Back in the 1940s Emsworth man Tony Beasley really was the little boy who ran away to sea. Beneath The Restless Wave – Memoirs Of A Cold War Submariner (Casemate Publishers, £20, available from book shops and online) tells his story.
Co-author Edward Couzens-Lake, of Barnham, said: “Tony (86) tells, in his own words, some of the adventures he had during the time he was serving with the Royal Navy.
“Primarily this is a book about a sailor, the everyday matelot who made up the strong backbone of the servicemen who were, as Tony witnessed for himself, held in very high esteem by Lord Louis Mountbatten, a former First Sea Lord.
“His very earliest memories relate to his time as a boy sailor, a time a time when the discipline meted out might mean six harsh strokes of the cane and where young boys were expected to climb to the very top of a mast, some 185 feet above a ship’s deck and with no safety equipment issued, simply to prove themselves to their superiors.
“He also recalls his memories of World War Two, observed from the relative safety of rural West Sussex, a time where frequent dramas unfolded before his young eyes, events that left lifelong impressions on his memory.
“His stories’ denouement and conclusions relate to his retelling of the role he played in a mission that occurred during the Cold War. One that took place on a vessel that he had vowed never to serve on, yet a mission that, with typical stoicism and courage, he faced up to and dealt with in such a way that, ultimately, he emerged from it being regarded as a hero. But a hero who wasn’t allowed to tell anyone where he had been or what he had done and a mission that, as he ultimately discovered, never officially happened at all and a medal he was told he could never wear. Memories of a life spent at sea are told with a refreshing mix of dark humour and brutal honesty. Tony doesn’t hold back. He tells things as he sees it. Its appeal is the very subject matter explored – of tender and innocent youth growing up in a world full of turmoil, of a struggle for acceptance in the senior service and both the terrors and delights that the life holds for a young man aching for adventure.”
Edward said: “I am a ghostwriter by profession, a man who has a passion for cataloguing the stories, experiences and wisdom of a generation that is slowly departing this world. So many of them have the most amazing stories to tell, roles they have played in world events and lives that are, in places, so very distant from the relatively comfortable ones we live today. Tony Beasley is a truly remarkable man. He’s a character from one of the old Hotspur or Lion Comics come to life. I’m not sure that Tony would appreciate the comparison but at least I know that if he doesn’t, he’ll soon let me know: the so-called golden era of children’s comics such as those tough, lantern-jawed heroes. Men like Union Jack Jackson, Alf Tupper and Dan Dare were fictional, yet very real role models for a generation, men revered because they were unwavering in their duty.”