This month marks the 10th anniversary of the death of one of Wales's most celebrated authors, Leslie Thomas.

A Newport native, Mr Thomas first gained fame with the publication of his novel The Virgin Soldiers in 1966, which was subsequently adapted into a popular film.

Born in Stow Park Circle, Newport, in 1931, Mr Thomas had a rather colourful beginning in journalism.

As a young man, he was in charge of the night-time newsroom of the London Exchange Telegraph Company.

There, he would often spend quiet evenings sleeping on an old mattress in the office, complete with the office cat Humphrey on his chest.

These unconventional beginnings are chronicled in his autobiography In My Wildest Dreams.

Mr Thomas’ early life was marked by profound loss.

His father drowned when his merchant ship was torpedoed, and his mother died of cancer just a few months later.

Consequently, from the age of 12, he spent time in various Barnardo's homes across the UK, with differing experiences.

These formative years likely had a significant impact on the direction of Mr Thomas' literary career.

He followed on from these challenging beginnings by doing his National Service in the early 1950s.

Initially a Pay Corps clerk, unexpectedly, he and his colleagues were posted as front-line soldiers to the notorious jungle country of Malaya, infested by ruthless Communist guerillas.

Mr Thomas wrote about their experiences, as young Welsh boys thrown into an alien environment, in The Virgin Soldiers.

The vivid descriptions portrayed the reality of military life and the inherent dangers, particularly those imposed on novices.

In his time, Mr Thomas penned a total of 27 novels.

This included the beloved Dangerous Davies detective stories, which were adapted for the BBC, starring Peter Davison as the titular character.

Davies, a somewhat bumbling hero who reluctantly steps up due to being the last option, is a testament to Mr Thomas’s talent in infusing humour with more serious themes.

Mr Thomas’ love for his hometown shines through in his writings, particularly in his reminiscing about his teenage years in a house on Maesglas Avenue.

He would recount his boyhood forays to the forbidden pleasures of Pill and talk of the joy of gathering shrapnel after German air raids.

He deeply understood the sense of place and how the average person speaks.

Despite his success, recent years have seen Mr Thomas's work visibly absent from Welsh bookshops, a curious oversight considering his expansive literary output and celebrated storytelling abilities.

Mr Thomas had a lengthy career in Fleet Street as a reporter with the Evening News, following royal visits abroad and witnessing significant historical events, including the trial of infamous Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

However, he ultimately transitioned to fiction full-time, citing distaste for the ruthless methods employed by some of his press colleagues.

Mr Thomas's later work encompasses novels like Kensington Heights, the poignant tale of an army veteran living with PTSD whose life takes a turn after a fortuitous encounter.

Mr Thomas expertly incorporated elements of humour and humanity, moving the reader from tears to laughter.

With the tenth anniversary of his passing reminding us of his remarkable work, perhaps it's time for a fuller retrospective of this Welsh literary great's life and career.

With thanks to C Roger Bowen.