Transcribed and edited by Caroline & Chris Pond
Booklet published by the Alderton Press, 64 pages. A5 size booklet (N7564PE)
From the rear side cover: Leading Coder Harold Copeman (1920-2015), from Leyton, was an ordinary conscript in the Royal Navy. This is his secret diary, recording days of action and inaction alike, written on the back of coding sheets, and kept with a camera in his hammock. This remarkable survival has been transcribed by his daughter and son in law, and is published to mark 100 years from his birth and as a tribute to him and to the millions who served in great danger in the ships of the Royal Navy in the Second World War, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.
Harold served on the Dido Class Cruiser HMS Cleopatra, and his diary offers a fascinating insight into life on board during the war, as well as recording some of the wartime exploits of the warship and its crew.
From the introduction: ....as his diary says, he opted to join the Royal Navy, and was duly called up in 1941. His ministry had been evacuated to St Anne's, Lancashire, and that is where his medical examination took place. The diary was written on the backs of Naval Message sheets folded into four, sewn into a rough card cover, and kept by Harold rolled in his hammock - he said it was against the regulations to keep a diary. Most of the very small handwriting is in pencil, and some is verging on illegible. The little book measures 8ins x 3ins. It consists of some 95 sides of writing...
Harold did not speak very much about the War, but he sometimes said that as a coder, he and his colleagues in the CCO or 'office'mostly knew about things well before the captain. Harold was just an ordinary conscript, called upon to endure great danger. He used his skills not only in the job of coding and decoding, but to create (for himself) a record of war service and the sea war in the Mediterranean that we thought would be of wider interest, including his days of that feature of naval life, 'nothing much happened'...
Condition of the booklet is generally excellent. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.