The family of a Gidea Park grandfather were more than a little surprised when, while looking through some old items, they came across one piece of memorabillia which was totally unexpected – his wartime diary. 

Sal Muller, who died in 1997 at the age of 72, had fled Belgium for England during the Second World War as a 15-year-old. He later met his future wife, Fay, and had a family in Havering. 

However, despite being a tight-knit group, his son, Geoffrey, 72, said no-one knew about the diary’s existence.

It was Geoffrey’s son who found the diary and showed it to his grandmother, Fay, who told him she did not recognise it. 

“We had no idea that it even existed,” said Geoffrey. 

“It was a complete surprise to find this document.” 

Written in Dutch, due to Sal’s family being from the Netherlands despite living at the time in Belgium, the diary was quickly sent off to a Dutch cousin who translated the 160-plus pages and began sending it back in excerpts. 

What the family received, Geoffrey said, “was very fascinating stuff”. 

Romford Recorder: Sal Muller as a young manSal Muller as a young man (Image: The Muller Family)

While some of his youth was known to the family, the diary told in detail the story of Sal’s escape from Belgium following the Nazi invasion. With little money and no-one he knew for company, he was able to get to France and then on to a boat to England. 

“I don’t know if any of us can even imagine being a 15-year-old having to leave your family,” Geoffrey said. 

Since receiving the complete translated version, Geoffrey said he has “read all of it more than once”. 

Wanting to get Sal’s incredible story into the world, the family have also decided to publish it in full. Entitled Aim for the Top, the diary is not the only book sold under Sal’s name, having previously published his memoir before he died. 

Romford Recorder: Geoffrey and his mother, Fay, with the bookGeoffrey and his mother, Fay, with the book (Image: The Muller Family)

Fay, who is nearly 95, said she remains unsure why the diary had lain dormant for so long without her husband mentioning anything. 

“Perhaps it was something in the past, and that was it?” 

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Regardless, she added she is pleased to see it published, telling the Recorder: “I think it’s great.” 

To buy the book, visit: 

All proceeds from its sales will go to the charity Kidney Cancer UK.