An “unsung” story of a “real-life superhero” British soldier during the Second World War has been immortalised as a comic to mark Remembrance this weekend.
Renowned war comic writer Ferg Handley and Doctor Who illustrator Mike Collins teamed up to tell the story of young William “Bill” Livingston in Fantastic Forces – The Longest Road.
The British Forces Broadcasting Service invited people around the world to share their stories of past or present British military figures who have inspired them.
Bill’s son Phillip Livingstone submitted his father’s story and it was selected by an expert panel after it “shone out above all the rest”.
The 24-page comic tells of how 16-year-old Bill enlisted in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment when he was underage in the summer of 1939.
When war erupted across Europe later that year Bill was posted to North Africa, where his regiment joined the 7th Armoured Division, better known as the Desert Rats.
After the defeat of the German Afrika Korps, he served in Italy, took part in the liberation of France and the Low Countries, the invasion of Germany and was present at the liberation of Belsen concentration camp.
Despite many narrow escapes, the supply driver survived the war almost in one piece, except losing his two front teeth when his motorbike was shot out from under him and he crashed.
Bill remained in the army until 1949 and died aged 84 in 2007. He had three sons, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Mr Livingstone described his father as a “strong man” whose story was “very inspiring” and said he was thrilled to see his story be made into a comic.
He added: “He was so young when he joined the army and I am still amazed that he continued to fight despite everything that was thrown at him.
“Now told as a comic book, I hope his story is able to motivate other young people to push forward when the going gets tough.”
His story was researched and told by writer Ferg Handley who has been writing military-related comics for 20 years – including more than 300 scripts for DC Thomson’s Commando.
It has been illustrated by Mike Collins who has been drawing strips for Marvel Comics since the 1980s, including; Spider-Man, Transformers and Doctor Who.
He has also worked with DC Comics on key titles including Batman and Superman.
Simon Bucks, chief executive of the Services Sound and Vision Corporation which runs BFBS, said: “I am immensely proud to be behind this innovative way of telling a remarkable story about a real-life soldier.
“It’s a testament to the courage and heroism of all our servicemen and women, past, present and future and a brilliant way of underlining why the Forces continues to be a matchless career.”
The comic can be found at forces.net/stories