A hundred years on from the first world war there are many stories of the great and good – and solicitor Rosemary Parr has contributed to the corpus with this biography of her grandfather George Lancaster. Like Rosemary, George lost a daughter to cancer and this inspired her to find out more about him.

She discovers that George had a wide-ranging career, though he spent most of his working life in the Royal Navy. His story covers two world wars and many other less well-known conflicts, ranging in geography from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and the far east. As well as being directly involved in the Battle of Jutland – movingly described here – his ship was a witness to the Russian civil war and the Turkish and Greek conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean.

Through a personal family history related partly through postcards and other gifts sent home, we learn that George was a boy sailor and retired as an officer engineer, only to rejoin at the outbreak of the second world war.

Author: RH Parr

£11.99, Silverwood Books

This has all been well researched by a granddaughter (whose legal career has spanned 35 years and now involves advice to charities and social enterprises) who never knew him. Above all, it is readable and relevant to the last, troubled century.

This book will be of great interest to anyone with an interest in the Royal Navy and the first world war. The ‘hero’ is a modest man with no great claim to fame – but history is made by such people.

David Pickup is a partner at Pickup and Scott Solicitors