War hero Ray Self’s book re-printed after demand rises following his death

Raymond Self when he enlisted in 1942

Raymond Self when he enlisted in 1942 - Credit: Archant

A book which includes the reminiscences of a Norwich war hero who died last month is being reprinted following a spike of interest following his death.

Survivors from SS Takliwa leaving for HMS Sainfoin

Survivors from SS Takliwa leaving for HMS Sainfoin - Credit: Archant

Raymond Self, who was involved in the Normandy landings and served in the Far East, was a founding member of the Norwich branch of the Royal Naval Association (RNA), and a key voice in the 20-year campaign to refurbish the city's war memorial.

In 2007, his nephew Colin Buckenham published a 140-page book Sainfoin's War, The Story of HMS Sainfoin, 1944 to 1946, recording the memories of Mr Self and his war-time comrades about the ship they sailed on.

Mr Buckenham, who owns Diss-based publisher DataTech DTP, originally printed about 400 copies, but said he has been contacted by about a dozen people wanting copies since Mr Self died at the age of 87 last month.

He said the book started as two sheets of notes which a comrade of Mr Self wrote out for a lecture, and grew into a fully-illustrated book after he suggested his uncle write his own memories, and more and more people came forward with their own contributions.


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Mr Buckenham said: 'People have just rung up. A couple have said Sainfoin's War by name, and some said 'Ray's book' because it was distributed through the RNA.

'He was an extremely popular guy. He was just a brilliant bloke, and he treated everybody how he wanted to be treated, and always had something to be laughed about.'

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Mr Self spent two years with HMS Sainfoin, and wrote about the successful two-day operation in October 1945 to save more than 1,000 former prisoners of war, ships crew and nurses when their steamship Takliwa caught fire.

He wrote: 'A tremendous welcome awaited Sainfoin on her arrival in Madras and both the Royal Marines of the flotilla and ships company felt that the hard work of those two days off the Nicobars was well rewarded by the joy with which these men, all Indian soldiers, were returning to their homeland after three and a half years of captivity.'

Mr Self's brother Clifford said the book was important to him because he could record some of his exploits, but, more importantly, because it enabled old comrades from HMS Sainfoin to be reunited.

The book, by W J Mitchell and Colin Buckenham, is priced at £11.99, and the extra copies are expected to be ready within a couple of weeks.

Mr Buckenham said copies of the book can be ordered from any bookshop, or directly from the publishers on 01379 652053. All profits will be donated to Caister Lifeboat.

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