Retired IT consultant John Holman’s first book, “Gran… He’s talking French again,” tells the colourful story of his grandfather Albert Edward Holman. Born in Exmouth in 1898 he lived through some of the most interesting events in modern British history.

John Holman was inspired to write his grandfather’s story after finding some old papers and photographs which brought back childhood memories of going walking in the Devon countryside with his grandfather. During these walks, Albert Edward Holman would tell anecdotes of his full and exciting life, particularly focusing on his experiences in the trenches of the first world war. It was the memory of these anecdotes that inspired John Holman to write “Gran… He’s talking French again.”

Albert Edward Holman, the ninth child of twelve, grew up in Exmouth when it was still a busy port town. His father William Holman was a Senior Pilot in the Exmouth Docks.

The book also gives some background information about John Holman’s ancestors, stretching back as far as 1698. Over the years the family travelled along the south coast from Sussex to Exmouth, working in various shipyards along the way.

In 1915 Albert Edward Holman joined the army, and became an artillery spotter, fighting in Ypres, Flanders and the Somme. After the war he moved to London and joined the Metropolitan Police, where he became a prominent member of the Metropolitan Police Athletics Association Rugy Club. During his time as a police officer he arrested the man who broke the window of Winston Churchill’s car in Walthamstow, and policed the Sinn Fein riots of the 1920’s, before his talent as a signaller was recognised, and he became an early radio operator in the “Q” cars. During World War Two, these cars were used to prevent organised crime and looting during the blackouts.

Later in life, Albert Edward Holman moved back to Exmouth, where he became a water bailiff on the River Exe, helping to prevent salmon poaching and pollution to the river from mills in the area. The documentation of Albert Edward Holman’s long and interesting life should offer insight into the history of both Exmouth and London. The book is available on Amazon under the title “Gran… He’s talking French again” by Anthony John.