Reviews and Comments of “Write Soon and Often”


I read “Write Soon and Often”. Thank you for your effort Andy. It is a terrific book and educational for me. Donald Plaunt was one of a kind. One thing that came through to me was his remarkable spirit and an apparent tendency to think of others before himself. Despite the peril he was in, he seemed to try to boost the spirit of the folks back home and his crew at all times and before he thought of himself. I expect the deep love relatives had for him was mirrored by his mates. I expect you have often thought of what he would have become had his life not been cut short. I have driven through Nanton a hundred times. Next time I’m stopping by the Lancaster to get a clearer picture.   Kurt Stilwell, Calgary

Your book is truly unique as it deals with the enthusiasm of a young man to learn to fly, the pride in accomplishment, and the boredom of training which many Canadians felt once they were in Britain.  The most important chapters of your book were about Donald’s loss, and his family and friend’s reaction.  These chapters represent the impact on thousands of families in Canada and elsewhere.  For Donald, death was most likely instantaneous, but for the family death was like throwing a pebble in a pond with waves of grief spreading outwards through the generations.  The fact that you get so emotional telling the story of Donald’s life reinforces this viewpoint for me.  Death in war was a lost opportunity for Donald, his family, and his relatives that in many cases were not yet born.  On the other hand, war provided an opportunity for Donald to learn a skill, take on a senior role in an aircrew and “live out his dream.”  This juxtaposition of loss and gain is beautifully illustrated by your work.     Paul Binney (Sudbury)

By the way I did finish your book. I thought it was extremely well written and captured the essence of a young man with enormous potential who died far too young. I relate specifically to the concept of regular, if not daily, correspondence not the least because, as I once told you, I let my mother destroy all her own war time correspondence with my father. On December 1 of this year, my father would have been dead for 76 years and I can’t think of anyone alive who remembers him (even my 82 year old brother who was only five when he left home). What you’ve done though is not only perpetuate the memory of a member of your family, but you’ve delineated the “mentality of the times” – likely completely beyond the imagination of today’s 21 year olds. I was particularly interested in the scope of Donald’s knowledge of international affairs, surprising for a 21 year old in that era, as well as his evolving maturity in his last year or so.

I couldn’t help but feel that had the book had been written 40 or 50 years ago, when parents and siblings of KIA (killed-in-action) servicemen were still very much alive, it could well have become an instant best-seller. If it doesn’t in 2017, it’s still a valued contribution to a time when a “sense of duty” was far more ingrained than it now is. And, of course, it’s a memorial for members of your own extended Plaunt family.     Brian Hume (Victoria)

Your book brought back so many memories of my time in England before I going over to the war in Europe. I saw the sky full of planes on their way to attack Germany. They had come from all over England’s small air bases and they filled the sky from horizon to horizon, marking their path with their vapour trails. While I was in Germany during the Battle Of the Bulge, I remember seeing a bomber flying low with one of its engines blazing and the sky lit up with tracer bullets aimed at the doomed plane. Sadly the plane crashed beyond the village and I never learned the fate of the crew until another veteran described the incident and told me the crew had bailed out. Your book is a wonderful undertaking that will preserve the memory of your uncle.    Bob Schneider, US Army

I started reading Write Soon and Often and I am really enjoying the read.  Your brother writes so beautifully.   I was so caught up in it I lost track of time and Glenn had to wait longer for his supper then usual.  While reading it I feel like he is right here with me telling me the story personally.   I love an author that describes everything so well you feel you are right there with them. Sue Ann Squire (Guelph)

I really enjoyed your book “Write Soon and Often”. The letters from Donald Plaunt to his family back home personalized, in an impactful way, the reality of WW II.  The story of a young man leaving family and friends behind to go off to war because he felt is was “the proper thing to do” is as important today as it was back at the time.  The reader walks with Donald, via his letters, through his experiences during the long training period to become a bomber pilot, his longing for home and family especially during holidays, his joys and fun with this friends in the unit, and his frustrations of not being promoted.  I relate to the delight he experienced from receiving letters and packages from home since I served nine years in the Canadian Infantry as an Officer and ‘mail call’ was the highlight of our day during training or military exercises. The importance of connecting with home and family is critical when someone is far off or experiencing hardship.  Tragically, this courageous young man was killed on a bombing mission that devastates all who knew him: his family, friends, teachers, and even acquaintances. A very sad story for so many who go to war.  War is a terrible thing that older men start and it is always paid by the blood of young men. I long for the day where there will be no more wars and young men will not have to go off to fight. This book is an important read for everyone.  It personalizes history and should be mandatory reading for all politicians who may contemplate military action since there is always consequences to their decisions.        Stephen Gallant (London)

As I read the fascinating story of Donald Plaunt, I found a number of levels that I could identify with. As a father of a 23 year old son, my world would be in turmoil firstly not knowing if he was safe in the theatre of war, and secondly, having the dreaded telegram delivered to the door. I think of the ying and yang of the spit and polish of the uniform and medals, and the danger of flying over enemy territory at night with anti-aircraft guns firing at this huge piece of machinery loaded with explosives.
Seldom do we have the insight that Andy has brought to the pages of Write Soon and Often. Mothers writing letters and sending housecoats, slippers, and chocolates, knowing that by the time they arrive, their sons may not be alive. Letters crossing in the mail with unanswered questions that may be redundant. Life and death, all on small pieces of paper….without the instant communication of today. The story meets so many areas of life and experience that our families do not  have to endure….and yet, our life is safer because of the ultimate sacrifices of young twenty-somethings so many years ago.    Ken Jones (Toronto)

I have just finished reading your book, Andy, beautiful writing and overwhelmed by so many messages. I think every adolescent should know of the agreement between father and son – females in family no no nursing more important – it all tells a beautiful story and brings back many lost memories for me – I remember being with my aunt on Main Street in Hamilton and saying King is a dreadful man – exact words forgotten – and she replied “shush.” I looked up thinking why is she worried about my words being overheard. You brought WWII to life so many unknowns that you found. Thank you, a beautiful, moving history of a Canadian hero and of a family.
Barbara Chipman (Toronto)

I enjoyed your book about your Uncle Donald very much. You, and he,  conveyed successfully that he was a warm-hearted, intelligent, good-humoured young man, who went to war because he thought he should. Now the rest of your large family, like you, must be grateful to get to know him.
He also stands for the many that don’t have their stories told.
You have done a very good job of putting  Donald’s short life in the context of his time, making this book a valuable social history as well.
I hope that this book is going in archives and libraries.
I appreciated the fact that you placed the tragic family scene at the beginning. Otherwise it would have been too painful to keep on reading, knowing that that scene was coming.
You framed the whole story well with the two incredible coincidences that you had told us about.
I like the way Donald’s telegrams break up the text. On the other hand, they also seem like bongs of a clock, that you know are going to end with the one final fateful telegram.
I learned more to put my father’s RCAF time in context.
Tom’s mother did not want to be parted from your book, so that I don’t have it in front of me, but I look forward to dipping into it again. Our Jeremy will probably be the next eager reader.
Well done!     Anne Plaunt (Montreal)