A SOUTH MOLTON war veteran has taken his place at the Appledore Book Festival thanks to a letter published in the Journal more than eight years ago.
Former telegraphist Tony Chapman took to the festival's stage on Sunday to launch his personal memoirs, The War Of The Motor Gun Boats.
Revealing the stresses of life below decks, the 88-year-old originally wrote the memoirs in 1979 before stowing them away in 1990.
Although an experienced author, having previously written a number of North Devon walking books, he said he had never intended to publish his war accounts before his death.
Tony said: "I wrote it for my niece. Her father had written his memoirs and wouldn't let anyone see it so I thought I would do the same.
"This book was never meant to be published while I was alive, and it is just down to a series of coincidences which are really quite remarkable."
Following a letter to the Journal in 2005, Mr Chapman was contacted by fellow South Molton resident and military enthusiast Tony Martin.
Mr Martin, who is Mr Chapman's agent for the book, said that although the pair had become firm friends instantly, it wasn't until recently that the memoirs came to light.
He said: "We had lived less than 100 metres apart for years and neither of us knew that we both came from Southampton, and that I had lived in the same village as the man who saved his life. It was rather remarkable.
"Although this whole process started after I contacted him after he sent the letter to the Journal, I only found out about the memoirs themselves last year.
"I was so impressed by the account of his life in the lower decks that in time I managed to persuade him that these were valuable enough to publish."
Mr Chapman said: "In the end it just seemed right to do this now."
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