RESCUE TUGS AT WAR
A Personal Account Of Life In
The Royal Navy Rescue Tug Service
Edited by Peter P Butler
In 1940 Stanley Butler answered the call for merchant navy personnel to join the Royal Navy rescue tug service. For two years he served on HMRT Restive as second engineer, escorting convoys across the North Atlantic. The atrocious weather conditions and attacks by U-boats left many ships in distress. Restive also aided convoys from Iceland to Murmansk in northern Russia. Stanley Butler was usually part of the boarding party sent to assist these stricken ships and the casualty would be towed to either Iceland or the UK. In 1943 he was promoted to chief engineer and was transferred to HMRT Prudent, which was based in Durban South Africa until the end of the war.
This very personal account gives a snapshot of his life in the 1940’s. Stanley recalls many humorous misadventures during shore leave, and gives some very detailed accounts of rescues he was involved with. There are wonderful descriptions of family life, and the difficulties of travelling by rail in the UK during the war. Stanley survived the war despite the many dangerous situations he was in. In an ironic twist of fate, his wife and child were killed in one of the few air raids on rural Cornwall.
Stanley Butler grew up on a farm near Colchester with a passion for steam traction engines. In 1936 he joined the merchant navy as an engineer and spent the next four years in the Far East. Based in Japan for a year, Stanley made many journeys inland by train. During WW2 he served in the Royal Navy. After de-mob he worked in Caltex Oil Company in Dublin for 12 years. His next job was with British Coal. For this he moved with his wife and 3 children to Sheffield, close to the beautiful Peak District. Most week-ends he would bring his children and grand-children out on walks or visits to places of interest. It was a shock to everyone when he died suddenly at the age of 66.
Insightful personal account of life of a Navy Engineer during WW2, during the often treacherous sea condition combined with constant attacks to vessels. The personal feelings, thoughts and actions are well presented and the book is a joy to read. Recommended for all those interested in individual accounts and tales of WW2.
An excellent read, detail and story. Would make a great present for anyone interested in Rescue Tugs during WW2. Really an impressive read.
I like Stanley's way of writing and the little stories he included about the ships and places he visited as well as the technical details of some of the encounters with stuck ships. The way you finished his story of the U-boat was well evidenced. I would recommend it