A NEW book tells the amazing story of a man’s extraordinary life in the army, which saw him arrested as a spy, honoured with a medal and court-martialled ... twice!

Going to Work on a Yak, by Mark Holtom, is full of his father Giles Holtom’s memoirs.

It contains stories of his family and his early life in Gainsford End, near Halstead, and later when he joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and travelled the world to 46 different countries.

Giles died in 2014, but his memories lived on when son Mark, 66, self-published the book, with an audio book now being released.

Mark said: “My father used to tell me and my brothers stories at the dinner table.

“He had so many wonderful stories, and we heard them time and time again, which went on all through my life.

“I wanted to get them written down, and find out how much was real, so it was down to me to investigate the details of his life and the places he visited.

Giles was born in Essex in 1931 and was a farm boy and farrier’s apprentice.

His father, Bill, was a well known local resident who owned the Spar supermarket and built the now long-gone Halstead Golf Course.

Giles moved to Gainsford End from 1946 onwards, joining the army in the late 1940s, where he had many adventures.

Mark said: “Giles was behind the Iron Curtain at least twice, arrested as a spy by the Americans, as well as court-martialled and awarded a medal from the same action.

“He was in Austria when it was partitioned, Egypt during the fight for independence, and Malaya and Burma during the communist uprisings.

“He was also in East Berlin, Hong Kong and Afghanistan, where he was followed by military intelligence he called ‘men in grey coats’.

“And at the end of each chapter, there are headlines from newspapers, including the Halstead Gazette, at that time. It was great to write.”

The book is available from Amazon in hardback for £10.95 or paperback for £7.95.