An enjoyable book derived from an extensive collection of letters written by Gordon A. Taylor (always known as ‘Billy’ to his parents) whilst he was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) during World War Two.
Billy was a gifted writer and his letters home vividly describe his wartime life – both on and off duty – whilst undergoing training ashore and, later, when serving at sea in a variety of Royal Navy ships in British coastal waters and overseas.
Painstakingly transcribed and carefully annotated by his son Mark, Billy Taylor’s collected writings constitute a valuable historical document, their value lying in the fact that they were composed at the time, when the events described were still fresh in the author’s mind. Written in an informal yet informative style they reveal, in the words of the young man that Billy then was, many fascinating details of life in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
Billy served on a number of vessels, including HMS Royal Eagle, HMS Aubrietia, HMS Loch Glendhu and HMS Loch Craggie and was involved in a variety of wartime action, from the Dover Patrol, via the Dunkirk evacuation (where he was awarded the D.S.M.), Atlantic convoys, U-boat encounters, the invasions of both North Africa and France, and ultimately the Japanese surrender in the Far East.
As well as his letters home, Billy tried his hand at journalism, and his skill as a writer eventually came to the attention of the BBC, who commissioned him to record some of his pieces about life in the Royal Navy. Billy was also a keen photographer and amateur artist and a number of his photos and sketches have been used to illustrate the text.
The end result is an enjoyable and informative book that will not only be greatly appreciated by anyone with an interest in World War Two Naval history but also those with a more informal interest in the era.