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At 22, the war is over for RAF serviceman Harry Leslie Smith the now 92-year-old activist and author of the acclaimed Harry’s Last Stand but the battle for love and hope rages on.
Stationed in occupied Hamburg, a city physically and emotionally ripped apart by Allied bombing, and determined to escape the grinding poverty of his Yorkshire youth, Harry unexpectedly finds a reason to stay: a young German woman by the name of Friede. As their love develops, they must face both German suspicion and British disapproval of relations with the enemy’.
Harry’s ardent, straight-from-the-heart memoir brings to life a city reduced to rubble, populated with refugees, black marketeers, corrupt businessmen and cynical soldiers. It’s a unique snapshot of a terrible period in Europe’s history, and a passionate love letter to a city, to a woman, and to life itself.
Harry Leslie Smith was born into abject poverty in Barnsley in the north of England in 1923. During the second world war he served with the Royal Air Force and was stationed in Hamburg from 1945 47 as part of the British occupying forces. He met his wife, a German woman called Frieda, there, whom he later married. Harry and his wife eventually settled in Belleville, Ontario and Harry worked for many years in the carpet trade.
After his wife died ten years ago, Harry returned to a love of writing and found himself writing tightly-argued comment pieces for the Guardian website. He came to prominence in the UK after a piece entitled This Year I Shall Wear a Poppy for the Last Time was shared more than 80,000 times on Facebook. In total, his Guardian articles have been shared almost a quarter of a million times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate. Of his first book Harry’s Last Stand (Icon, 2014) Annie Lennox said that Harry is absolutely one of my heroes. Everyone should read this and be humbled.’