Review of Roger Lancaster’s book After the War is Over, by Ian Channing (first appeared in QSO magazine).
Roger Lancaster has made a number of contributions to QSO over the years and his account of his time as a radio inspector in New Zealand featured prominently in The Long Silence Falls Part 1. Now he has written and published an autobiography of his early life entitled After the War is Over and has asked me to review this book for QSO. The majority of the book concerns Roger’s childhood and his experiences of growing in a rural Warwickshire village during and after the Second World War.
For anyone who lived through the same period, such as myself, Roger does a brilliant job of evoking those times. Rationing, outside toilets, no running hot or cold water, home deliveries of bread, milk and Corona are all there awakening memories of similar experiences. One element of the book that did impress me was Roger’s remarkable and presumably accurate memories of every person in the village and their relationships to one another. As someone who grew up in a similar environment I am very impressed as I can’t even remember the names of the people who lived next door.
From an early age Roger was interested in radio, building receivers from old bits and pieces of war surplus equipment. His local vicar sent off for a copy of the Marconi brochure and Roger was hooked (he still has the brochure today).
I suspect for ROA members, the real interest in Roger’s tale will start with his time at Southampton University where he studied for his Second Class PMG. As Roger explains the University had formerly been a polytechnic so he was at university enjoying all that that entails but was not studying for a degree. Having successfully completed his Second Class Roger went on to get his First Class and Radar Maintenance Certificates.
In 1956, he applied to his first choice P&O only to be told that there were no vacancies. So Roger applied to IMR, was accepted and appointed to the Cunard liner Saxonia as Third RO. Roger reports that his time on the Saxonia was one of the worst experiences of his life with sea sickness and hostility from his fellow ROs just some of the things he had to contend with. Roger promptly resigned from IMR and went back to his first love P&O where he received a warm welcome and an appointment to his first ship-the troopship Empire Fowey! P&O turned out to be everything that the Saxonia was not so a happy future beckoned.
Roger has done an excellent job with this book which is warmly recommended.