The Vital Nail

By Bruce Samways and Rosemary Keele
The Vital Nail recalls a period between 1936 and 1945. Bruce Samways as a young teenager moves from Watford to Gillingham in Dorset where his father helps run the family pharmacy. Bruce falls in love with a young Peggy and then gains a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge to study physics and maths. His adventures really begin at the outbreak of war when 19 year old Bruce finds himself caught up in the secret world of radar development, then known as ‘Radio Direction Finding’, When war broke out, Bruce joined the RAF and continued working with radar travelling the UK, mainly by steam train, to remote radar stations. As a Flight Lieutenant, he was later posted to command stations in Aden and Egypt, before being sent to Ceylon. The radar stations he helped set up there were a vital link, playing an important role in preventing the Japanese from taking this island. Vivid descriptions of wartime events are given against a background of the life and times of the countries he found himself in. An understanding of human nature is tempered by the need to defend his country in the line of duty. These memoirs are coloured by certain characters, various global scenarios, methods of transport and moments of tension, frustration, and compassion. The events Bruce relates called for, initiative, imagination improvisation and determination, to make the seemingly impossible, possible. He often relied on ‘a basic knowledge of physics and a lot of cheek’. The need for secrecy, not only to protect the troops but also to deter the enemy, meant that throughout his career there were many moments when he would not know where he was going next, or when. He states: ‘An abrupt signal from some disembodied HQ had suddenly separated me irrevocably from the friends and surroundings I had got to know’. Tenacity, strength of will, and loyalty pervade the book. Despite the great difficulties of communication and the length of time apart, Bruce’s love for Peggy lasts. The vital nail in this book is secret but is found in many guises during the life and work of a young man who, like so many, put his life in danger for the sake of us all.
ISBN: 9781839455544
Type: Paperback
Pages: 236
Published: 11 November 2020
Price: $12.65

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