"Lemonade Tonight: Notes from a POW and a Present-Day Journey of Discovery" by Fiona Cameron and Carole Grant is a simply outstanding book that we'd recommend to anyone with an interest in World War Two. It's also an important book. History comes in many forms. Sometimes it can paint on a broad canvas, telling the story of nations. At other times it can focus down to the level of specific events or even single individuals. The book that Fiona Cameron and Carole Grant have written is a wonderful example of "microhistory" as it looks at the story of one man, his small group of friends, and his two daughters: yet it does so in a way that helps illuminate broader themes around the fate of the 51st Highland Division after Dunkirk and the life of prisoners of war. It also threw up the fact - previously unknown to me - that repatriations and prisoner exchanges took place during the war.
Perhaps what makes this book really stand out is that it is written by the authors about their father and it comes over very much as a memorial to him. The book opens with a short message from the authors to their father and it's hard to escape the thought that he'd have been delighted to have had his story told so beautifully by them.
On 30 January 1940, 21-year-old Private Allan Cameron of the 51st Highland Division set sail for Le Havre as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He was a member of a field ambulance unit whose role was to help the wounded. Less than five months later he was captured as a prisoner of war. He would remain a prisoner until 25 October 1943 when he was repatriated via Sweden to Leith as part of an exchange of prisoners who had been rendered unfit by wounds or illness or who were medical personnel.
During his service and captivity he had kept diary notes. Though both succinct and at times sporadic, they gave a real insight into the life he had led during this period, the events he had witnessed and the places he had been. This book faithfully presents Allan Cameron's diary notes, but it also does two other things. It very helpfully fills out his notes with background material about the events he was living through and cross-refers between the records he kept and the accounts given of the same events by the small group of friends he served alongside and was captive with. In parallel, the book tells the story of Fiona Cameron and Carole Grant's discovery of their father's notes 11 years after his death and the journey they embarked upon to find out more about him and his friends. This involved tracking down one of those friends, and relatives of others. The way the modern story and the wartime story are interwoven is very skillfully done and it is this as much as any other aspect of the book that makes it such a valuable resource for those with an interest in the period.