ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH is about a veteran of the Great War who is still very much suffering from the shell shock that plagued the remnants of the generation that made it home from the war. After his experiences in the 38th Welsh Division in WWI, Rhys swore that he would never set foot in France again, but that is exactly where he finds himself in August of 1944, propelled back into a war-torn country in a desperate search for his missing son.
I wanted a title that encapsulated the dogged determination my protagonist shows as he breaks his promise to himself. The line is Shakespearean, from Henry the Fifth in Act III, scene 1. The scene begins in the middle of the blockade of Harfleur, as Henry’s army has blown up some French fortifications. His rallying cry to his troops is
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger. . . .
I thought that first rousing utterance was a perfect title for my story about a poetic man, still emotionally wounded from the last war, forging his way into the most important battle of his life.