AT the age of 17, Frank White volunteered for the Royal Navy and he served in the British Pacific Fleet during the Second World War.

Approaching his 10th decade, Frank was gripped by the realisation that the number of people with firsthand memories of life during the war was fast diminishing - so he set about writing a wartime novel. He sent it to publisher Hodder & Stoughton in a brown paper parcel tied up with string, with a note that read: “I am a Hodder author. I hope you will consider my new novel.” It was 53 years since Frank’s last novel had been published.

Frank was nearly 90 when he wrote There Was A Time, about life in a village on the east coast from June to December, 1940, when Britain faced invasion. “The anxieties of the times created a mood never experienced before or since,” said Frank.

Published by Hodder in 2017, the novel must surely have been one of the very last books written about the war by someone who served in it. It opens on a summer morning, as the country prepares for invasion. Beaches are mined and tank traps are set up in the village, but daily life goes on. The remarkable novel, which the T&A featured in 2017, evokes an intense wartime period when the country’s fate rested with the Battle of Britain. Frank captured the anxiety of villagers, the way war gripped every family, and the fear that life as they knew it was about to end.

After the war, Frank worked in journalism and was publicity manager for Hepworth & Grandage in Bradford. He wrote short stories for radio, plays and two novels, published by Hodder in the 1960s. His son, Clive White, was a journalist on the Keighley News and Craven Herald.

Sadly, Frank recently died, and his last novel is to be published posthumously - along with a piece he wrote half a century earlier. Frank was a particularly striking writer about adolescence; a resourceful young boy links the various strands of There Was A Time and he had written a short novel in the 1960s, A Morse Code Set, about a boy growing up in Manchester at the outbreak of war. In 2018 he produced a delightful novella set in rural Yorkshire in the 60s.

Hodder was planning to publish these two novels in one volume - entitled Innocence - in 2020, and the book will now be published posthumously in April 2020.

Frank’s publisher at Hodder, Nick Sayers, said: “We are very sad indeed to hear of Frank’s death and to think that he will not be there to see his new book published next year. I am so proud to have known him and to have worked with him. He wrote with a sparklingly clear prose and he was delightful company, altogether a very special person.

“I could scarcely believe it in 2016 when a parcel arrived, wrapped in brown paper, containing a typescript and a letter from the author saying we had published his last book 50 years earlier and asking if we would now like to take on his new one!

“I read it and loved it and it was the start of a relationship I shall always cherish. Our thoughts are with his wife, June, and his five children.”