Luton sailor’s story from Second World War features in new book

Author Chris Bilham. Photo by Stephen Perry.
Author Chris Bilham. Photo by Stephen Perry.
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A book about the Royal Navy in the Second World War features the story of a man from Luton.

The stories in the book are from men all over the UK, including Alfred Maxim, of Luton.

Sailors Behind The Medals Waging War At Sea 1939-1945 is a story about the Royal Navy in the Second World War, it features dramatic battles, River Plate and Matapan, and drawn-out campaigns such as the escort of convoys to Malta and northern Russia.

The book illustrates a cross-section of the war-time Navy long-service regulars, volunteers and recalled veterans of the Great War. The book also examines the medals that were awarded for gallantry.

The author, Chris Bilham, developed a life-long interest in military and naval history after learning about his father’s involvement in the Second World War.

Chris examines the careers of 23 sailors who took part in these actions which resulted in the award of their medals. Alfred Maxim, of Luton, was born on 27 January, 1901, and was a fitter by trade, he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry as a private when he was 17, before being posted to the Chatham Division. Less than a year later he was discharged and enlisted in the Royal Navy as a stoker on a special service engagement undertaking to serve at sea for five years and remain a member of the Royal Fleet Reserve for seven years.

Maxim also served on the vessels Hopper 44 and HMS Wayland. His distinguished service in difficult conditions was recognised by the awards of the Distinguished Service Medal in the New Year’s Honours of 1943.

He was drafted to Pembroke again in June 1945 and released to shore in class A of those to be demobilised. He lived at Chatham and was a mechanic on Admiralty yard craft. He passed away in 1969.