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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Reminiscences - where did those 49 years go?

On 19 October 1965 I joined the Royal Navy; 49 years today. I was seventeen.

The journey to join HMS Raleigh as a recruit has been covered in the blog here

Part of page 2 of my Service Certificate
I finally left the navy 2 August 1989, having served almost twenty-four years.

In that time I was fortunate not to be at sea for a lot of my career. I sailed in three frigates: in the Cod War our ship was holed below the waterline; skirting the edge of typhoons in the China Sea and hurricanes in the Caribbean, the ship superstructure was buckled. I’ve participated in realistic landing and insurrection exercises in Portland including nuclear and biological attacks and undergone advanced first-aid classes. I’ve been inside communications centres and on the ships’ bridges - the nerve-centres - and bounced around in Gemini assault craft.

I’ve sailed in a conventional submarine and the hunter-killer HMS CONQUEROR and also toured the ‘nuclear forests’ of a Polaris submarine. On South Georgia I walked inside a glacier and slept overnight at Leith's ghostly deserted whaling station. I’ve flown in Wasp helicopters and been winched onto a ship's deck. Having flown from Karachi to Islamabad, Pakistan, I drove up the Khyber Pass where I met some Pathans, quite forbidding characters draped with ammunition-belts; from here I looked out over the Plain of Kabul. (See this blog here ). I snorkelled in the Red Sea, trekked the mosquito-riddled jungle of Belize and stood atop the Mayan pyramid of Altun Ha.

I learned Chinese kung fu (quanshu) in Malta where I teamed up with Gordon Faulkner to write the first of a fantasy series set in mythical Floreskand – Wings of the Overlord (see below). I’ve fired automatic pistols, rifles and machine guns, though not in combat, and carried the bodybags of airplane crash victims and viewed corpses post-autopsy. I’ve manned and loaded ship's guns and my memory can still smell the cordite. All useful material, I guess, for a writer.

Before I joined the navy, I dreamed of being a writer, and had written two spy novels (unpublished). While following my career as, appropriately, a Writer in the RN, I still pursued that goal in various guises – editor of ships’ magazines, selling short stories and articles, and sending out many a manuscript that would fail. The navy taught me many things, not least to be persistent and never to give up. Finally, I started getting novels accepted in 2007 and thereafter; an ‘overnight success’ that has taken roughly fifty years.

Never give up.

[This is written from the perspective of a writer. Great joy also came with marriage, the birth of our daughter and our grandchildren].
* * *
WINGS OF THE OVERLORD by Morton Faulkner
Available from Amazon UK here
Available from Amazon COM here

Available post-free worldwide from the book depository here

So begins their great quest that tests the trio to the limit. Exciting obstacles include raging torrents, snakes, feuding warrior hordes, lethal fireballs, terrifying electric storms, treacherous mountains, avalanche, betrayal and torture. The travellers start out barely able to tolerate each other but, gradually, as their problems are overcome, they grow closer. The strength of comradeship is evoked and also selfless sacrifice. Their story is rich in history and threatening events that beset them on their quest.


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