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Enduring great danger and often terrible conditions in heavy seas, the Rescue Tug Services worked tirelessly to bring to port damaged vessels and keep up the supply of food and essential items during two world wars.They were first deployed towards the end of the First World War to support and if necessary to salvage merchant shipping that had been damaged by U-boat attacks. During the Second World War they were needed even more urgently when ships bringing food and other essential supplies to a beleaguered Britain were attacked by both air strikes and submarines.
Although part of the Royal Navy, the contribution of the Rescue Tug Service remained curiously absent from the naval history of the Second World War. Yet the Service had developed what a wartime American newspaper called 'a new type of naval vessel--the British fighting escort tug' and had saved millions of tons of shipping, both warships and merchant ships, not to mention the crews and the precious cargoes. The official history of the Merchant Navy did not mention the Service either, nor did numerous other books on the war at sea.
In 2014 author Ian Dear was given access to the archives of the Deep Sea Rescue Tug Service which were about to be disbanded. His research, here and elsewhere produced a view of the war at sea from an entirely new angle. The result, The 'Tattie Lads' explores why the service might have been omitted from the official story, and reveals its fascinating history in a full-length book for the first time.
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