Nederlandse Vertaling van 'The Cauldron'
Edition 2008 ISBN=9789077895818 Publisher=Schuyt & Co
Hardback with dustjacket. First published in 1966 in the UK by "Macmillan & Co. Ltd.".
Printed by "Western Printing Services Ltd."
Written by Gerald Lamarque/Ken Allerton under the pseudonym "Zeno".
This is a semi-fictional account of a platoon of soldiers from the 21st Independent
Parachute Company. The author served in this unit at Arnhem
Zeno was the "pen name" of Gerald Lamarque who has also used the name "Kenneth Sidney Allerton".
Lamarque adopted the name Allerton in 1940 on "jumping ship" in Ireland. He made his way
to Belfast and enlisted in the army. 'Val' as he was more familiarly known to his friends
in the 21st Ind Co is reputed to have been serving with an Irish Regiment when war was
declared. He returned to his native England as soon as possible and enlisted in the Buffs.
A first class soldier and NCO, he very soon reached the rank of Sergeant and volunteered for
the Parachute Regiment. In 1943 he was selected for the 21st Independent Parachute Company in
that rank and was posted to No.2 Platoon as Platoon Sergeant, subsequently serving with the
Company in N.Africa, Italy and Holland. Back in the UK on 12th April 1944, No.2 Platoon took
part in exercise 'Tony' with the 1st Parachute Brigade. Val was caught up under the aircraft
and was eventually rescued after hanging for 45 minutes by one leg. For most of the time
it appeared likely that he would either have to take his chance on landing still hanging
from the aircraft or have his strop cut over the sea and risk being picked up alive.
He was eventually hauled back into the aircraft after much buffeting and pain, but was
his usual ebullient self within minutes of being rescued. Shortly after landing and being
passed OK by the Medical Officer, when asked by the OC if he would be prepared to continue jumping,
he offered to go up again there and then! Such was the measure of the man - it was little
wonder that the men in his Platoon looked up to him. He wrote the story of this incident
and the Daily Mirror accepted it for publication, but D-Day intervened and it never
actually appeared in print in this paper.
Val was still with the Company at Arnhem, where he fought with distinction, often taking
complete charge of the Platoon and ignoring enemy fire to look after his 'lads'.
He suffered a slight wound in his foot, which he laughed off after makeshift surgery and dressing.
Much to his Platoon's disgust, he was commissioned in the field shortly after the
Company's return to the UK and was posted to 3rd Parachute Battalion. He was demobilized
in the rank of Major after peacetime overseas service. Nothing was heard of Val after the War
until his best friend in the 21st, Sergeant Joe Smith of No.3 Platoon, probably the only
person who knew he was serving under an assumed name, read in the newspaper that Gerald Lamarque
was serving a life sentence for murder at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. In 1959 Lamarque had
killed his former girlfriend's boss who was sexually pestering her. Immediately after this
deed he had given himself up to the police. He pleaded guilty and was quite prepared to
accept capital punishment. Hanging was abolished, however, before he came to trial and he
was sentenced to life imprisonment. In prison he started to write and submitted the story
he had written for the Daily Mirror for entry in the Arthur Koestler Awards Competition.
Originally placed second, his story was awarded first prize when it was discovered that the
winner has already had his entry published in America. The story was published in an annual
anthology of stories called 'Winter's Tales'. Thus encouraged, Val settled down to write
"The Cauldron", which was widely acclaimed on publication. He followed this with another book
"Life", an account of his years spent in prison which became required reading by students
of Sociology and may still be recommended reading for this subject.
He was released after 9 years for his good behaviour. He continued as "Zeno", writing "Grab",
"The Four Sergeants" (which again utilised his experiences with the Company) and the book
of the film 'Play Dirty'. Gerald Lamarque or Kenneth Sidney "Val" Allerton/Zeno died
on 28th October 1978.