Family myth helps mum print book

The Oxford Times: Heather Rosser, from Botley, with the book she wrote inspired by her grandfather’s wartime role Heather Rosser, from Botley, with the book she wrote inspired by her grandfather’s wartime role

MOST stories about our grandfathers might inspire fond memories.

For Botley mother-of-three Heather Rosser, researching her family history sparked off more than that.

The 69-year-old discovered more about her grandfather’s role as a pilot during the First World War while researching her family history.

And what she uncovered led her to write her first romance novel, In The Line of Duty.

The character William is based on her grandfather Harvey Dyke, who was a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service.

Through her research Mrs Rosser discovered that her grandfather, a Flight Lieutenant, was decommissioned as a result of his conduct.

The social studies teacher and Oxford Writers Group secretary said: “My grandfather’s job was in reconnaissance and he had to log enemy shipping positions and use carrier pigeons to send back messages.

“Then someone in the Ministry had the idea that pilots could lob bombs out onto German battleships.

“As I understand it my grandfather jettisoned the bombs where it was safe to do so, and was decommissioned as a result.

“The novel is more fiction than fact – it’s based on family myth and I’m over the moon that it has been published.

“I tried to base what I was writing on detailed research and the novel runs from the start of the war to 1919.

“Each chapter refers to a particular development in the war, which I found on microfiche copies of The Times in Oxford’s central library.”

Her novel, which took five years to complete, tells the story of seaplane pilot William and his fiancee Lottie.

In The Line Of Duty has just been published by New Generation Publishing and the novel was launched on Saturday with a war-themed street party at West Oxford Community Centre.

Mrs Rosser, lives in Botley Road, Oxford, with her husband Adrian.

Air pioneer

The Oxford Times:

Harvey and Elsie Dyke, pictured in 1917

HARVEY Dyke was born in 1891 in Staffordshire and died of a heart attack in 1950, aged 59.
He obtained his pilot’s licence number in 1912, two years before the  Royal Naval Air Service was established as fleet reconnaissance, patrolling the coasts to prevent attack from enemy ships and submarines.
He served at Dover and Calshot seaplane stations.
A letter from the Admiralty stated that he was a “good conscientious pilot but had little enthusiasm for engaging with the enemy”.
He agreed to leave the service voluntarily in 1917.
Following the war Mr Dyke ran a second-hand car business and later a bicycle repair shop.
He married first wife Elsie in 1918 and they had two sons and a daughter.

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