BOOK REVIEW/BLOG TOUR: The Name Beneath the Stone by Robert Newcome

Publication Date: September 23rd, 2019
Unicorn Publishing
eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction


Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret.

1917. Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors

they experience on the Western Front.

1920. Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the 'Unknown Warrior'. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life.

2011. Sarah Harding discovers Daniel's letters and Peter's diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered - and should that secret ever be revealed?

My Thoughts

In 2011, Sarah Harding, while sorting through her dying father’s documents, discovers love letters written to her grandmother, Joyce, from a World War I soldier, Daniel Dawkins. Sarah has always known that Peter Harding was not her father’s biological father and had often wondered about the identity of the man who was her real grandfather. Could this be him? When she asks her father who Daniel was, she receives the puzzling answer of “unknown soldier”. Armed with this snippet of information, she does some online research and reads about the Tomb of The Unknown Warrior, as well as other articles on World War I. One article about life in the trenches by historian, James Marchant, impresses her so much that she contacts him for help in finding out more about Daniel Dawkins.

In 1917, Daniel Dawkins, a member of 5 Platoon, is fighting in the trenches of Flanders alongside his mates, Timmings and Fletcher; new commander, Lieutenant Jeremy Latham; Sergeant Barnes; and Murphy, a terrier adopted by the platoon but trained to take messages between the lines. Dawkins, is a seasoned soldier and a natural leader. He is liked and respected by his peers, but is considered a trouble maker by some of the officers. His letters to Joyce are spasmodic and never reveal the reality of life at the front nor his feelings, but as the story unfolds, his past, courage and championing of others, in particular a soldier returned to the front who shouldn't have been, and his support of Jeremy Latham, gives an insight into the manner of man that he is and what motivates him.

Interspersed with these two timelines are the events of 1920 and the consequences of a decision Captain Peter Harding makes in order to successfully fulfill his mission. Guilt ridden for the rest of his life, his diaries hold clues to the secret he has kept for all that time. It is a secret so sensitive that if revealed would damage the national psyche irrevocably.

I’ve read a lot of novels set during World War I, but none of them has moved me or challenged my thinking as much as Robert Newcome’s The Name Beneath the Stone. It is so well written and cleverly plotted that the ending, the final twist in the tale, left my thoughts and emotions in turmoil.

I did know the history behind The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior, its significance to a grieving nation and its relevance today. If you knew the identity of the soldier buried in Westminster Abbey, would you reveal it? Since reading this novel I've posed this question to several people, which resulted in a lively debate as to the rights and wrongs of doing so. Mr. Newcome you have opened a can of worms!

About the Author

After five years serving as an officer in The Light Infantry, Robert studied Political Philosophy at Exeter University. Following this he had various management positions in the John Lewis Partnership, finally running management training. He then spent a number of years working for management consultants before setting up his own business with a colleague in 2007. Throughout this period he was writing articles, short stories and novels in his spare time.

Follow Robert on Twitter @NewcomeRobert.


  1. This book sounds note worthy with an intriguing plot.

  2. Good review, but... not my thing, really. Thanks all the same.

    1. Appreciate you taking the time to read it. Thanks.