Inside and Out

Prison Officers
ISBN 1-903953-91-X
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  • Description

by Robert Cosh
My  experiences as a sailor in the wartime Royal Navy (1939-46) and postwar career as a prison officer in HM Prison Service (1946-81)

The author's reminiscences of his years as a matelot in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, during which he survived the sinking of HMS Eagle in the Mediterranean and his later career in the prison service in which he rose to become a chief officer and witnessed the dramatic escape of Ronald Biggs from Wandsworth jail in 1965, make for entertaining reading.

The experiences described in this book are drawn from two distinct chapters in the author’s life: his nautical years in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War Two and his 33 years service postwar as a Prison Officer.

His wartime experiences included surviving Operation ‘Pedestal’, the relief convoy to Malta in 1942, in the course of which his ship, HMS Eagle was torpedoed and sunk and he and his shipmates had to swim for their lives. He served with both 801 and 809 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm and had many more experiences in the UK, Egypt and the Med before his eventual demobilisation in 1946.

A couple of years later a chance meeting with an old comrade led him towards a new career in HM Prison Service. He would go on to serve as a Prison Officer at Gloucester, Wandsworth and Latchmere, ending up as Chief Officer at Oxford until his retirement in 1981. His memories of the Prison Service are many and varied – some serious, but many others very amusing – and include a number of unusual incidents, such as the escape of Ronald Biggs from Wandsworth, to which the author was an eye-witness.

All told, this is a very interesting and entertaining memoir, which will give readers unfamiliar with the inner workings of the Royal Navy or the Prison Service an excellent insight into both institutions. And for those who have shared similar life experiences Inside & Out is sure to evoke many memories.