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I've been working on this project with 91 year old veteran Jim Haynes for five years, interviewing Jim, collecting documents and photos and writing his story. I am so privileged to be the guardian of this true life account of what it was like to be a boy in England at the start of World War II.
The son of a policeman, Jim joined the Royal Navy at age sixteen, trained at HMS Royal Arthur, HMS Drake, HMFS Paris and ended up on the brand new River Class frigate HMS Avon in the Atlantic, dropping depth charges on German U-Boats. Jim had many adventures. He saw ships blown up, picked up survivors of the Tonsberg Tarifa just as they ran out of water, saw a WRN (Women's Royal Navy) buried at sea, saw King Farouk's bombed palace in Alexandria and much more. As an inexperienced teen, Jim got into trouble in the out-of-bounds area of Alexandria markets and had to be rescued by a truckload of 'Red Caps'.
At nineteen Jim joined Special Forces fighting Japanese marines in the dense jungles of Malaya. In the jungles he fought malaria as well as the short, well-muscled 'unkillable' Japanese marines, often with insufficient weaponry or no guns at all! Finally his role was in transporting men, women and children from Japanese prison camps before settling to a new life in Australia. Making that choice meant Jim had to leave behind his entire family and sweetheart Olga in England. He never returned.
Jim has struggled with PTSD in his adult life as a result of what he witnessed as a young man. This story tells of his boyhood in Nottingham at the start of the war, the events which later shaped his future, the courage of these boys as they fought often invisible foes in the dark, the excitement of training with their mates and the resilience they developed to survive.
On Saturday 30th April we will launch the book to the public. Everyone is welcome! This is a free event for kids and adults. See below for details.
If you are interested in meeting Jim, chatting to us about the book, or have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|some of Jim's medals|