THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE RESCUE TUG SERVICE IN TWO WORLD WARS
AND ITS BATTLES TO SAVE CARGOES, SHIPS AND LIVES
Published by Conway 2 June, 2016
£25 Hardback /£19.99 eBook
Enduring great danger and often terrible conditions in heavy seas, the Rescue Tug Services worked tirelessly to bring to port damaged vessels and keep up the supply of food and essential items during two world wars. They were first deployed towards the end of the First World War to support and if necessary to salvage merchant shipping that had been damaged by U-boat attacks. During the Second World War they were needed even more urgently when ships bringing food and other essential supplies to a beleaguered Britain were attacked by both air strikes and submarines.
Although part of the Royal Navy, the contribution of the Rescue Tug Service remained curiously absent from the naval history of the Second World War. Yet the Service had developed what a wartime American newspaper called ‘a new type of naval vessel – the British fighting escort tug’ and had saved millions of tons of shipping, both warships and merchant ships, not to mention the crews and the precious cargoes. The official history of the Merchant Navy did not mention the Service either, nor did numerous other books on the war at sea.
Ian Dear was given access to the archives of the Deep Sea Rescue Tug Service which were about to be disbanded. His research, here and elsewhere produced a view of the war at sea from an entirely new angle. The result, The Tattie Lads, explores why the service might have been omitted from the official story, and reveals its fascinating history for the first time.
Ian Dear is the editor of The Oxford Companion to World War II and the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, and he has written a number of books on military and maritime subjects, including Enterprise to Endeavour: The J-Class Yachts, The Ropner Story, Sabotage and Subversion, and Spy and Counterspy. He was educated at The Nautical College, Pangbourne, and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. After serving in the Royal Marines he worked in the film industry and book publishing before becoming a full time writer in 1979. He is available for interview.