True tales from the mess deck
Compiled by Paul White
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform . 2017
The idea of creating Jack's Dits came about from the many wonderful comments and messages the author received after the publication of 'The Pussers Cook Book', in which included a few Dits and annotations from some of the old hands.
So he was then asked if he could publish a book which would kindle more recollections that old salty sea dogs could reminisce over. So Paul set about collecting and collating as many sea stories as he could. Not wanting the book to be dry and boring, It was decided that a mix of Dits and jokes, along with a ditty or two, would give such a tome a good balance of entertainment, while providing the right stimulus for evoking fond memories.
Paul asked for sailors, past and present, to forward their 'dare do' and 'dare done' stories. Along with this, he recalled many a tale he himself heard in the mess. More narratives, anecdotes and dits were harvested from the internet and social media. It is these, the 'True tales from the Messdeck' which are the stories, once again re-told here, which are fondly known as Jack's Dits.
Paperback: 294 pages
Warships of the Tyne: 1763 to Date
An illustrated chronological history of warships built on the Tyne
by Frank Burn
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017
This 526 page book provides a record of the warships built
on the Tyne over a period of 228 years. From the first Tyne
built warship, the Mermaid-class sixth-rate frigate HMS
Solebay in 1763, to the last, the Type 23 "Duke"-class
frigate HMS Westminster in 1991. Ships as small as a 178 ton
Gun Brig up to a massive 27,500 ton Dreadnought, some very
famous ships were born on the Tyne, including 14 aircraft
Each of the 452 vessels built during that time are featured
in alphabetical order with basic information for all, and an
image provided for the majority. Details given include;
Pennant umber, Launch date, Builder, Type, Class,
Displacement, Length, Beam, speed, crew compliment,
Armament, and significant dates in the ship’s history and
It was not the author’s intention to give a complete history
of each ship, but rather to put each ship in its
chronological place in history as an aid for one who wishes
to take up further research.
A VOYAGE TO WAR
An Englishman's Account of Hong Kong from 1930 - 41
By Hugh Dulley
Available in hardback & E-book versions
ISBN-13: 9781910500552 (hardback)
ASIN: B072MJBQY9 (Kindle)
Buy it form
Lieutenant Commander Hugh William MacPherson Dulley, Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, known to everyone as ‘Peter’ was a member of the small RN contingent who died in the defence of Hong Kong in December 1941. This extensively researched and illustrated book has been compiled by his son Hugh, and it tells the story of Peter and his family in Hong Kong. Beginning with his arrival in the colony in 1930, to take a position with Jardine Matheson & Co. Ltd., it tells their story up until his death in December 1941. The story is told using letters written between Peter and his wife Therese, and their friends and family over a period of six years. It gives great insight into the political and social history of the colony and the lives of its residents, drawing on historical narratives to explain the various situations befalling Peter and his wife.
Peter was a ‘weekend sailor’ called into active service when war broke out, mustering with his fellow RNVR officers in the small and poorly equipped force; they were employed primarily on harbour patrols. In July 1940 Therese, then 8 months pregnant, was evacuated along with the women and children of the colony to the Philippines, when it was believed the Japanese would invade; Hugh (the author) was born later that month. He met his father in December 1940 when his mother returned to Hong Kong when the threat was seen to be diminished; Peter saw his son for only three months before Therese and their son were again evacuated, this time to Australia in March 1941.
Peter was on a steep learning curve in the wartime RNVR, with little experience of naval life and rudimentary seamanship skills he found himself aboard the tug HMPS PERLA operating as a r patrol boat,
conducting patrols around the islands; later promoted to Lt Cdr and in command of the rescue
tug HMAPV ST. AUBIN in which he undertook a 6,500 mile voyage departing from Hong Kong in May 1941 to deliver her to Aden. He arrived back at Hong Kong in September 1941 and was appointed as First Lieutenant aboard the sloop HMS CORNFLOWER. The Japanese invaded Hong Kong on December 8th 1941, Peter was killed while leading a shore party on the island on the 9th. He was posthumously awarded a mention in despatches for his actions.
THE PUSSERS COOK BOOK
Traditional Royal Naval Recipes
Compiled by Paul White
Publisher: Toad Publishing. UK. 2017
Buy direct form the printer
author's web site
This 90 page book explains 22 recipes covering both food and beverages regularly found on the ships menus during the 1960s 70s &80s. The essential glossary explains the ‘Jack-speak’ (naval slang terms and names) which, often colourfully, describes the food and drink as well as items and practices found
in the naval galley.
For authenticity the author has retained the original names, jargon and slang, even though they can be politically incorrect and to some possibly offensive. This work fills a gap in the recording of Royal Naval history, and to have sanitised these recipes and practices would have seriously diminished its value as a reference work.
This book is both serious and comical, with a smattering of colour images and a sprinkling of cartoons it brings to life things that many may remember, such as tucking into an egg banjo, Babies heads, pot mess or Duff, and raise a smile; these much loved dishes and many others are now captured for us to recreate.
'Chronicles of the last big cat'
Compiled & edited by Paul White
Toad Publishing. UK. 2016
Buy direct form the printer
author's web site
She was the name ship of the Tiger-Class of light cruisers
but she was eighteen years in the making, a ship laid down
during war-time but unfinished at the end of hostilities she
had an uncertain future.
This 56 page, fully illustrated book tells her story from
the laying of her keel in 1941 through the decisions about
her future in a changing navy where Light Cruisers were not
a high priority. Launched just after the end of the Second
World War it was not until the Cold-War years that she, and
her sister ships, BLAKE & LION were revived and redesigned
to become the modern Light Cruisers. TIGER finally
commissioned into RN service in 1959. TIGER & BLAKE were
later converted in "helicopter and command cruisers" and
TIGER was in dockyard hands from 1968 to 1972, emerging with
a flight deck capable of operating four Wessex or Sea King
The many illustrations and photographs help to bring the
story to life, showing the places, people and events that
the ship visited and participated in. It is a lasting record
of the ship’s history and achievements over her nineteen
years in RN service.
This excellent volume is produced as a large landscape (29.7
x 21.0 cm) format hard cover book in full colour,
illustrated throughout with diagrams and photographs on
glossy 200gsm paper. Copies are printed on demand and
delivery is usually around 14 working days from date of
'THE TATTIE LADS'
The untold story of the Rescue Tug Service
and its battle to save cargo, ships and lives
Author: Ian Dear
Reviewed by Robin Knight
Available in hardback & E-book versions
ISBN-13: 978-1844864010 (hardback)
ASIN: B01FA851HS (Kindle)
Buy it form
Presented with an open goal, the prolific military and
yachting historian Ian Dear (49-52) knows how to score. The
Tattie Lads is a page-turning account of the activities of
the Royal Navy’s Rescue Tug Service (RTS) in the two world
wars of the 20th century. It is an engrossing read, full of
incident and colour yet, for some bizarre reason, it has
never been told before. Both the official histories of the
RN and the Merchant Navy ignore the Service. Dear met
several veterans of the RTS at an event in Brixham in 2013
and subsequently was invited to write a history of the
Service and handed a huge amount of material on which this
book is based.
The RTS’s origins go back to 1915 and it played a growing
role in the First World War as the German submarine threat
grew. But in 1919 the service was disbanded. When war broke
out again 20 years later only five commercial tugs in
British ownership were powerful enough to be used as rescue
tugs on active service. The RTS was soon reformed and by
1944 consisted of 85 tugs, 604 RNR officers and 1,602
ratings, mostly from the Merchant Navy. Estimates vary, but
Dear reckons that between 1939-45 the RTS saved nearly three
million tons of merchant shipping, 254 British and Allied
warships and thousands of lives for the loss of 20 tugs.
Such a stellar achievement should have won widespread
recognition both at the time and subsequently but for one
factor – each rescued vessel in all probability represented
an Allied setback of one kind or another. A torpedo sinking,
a collision in a convoy, poor seamanship or errant
navigation. So the largely volunteer Tattie Lads (so-called
because they were recruited under the T.124T Agreement)
never got the credit they deserved, until now.
The book is chock-full of extraordinary feats of bravery and
seamanship and ingenuity. No naval action or landing
operation, particularly in the Mediterranean, was attempted
without an RTS presence. No convoy sailed the Atlantic
without a rescue tug escort. D-Day and the invasion of
continental Europe by the Allies in 1944 would not have been
possible without the contribution of 30 rescue tugs which
towed three million tons of steel and concrete across the
Channel to allow the construction of two prefabricated
harbours known as Mulberries off the beaches of Normandy.
SPIRIT IN CHANGING TIMES
Author: Robin Knight
Third Millennium Publishing 2016
Buy it form
Pangbourne College shop
Commissioned to celebrate the College's Centenary in 2017 this book details the history of Pangbourne College, its achievements and evolution over the last century.
Founded as “The Nautical College” during the First World War in 1917 by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt., its aim was to train boys for a career as Merchant Navy officers. The Admiralty took a keen interest in the new establishment and students were issued naval uniform together with the status of cadet in the Royal Naval Reserve. As the book recounts the many achievements of the school it records that in addition to Merchant Marine officers Pangbourne produced many officers for the RN – about 550 by one count. It became "Pangbourne College" in 1969 and become a co-educational boarding school in 1996; it retains a distinctly nautical flavour, the pupils still wear naval uniform.
The History is wonderfully illustrated throughout; by sharply drawn pen portraits of some formidable Pangbourne characters, and a wealth of photographs and other illustrations. Sprinkled throughout the narrative many of the College’s traditions, like the origins of the Chief’s Chair (made with wood from HMS Victory) presented to the college in 1930, and running the 100 present (the college’s own twist on the cross-country race) are covered in feature boxes; together with short biographies of notable staff and former cadets these are eye catching and easy to find for those who wish to browse through the pages.
You can get a flavour of the book for free and read 13 pages
from chapter 3: Navigating the Thirties
'THE OLD PANGBOURNIAN RECORD'
OP Obituaries and Death Notices, 1917 – 2016
Collected and Edited by Robin Knight
The OP Society 2016
Download free in PDF format
As part of Pangbourne College's Centenary celebrations an
ambitious project was undertaken to record the details of as
many deceased Old Pangbournians as possible in one document;
it is estimated that 1,500–2,000 Old Pangbournians have died
in the one hundred years since 1917, but no comprehensive
record of their careers and lives has existed in one place
In this work Robin Knight has collected and compiled
somewhere in the region of 1,250 obituaries, of varying
lengths and detail, taken from a large variety of sources to
tell their stories Of these 177 Old Pangbournians were
killed on active service in World War II.
The result is a book of some 150,000 words containing about
1,250 long and short OP obituaries and death notices –
basically, all the ones unearthed up to April, 2016. Fifteen
copies have been printed and will be held at the College
against need. In addition, a pdf of the book is available on
the OP website.
Some Old Pangbournians have led extraordinary lives, others
made few waves. Among the more unusual activities, OPs have
rescued Lord Louis Mountbatten, fired a test missile at Cape
Canaveral, surveyed an unknown bay in Antarctica, become the
finest ship model maker in the U.K., piloted a spy flight
over the USSR, been a television film cameraman in the
Vietnam war, arrested rebellious insurgents in colonial
territories, flown The Queen, run a turkey farm, become
leading watchmakers and olive oil producers, designed
nuclear power stations, invented a ship’s ladder, earned a
living as a blacksmith, started a hot air balloon society,
grown avocado fruit in Spain and helped to reform the Berlin
Philharmonic Orchestra after World War II.
'ABOVE & BEYOND'
The story of one man's journey to God during WW2
Author: Mark A. Biggs
Available in paperback & E-book versions
Buy it form
Above and Beyond, is a story of one man's a journey to God;
Laurence Walter Biggs' story tells of his journeys in World
War Two as a Seaman Gunner on the Russian convoys to
Murmansk, to officer training school as a CW candidate and
an unexpected turn of events when he has to leave the
course. Laurence finds himself promoted t0 Leading Seaman
and doing three jobs on his return to 'normal' duty; by day
a Gunnery instructor at HMS GOSLING teaching new entrants,
by night teaching weapons and commando skills to civilians
going behind emery lines, and when called for, he operated
as the Coxswain of a vessel in the top secret world of
covert operations with one of the RNs Special Operation
After completing 10 missions with the Special Operations
Group it really was back to 'normal' duties, this time with
Coastal Forces employed on minesweepers and patrol work. In
December 1944, after several near brushes with death,
Laurence finds himself floating in the freezing waters of
the North Sea after MTB 243 has struck a mine and been
abandoned, he makes a promise to serve God.
The book takes its title from the citation for the award of
Mentioned in Despatches ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’
which Laurence received for his actions that night aboard
MTB 243, a night which would mark the start of his journey
to God and a promise to keep. Laurence Biggs lived to fulfil
his promise and became an ordained a Priest in the Anglican
Church in England on Sunday 21st May 1967 and later
emigrated to Australia in 1970. He died in 2005 in Drouin,
Victoria, his last Parish.
A very interesting and informative book, it sheds light on
the activities of some of the men whose shadowy wartime
exploits still remain secret today
'BEING SILENT THEY SPEAK'
The story of a WW2 submarine - UNBEATEN
Author: David J.B. Smith
Available in paperback or E-book versions
Buy it form
Exactly 70 years on, David J. B. Smith's compelling and revealing book tells the story of one of His Majesty's Submarines, HMS/M Unbeaten, the loss of which was to remain a mystery for many years. This in depth work encompasses her build at the Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, her adoption by the Borough of Hove and all of her two years of war patrols. Ultimately it reveals the details of her final clandestine tasking in November 1942 and subsequent loss. HMS/M Unbeaten was last heard from via a signal sent to Flag Officer Submarines on 1 November 1942. The signal simply stated: ‘Operation Bluestone completed’; she was on passage to the Mediterranean via Gibraltar after undergoing a refit in Britain. On 11 November 1942 she was attacked and sunk in error by an RAF Wellington of No. 172 Squadron, Coastal Command while in the Bay of Biscay. She was lost with all hands.
Having learned that a distant family member went down with the submarine David began investigating the circumstances of the loss. Drawing extensively on records held at the National Archives and by naval museums, combined with letters and photographs from former crew members and the families of those who were lost, he has compiled a compelling insight into the life of both the boat and her crew. The families of those who perished received vague explanations for the loss of Unbeaten at the war's end, it was to be 30 years before the truth was revealed with the unsealing of the official papers; now the full story has finally been told.
David J.B. Smith Joined the Senior Service himself as a RADAR Operator at the age of 17, he went on to enjoy a full and varied 23-year Royal Navy career. David retired from Service life as a Chief Petty Officer (Seaman). He now lives in a quiet quayside village in sunny Devon, England.
E-BOAT ATTACK 6 JANUARY 1944
The sinking of the MV Wallasea, MV Solstad, MV Polperro and MV Underwood
Author: David F. Betts
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On 6th January 1944 E-boats of the 5th Flotilla Schellbootwaffe, commanded by Leutenant-Kommander Karl Muller, slipped across the English Channel and lay in wait for the unsuspecting ships and their escorts of convoy WP457.
exciting new account, using primary historical sources
previously unpublished and previously untold personal
stories, author David F Betts unfolds the dramatic story of
daring, bravery and heroism of those who took part in the
naval battle at Mounts Bay, Cornwall as Germany tried to
prevent the build-up to D-Day and the invasion of Europe.
Convoy WP457 consisted of 12 merchant ships and their armed
escorts. Amongst the ships were those carrying LST Landing
Craft to the southern ports in preparation for D-Day. Read
how the attack on convoy WP457 preceded the fatal attacks on
US Landing Ships at Slapton Sands in Lyme Bay in April 1944.
The attack on convoy WP457resulted in four merchant vessels
being sunk; out of 90 crewmen 65 died and 13 were injured.
grandfather, Leading Seaman (DEMS), D/JX 179383 Fredrick Walter
William Betts, joined the MV Underwood at Milford Haven as a DEMS gunner on Christmas Eve and he was to loose his life in
the attack. 1943. An account of his service in the RN is
included in the book.
David F Betts
is a professional archivist & records manager, he has
extensive knowledge of modern and historical records and
THE ANIMALS' V.C .
'FOR GALLANTRY OR DEVOTION'
The PDSA Dickin Medal - Inspiring Stories of Bravery and Courage
Author: David Long
Buy it form the PDSA Shop on-line
Amazon - Waterstones - AbeBooks
This new book recognises the most extraordinary achievements of animals in war - including pigeons flying through enemy lines, a life-saving cat on a Royal Navy destroyer, and Army dogs sniffing out IEDs in Afghanistan. For these heroic animals The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal remains the most prestigious award of its type anywhere in the world, with just 64 awarded in its near 70 year history.
Now for the first time a new history, authorised by the PDSAA, details every one of their remarkable stories. Describing with moving testimony the individuals and their exploits, it explores the remarkable bonds which develop between animals and the men and women they serve alongside and covers the period from the Blitz to the present day.
In so many theatres of battle animals have shown truly indomitable spirit, as well as courage, loyalty and fortitude. Of course there will always be those who question the concept of heroism or gallantry when it is applied to a dog or a cat or a horse or a bird; but more of us find ourselves genuinely moved by the animals’ stories, and perhaps all one can really say to the doubters is this: read their stories, listen to the people who knew them, and then decide. From the Blitz through Ground Zero to Helmand Province, these animals are remarkable, and so too are their stories.
Produced with the full cooperation of the PDSA, and written by established author David Long, a royalty from every sale will go to save sick animals.
The History of HMS Queen:
A World War II Lend Lease Escort Aircraft Carrier
Author: David Weaver
Copies can be purchased directly from Mr.
Weaver - please
e-mail for details.
This extraordinary book tells the story of one of the
Lend-Lease American built escort aircraft carriers supplied
to the Royal Navy during World War Two.
A self published work released in December 2004, this is
more than a just book; it is presented as a boxed set of
materials about HMS Queen. The Set comprises of a 260 glossy
page hard back B4 size landscape format book, a DVD film of
853 Royal Naval Air Squadron operating onboard the ship in
early 1945 and a CD-Rom which contains an Adobe Acrobat
version of the book. The box also contains a set of
large-scale deck-by-deck plans of a Ruler class escort
In addition to telling the story of the ship drawing on
official documents and the reminiscences of the crew David
delves into the building and modification process which saw
HMS Queen, and all but four of her class, transformed from
merchant hulls into warships. Unprecedented levels of detail
and a wealth of photographs and maps make this a work the
definitive account of HMS Queen and her squadrons.
BOMB ALLEY, FALKLAND ISLANDS 1982:
Aboard HMS Antrim at War
Author: David Yates
In his book David Yates recalls his experiences in the Royal
Navy as a Leading Catering Accountant aboard HMS Antrim
despatched to the South Georgia at the start of the
Falklands War. David conveys the humour, spirit and
traditions of life in the Royal Navy, vividly describing the
daily routines of life aboard ship and what matelots expect
when in port.
The author successfully conveys to the reader how the normality
of his peacetime navy was thrown into turmoil on Friday
April 2nd 1982, as Antrim prepared for war. In particular the
description of the traditional ‘crossing the line’ ceremony
is well described. You can almost taste the pill that is
thrust down each initiates throat, and imagine the terror at
being roughly, and repeatedly dunked by the ‘bears’.
The book is easy to read and. while well researched, is not
top heavy with facts and figures, this semi-autobiographical
work makes for fascinating reading offering a peek at life
below decks and off duty as well as in the uncertain days
that were the Falklands conflict. The book is well
illustrated with a 38 images and has two comprehensive
glossaries, one of naval terms and a second devoted to terms
specific to naval ‘cooks’, a must for those not familiar
with the naval catering branches.
Order direct from the author using this form
MOVING BASES: ROYAL NAVY
MAINTENANCE CARRIERS AND MONABS
This is another in David Hobbs
list of detailed history books covering aspects of the Royal
Navy, this time he focuses on Maintenance Carriers and
Mobile Air Bases which were planned and constructed both
during the Second World War and since.
Many previous works on the
subject of the Fleet Air Arm tend to focus on the fighting
ships and overlooked the important role played by RN
aviation support elements. This book covers the development
and implementation of the specialist maintenance carrier and
the land based equivalents that were the MONABs; much of the
material and many of the black & white photos appear in
print for the first time.
Also covered are is the role of
the smaller Escort Carriers which were pressed into service
as stop-gap repair ships during the war in the Pacific,
working with the MONABs to maintain a supply of serviceable
aircraft to the British Pacific Fleet.
Note :Some of the material
on MONABS and escort carriers is drawn from websites that
form part of the RN Research Archive, and are credited as
Lieutenant R.M.Pratchett M.B.E. and His Experiences During World War II: Member of the 30th Assault Unit Under Ian Fleming
Author: Geraldine Hultkrantz
Publisher: ELSP, St Helier
Geraldine Hultkrantz has produced a small volume about her
father, Lieutenant Richard Maurice Pratchett RNVR MBE, and
his experiences during World War 2. It tells of her father’s
pre-war career in the chemical industry and his
determination to gain academic qualifications in his own
time, to his enlisting as an ordinary Seaman in 1940. In
1942 while serving on the destroyer HMS Sikh he was selected
for officer training under the Commissions and Warrants (CW)
scheme and emerged from HMS King Alfred with a commission as
an Tempy. Sub Lieutenant RNVR in August 1942.
He chose to work in the dangerous world of mine disposal and
worked as a bomb disposal officer with the Land Incident
Section of the Torpedoes and Mining Department of the
Admiralty, travelling around the UK defusing unexploded
mines. In the run=up to D-Day he was employed in
preparations for the deployment of the Mulberry harbours
before being recruited by the Naval Intelligence Division
for duties with the new 30 (Commando) Assault Unit. During
his time with 30AU he travelled to liberated territories to
recover captured enemy technology for return to the UK,
initially in Europe and later in the Far East.
The book is easy to read and is well researched providing
background information on the units, ships, and operations
with which Lt. Pratchett was involved.
Contact the author:
From School to Landing Craft
A young mans war in letter
Author: C.M. Wiles
Publisher: Upfront Publishing
‘From School to Landing Craft' follows the naval career of
Lt. Richard Charles Wiles RNVR DSC from his entry into the
Royal Navy as a Seaman at HMS Royal Arthur in October 1941
to his selection for training as an RNVR officer at HMS King
Alfred in August 1942. On receiving his commission he served
in Combined Operations Landing Craft, initially with the 126
LC(A) flotilla, participating in the landings at Sicily and
later 552 LC(A) Flotilla and landed troops on Utah Beach
during the Normandy landings. This flotilla later saw action
in NW Europe on the River Waal at Nijmegen in the
Netherlands, working with the Royal Engineers.
The book tells his story in two ways, first a factual
account of his time in the Royal Navy drawn from his service
records, and secondly, an account based on extracts from
letters between him, his family and friends. While the
content of the letters offers insights into the daily lives
or those involved, their hopes, fears and expectations, the
work of the censor is also very apparent, especially in
letters home; the official record helps fill in these
‘censored’ gaps in the narrative.
The book has 170 pages and many photographs, maps and
diagrams, some in colour, and helpful appendices explaining
about landing craft operations and procedures. The extensive
use of letters make this book a pleasant change from
standard biographical works.
Direct from publisher
Many thanks to the authors of the above books for
kindly donating a copy of their work to the Royal Navy
Research Archive. If you have written a book on an aspect to Royal
Navy history we would be pleased to review it and add it to the
please contact the editor for more
28 November 2017
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