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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Michael Tibbs - Hello Lad Come To Join The Navy
Foreword by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope GCB OBE DL

Copies are available from Lynn Davidson  mob 0755 2086888

Michael Tibbs' warm and matter of fact account of his wartime adventures, using a chronological flow of unabridged letters, eloquently captures his personal observations of the naval service, its people, and the nature of wartime life at sea and ashore. I am certain his grandchildren will be thrilled and all those that read this account will be entertained and enlightened. The letters not only cover his stories of frontline exploits but also the realities of his family's challenges in keeping the home fires burning. One cannot escape the huge warmth and importance of the family tie, alongside its strong Christian foundations, that underpinned the flow of correspondence.

his wife
In a battered old suitcase in the loft were nearly 1,000 letters written by Michael and his family during the war, it is from these that this book has been written. Over the six year period in World War II, they describe not only life onboard Michael's various ships, but also life in a country Vicarage on the 'Home Front' in Lynchmere. Michael wrote to his family every week and they to him. Censoring restrictions meant that Michael could never say what he was actually doing, so he has written commentaries to fill the gaps.

Michael has lived in Lynchmere since his father Rev. Geoffrey Tibbs became Vicar in 1932 A founder member of Lynchmere Home Guard when it started in May 1940, September of that year at the age of 18, he joined the navy as an Ordinary Seaman. Through no merit on his part Michael may be one of the very few who experienced action of some sort in every ocean - Atlantic, Arctic, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific. He serviced in a destroyer, a cruiser, and finally in submarines.

On leaving the navy he went up to Oxford and then joined the Sudan Political Service taking his wife Anne out there in 1951. Sadly he had to leave the Sudan on independence and joined the staff of the Automobile Association holding various managerial appointments, then for eighteen years he was Secretary of the Royal College of Physicians (for which he received the OBE). Anne and Michael have two sons, both doctors, and seven grandchildren. Now aged 91 he hopes that these memories may give his grandchildren some idea of what the family did in the Second World War.


As I mentioned to you on the phone, the collection of letters both from yourself, describing what life was like in the Royal Navy as well as those written to you by your parents, form a fascinating and invaluable account of wartime life on the fighting front and at home .......    the letters are just the kind of personal war record that we are anxious to acquire for the Museum’s archive and so if you ever decide to pass on the letters, the Museum would be delighted to be offered them so that they can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. We feel that it would be particularly appropriate to hold your papers alongside your Sound Archive interview.                                        Imperial War Museum

Absolutely amazing. I must say. .... I will ensure I post it all over my FB pages in the RN groups. Very many thanks.                                         Guy Wilson. Editor HMS Sheffield Association News Letter

LOVERS of history, humour and human relationships will find a new book by a well – known local man a delight.                                                                                                   

 Hello Lad, Come to Join The Navy?” by 92-year-old Michael Tibbs, is an account of a young man and his second world war experiences, told both through a collection of letters written to and from home over six years, interspersed with commentary.

The letters show us how life was for a him as he played a part in some of the major theatres of war, alongside glimpses of, from the perspective of Lynchmere vicarage - the home front.

Michael wrote to his family every week and they to him, although the arrival of correspondence was often sporadic as it found its way through the fronts. War time censoring restrictions meant Michael could never say what he was actually doing, though post war commentaries aided by an excellent memory fill the gaps.

“I had the idea in my head for some time,” said Michael, who with his wife Anne put the book together over about two years. There were more than 1,000 letters to choose from, along with photographs and sketches, stored in a battered old suitcase in the loft, and 68 intervening years.
                                                                                                                                Haslemere Herald

A fascinating insight into the life of a young Royal Navy officer at sea during the  war. ......
Drawings & Diagrams throughout the book fill in more details that throw a fascinating light on wartime experiences at sea for those who were .. but have not talked abut their wartime experience, and, unlike the Tibbs family did not have the letters to tell what happened 70 years ago. 
                                                                                                              Midhurst & Petworth Observer

.....finished reading your book yesterday. Not only did I enjoy it very much but found it most interesting. 
Considering you were on active service throughout the war, you were very lucky only to have to narrow squeaks; especially bearing in mind you took part in some Malta convoys and equally dangerous ones to Russia. It is a very frank account, compared to another I read recently full of ‘clever little mes’ which I found nauseating. Not only was it a full, fair and  frank  account, in which you include all the mistakes you made (did not we all make mistakes during our time on the services?) but you stress how you were sustained by your Christian faith – not surprising when you had the wonderful example of your father who was a Vicar but it also must have given you an interest in the navy because of his time as a Chaplain. You even applied for a permanent commission so you could have finished up as an Admiral!             
                                                                                                   John Hannah. (Sudan Political Service)

I have been reading your latest book. I have to say that I enjoyed it enormously... important that the stories of people like yourself are recorded for the future. So few people spoke about their personal experiences that we are in danger of being left with only the ‘Official’ histories of these events. I have almost no idea what happened to my father in the war, and as you know Herb spoke very little about what appended to him. (Herbert Madgwick DFM, a Flight engineer in Bomber Command).                                                                                                                      Michael Dalton

I have just finished reading your book aloud to Jane. And we both thoroughly enjoyed it. IT is certainly a tale of dedicated service, which will inspire your grandchildren. What shines through is the wonderful adult relationship that you had with your parents. Those of us, who have such a lasting bond with our parents, are indeed blessed. You had some extra-ordinary experiences. You were a true blue sailor having served in HMS Sheffield on the Russian convoys, I think it was very brave of you to volunteer for submarines.                                                        Colin Heape. (Colonial Service Friend)

Captain Roger Venables, Royal Navy. 21 5.13

I have enjoyed reading your book, particularly when you  mention Hugh Oliphant and Ewan Raikes. Both were senior to me.                                                                                Captain Roger Venables

 It is wonderful that you have all these letters written at the time. Ryan (aged 7) is very impressed that you fought Hitler.                                                                                           Sara Tibbs. (Niece)
Congratulations on the wonderful book, I found that it offered me an insight into life at sea and I will not look out on the River Foyle without images of you hanging over the side painting the boat”!
                                                                                                                                        EJ.  (Friend)

The book is indeed a remarkable achievement. It brings to life events over a period of six years which changed our world forever but in a wonderfully human way. By describing events in both Lynchmere and from your adventures around the world over the same time frame, it provides a really unique perspective. Personally, I found the descriptions of life in the wardroom, of the general comraderie across the ranks and of the pleasure of getting a few days off to explore foreign countries and cultures all reminiscent of my own years as a young man in Southeast Asia in the late 60’s. I enjoyed every chapter.                                                      Melville Stephens (American International Lawyer)

I’m most impressed with the book – and with your wartime letter writing - thanks for sending it. 
I quickly found the Lynchmere Home Guard story which paints a wonderful picture and even mentions chauffeur Giles and housemaid Barrie. The Major’s required method of alerting him in the event of invasion is a classic. My grandmother’s nickname ‘Oh yes’ is new and a nice touch. And I didn’t know that her sister Doss was commandant of the Red Cross. 
I also found several mentions of my father. 

Richard Wingfield. (Son of Captain Mervyn Wingfield, DSO,DSC*, a book about him was published recently ‘Wingfield at War’).

In THE book I am now joining Tantalus, and found the Battle of Barents Sea electric and hair-raising, and shared the horror of the anchor dragging in the blinding snow of the arctic.- someone's (arch)angel was looking after you I think. (4th February). Your book was a very super read and so special for me. Thank you so very much for it. You had amazing enthusiasm and courage - wanting to go ashore on your birthday to a possibly occupied by Japanese island with a suicide pill in your mouth ready to swallow.                                                                              Rev Canon John Tibbs. (Brother)

A feature of your adventures is your enthusiasm. You really entered into the spirit of whatever you were doing, whether it was serious warfare or practical doing. Clearly you were a deservedly popular shimate. You were hones over the odd mistake, about which a lesser man would have amnesia! Furthermore what character - not many submariners went to war with a m/c amongst the torpedos!
                                                                                                                                Christopher (Friend)

Thank you so much for the book. Totally engrossed!                                                   Anthony Preston 

I received your AMAZING book today! Thank you so much. I can’t believe that you are still writing books, cruising the canals of France and going to 100th birthday parties! And yet, somehow I totally believe it all!

I have already cheated and read all the letters you put in the book from Geoff and Madge – honestly reading them was like sitting outside at the Knapp Cottages with Mum on a summer night and listening to “ Annie’s Lynchmere Tales”! Gosh how I used to love those nights. Mum would be so proud of you and would have loved the book.

It is so wonderful that you have collated all the stories and photographs. And I will take the book with me when I go to South Africa over Christmas and New Year and read it properly. Thank you, thank you.                                                                                                   Thomas Preston (Nephew) 

Grandpa I've just finished reading your book and it was incredible! I'm so glad I finally have a good idea about you were doing during the war. I know how much time and effort you have spent writing it and I'm so glad you did. 

I was amazed by how positive you were through all your letters during that awful war, many of your letters made me laugh.

It's difficult for me to imagine being in the situation you were in, with the responsibilities that you had, starting from when you were younger than I am now.

My generation owes an enormous debt to you and everyone else involved in the war effort, it is hard to imagine the sacrifices folks made to win that war or how different things would be had those sacrifices not been made. I'm also personally very glad that you survived or I would not be around today!                                                                                                                                           Alex

ORDER Price: £17.00 P & P £3.00 UK (£5.00 Europe £7.50 ROW)
Post: The Memoir Club, The Courtyard, Arya House, Langley Park, Durham. DH7 9XE.
Cheques made payable to The Memoir Club
Tel: 0191 3731739 with card details

From Michael Tibbs.
Bunchfield, Lynchmere Ridge, Haslemere GU27 3PP
Tel 01428 643120. E-mail