THE unexpected gift of a battered copy of an little-known 1927 book to Blackburn Central Library has shone a light on the generosity of the British people to their armed forces in the Second World War.

The romantic novel - 'Cockadoodle' by C. E. Lawrence- has disappeared into literary obscurity but clearly brightened up the life of a soldier involved in the final invasion of Germany.

It's arrival in Blackburn sent by a South-Coast resident came appropriately as the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June.

Community historian Mary Painter takes up the story: "The old adage goes that you should never judge a book by its cover and that could be true of a rather unprepossessing and rather battered edition of a book entitled “Cockadoodle” by C. E. Lawrence published in 1927. It has been kindly donated to Blackburn Central Library by Hugh Pringle. The book was given to him from a friend who lives in Germany!

"The markings inside the front cover reveal an intriguing story. The book was a gift from the people of Blackburn to men and women serving in the forces passed on by Mayor James Fish.

"Local newsagents Kilshaw’s of 786, Whalley New Road, Blackburn (whose stamp is on the fly-leaf) may have donated this particular book to the cause and the final stamp is from the American Red Cross!"

Mrs Painter reveals the novel would have been sent in for forwarding to military personnel on the front line following an appeal by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1942.

He said: "For the men and women of the forces at home and abroad I make an appeal to which every family in the Kingdom can respond. I do not ask for money. I ask only for books, magazines and periodicals."

Mr Pringle got the book when an old friend from Munich visited. She was given it by her employer in the 1950s when an outbuilding at her workplace was being cleared. The US army had used the buildings as a store,

The novel tells the story of Octavius Jones, a clerk who dreams of becoming a poet, loses his job and becomes a 'a vagabond' before finding unexpected romantic and married bliss.

Mrs Painter said: "I think it is just remarkable this little book has survived and has returned to Blackburn after all this time!"