Diver [Paperback]

Diver

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Book Description

Diver is an honest, moving and sometimes hilarious account of a hair-raisingly exciting career, both in the Royal Navy and in commercial deep-sea diving. Training the most unlikely of raw recruits, handling unexploded bombs while under air attack in the Falklands, living for months in a pressurised bottle with a voice like Donald Duck, commuting to work through a hole in the floor in the freezing, black depths of the North Sea.

With a foreword by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band and an after word by Commodore Michael Clapp.

From the Author

Preface

In my ten years in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, there was never a boring moment. I joined at the tender age of seventeen, and had qualified for basic diver by the age of eighteen. I was then shipped off to sea aboard one of the Navy’s smaller minehunters, for what should have been a year’s draft. However, my term aboard the Kirkliston was cut short. I was accused of being a modern-day Fletcher Christian, cast out as a mutineer, and sent back to diving school!
I didn’t know it at the time, but being in effect sacked from my first ship early was a blessing in disguise. To punish me, the Navy saw fit to fly me halfway around the world to an island paradise in the South Pacific, with orders to blow parts of it up. Every boy’s (and man’s) dream.
Eventually, coming home a tad worldlier, I joined the globe-trotting Fleet Clearance Diving Team in Portsmouth. I decided it was time to advance my skills and take an intensive seven-month course to become a Leading Diver. Then, to put some of my new-found skills into practice, I joined the Portsmouth Bomb and Mine Disposal Team, where I gained a great deal of experience, mostly of blowing things up. We would drive around the country picking up all sorts of ordnance, washed up, fished up, sometimes even dug up.
Having escaped sea for three years, I was on someone’s radar for another sea draft. HMS Bronington was my next ship. Prince Charles had left when I arrived, but he would come to sea with us every now and then, `just to get away from it all’. Having survived the year on the Bronny without being cast adrift as a mutinous dog, I went back to the Fleet Team.
During all these generally positive experiences, there was never a hint that I would be going to war. Never for one moment did I think I would find myself sitting alongside live unexploded bombs during an air raid.
World War II was long gone. The end of the Cold War was fast approaching. So who would have given a second thought to a tiny piece of news in the bottom corner of the broadsheets?
March 19, 1982. A group of Argentine scrap metal merchants working in South Georgia, in the South Atlantic, is escorted by some Argentinian military personnel. Britain calls Argentina to remove the military personnel without delay. They receive no response.

Hardly anyone took any notice. Even the British government saw nothing to overly concern them. Where was South Georgia anyway? I would soon find out.

My war took longer to get over than I realised. I thought I was fine, but looking back now I see that I wasn’t `all there’ for a number of years afterwards. I saw and experienced things I will never forget, things I think about to this day. Things that make me appreciate everything that I have, with my wonderful family and close-knit circle of friends. Some, who were just unlucky, who were simply in the wrong place, never got to have an adult life, a wife, kids, the things we all take for granted.
*****
This book is not meant to be precise. Not every date, time, casualty etc has been exhaustively verified. A large part is about the Falklands conflict and is taken from the diaries I kept on a daily basis. If I heard, for example, whilst aboard a ship that there had been fourteen casualties somewhere, that is what I wrote down.

Now some might say I should go back and check every figure. That would mean tampering with my diary and it would take away the realism of what it is like to take in a war as it goes on around you. What you hear on the day of a tragedy is never going to be completely correct. That is the same in civilian life as well as the military, whether it’s a train crash or a ship sinking. So I’m not going to do it. The diaries are published as I wrote them, sometimes under duress, sometimes under tables, but word for word they are what I thought, wrote and knew at the time.
Some names have been changed, for obvious reasons, some haven’t.
Everything I have written in this book is true and happened. I’ve not tried to build any parts or characters up, or shoot them down, I’ve tried to tell it as I saw it.
Tony Groom
October 2007

One comment

  • 1
    AJ
    December 20, 2010 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I read this book just after it was published. It’s one of the most exciting diving related books I’ve read. I always recommend it to fellow divers when we talk about books.

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