About a decade ago I was approached by Rebellion, for whom I had recently written the School’s Out Trilogy, and asked if I wanted to write for their next Playstation game, Sniper Elite: V2. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable creative experiences I’ve ever had, and when they asked me to write an accompanying novella it was the icing on the cake. That book was Sniper Elite: Target Hitler – initially only available as an ebook, it recently came out as a physical book.

The covefr of the Game, Sniper Elite V2, and the accompanying novella, Target Hitler. Both show our hero, Karl Fairburne, a white male in army fatigues, aiming a rifle towards us. We can see the reflection of a V2 rocket taking off in the scope.

Fast forward a decade and I was once again approached to write for Rebellion, this time for Sniper Elite 5. It is a far more involved game than V2, with many more cutscenes which gave me the opportunity to write dialogue and action for a game for the first time, and I was thrilled and lucky to take part. And happily, I was again offered the opportunity to write an accompanying novella.

This time I was able to choose the story, and I had a very personal story I wanted to tell…

The cover of a book called Sniper Elite: origins. It contains three novellas, one of which I wrote. On the cover we can see our hero, Karl Fairburne, a white male in army fatigues, kneeling and aiming a rifle on a beach. Behind him ships wait of shore while soldiers storm the beach - it is D-Day.

In May 1940 my grandfather, Gunner Albert Bate of the Royal Engineers, was part of the desperate retreat of the British Expeditionary Force to Dunkirk. A career soldier, he was a radio operator at this point. He died when I was 12, so I never got to talk to him as an adult, to ask about his life and his experiences of the war, but one story has been passed down to me.

At some point during the retreat, he and a friend were captured by German forces. Somehow, they managed to escape and sought refuge with a French family who, at great risk to themselves, hid them from the Germans. Eventually, when the search had passed them by, my grandfather and his friend made a break for it and were able to rejoin the BEF, eventually being evacuated from the beach at Dunkirk.

Below is an old photo of my grandfather in his army fatigues, sitting happily surrounded by a large family. I think it was taken in 1944 when he was part of the push towards Berlin, retracing his steps of four years previously, this time in the opposite direction. During this time he managed to revisit the family who had saved his life, and the photo records that reunion.

He returned to visit them many times in the years after the war.

Sniper Elite: Water Line tells the tale of my grandfather’s pre-Dunkirk escapade, and Karl Fairburne becomes the friend with whom he was captured. I wrote the book for my grandfather, and for the family who saved him, because without their bravery I would not have been here to write it.

A black and white photo. My grandad, Albert, sits front and centre smiling with his arms crossed. He is a white male in army uniform with really cool brylcreemed black hair. Around him stand 8 other people - a mix of young men and women, smiling.

One Reply to “Sniper Elite: Water Line

  1. What an incredible story – and what a special way to keep it, and the memory of your grandfather, alive. This sounds such an exciting project. I hope it’s all going well!

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