Palembang and Beyond
by Mike Roussel
Here is a fascinating book about the British Pacific Fleet during the Second World War, in particular the closing years of conflict with Japan and the cruel fate meted out after surrender on VJ Day on the ‘Palembang Nine’. The book is illustrated with over 150 photographs from the time, many never published before.
Fleet Air Arm Squadron 849 veterans, Dr Arthur Page, Avenger pilot, Norman ‘Dickie’ Richardson, TAG (Telegraphist Air Gunner), and John ‘Buster’ Brown, Avenger pilot, share their stories, giving first hand detail on the intensity of training and relentless military action, the close bond built between air crews and supporting naval personnel and the great losses that they suffered.
They were young men then, they felt lucky to survive the war and their experiences stayed with them through their lives.
Life with the Fleet Air Arm had its lighter side too. Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, who later on were famous actors, were so bad at flying planes they became known as ‘Pranger Richardson’ and ‘Super Pranger’. ‘Dickie’ Richardson remembers being ‘fished out of the drink’ by HRH Prince Philip, First Lieutenant on HMS Whelp.