An Ordinary Man in Extraordinary Times

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by Percy Shipperbottom
The nautical adventures of an RAF High Speed Launch (HSL) Wireless Op/Signaller in the UK and Far East during World War II

A compelling memoir recalling the valuable work of RAF High Speed Launch crews in rescuing ditched aircrew from the sea in the English Channel and the Bay of Bengal in WW2

This book contains the reminiscences of a Lancashire lad who grew up in the early years of the 20th century in rural villages near Bolton, in the home of his maternal grandparents. Schooled in rural ways by his gamekeeper grandfather, he was proficient with a shotgun and an accomplished poacher at a young age.

Having left school at 15 tried his hand at a number of occupations, including jobs at the local coal mine and bleach works, later attending night school to gain a qualification in the new subject of radio communications. This latter was to prove useful after he had joined the Royal Air Force as a volunteer on the eve of war in September 1939.

After a brief experience in 1940, as part of the ill-fated British Expeditionary Force in France, he went on to serve in the RAF Marine Branch as a radio op/signaller aboard a High Speed Launch (HSL) based at Ramsgate.

The main task of the HSLs was to rescue the crews of RAF aircraft which had failed to make it home and ditched into the sea. It was challenging and dangerous work trying to locate tiny life rafts in the open sea in all weathers whilst running the risk of attack by the enemy. In spite of these difficulties, the HSL crews persevered and many lives were saved.

In 1943 Percy was posted to the Far East to join the crew of an HSL operating in the Bay of Bengal and along the Arakan Coast of Burma, a location which would test their endurance and seamanship.

In later life Percy wrote this memoir, containing many remarkable stories which have been edited for publication by his son David, as a tribute to his late father.

details page size 140 x 205mm | 180 pages text plus photos
genre memoir / ww2 / RAF / nautical / military
themes rural Lancashire in early 20th century / RAF HSL activities in WW2 in UK and Far East
keywords Bolton Lancashire, RAF Marine Branch in WW2, Air Sea Rescue ASR, high speed launch HSL, Ramsgate, Arakan coast, Burma WW2
ISBN 978-1-84683-195-9
    Delivery time:5-7 Days
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