military titles.

“In a list of very strong military books, this is an excellent book," said renowned broadcaster and bestselling historian Professor Richard Holmes, the patron of the award. "It well-deserves the winning award."

"A neglected battle that in fact deserves to join the first rank of British military actions, To the Last Round is a book that does its subject proud," added Librarian Andrew Dalziel. "This is easily one of the best books I have read on a military subject in recent years: truly inspiring."

The inaugural award is designed to highlight the three "armed services" collections - aviation, naval and military - in Hampshire Libraries. The military collection alone boasts 18, 000 titles.

Salmon, a Seoul-based reporter, sent an acceptance speech filmed on the Imjn battleground, where the 1951 British positions remain fortified to this day against the North Korean threat.

"I'd like to thank the award panel for recognizing an unknown author writing about a forgotten war," Salmon said. "Though Korea remains the biggest, bloodiest and most brutal conflict fought by British soldiers since World War II, it is almost completely unknown in the UK; I hope this award will bring veterans some long-overdue recognition."

Salmon and film makers Dan Gordon and Howard Reid are hoping to create a documentary on the book. The author is currently finalizing a prequel, Scorched Earth, Black Snow which tells the story of the Australian and British soldiers in North Korea in winter 1950, the most dramatic, but most terrible months of the war, in the words of the men who came home. It will be published by Aurum in early 2011.

Richard Holmes handing the award to Sam Mercer (representing the author), a veteran of the Gloster battalion annihilated on the Imjin, and a survivor of the grim North Korean POW camps. A chance meeting with Mercer, who lost a leg and an eye in the fighting, provided Salmon with the inspiration for his book. Richard Sullivan of Osprey Publishing (the award sponsors) stands between them.

Graham Eames was there on behalf of Aurum Press and Andrew Salmon