Former Royal Navy sailor writing book of his experiences and decade of service
A former Royal Navy sailor and physical training instructor from Blackburn is writing a book detailing his 10 years of service and the experiences he went through.
Roy Washington, 64, joined the navy from school in 1974 and, during his decade of enrolment, participated in the Royal Navy Field Gun competition and was on board the ship dubbed ‘The Luckiest Ship Alive’ after it was bombed during the Falklands War.
After leaving the Navy in 1984, Roy returned to Blackburn and started a family, working in several different industries before retiring from Ward Knowles printing company in Oswaldtwistle in 2020, where he worked as a warehouse manager.
Roy’s decision to write the book, titled Ten Years Before the Mast, came after a chance meeting with another local author when he stumbled upon her book launch. She encouraged him to write about his experiences and he set to work.
He said: “I became a father again so I’ve got a baby. I was out in Clitheroe one morning and went to a kid-friendly café. There was a lady there doing a launch for a children’s book she’d written.
“We had a chat and she said she’d thought about it for years and eventually did it. I said to her I’ve always thought I’ve got a book in me, and she said I should write it. I didn’t know where to start but she gave me some information about a motivational coach who has written some best-selling books.
“He was running a masterclass on how to write a book. I got in touch and joined his course at the back end of last year. Throughout the course you have Zoom calls and seminars where you’re given loads of information and it guides you through the process.
“I’m now about halfway through, I’ve got about 60,000 words and it’s going to be an epic when it’s finished. It’s a chronological account of almost everything that happened in the 10 years I was in the Navy, from school right through to 1984.”
Among the stories Roy discusses in the book is his record-setting run in the Field Gun competition, and the “miraculous escape” after his ship was bombed in the Falklands.
He said: “We were attacked by Argentine aircraft and lots of bombs were dropping around us. One bomb hit us and it passed straight through the ship without exploding. It was the most miraculous escape ever. We were left with a giant hole in one side of the ship, right through and it splashed in the water and didn’t explode.
“Any other ship thereafter that was hit by a thousand pound bomb sank. They didn’t come back.
“The field gun competition was a very popular event that finished in 1999. It ran from Earl’s Court for almost 100 years.
“Teams of sailors carried field guns over walls and across chasms in a race against each other. There were horrendous injuries, there were even deaths I think. It was a highlight of the royal tournament.
“The crew I did it with set a new record in 1984 and it was never beaten.”
Roy is still in the process of writing the book but has set up a Facebook page where he posts regular updates on its progress and some of its contents.
He is hopeful that it will be out to buy by July but won’t release it for pre-order until he knows the exact date.
He said: “I’m writing every minute of the day I can to try and get it finished. I’ve been advised by the Ministry of Defence to submit the manuscript to them for approval before I publish.
“I’ll be talking about mistakes that lead up to certain tragedies happening because it’s what happened and I’m not going to skirt around that. Lives were lost through incompetence here and there.
“That’s the serious part of the book but a lot of it is quite tongue in cheek, sarcastic humour because that’s the type of person I am. Hopefully it comes through in the book.”
To follow the Ten Years Before the Mast Facebook page, click here.