Cromer author’s new book charts the experiences of women ambulance crew members in wartime Britain

Cromer-based writer Rosie Hendry, who has written a novel based on the experiences of women ambulanc

Cromer-based writer Rosie Hendry, who has written a novel based on the experiences of women ambulance crew members during World War 2. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

When Cromer-based scientist-turned-author Rosie Hendry first put pen to paper a few years ago and sent her efforts to short story magazine People's Friend, she was delighted when the popular weekly title wrote back to say it planned to publish her work.

And now, with more than fifty People's Friend short stories and 'pocket novels' under her belt, Ms Hendry is set to see her first full-length paperback hit the bookshelves.

Entitled East End Angels, the book tells the story of three very different women who are brought together as London ambulance crew members during World War 2.

Ms Hendry, who studied for a degree in ecology at the University of East Anglia, before going on to gain a PhD in plant resistance to aphids, worked as a research scientist at the University of Stanford in California before returning to the UK to retrain as a teacher.

Her first post was at Horsford Middle School but, after working at a number of other Norfolk schools, she decided to give up teaching to concentrate on writing full-time.

She was inspired to write about wartime Britain after listening to her father's experiences as a child during the early 1940s and came up with the idea of a story about the lives of women ambulance crew members during the Blitz after discovering little had been written about them in the past.

'I wanted the book to be set in London, but I wanted to do something different,' she explained. 'The ambulance girls seemed almost to have been forgotten when, actually, while everybody was in the shelters, they were out in the thick of it during air raids.

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After many hours of painstaking research, including studying records at the Imperial War Museum in London and listening to recorded first-hand accounts, Ms Hendry came up with her three main characters – Winnie, Bella and Frankie.

'It was really important for it to be historically accurate as I wanted to be true to the reader, but, also, I think if you want to paint a picture of that time, you owe it to those who went through it to get it right,' she said.

The book, which sparked a bidding war amongst publishers before being brought out as a hardback earlier this year, will go on sale as a paperback next week at outlets including Tesco, Asda, Waterstones and local bookshops.

A sequel, charting the three girls' experiences in the Women's Land Army, is due out in the new year, with Ms Hendry also working on a third in the series.