DICK Perceval did not think he had an interesting life.

Were it not for a chance discovery he would probably have been forgotten by all except those who knew him personally.

Following almost 30 years of quiet retirement he died at his home in Rochester Gardens, Hove, in 1997.

A year later, choreographer Becky Edmunds was walking down North Gardens in Brighton with her friend Charlie.

“All the bins were out so there were piles of rubbish everywhere,” she said.

“It was my friend who noticed this cardboard box with these journals in them, so we picked it up and ran off.

“The bin truck was coming down the road, so if we were a minute later I never would have found it.”

The pair rushed to Charlie’s flat to read them. They were beautifully-written with the most extraordinary stories,” she said.

“But we were both working in choreography and there was nothing I wanted to do with them.”

The Argus: Artist Becky Edmunds found Dick Perceval's journals in a Brighton rubbish heap in 1998Artist Becky Edmunds found Dick Perceval's journals in a Brighton rubbish heap in 1998

Becky still does not know why Dick’s diaries turned up in a rubbish heap more than a mile from his home.

More than 20 years after her discovery, she has now decided to reveal his far-from-ordinary story to the world in an online series called To Be Continued.

As with many of those who lived through it, Dick’s life was defined by the Second World War.

Born in Farnham in 1909, he had been a journalist in London before the war.

While working for an arts magazine, 22-year-old Dick met a feisty German woman called Sorina Eiche. She divorced her previous husband – twice – before she married Dick in 1936 in Singapore.

When war broke out three years later, both his family life and his career were yanked from under him.

“At the outbreak of the war he was in an enviable position. He had just started working as a journalist for Reuters,” Becky said.

“But they had to reduce the staff. He was the last one in and the first one out.

“Sorina had left to live in Switzerland. She was a great spender of money and he didn’t really have any.

“His family were so horrified at his marriage to a German that they cut him off.”

The Argus: Dick Perceval thought his life was unremarkableDick Perceval thought his life was unremarkable

Like all men of fighting age, Dick felt he should volunteer for the war effort. Sorina even pushed him to do it.

But Dick had three German stepsons through Sorina, all of fighting age too. He feared he would have to kill them.

“He doesn’t join up in patriotic fervour, he joins up because he believes it’s his duty,” Becky said.

“He loved Germany and had an absolute ball of a time living in Berlin in the 1920s.

“So Dick had his medical tests and normally you’d have a month between signing up and starting. They asked if he could start the next day and he was so shocked he said yes.

“Afterwards he called a friend who happened to be German. The night before he went to war he spent it at a party full of German people.”

Dick was conscripted to the Royal Artillery and was assigned to an anti-aircraft unit in Enfield Lock. But six months later he was invited to a mysterious job interview.

The Argus: Dick never discovered why he was chosen for an interview at Bletchley ParkDick never discovered why he was chosen for an interview at Bletchley Park

“He had no idea what the job was for and he had no idea why he’d been chosen,” Becky said. “But he was successful and he discovered he would work in Bletchley Park.

“It was extraordinary a man with a German wife should get to work in Bletchley Park.”

Dick worked in Hut 3 as part of the team working to crack the Enigma code.

Though he recognised how interesting the job was, he still had his complaints.

“The shifts are constantly changing and he feels very isolated,” said Becky.

“In 1944 near the end of the war he actually ends up in hospital having psychiatric treatment with a sleeping disorder.”

When VE Day finally came around in 1945, his feelings were mixed.

“The day, so long awaited, has come at last,” he wrote. But the actual conclusion of hostilities in Europe has come as something of an anti-climax.

“This final news had been expected daily, almost hourly, so that it came as no surprise.

“I was at work when we were informed of this and it was astonishing how little excitement or reaction it produced among my colleagues.

“I tried hard to realise what had just happened in the world and what it all meant but found it impossible to do so.”

The Argus: Dick's VE Day diary entryDick's VE Day diary entry

Dick’s life now became uncertain. Had his marriage with Sorina survived after years of not seeing each other?

What would he do with his life now?

He took a job in intelligence in occupied Hamburg after the war, eventually returning to the UK with Sorina in 1950 to work for the BBC.

His wife soon died and Dick eventually retired to Hove in 1970 with his second wife Sheila. His journals finish in 1976.

Having “known” Dick for more than 20 years, Becky, who managed to trace Dick’s sister, is more familiar with him than most of those who knew him.

“I feel like I’m representing him,” she said.

“He didn’t know what he would do with his journals. It felt it would be an act of suicide to destroy them.

“I asked his sister what he would have thought of my project and she said he would be really embarrassed and really flattered that somebody thought he was interesting. I’m very fond of him so I hope he would be.”

The Argus: Becky's online project To Be Continued chronicles Dick's life. Photo: Becky EdmundsBecky's online project To Be Continued chronicles Dick's life. Photo: Becky Edmunds

But some mysteries still surround Dick’s life. Becky believes Dick continued writing journals after 1976.

And of course she still does not know how the books ended up in North Gardens.

But most intriguing are the events surrounding his marriage to Sorina in 1936.

Dick references a £150 payment to a man named Gunther, a sum now worth £11,000. Becky believes there was blackmail involved.

But she hopes her project will encourage more people to write their own journals.

“Dick thought he was an ordinary man with an unremarkable life,” Becky said.

“No one is ordinary. It’s a very exciting thought. I look out my window, see the people walking by and know they have all had extraordinary moments in their lives.”

You can watch To Be Continued for free online at tobecontinued.online.