We recently caught up with author Francis Hendriks to find out a little more about him and The Last Great Cavalry Charge: The Battle for the Silver Helmets, 12 August 1914
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Euskirchen in Western-Germany (19th August 1961).In 1969 we moved to Belgium- I finished high school and became an NCO in the Belgian Army.
Could you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family? In what ways was the military part of your life from an early age?
My father served in the Belgian Army in the 2nd Lancers Regiment In Germany. In 1969 our family moved to Belgium, to Leopoldsburg-a garrison for a Belgian Army Brigade with a hugeTraining Area. “Forbidden playground”. My eldest brother was in the Army as well.
What did you do before you started (or in addition to) writing? Did you have any odd jobs?
In Oktober 2012 I retired from the Belgian Army after 32 years. I left in the rank of Warrant Officer 2. Adjudant in the Belgian Army.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer? What is it about writing that appealed to you?
In August 2013 I bought a manuscript by a veteran of the Battle of the Silver Helmets-12 August 1914. I translated this to English. This is when Joe and Janet Robinson asked me to join in.
What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?
The book is about Cavalry ! And…important…the manuscript was written by a Kürassier, a trooper, not by an officer !
How much research did you do for the book? Can you give us some tips on this?
It took me months of research to find and evaluate and translate German and Belgian sources and testimonies. The German Regimental Histories were printed in Fraktur script, for me this was very difficult to read !!. For me German is no problem to read and understand.
What do you like most about your book? Why should we read it?
All the aspects of a military campaign. Errors made; the Logistic nightmare, communication problems. In the Belgian Army: a huge difference between the proud Cavalry and the poor chaps of the Infantry, poorly led. The story of the Officers and men in the field. The bravery and dash of the proud German Cavalry Regiments. I can only highly recommend this book. The German Regiments charged “Old School”-cold steel-sabre and lance- against Belgian Cyclist troops and dismounted Cavalry. Over and over again. Eight times.
How do you relax? Do you have any hobbies or interests?
Watch a good documentary on military history…