AN osteopath who works in Bradford on Avon has hit the headlines in the UK and around the world with a book about her father.

Stranger In My Heart by local author Mary Monro, published by Unbound, describes her quest to uncover the secrets of her long-deceased war hero father.

Lt Col John Monro (1914-1981) was Commanding officer of 19th Regiment of Royal Artillery at Larkhill in the 1950s, after a distinguished Second World War career fighting in Hong Kong, escaping across China and later fighting in Burma.

Ms Monro is thrilled with the response to her book, saying: “Everyone has a one-sentence legend about what their father or grandfather did in the war and I think this is why the story has touched people.

“They were a generation of heroes, mostly unsung, and it is vital that their stories are not lost forever. We have so much to learn from them.”

Her father never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving Ms Monro with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. By the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past.

She discovered that he had fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944.

Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a 20th-century great, Ms Monro began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called Dad.

Ms Monro, who has lived in Bath for almost 20 years, has so far sold 1,000 copies of her book, after an initial print run of 500.

After coming home, Lt Col Monro founded the Riding for the Disabled Association, which helps children and adults to overcome their disabilities and move on with their lives.

The family farm in Shropshire, supplied with several ponies, was close to a school for blind and disabled children.

Lt Col Monro was driven by his wartime experiences that had left him with a deep understanding of the importance of freedom.

Riding gave the children a sense of liberation from their restrictive bodies and a new perspective on the world from the back of a horse – much higher and with a better view than from a wheelchair.

Walking them down the lane on horseback led to beaming smiles, stronger muscles and co-ordination and a sense of partnership and freedom.

The Association continues to offer this experience to 28,000 people each year, with a network of 500 volunteer groups nationwide.Ms Monro is supporting the RDA by donating a share of the proceeds from her book.

She hopes to make a £500 donation to the association in March.