Reviews

Raising the Dead  by Phillip Finch

A factual account of a divers attempts to recover the body of a young diver in one of South Africa’s deepest caves. Dave Shaw having learnt to scuba dive, progresses through cave diving and re-breather to complete some extreme deep dives. During one such dive he discovers the body of Deon Dreyer, a 20-year-old who disappeared 10 years earlier while diving in South Africa's inland Boesmansgat Cave in 1994.

       
Shaw almost immediately starts too put together a plan to recover the body. An Australian airline pilot working for Cathay Pacific by profession his plans quickly place him at variance with his employers who he had hoped would help to fund the project. The need for funds makes the recovery more of a public spectacle than either he or his mentor Don Shirley would have liked.  
       

Don Shirley is the perfect foil for Shaw. Shirley had spent 22 years in the British Army and completed tours in the Falklands and the Gulf. Initially specialising in diving deep wrecks off the coast of Britain he emigrates to South Africa in 1997 after retiring from the Army and starts a new life as a technical-diving trainer. 

The book maps out the life of Shaw and his relationship with his family and Don Shirley. It provides a fascinating account of Shaw’s dedication to diving and exploring deep caves and culminates with a compelling and detailed account of the tragic body recovery he attempts in January 2005. Written in terms even a layman would understand it appeals to everyone with an interest in diving and in particular technical diving. I found it almost impossible to put down and had finished it in 2 days!

 
 
 
“Five Bells” Job Done – A Diver’s Story by Tony Liddicoat.

I have recently finished reading Tony Liddicoat’s book “Five Bells” Job Done which is a personnel account of his 50 year diving career. During that period Tony made a significant contribution to furthering sub-aqua diving within the Army and Joint Services as well as being an accomplished military and commercial diver.

Although Tony started diving 10 years before me I could identify with his “initiation” into the sport. Like Tony I was with Junior Leaders when I started diving and, a bit like Tony,  had I not have been in charge of swimming and water polo doubt that I would have been asked (told) to run sub-aqua and sent on a course at the Joint Services Sub-Aqua Diving Centre Fort Bovisand. The Infantry Junior Leaders were stationed at Folkestone at the time so I also recognise some of the dive sites Tony mentions and like him I dived with Folkestone BSAC Branch 501. 

For the most part the book is a very factual but at times an amusing account of his days underwater. For those in the military it provides a useful account of the sub-aqua’s emergence as an adventure training activity. It also demonstrates how everything that’s good and bad about services diving was carried across in the early years.

 

 

Five Bell Job Done - A Diver's Story by Tony Liddicoat

Things take a very unpleasant turn two thirds of the way through the book when he is posted back to the Army Diving School in Marchwood where he looks to have received some pretty unfair treatment. This effectively ends his Army diving career as a Royal Engineer Diver. Tony’s fall from grace is inextricably linked with an “in water-recompression” incident. As Tony points out this was an acceptable procedure at the time. I should add that I know of a number of technical divers who consider in water recompression in a remote location better than no recompression! Tony’s account of what happened that night provides a fascinating insight into the practicalities of “in-water recompression” and resulted in him receiving the 1981 BSAC Diver of the year award.

I am pleased to say that ASADA, in the form of Peter Ormerod, played a part in ensuring that Tony could continue with recreational diving. ASADA get a few more mentions towards the end of the book – but not all of it is in a positive light. What the book does do is provide an interesting comparison between diving 40-50 years ago and diving today. Having recently gone through a raft of documents and photographs which catalogue the history of Army Sub-Aqua I have seen a number of photos and references to Tony. I feel that the book will be of interest to those wishing to place diving (an in particular services recreational diving) in a historical context or those of us who have been diving for a few years to remember the bad old days.

This is a frank and honest account of one mans diving career which spans half a century. I found the book very easy reading and suspect any army divers, whether recreational or vocational, would do the same. Anyone wishing to get hold of a copy has 2 options!

The book is available from “Authorhouse” UK Ltd (www.authorhouse.co.uk or call 0800 197 4150) or a signed copy will be presented as a prize for the “Best ASADA Journal Article” for 2007/08. Those of you that are inspired should put pen to paper and send your articles, ideally with photographs, to the Editor of the ASADA Journal. There is also a possibility that Tony will be presenting at the next Joint Services Sub-Aqua Diving Conference to be held at Portsmouth on 08 December 08. This will follow the ASADA AGM to be held in the same location on the evening of 7 Dec 08.