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Diver [Paperback]

Tony Groom
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Jan 2008
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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Seafarer Books (22 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906266069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906266066
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Diver by Tony Groom

The Royal Navy Clearance Divers, not the SAS, are the British mystery unit of the Falklands War of 1982. They did not even appear in the first edition of the Official History -- now put right. It is fair to say that without them it is highly likely that the British would have lost the war. But this is more than a book about the Falklands War. It tells the story of some of the bravest and most professional men in the Royal Navy. The gripping accounts are spiced with `black' humour of the sort that only men engaged in a dangerous profession can really appreciate. Read this book and you will learn why. You will want to turn every page.

Julian Thompson
Commander, 3 Commando Brigade Falklands 1982 -- Major General Julian Thompson, CB,OBE

Throughout my career in the Royal Navy I have had the privilege and honour to work with a number of Mine Clearance Divers, and each time I have been struck by their supreme levels of professionalism and dedication. Underwater bomb disposal, often in the cold waters and zero visibility of the seas and ports around the UK, is not for the faint-hearted and often requires levels of courage, stamina and sure-footedness that exceeds that expected in other military disciplines.

Such a hazardous lifestyle creates bonds amongst its proponents that are exceptionally close, along with a unique and highly developed sense of humour (you have been warned!).

The demands of commercial saturation diving are no less rigorous. In this book Tony Groom provides a fascinating, no-holds-barred account of his remarkable life and of the world of professional naval and civilian divers.

His story is gripping, humbling and highly amusing in equal measure - all the more so for the matter-of-fact manner in which he tells it.

From clearing unexploded bombs lodged in ships during the Falklands war, to hair-raising exploits in the oil fields of the North Sea, he shines a light on a calling that demands the coolest of heads and extreme courage.

I strongly commend it to anyone with an interest in extraordinary human endeavour or the sea. -- Admiral Sir Jonathon Band KCB ADC. First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff

From the Author

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DIVER..excellent 14 Dec 2007
DIVER is an absolutely fascinating insight into a little known elite group of men within the Royal Navy. A boys will be boys account of a most rewarding career. Both sad and hilarious, Tony tells of his role as a specialist and the never to be broken bonds of friendship that came as a result.
This story will surely stand with the best of Military history literature past and future, once you start reading this book, I challenge you to put it down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diving For Pearls 23 April 2008
By David
I bought this book for two reasons - I've read most of the military memoirs from the ex-Special Forces guys, and I live right on the doorstep of the offshore commercial diving in NE Scotland - so I figured this book would be a good read for my bedtime wind-down. Relax, you're joking me! This book had me enthralled from the very start, with hilarious tales of Tony's antics as a trainee diver, moving through his career in the fiery world of UK military service, and onto his dangerous yet rewarding work in offshore commercial diving. What a pleasure to read, beautifully written with clarity and humour, Tony's stories are truly fascinating. To quote the oft used "you can't put it down" is an understatement! Heroic stuff at its finest, and one of the very best I've read. AN ABSOLUTE GEM!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, scary, fulfilling and hilarious 15 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tony Groom writes about his life from a young lad who attends a nautical school, though his career as a mine clearance diver and onto his career as a commercial diver in the north sea. There is no doubt in my mind that this was the hardest, most stressful, physically demanding job in the Royal Navy during the Falklands conflict. This book proves that some men are made out of pure endurance and strength, however it includes many funny moments in Grooms career from being sent ashore for "attempted mutiny" to having his mates beret sewn onto his head. This is the definition of a page turner and it has made me more excited to start this job in September.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny as hell 3 July 2009
this is an amazing read not only is it an intresting account of a career that i now wished i had pursued, but is funny as hell this book spoilt my holiday as couldn't put it down!!!!!!!!!!! please write some more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why only 5 stars 15 Jun 2009
This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. Its hard to believe that some of the incidents actually happened. You will want to read this from cover to cover in one session. Don't read this in public unless you want to be the centre of attention as you will be giggling or even crying with laughter in places. There are only two bad things about this book - its too short and Tony has not done a sequel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes hilarious, always riveting 20 Feb 2009
A great book about a group of men of whom we seldom hear - Royal Navy Clearance Divers.

This is a really interesting book for any fan of firsthand accounts of military history and personal endeavour.

From the ups and down of initial training to active service in the Falklands, where the divers not only dive, but get tasked to clear unexploded bombs, through to the post-service experiences of commercial diving it is a fascinating account. Worth buying for the Nigerian anecdotes alone which are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

If, like me, you are a recreational diver AND interested in military history it ticks boxes on both counts.

Seriously. Buy it. It's one of my top five.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a thoroughly readable account of time as a clearance diver in the navy from the late 1970s through the Falklands war and out the other side. The tales of Saturation and deep air diving in the North sea and West Africa are well drawn and thoroughly gripping. This is an action based account and like many roughty toughty types Tony Groom does not delve too deeply into the emotional side of his career. There are moments when clearly certain items hit the fan and this is reflected in the pace and reflections. But as a reader I was left wanting more. This is often a critique of autobiographies - the threat of bearing the writer's soul to an unknown audience can sometimes be too much during the writing process, especially for writers who have worked in a practical field for their lives. Having said that, it will not leave a reader disappointed and rates highly amongst books of this type. The Falklands recollections would be well balanced and indeed enhanced by reading Sandy Woodward's book on the conflict. Tony Groom clearly has a wider audience in mind when he writes and does his best to make the technical areas accessible. This book would serve a reader well if they were thinking of joining the navy with the intention of perhaps becoming a diver or qualifying as a commercial diver. His insights are consistent with the experiences of other divers and make for a good read. If you've read this far, you're clearly of the type that would enjoy this tale of action and adventure IN the high seas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read 20 Oct 2008
To anyone involved in diving this is a must read. So often we hear about sports diving but very rarely do we get an insight of those who do this for a living, whether forces or commercial.

Tony's insight into the world many of us no little about is a fantastic account of the work, the dangers and the colourful characters within the industry. Yes, it takes a special person and an insight of those unique people are well documented. Some you will like but in most cases you will love. My sides ached with laughter of some of the characters in Tonys book. I should know I think I was one of these at one time.

And if your not into diving, read it anyway. Its differant, its real and gets you thinking about the world of working underwater. All in a time of peace and conflict.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 3 books of all time.
One of the best books I've ever read. Couldn't put it down, but didn't want it to end.
I'm a SCUBA instructor, and am training to be a Commercial Diver. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cdubya
5.0 out of 5 stars tony groom book
have read tony groom two books this one much better than 2nd on but still both very good like it
Published 2 months ago by rondavid
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Bought for my husband - he never put it down, just read and read until he finished it - mind you he is a diver himself!
Published 13 months ago by Ms. Denise Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book!
It's amazing how Groom tells his life, which is a deep, serious and sometimes even tragic story, in a humorous and an entertaining way! Great book!
Published 14 months ago by Henrique
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read about diving life.
interesting book about the diving life. And all the interesting and fun things that can be done. From military diving to commercial.
Published 15 months ago by Chris Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book !
I was so impressed with this book. Other reviewers have commented that they couldn't put it down once they started reading it.
It had exactly the same effect on me. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by Alex
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fantastic
What a read, I could not put the book down! Having served in the Falklands 'Conflict' it brought back many memories, but notwithstanding that, Tony's entertaining style and... Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2012 by J. Moodie
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping and easy read
I picked it up to have a scan and didn't put it down until I had read all of it. Very easy to read, down to earth account, of military diving.
Published on 15 Jan 2012 by Matthew Rawlings
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, but...
Tony Groom writes about his diving and naval exploits in an entertaining and readable form, making this an enjoyable read, but I feel a small word of advice is worth giving. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2011 by M. Saxby
5.0 out of 5 stars WYSIWYG
This is a fascinating and laugh out loud account of the macho world of military divers. Truth be told, its more about the people than the diving and techniques. Read more
Published on 24 Jan 2011 by Magnus Johnson
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