Dad's Book of His Life

Growing up & being evacuated

Awarm and engaging story of the life of my Dad during a period of great change in social attitudes and conditions in Britain, and the Royal Navy. Starting with an extraordinarily sickly childhood, it records in more than 500 pages, the author’s experiences of evacuation in 1939, the 1940/41 blitzes on Portsmouth and 3 years of secondary schooling in Salisbury. On passing the national (School Certificate level), competitive exam for Artificer apprentices, Don joined the navy in August 1944 at the age of 15½, as an Electrical Artificer Apprentice.

Nana, Peggy, Eileen & Don 1936


For any teacher covering WWII this gives a very positive outlook on being an evacuee, a first hand description of the blitzes on Portsmouth and for just £6 the CD version can be used on a computer with fabulous photos screened on a whiteboard.

Naval Career

On completion of 4 years apprenticeship in HMS Fisgard, and 1 year of specialist training in HMS Collingwood, both comprehensively described in this book, Don joined HMS Theseus where he was responsible for maintaining the aircraft crane and lifts, bomb lift, hoists and engine-room electrics, and saw active service during the Korean  war in 1950/51.  He later served in a destroyer in the Med and 2 frigates and a cruiser in home waters as an Electrical Artificer and Chief EA before being commissioned in 1957. After cross-training in Radio and Radar he joined HMS Cheviot (Captain D8) in the Far East as Deputy Electrical Officer (DLO) and gained a Bridge Watch keeping certificate. He then served as A/S Training Equipment LO in HMS Vernon; in 3 more warships in the Gulf, Far East and home waters; on sea-going staffs as a FOST staff ‘Sea-Rider’, and as a CWT Surface Weapons Trials Team Leader; as the LO of the Fleet Maintenance Unit at Portsmouth and, in HMS Collingwood as Head of the GE Group and later as 2ic of the Control School. Don left his last ship, the A/S aircraft carrier HMS Bulwark, during a foreign visit, as the oldest member of the WE branch and the most senior Lt.Commander of any branch serving at sea in a front-line ship, to retire at the age of 50 ½ with an MBE.

Receiving the MBE at Buckingham Palace

Family life

 Although he thoroughly enjoyed his naval career, his most treasured memories are of the exquisite joy at being reunited with his wife and family after each long separation. He thanks Eileen for her love, devotion and resourcefulness and emphasises the inestimable value to a sailor, of a happy marriage and family life. He salutes that extra special group of ladies, naval wives, who single-handedly brought up their children and ran the home, garden and car during their husbands’ frequent and often lengthy separations. He finally compares and contrasts his second career as a chartered engineer and project manager with Marconi, most of it at MUSL, Waterlooville, and ends his story with a commentary on an active retirement

Family photo taken for 40th Wedding Anniversary 1990

Book dedicated to wife Eileen

Don dedicates the book to his dear wife of 60 years Eileen, who sadly passed away in March 2011.
Eileen & Don My wonderful Mum and Dad!


His childhood memories form a valuable part of Portsmouth's social history. An entertaining and insightful work into the innner workings of the Royal Navy. Chris Owen (Columnist and Chief Reporter, The News, Portsmouth)

A warm and engaging story told with great accuracy and sincerity.
Rear Admiral Mike Simpson (Director General Aircraft - Naval)

Congratulations on putting it together so well.
Admiral Sir William O'Brien (First C in C Fleet)

Your splendid autobiography brought back many memories of Nubian and of the Navy as it was. It has some great stories and excellent photographs.
Rear Admiral Guy Liardet (Feature Writer for The Times)

Price etc

The publisher’s Recommended Retail Price of this widely acclaimed book, which includes more than 200 pictures, comprehensive Lists of Contents, Acknowledgements and Illustrations, Abbreviations and a Glossary of Naval and Technical Terms, is £12.99.
However, copies can be purchased from the Author for £9 plus £3 P&P. A DVD pdf Adobe Acrobat version, (with colour photos), suitable for reading on a laptop or PC, is also available for £6 incl. P&P.
In each case the Author’s royalty of £2 will be donated to  The Parkinson Disease Society.

To order ring Sally Murdoch 02392 713515

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