Ford's place is booked at Makars' Court

A WRITER who was awarded the Military Cross during his time as a soldier serving in the Far East is set to become the latest addition to Makars' Court – Edinburgh's answer to Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Respected writer James Allan Ford, who died in March last year at the age of 88, wrote five novels in the 1960s and early 1970s, with his first two based on his own experiences serving in Hong Kong, where he was held as a prisoner of war.

His widow Isobel has applied to have her husband's name honoured in Makars' Court, where the achievements of 32 other prominent writers – including Dame Muriel Spark, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott – are already celebrated.

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Her application has been approved by the Saltire Society and is set to be ratified by councillors next week.

The proposed inscription is taken from Mr Ford's 1965 novel A Statue for a Public Place and reads "sing out the silence, fill for ever and ever the emptiness".

His widow will fund the costs of the design as well as the carving and laying of the stone in Makars' Court, next to the Scottish Writers' Museum in Lady Stair's Close.

Mr Ford, who was born in 1920, grew up in Leith and attended the Royal High School.

In 1940, he joined the Royal Scots and was dispatched to the Far East as a second lieutenant.

He was promoted to captain, along with his brother Douglas, while serving in Hong Kong but by the end of December 1941 the colony had been captured by the Japanese and Mr Ford was taken as a prisoner of war.

He was held captive for four years, during which time his brother was executed at the prisoner of war camp at Sham Shui Po.

On his release in 1945, Mr Ford was awarded the Military Cross for "his untiring energy, courage and good leadership" and for remaining in action after twice being wounded.

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His first novel, The Brave White Flag, which he wrote in 1961, recounted the despairing days leading up to the fall of Hong Kong.

Two years later he wrote Season of Escape, about the life and death of his brother Douglas. It won the Frederick Niven Award.

He later followed these with three more novels about his subsequent and more agreeable life in Edinburgh – A Statue for a Public Place, A Judge of Men and The Mouth of Truth.

Councillor Ron Cairns, vice-convener of the city council's culture and leisure committee, said: "This poignant and uplifting inscription would be a very welcome addition to the Makars' Court.

"Scotland – and not least its capital city – has produced an extraordinary number of accomplished writers and the Makars' Court is an excellent way of paying tribute to them and celebrating their work."