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BLASTS FROM THE PAST

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One unexpected pleasure from promoting my forthcoming book on Facebook, via the Submariners' Association and Friends of the Submarine Museum networks, plus on this website is that I have been contacted by an array of interested and interesting people.

For examples, I have been contacted by the son of one of my father's shipmates in the ill-fated HMS Intrepid which was sunk by German bombers at Leros in the Greek Dodecanese and also been contacted by the grandson of another. They were both researching their father/grandfather's history which I share with them. I was in my mother's womb when Intrepdid went down and was given my father's name at birth, but he re-appeared later having been helped to escape by the Greek Resistance.

I have also been contacted by the very man who appears on the after casing of HMS Repulse in a painting I commissioned and donated to the Wardroom of HMS Neptune at Faslane when I retired from the Navy. Repulse was the last of the Polaris missile submarines and the painting was of her leaving the Gareloch for the last time on her way to the scrapyard. I had provided the artist with a photograph and he had faithfully painted in the men on the bridge and the solitary sailor on the after casing who was holding the end of the long paying-off pennant. I had never really considered that these were real people. He was terribly pleased to have been immortalised in the painting.

Another contact is Jim McCrum who was a reactor panel operator in HMS Revenge. He was sitting right in front of me when we suffered a major steam leak. The incident is described in my book. Jim did exactly the right things in the (literally) heat of the moment. I have not seen him since I left Revenge back in 1978. We're going to meet for a beer in the New Year.

Finally, I was contacted by the wife of one of our Mechanics in Revenge and put in touch with the mother of Leading Mechanic James 'Bungy' McWilliams who was awarded a Queen's Gallantry Medal for his bravery in the steam leak emergency but tragically murdered later in a street fight in Liverpool whilst still a young man.

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