A LIFE-long interest in maritime history gave former Bolton News reporter David Chadwick the enthusiasm and knowledge required to spend a year compiling a book about a fellow journalist who fought in the Second World War.
Mr Chadwick was approached by former Bolton News colleague, Shirley Morgan, to help write High Seas to Home: Daily Dispatches from a Frigate at War, along with Allan Seabridge.
The book tells the story of newspaper journalist Cliff Greenwood who wrote letters home to his wife, Violet, almost every day while serving with the Royal Navy, from his training camps and from the frigate HMS Byron which sailed on escort duties in the North Atlantic.
Mr Chadwick, a 54-year-old father of two teenage boys from Smithills, used his expertise and fascination for maritime history — he studied history at London University — to help write the book, which is published by DB Publishing.
It is a charming and fascinating insight into the Atlantic convoys — almost 3,000 ships were sunk by U-boats, yet these men were largely forgotten heroes.
It was when Mr Greenwood’s daughter, Sue, read the account of her father’s actions during the war, written in the form of carefully retained letters, mainly in pencil and kept in a box in the attic of the family home, that she and her husband, Allan Seabridge, decided they should be available for more people to enjoy and learn from.
Mr and Mrs Greenwood died in the 1960s, so never knew about the book, but for their daughter and son-in-law it became a labour of love, and one that Mr Chadwick was more than happy to get involved in. “Cliff started off as a person who was the father of someone I knew, but over a period of time became a really vivid individual whose likes, dislikes and personality became clear,” said Mr Chadwick, who is married to 52-year-old Sharon.
Mr Chadwick, who runs a freelance PR agency in Bolton, used his skills and knowledge of the Navy, particularly in the Second World War, to decipher the meaning of the many nautical terms contained within the letters sent home.
He also wrote historical accounts of what was going on around the time of the individual letters, giving the reader the opportunity to learn what was happening in the broader world.
“I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in writing this book. It was a pleasure,” says Mr Chadwick, who explained that the letters would be written in pencil because of censorship, although Mr Greenwood’s ability to type — thanks to his work at The Blackpool Gazette — meant some of the letters would be typed rather than written.
“It made it easier for the censors to rub out the things they didn’t want to get through if the letters were written in pencil, although there was a lot of self-censorship.
“In one letter Cliff talks about a busy night which we know was the sinking of U boats but he was not able to say this,” he explained.
The book is available from Waterstones and Amazon, priced at £14.99.