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Beneath the Restless Wave - Memoirs of a Cold War Submariner

Edward Couzens-Lake & Tony Beasley

Tony Beasley joined the Royal Navy as a teenager in 1946. This biography recalls the adventures he had during his time in the Navy, from training and specialisation as a telegraphist to being unexpectedly sent to work on submarines. He describes what it was like to work on a submarine during the Cold War, and describes the patrols and missions he was involved in, in particular when the submarine he was serving on was sent to the Barents Sea to undertake covert operations, namely to spy on the Soviet Fleet.

Before this mission the crew of the submarine were advised that if anything went wrong it 'never happened'. Needless to say it did go wrong. Tony emerged a hero, but a hero who wasn't allowed to tell anyone where he had been or what he had done.

Now in his eighties, Tony finally gets to tell his story.

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Tony Beasley joined the Royal Navy as a teenager in 1946. This biography recalls the adventures he had during his time in the Navy, from training and specialisation as a telegraphist to being unexpectedly sent to work on submarines. He describes what it was like to work on a submarine during the Cold War, and describes the patrols and missions he was involved in, in particular when the submarine he was serving on was sent to the Barents Sea to undertake covert operations, namely to spy on the Soviet Fleet. Before this mission the crew of the submarine were advised that if anything went wrong it 'never happened'. Needless to say it did go wrong. Tony emerged a hero, but a hero who wasn't allowed to tell anyone where he had been or what he had done. Now in his eighties, Tony finally gets to tell his story.

ISBN: 9781612008400
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Edward Couzens-Lake & Tony Beasley
First Publishment Date: 15 January 2020

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  1. Generally a good read review by Warship World reader on 24/09/2020

    Contemporary books written by naval ratings are few and far between which is sad as they have a very relevant and important part to play in naval history. Tony Beasley joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman in 1949 with basically no educational qualifications. He quickly achieved his ambition to become a Communicator. His early seagoing career makes good reading with plenty of dits about lower deck life. Like all good dits, some of them are long-winded and seemed to lose their thread! Specialising in Radio Warfare, he was trained in ELINT – something he clearly enjoyed. In 1955 with the Cold War in the early stages, Beasley was detailed off to join the T class-submarine Turpin, despite not having done any submarine training. The Turpin had been modified to carry our “sneaky” patrols – early intelligence gathering in the Barents Sea. This required the sub to remain at periscope depth to allow the aerials rigged on the Snort mast to intercept Russian radio and radar. His account on life on a cramped conventional submarine has a fair element of dark humour, particularly when he inquired not unreasonably about how to escape from the sub if needed.
    The climax of the book comes with the detection of closing HE, a fire control radar intercept, and a crash dive initiated, in his words, by Beasley. During this, in an effort to save the detection gear aerials, Beasley was struck by one of the periscope handles. In the immediate aftermath, Beasley was complimented for his swift actions .Beasley finds himself much to his disgust transferred to the Regulating Branch and sent as MAA of the DLG Devonshire which he saw as the worst ship he had served in. He was medically discharged from Devonshire after 24 years service and his battle to get a war pension for the accident in the Turpin started. He found himself in a depressing bureaucratic run around as his service record did not show that he had served in submarines, so his claim was dismissed despite continual applications. Eventually, he is helped by Admiral Lewin who was able to confirm that he had served on the Turpin, and he was awarded a war pension for his medical condition.
    It is not surprising that the latter stages of the book become increasingly bitter as Beasley struggles to get his entitlement; I trust that today his case would be handled more sensitively. Whilst his accounts of service in in frigates in the 1950s and ELINT training at HMS Mercury make good reading, his personal battles with authority are not so interesting to the naval reader.


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