War hero Jack Harper, of Hatfield, described as Mother Hen to his men

Former Slay Pits Lane, Hatfield, peat cutter, Jack Harper, VC, is featured in a new book "How Modest are the Bravest!", by Ken Tout
Former Slay Pits Lane, Hatfield, peat cutter, Jack Harper, VC, is featured in a new book "How Modest are the Bravest!", by Ken Tout

The wartime experience of real life hero, Jack Harper VC, of Hatfield, has been captured in a newly released book.

The former Slay Pits Lane peat cutter, is featured in new book "How Modest are the Bravest!", by Ken Tout, just published by Helion Press.

Although the book deals with 22 war heroes from nine nations during the period D Day to VE Day, the chapter on Jack reveals how he stands out, even in such distinguished  company.

His VC medal, was won by an extraordinary feat of agility, stamina, stubbornness and also of outright self-sacrifice to the point where, after long exposure to enemy fire, he was at last killed by a sniper’s bullet.

The brave hero was ordered to lead his company across an open stretch of 300 yards of a turnip field against the trauma and intense direct fire by enemy machine guns.

After surviving that particular frightening event, he was sent to find a crossing place over a large canal, but Jack Harper died when reporting on his return.

It was by an extraordinary coincidence  that Jack's fatal canal was of a design later brought to the Thorne area by the Dutch constructor, Cornelius Vermuyden.

The book has a theme, inspired by the author's own experience as a tank commander in Normandy, that at the moment of utter peril it was normally the quiet man, not the bully or  braggart, who stood tall and was ready to sacrifice himself for his comrades.

Of course, Jack was that quiet man, described by his soldiers as 'mother hen' to the company, and never heard to raise his voice.