Sir Jeremy Black

There and Back

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The memoirs of the last British Admiral to lead an aircraft carrier into active battle A story that covers Britain's most remarkable battleships and naval events of the recent past A unique view from the highest levels of the British admiralty “I slept that night in my top bunk, as we clattered over the rails. I imagined the ambush first, and a burst of fire ripping through our compartment, then wondered how I would cope with clambering down from the train in the darkness, knowing there were hostile insurgents about! Alas, I need not have worried, and we duly arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur in time for breakfast…” Born in Devon, Sir Jeremy Black began his naval life aged 13, as a Cadet under Training at Dartmouth and on HMS Devonshire. Then, cadets still slept in hammocks forced to lie on their backs to conform with the hanging of hammocks, a naval tradition dating back to before Nelson's time. He would learn seamanship and how to paint ships under the careful watch of Petty Officers, while in the classroom receive instruction on gunnery, torpedoes, signals and anti-submarine warfare. Cadet Black won the King's Sword after completing two long and intensive training cruises. His first appointment was on HMS Belfast (now a popular tourist attraction, moored by Tower Bridge), which took him to his initial taste of service under fire during the Korean War. Experience on other ships followed until, aged 30, he commanded a minesweeper engaged in action during the Borneo uprising. There, unfortunately, he failed to notice that many of the ship's stores were sold by the Chief Bosun's mate, resulting in Sir Jeremy's Court Martial on a record number of charges. He survived. His long, distinguished naval career has taken Sir Jeremy to nearly every part of the world where the British Navy was engaged in the last half of the twentieth century; from the Korean War, through the Suez crisis, and in all the main areas of possible conflict during the Cold War. Appointed to command the country's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible, he took it and its men to the Falkland Islands, winning the DSO for his part in the conflict. He went on to become a Flag Officer, taking a number of ships to the Far East, ending his career as Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command, when he flew his Flag in HMS Victory, Nelson's Flagship. From dancing eightsome reels in Borneo to the complex and dangerous fight to win back the Falklands, Sir Jeremy blends the tale of a successful naval career with many cogent observations on how naval life has developed – not always for the best – over the many years of his exceptional career. Written with a wry humour, Sir Jeremy's keen eye for detail and some pungent opinions combine to render memoirs which entertain, educate and finally engage its readers in a life of service, well-lived.
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313 printed pages
Original publication


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