Did You Know…

Today’s #FactFriday comes from crime fiction author Graham Ison.

Before becoming a writer, Graham was in the army before joining the Metropolitan Police. During his career in Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, he was involved in several famous espionage cases and spent four years at 10 Downing Street as protection officer to the prime minister. He later guarded crowned heads and US presidents during their visits to Britain, and served as second-in-command of the Diplomatic Protection Group.

Graham writes both the Brock and Poole detective series, and the historical Hardcastle detective series, set in WWI. In today’s Did You Know…, Graham reveals some of the information he unearthed while researching his latest Hardcastle mystery, Hardcastle’s Collector:


ISBN 9780727885579. Available in the UK 30th October, in the US and eBook Feb 1 2016.

“In several of the stories in the Hardcastle series, I have mentioned the 1917 mining of the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge in Flanders during the First World War. During a research trip to Ypres, I called on a friend of mine in the Belgian Gendarmerie (as it was then called) in order to find out more about the mining. I already knew that of the 23 mines that were set by the British and Empire Armies, nineteen were detonated on 7th June 1917. It is said that the explosions were heard in England and even rattled the windows of 10 Downing Street. And in Switzerland, some five hundred miles from Messines, they were recorded as an earthquake.

The twentieth mine exploded on 17th July 1955 near Ploegsteert Wood, and was one of the four that either malfunctioned or were deliberately not detonated. It was thought to have been set off by lightning and left a crater some sixty feet deep and two hundred feet in diameter. The twenty-first and twenty-second mines subsequently exploded involuntarily or were defused. That left one dormant mine and my gendarmerie friend told me that no one knows where it is.” 

You have been warned…


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