This is a project that's near and dear to our hearts at GrayResearch. My paternal Grandfather Prentiss N Gray (in my book Grandfather is always capitalized) wrote journals of his travels throughout his life. "15 Months in Belgium" isn't the first of those journals, but it's one of the only ones never published. The journal begins on a street car in San Francisco where my Grandfather meets an old college friend who has just joined up with Herbert Hoover to form an aid group to help get food to Belgium. Belgium has been invaded by the German army on their way to France and decimated in the process. Belgium has always had to import food to feed its people but now that it's occupied territory it's also cut off from it's suppliers.

The story takes Prentiss N Gray from his job with his father's shipping company in San Francisco across the country by train to New York, then on to south Hampton through sub marine infested waters of the Atlantic to south Hampton, through the mine fields of the channel to Holland and finally by train to occupied Belgium. The story is about struggling with the Germans to get the food in and out to the people of Belgium, struggling to stop the Belgians from selling the food on the black market, struggling with private entrepreneurs to stop them selling food to the Germans (who are also short on food) and struggling with the allies who are extremely suspicious of the entire operation. There are accounts of spies, privateers, weird German dinner games and a very interesting perspective of the difference between the German's military and civilian attitudes.

It's a great story of a bygone age both genteel and horrible. A story of high society in combat with low motives, and the onset of mechanized warfare. It's a corker!

Our primary purpose is to publish the journal in a way that it will make sense and can be enjoyed by the most people. Originally destined to be just xeroxed and passed out to the grand children, we are taking the opportunity to use all the legerdemain of electronic publishing to make the story more accessible. There are many references in the journal that are mysterious to someone not knowledgeable with the time and the war. The final edition will contain links and references, maps and explanations and of course many original photographs. The photographic restoration of the journals original pictures and documents has taken a year by itself. In it's first electronic embodiment each page was scanned at a high resolution to preserve the look and " feel" of the original journal. The resulting eBook was so large many readers wouldn't have been able to handle it. In the next iteration we are running the scanned pages through an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and using a special constructed background to simulate the original without adding all the weight of fully scanned pages. This will also allow us to add a table of contents, an index, hyper links, and multimedia throughout the entire text without distracting the reader.