'Frank Baynes- A Life Beyond the Sea' Book Launch

Frank Baines – A Life Beyond the Sea

The author Frank Baines returned to haunt his former home in the North Essex town of Coggeshall for the launch of Brian Mooney’s biography – Frank Baines: A Life Beyond the Sea (Thorogood) – and to celebrate the publication of Chindit Affair (Pen & Sword), Frank’s posthumously-published account of his wartime in experiences in Burma.

More than 100 guests were present at the event, which was held in the walled garden behind the elegant Regency house which was Frank’s home for some 30 years.
The two books unravel the many lives of Frank, who was at different times a sailor, soldier, Hindu monk, author and traveller. He was also gay and a social rebel. After cycling back to India in his early sixties, he returned to Coggeshall, where he died in an alms house in 1987.

The guests at the launch included Richard Rhodes James, the last surviving officer who fought alongside Frank with General Orde Wingate’s Chindits behind enemy lines in Burma in 1944.

Angela Spall was there for Thorogood.

Author Brian Mooney, who now lives in Frank’s former house, stumbled across the unpublished account of Frank’s wartime experiences when he was writing his biography.

‘It was an amazing discovery, just one of many I made about Frank as I researched his life,’ says Brian. ‘The manuscript had been lying on the shelves of the local solicitor’s office for almost a quarter of a century.’

Brian’s biography brings together for the first time all the aspects of Frank’s life and reveals his highly unusual family background. In addition, the book reproduces some of Frank’s early work as a journalist in Calcutta and includes the full account of his bicycle journey back to India at the age of 62.

Chindit Affair relates the story of 111 Brigade which was commanded by the future author John Masters. More than 2,000 men were dropped into Northern Burma to engage the Japanese from the rear. Five months later there were only about 100 men left fit to fight. Frank was one of them. He tells of the horrors and privations of jungle warfare – and of his unconventional intimate relationship with one of his Gurkha riflemen.

By birth Frank Baines was a son of Cornwall – but his later life revolved round Essex, and it is out of Essex that these two fascinating books have come.

Posted on 8th June 2011 by Katherine Soltane • Permalink

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