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Jottings of a Young Sailor



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Jottings of a Young Sailor by Norman Sparksman

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One of the main functions of the Royal Navy during World War II was to defend from enemy attack Allied merchant shipping carrying vital war supplies to and from the United Kingdom. This it did in two ways. Firstly, it organised merchant ships into convoys escorted by a protective screen of warships and secondly by arming the merchant ships themselves so that they had some means of self defence. This book is an account of Norman Sparksman's experiences whilst serving in the Royal Navy. Firstly as a seaman during his officer training programme on HMS Edinburgh escorting convoys to the Russian Arctic ports of Murmansk and Archangel; and later, having been commissioned, serving in the branch of the Navy responsible for the arming of merchant ships.Surviving the loss of his ship in action while defending an Arctic convoy and the privations of an enforced two month stay in primitive conditions on the desolate snowbound North coast of Russia he then had to face the perilous voyage back to the UK on a destroyer sailing independently with no means of help in the event of mishap. Having arrived home safely the author completed his officer training at HMS King Alfred and the Royal Naval College Greenwich. He was then posted to the convoy assembly point in Belfast Lough to assist with the arming of the merchant ships assembling there for convoy. In April 1945 he was posted to the busy port of Calcutta in India, again to assist in the servicing of defensively equipped merchant ships. Demobilised in August 1946, the author returned home to civilian life. No more dodging bombs and shells. No more wondering if a torpedo would dispatch him to the next world.

Author Biography

Norman Sparksman was born in Richmond, London in 1920, and moved with his parents to Belfast in 1925. He was educated in Methodist College, Belfast and served in the Royal Navy from 1941-1946.When World War II ended he worked in the Insurance industry, married and in 1952 moved to Dublin where he progressed to the position of Underwriting Manager of a large Insurance Company, He retired in 1980, moving to Howth where he now lives.The Navy always maintained that due to defective eyesight Norman was not fit to be at sea in a navigating capacity, however, having never lost his love for the sea he was determined to refute the allegation. He taught himself navigation, bought a 30 foot cruising yacht, and then sailed extensively across and around the Irish Sea and up the west coast of Scotland as far as the Outer Hebrides. Before selling his boat and retiring aged eighty, he circumnavigated Ireland as well a having spent many years sailing around the islands of Greece in chartered yachts.Norman is a Life Member of the Russian Convoy Club whose white bereted members are seen marching past the Cenotaph every November, and Holder of the Arctic Emblem issued by the British Ministry of Defence as well as the 60th Anniversary Commemorative medal issued by the Russian government.Apart from sailing, his hobbies and interests have been hill walking, indoor bowling, photography, artwork, DIY, gardening and golf. Norman still does a little of most of these but aged 87 does not now walk up many hills if he can avoid it. He and his wife are both active and fortunate to enjoy good health apart from such things as creaky joints etc which afflict people of their age. They have a son and a daughter, both of whom are married and they have seven grandchildren, three boys and four girls. All live in the Dublin area.
Release date NZ
October 31st, 2007
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Illustrations (some col.), map
Melrose Books
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