A Sailor's Diary
HMS INFLEXIBLE A SAILOR’S DIARY 1912 - 1918
FROM A ‘MILLIONAIRE’S CRUISE’ TO A BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
Edited by Rob Wood
Paperback (236 pg)
Price: £9.99 (+ £3.50 p&p)
Fred Cofield was born in Birmingham in 1892. He joined the navy aged fifteen and in 1912 he was posted as an Able Seaman to serve on board the new battlecruiser, HMS Inflexible.
In the years before the Great War the Inflexible was part of the Mediterranean Fleet and Fred began writing a diary of his life at sea.
This day-to-day account gives a fascinating insight into life at sea in pre-war times (a ‘Millionaire’s Cruise’, he called it) and then goes on to describe what it was like on board ship during the Great War.
When war broke out in August 1914 life became more serious and Fred’s diaries give his own perspective of crucial events in which both he and the Inflexible served: The Battle of the Falklands 1914, the Dardanelles Campaign 1915 and the surrender of the German Fleet 1918.
This book is a transcription of his writing, completed over a period of three years by his grandson, Rob Wood. It is, at times, graphic in the description of the horrors of war at sea, but through it all shines Fred’s love for life in the navy.
Upon retirement from the Royal Navy in March 1920 civilian life did not suit Fred. He became a Civil Servant working for the Sudanese Government for fifteen years and in 1944 Fred, aged 52, signed up with the Royal Army Service Corps, serving as an Officer in Northern France.
After the Second World War Fred lived the rest of his life in Beeston, Nottingham.
The second part of this book is Fred’s autobiography, which he started writing in the 1960’s. It describes his life from his earliest memories in the West Midlands through to 1972. Fred died in 1976.
This book is an ideal read for anyone interested in what life was like in the Royal Navy at the turn of the twentieth century and during the Great War.
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