From scrawny teen to wearer of The Badge

Ashley Topham in uniform EMN-140809-174645001
Ashley Topham in uniform EMN-140809-174645001
Share this article

A new book by a former Market Rasen man tells of life in the British Army from the regular soldier’s point of view.

Within the first three months, author Ashley Topham has sold one third of his print run.

“I am absolutely shocked and stunned by the response to the book - it is doing so well,” he said.

The former De Aston student spent almost 24 years in the army, joining straight from school.

And over the years he
experienced some hilarious moments, as well as some traumatic times.

“I sat down one day going over a few stories and started to laugh,” said Ashley.

“So I started to write things down and sent a few chapters to 20 people who I knew would be honest with me.

“They liked it - said I had an interesting story to tell - so I went ahead and wrote The Badge.”

Ashley admits he was the class clown at school.

“But De Aston sorted me out in the head,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for De Aston I wouldn’t have got on.

“Once I joined the army - that really sorted me out.

“Everybody needs to find something and for me it was the army.”

And he says his memories of those army days are of ‘comradeship, humour and loyalty, and on the reverse, bullying and fighting.’

“This happens between men in the army all over the world and points out the courage and commitment it takes to serve despite what is pitted against you.”

The book tells of Ashley’s own commitment to serve - charting his progress from scrawny troublemaker to Regimental Sergeant Major, wearer of The Badge, feared and respected by all.

“There have been lots of books written by generals and guys from Special Forces, but I wanted to get across how it really is - as a normal soldier in a normal regiment; that’s how it happens.”

Anyone seeing the chapter list for The Badge will notice the numbering is incorrect - chapters jump from seven to nine.

“Ah well that is deliberate,” added Ashley. “I am already working on book two; The Badge - the missing chapter.”

‘The Badge’ is available to buy from Something 
Special in Market Rasen’s Queen Street or direct via

Extracts from the opening page

Chapter One - Training

Many books have been written by high-ranking officers and men from the Special Forces..... This book is about me, a normal soldier in a normal regiment.
My story magnifies and shows how we never know what’s around the corner, be it an 
intense low or an incredible natural high.

The contents of my book 
describe the experience of war, including the humiliation and turmoil of my capture, which caused an international incident and reached the in-tray of the Prime Minister.