Book Review “They Shall Grow Not Old….” Revised Copy

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Billy McGee, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    “They Shall Grow Not Old….” was my book published in 2010 detailing the loss of over 500 Merchant Navy boy ratings who died in service during WWII, age 16 and under. Initially the idea came about from an individual case I helped research on started in 2005 for a young Reginald Earnshaw, age just 14 who was killed in action in July 1941, where I was involved with others including site member Hugh MacLean in finding him buried in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh. After finding official documents at the National Archives at Kew and forwarded to the Commonwealth War graves Commission, “Reggie” as he was affectionately known as to his family, I had the pleasure of laying a wreath on his grave in an official ceremony in 2009, exactly sixty-eight years to the day he was killed and presented his sister with his medals I obtained. I was later invited to appear in the BBC documentary on “How We Won the War” (Scotland edition) centred around the Merchant Navy contribution during the war, using Reggie’s story as a back drop.

    Since the book was first published, I have found more detailed information on the losses of those covered in the original publication, as well as a number of new cases of these boys lost, which I have worked on since, with a number of new cases added to official war dead by the CWGC, whose names I unveiled on the new panels in 2019 at the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London.

    This in mind, and not a lot going on in the present climate, I decided to write and updated version of the original book. Their stories are not meant in any way to devalue the contribution of all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during wartime, but merely as educational purpose for those unaware of the facts, these boys could legally join the Merchant Navy at just 14 years old and help the fight for their country and is my way of remembering a lost generation, who the likes of will never be seen again.

    The book is now completed including a new cover I designed. I am in the process of contacting a printing firm in Peterborough, after receiving a quote for costs.
    New-Book-Seam2.jpg
     
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  2. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Well done Billy! It is great to be able to read about those young boys whose lives were tragically cut so short. It was good working with you on Reggie's story and being able to meet his family in Edinburgh.
    Their story needed to be told and you have told it so well and I hope it will be read and appreciated by today's generation. Thank you!
    Regards
    Hugh
     
  3. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    Thanks Hugh,

    Will send you a copy when published. Thought it be more poignant using Reggie's photo on this edition, than the old one. I'm still in touch from time to time with his family.
     
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Billy well done and thank you for all your hard work and research

    Regards
    Clive
     
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  5. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria.

    Excellent Billy well done it looks really good.

    Regards Mike
     
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  6. Hi Guys, I am very interested in hearing about the new copy of Billy's book. I cannot find a copy of the original.
    My Uncle Clement Weir was lost in 1942 aged 16 when the Gloucester Castle was sunk off the African coast.
    He had previously survived the sinking of the SS Anchises when he must have been about 14 1/2.
    His brother John was also lost off New York Serving on The SS Traveller aged 19.
    Regards
    Dave Hewson ( B.C. Canada )
     
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  7. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Dave, please see link below. It's from a local newspaper report (back in February 2021) regarding the updated version of the book. You'll find a contact e-mail address for Billy at the end of said article.

    Remembering the brave Teesside teens who lost lives in war at sea

    Hopefully this may help you get in touch as Billy's last visit to WW2 Talk was in April 2021, and given what the world has been through since then most aspects of life have taken a knock back.

    Good luck to you with all.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
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  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    please find attached panels from the Tower Hill Memorial from my collection

    upload_2021-7-8_14-17-21.png upload_2021-7-8_14-17-21.jpeg

    upload_2021-7-8_14-18-55.jpeg
     
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  9. Hi JIm, Very much appreciated, will check link out,
    Thanks again,
    Dave
     
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  10. JimHerriot likes this.

  11. Hi Again JIm,
    Just an update. I contacted Billy with the link you sent and he kindly has included a photo of Clement in his revised edition.
    Thanks for your help,
    Regards,
    Dave
     
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Dave,
    That is excellent news, thank you so much for letting me (and all the fine folks who contribute here) know.
    Billy's efforts, and your contribution to same, will help to keep the memory of these departed young people alive, which is, and always will, be a good thing.

    Again, thank you so much for letting us know.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
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  13. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    Just a quick update. Book is finally with printers, as have been busy with other projects and am awaiting a proof copy before giving the final go ahead. Should be available mid to end of August. Selling book myself as publishing companies as proved in previous experience are so costly. Cost per book will be £10 plus P&P by recorded delivery (UK)
     
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  14. James Harvey

    James Harvey Senior Member

    Thanks billy would be interested

    Regards

    James
     
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  15. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

    Book introduction:

    The original inspiration for these pages came about by chance when an article appeared in a magazine about a young boy rating killed at sea in 1941, and so it began. Reginald Earnshaw (pictured front cover) is commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial on Panel 74, which records all those who have no grave but the sea. Back in 2005 my attention was drawn to the fate of young Reginald as one of the survivors from the attack named Alfred Tubb who was serving as a DEMS gunner at the time stated he remembered the body of Reginald being taken ashore at Immingham. So the first thing to do was to trace a copy of the ships Log Book & Survivors Report for 1941 held at Kew, which was obtained by a contact of mine. Next I made a simple application with the General Register Office for a death certificate and within a week I had an official copy of his death certificate recorded at Cleethorpes reference 7a 1170., which proved his body had been landed ashore and examined as to be given a death certificate. The next phase was to find out where he was buried. A check of all burials in Grimsby and Cleethorpes for this period drew a blank so contact was made in Reginald's last place of abode in Edinburgh, which revealed he was buried in Edinburgh's Comely Bank Cemetery, Section P Grave Space 440 and was unmarked. A temporary cross baring his details was added and all documents were forwarded to the CWGC. Finally in 2008 these findings were officially accepted by the CWGC. On Monday the 6th July 2009, in a ceremony 68 years to the day of his death an official CWGC headstone was finally mounted on Reginald’s grave and I presented his sister with his war medals I had obtained. There was also some confusion of Reginald’s age. The ships Log Book had his date of birth as 5th February 1926 in Dewsbury and his death certificate has him aged “about 15”. Only problem being there was no birth registered at Dewsbury for a Reginald Earnshaw in 1926, but there was one registered in Dewsbury in the March quarter 1927 in Volume 9b page 864. Having obtained a copy of the birth certificate, I could verify he was born the 5th February 1927, so the Log Book shows an error of exactly one year to the day, which made him 14 years 152days old when he was killed. Another twist in the tale revealed that the bodies of two other seamen commemorated on Tower Hill from the North Devon were also landed ashore. One of the men Reginald Mitchell has been found to be buried in Piershill Cemetery in Edinburgh and he now has an official headstone to mark his grave. I was later invited to appear in the BBC documentary on “How We Won the War” (Scotland edition) centred around the Merchant Navy contribution during the war, using Reggie’s story as a back drop. Further research I undertook I also discovered many other cases of Merchant Seamen killed in WWII serving on foreign vessels, who had been overlooked by the British Registrar General of Shipping & Seamen of the day, whose details had never been forwarded to the CWGC for inclusion as war dead. After several years of research and compiling details these casualties were finally accepted by the CWGC and I was given the privilege to unveil their names at Tower Hill Memorial on Merchant Navy Day 2019. Amongst these casualties were a number of boys age 16 and under including one Michael Goulden from Hull, age just 14 years old when he was killed. Their stories here are not meant in any way to devalue the contribution of all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during wartime, but merely as educational purpose for those unaware of the facts, these boys could legally join up at just 14 years old and fight for their country and is my way of remembering a lost generation, who the likes of will never be seen again.


    Billy McGee MNM. MNA Archivist (Merchant Navy 1980-1992)

    Copies available billy1963@ntlworld.com

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