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Memories of my Life "IN THE NAVY" [Kindle Edition]

John Wilkinson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Review by Nik Morton, Author of "The Tehran Transmission"
This book does what it says on the cover and gives the reader in Wilkie's own words his memories from this fifteenth birthday up to the time he left the Royal Navy just over thirteen years later. He makes no apologies for the "bad" language, stating that's how it was. If readers can accept this aspect - the earthy language - then this book should appeal to two sections of people, those who are curious about what naval life was like forty two years ago, and also those who experienced that life or similar. It's bound to appeal to expat matelots, I'm sure
Like Wilkie, I'm a Geordie and I too joined the RN in the 1960's, but I never met Wilkie - until now, through his words. The style is basic chat and jocular, so that by the end I felt I knew the man quite well, having lived with hims through the vicissitues of a colourful and varied naval life. I joined the RN at the same Newcastle upon Tyne recruiting office some four years after Wilkie, so some of his memories evoked my own. This I think will be true of other readers too.
Wilkie preferred seagoing ships to brick ones, and for most of his naval career he got his wish,. His drafts - or postings in non-naval parlance - included HM Ships Hampshire, Cavendish, Devonshire, President, Bulwark, Arlingham, Collingwood and Sirius. Over the years, he traveled to far-flung places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Gibraltar, Poland, Russia, Aden, Philippines and Australia. These were the days when Great Britain had a substantial navy and ships visited foreign ports to show the flag. Now Britain had dropped the "Great", the navy has shrunk, there's plenty of sea-time but few foreign visits, and none of our government politicians seem interested in showing off the flag in case it offends someone..
On the surface, Wilkie's naval life seems one long round of drinking, chasing women, playing football and runs ashore, This is not the case, of course. He points out that in between all those foreign visits there were long stretches of hard work and seagoing exercised in conditions no health and safety conscious trade unionist would sanction. Beneath the surface, Wilkie's book touches on the lasting friendship with old pals from that period, including several ex girlfriends. He fondly remembers friends and family, some sadly departed, and equally recalls a very few individuals he disliked intensely.
That all changed, however, when he met and married his blonde Wren, Drink and soccer were still viable options, but that was all. Dog lovers will warm to one member of HMS Arlingham's ship's company, Tramp a black mongrel complete with dog-tags and his own 'uniform'.
In conclusion,ignore the language and just listen to the man's fond memories of people and a time now gone.
Nick Morton Author of "The Tehran Transmission"( A spy thriller about Iran in 1978)


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7634 KB
  • Print Length: 193 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: John Wilkinson (27 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I3EMQO8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,844 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read 12 Feb. 2014
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I enjoyed reading In the Navy, it has good illustrations, is explicit when describing the different ships, descriptive of places visited. Felt as though I was there with him through the humorous banter. The fun he had with the people he made friends was felt through the way it is written although it was pointed out it wasn't all fun. I found it easy to read and looked forward to each chapter to see what was happening next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Zulu 3 Jun. 2014
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A great read,I joined Ganges in 1963 and left the RN in 1987.Reading this book brought back many memories very similar to John's....Brilliant..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Review 30 May 2014
Sadly this wasn't the book I hoped it would be. Whilst I hoped for a story about life in the Royal Navy, it turned into stories about drinking, throwing up and " getting your leg over " .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cast off for a great read 8 Mar. 2014
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An interesting portrayal of Navy life and a thoroughly entertaining read written in a simple yet engaging style. Highly recommended.
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I joined the RN at almost the same time and same age as John but did my initial training at HMS St Vincent. The book is an entertaining reflection of sailors and what motivated them, mainly sex and booze. I don’t think that this should come as too much of a surprise given the circumstances, i.e. red-blooded young men cooped up in a warship with only male company and then to be periodically released into some foreign land full of women and bars. His accounts are very accurate and evocative even to small details like Sugar’s Bar in Gibraltar . I was amused to read of the lasting effect of the VD films shown in initial training because they had exactly the same effect on me. (Perhaps they should stop pussyfooting around this subject (and hard drugs) in today’s education system and show them the black and white navy films.) All in all an interesting and amusing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Way it Was 29 July 2014
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Wilkie does a good job of describing life as it was for those of us fortunate enough to be serving in the RN during the 60's. These were heady days from which most Ganges boys took maximum advantage once released into civvie street.

I joined the Andrew a couple of years before the author so it was good to discover that we left him and his oppos a few parties to play with.

I genuinely couldn't put the book down as it evoked so many memories of all those ''happy' years in foreign climes.

Thanks for making an old sailor smile again Wilkie, perhaps i should write my own version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book was so very good and funny 10 Feb. 2015
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This book was so very good and funny, it reminded me of my time in the Andrew and some of the things we use to get up to, The Drafts which he was on were just about the same as mine and so many things brought tears to my eye's remembering them and laughing so much. Visited Singers and was doing Coast Watch Duties on the Islands when I was at HMS Tamar, great runs ashore. Thank you so much for the 'Memories' John.
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By Frank T
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The author tells the story and proivdes personal opinions of his 12 years service in the RN during the 60s and 70s. Visiting far flung lands, drinking, chasing women and bad language feature prominently. This book doesn't pretend to do anything other than capture the author's experiences of his naval career and, as such, it is an enjoyable read. Ex-matelots will recognise and smile at many of the anecdotes.
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