How William’s hobby turned into a book and screenplay featuring a man from Lancaster

Following on from the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, a former Lancaster man has written a screenplay entitled ‘A Lancaster Lad’.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 4:34 pm
William. G Eaton.

The book describes the adventures and fate of a young Lancastrian who volunteers for the army in 1914 and the surprising twist in his fate.

It features the horrors of the trenches and ‘No Man’s Land’ and the heartache of girlfriends or wives seeing their loved ones head off to war.

Author and playwright William G Eaton, known as Bill, now lives in California but was Lancaster born and bred.

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9th July 1918: Infantry of the 15th Brigade in a bomb-step close to the enemy line near Morlancourt. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He left Lancaster in 1963 to go to university and hasn’t lived in his home town since.

In the years in between he has travelled to Switzerland, Spain, Africa and America and now lives in California.

Bill says: “I was born and bred in Lancaster and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School. My parents had a business on Gage Street in Lancaster.

“I was born in 1945 at the end of World War Two.

28th October 1914: British soldiers lined up in a narrow trench during World War I. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“The screenplay was started a few years ago as a hobby and is based on something I came across in France.

“The screenplay was entered for several competitions.

“In the North Californian Screenwriters competition I came second and in Scripta Paloza, which was a US wide competition, I got into the quarter finals.

“In a BBC competition my screenplay made it into the top 10 per cent.

“I was thinking ‘that would be a very expensive movie to make!’

“I came across a site telling you how to put your script into book format and publish it on Amazon and so that’s what I did.

“It’s a paperback, not a novel and it is set in World War One. The book describes the fate of a young Lancastrian who volunteers for the army in 1914 and the surprising twist in his fate.

“He joins up and goes to war and is killed in action in 1916.

“At the same time there is a German guy who is injured alongside him and they mistakenly bring him back to the hospital.

“At the time, they were looking for heroes to bring back from war and he was one of them.

“The German guy is mistakenly identified as the English guy, because they have similar names, the English guy is called Frank Williams and the German guy is called Wilhelm Frankfurter. “Is he really who he says he is? He is paraded through the streets of Lancaster and all of a sudden sees his home town.

“He goes through therapy and officers suspect he may in fact be Frank’s half brother - his father spent some time in Germany.

“Frank’s girlfriends says it’s not the right guy, that the German guy is not the British hero and they have to get rid of him.

“They get hold of some morphine and go towards him with it. A fight ensues and someone comes out into the corridor and on to the road.

“He comes to a fork in the road - one road says Lancaster and the other road says London and he can’t decide which way he is going to go, or should he go back to the continent.”

It took Bill three months to write the screenplay and he had the idea in his head for several years before writing it.

He started a script writing course at college and wrote journals.

Bill says: “I was a Lancaster lad myself. My grandfather served in World War One and I know the background of Lancaster.

“I was very satisfied with the result. It came out well.”

Bill has a wife called Florence and two daughters called Carolyn and Jacqueline.

They have all been very supportive while he was writing his screenplay.

For a couple of years he has been working on a cartoon featuring the Loch Ness monster.

Bill explains: “It was an idea that came to me and is totally different to other things I have written.”

Bill is retired now but was in market research during his working life. When he was 47 he moved from Johannesburg to California for work.

He currently lives in a rural area of northern California, 250km from San Francisco, near a lake which he calls ‘Windermere with sunshine’. In July last year he was in Lancaster to attend the Old Boys dinner at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

He also visited friends and travelled to Spain.

Talking about Lancaster, Bill says: “It has changed quite a bit. Williamson’s was quite a big employer along with Storeys.”

Bill has a keen interest in the history of the 20th century, particularly the First and Second World Wars.

Bill also wrote a book 20 years ago called: “A Chronicle of Hidden Sunlight’ a survey of people who lived in Rhodesia, where they went to and their new lives. Bill said: “In the book ‘A Lancaster Lad’ Frank had been working in a grocery store, and in the screenplay I use the name T D Smith’s as the name of the store, which was an actual shop in Lancaster.

“They had a shop in Frances Passage and also a shop in Dalton Square itself. I felt quite happy and accomplished when I saw my screenplay in print. *A Lancaster Lad” is available on Amazon in Kindle or paper format at a cost of £7.72 for the paperback and £2.31 for the Kindle Edition.