Sunday, 28 October 2007


I have just spent between July and October trying to get a local Norfolk website design "firm" (I hesitate to use the word since it makes them sound almost professional) to make good on their promises to produce a website for the Harry Hutson Collection. A week into october they email me to ask me to re-send about a dozen of the files. This is the fourth request they've made for duplicates and, presumably, the fourth time they've either not checked on receipt or lost the things. Since it obviously doesn't bode well for future levels of service we say "Goodbye".

As a stopgap I buy a package from and spend the best part of two days building a website myself. A week later I notice that they've billed me twice so I email support. Today I get an email back saying that "as requested they have cancelled the package". They've deleted the lot. Part of the package was backups - I had no way of doing a backup, they provided that service too. Backups disappear with deleted packages.

Unbelievable. No wonder we've lost every scrap of industry Britain ever had to foreign competition.

Sorry folks... back a.s.a.p. - are they deliberately competing with British Telecom for the worst service providers ever? It's hard to choose between the two.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

If you really want something doing - then do it yourself.

With my apologies for the delay I am happy to annouce the launching of the Harry Hutson Collection website!

The local firm I had initially contracted to produce the website in July emailed me in early October asking that I re-re-re-send some of the files so I decided that this did not bode well for future levels of service and decided to part company.

What we have here is a DIY version of what I wanted - but it will suffice for the time being!

Please feel free to explore and please, please, please - let me know of any dodgy links and such.

Typing on the main collection text continues...

Monday, 3 September 2007

Long time no blog.

Progress seems to consist these days of typing by candlelight (when the Norfolk power goes off or "Home" disconnects itself from the National Grid) and hurrying up and waiting for others. The best part of three of the thirty-one volumes is typed and awaiting hammering into shape (i.e., removing my typos and those of the overseas typing service...). The website proper is en-route for next week. Those nice kind people at Lincolnshire Museums Service (t'Council in effect) are deciding whether they want anything to do with the reprint of Spark Around the Bridge. Most peculiarly of all the left-most shift key on both desktop and laptop (wireless keyboards) have stopped working, both within the space of a few days. Unless the technology is conspiring in some way overnight - maybe there's a network I don't know about) then the only common link is the device between the keyboards and the seats in question - me. Maybe it's my left pinkie that's stopped working? perhaps I've developed some nervous typing-tic? Weird.

My Father used to bang away at his (series of) manual typewriters as though he was playing drums in a band. He used to kill typewriters at a splendid rate of knots. Paper used to struggle visibly as he fed it into the platen, aware of the beating that earlier sheets had received. His typewriter-ribbons didn't dry out, they just blew away like dust...

Anyway, the project continues, shift keys or no shift keys...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Sparks Around the Bridge

Sparks around the bridge by Harry C. Hutson.

Arctic fishing as it really was!

A truly fascinating account of
the life in, around and on Grimsby distant water deep-sea trawlers - in the days when Grimsby still had a fishing industry.

Technical details, domestic details and a very personal account including third-party anecdotes, all as told by Harry Hutson - radio operator on many of these trawlers.

The very nice legal people at N.E. Lincolnshire council are considering their position before this is re-printed and made available a.s.a.p. - check back for the "when" (rather than the "if").

Compare your own place of work to Harry's as seen in the fantastic photographs in the book - it made me realise that I have never really worked in my life to date, not in the old-fashioned "real" sense of that word!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Arctic Interlude: Independent to North Russia.

ARCTIC INTERLUDE: Independent to North Russia by H.C. Hutson ...

... is the incredible story of Operation FB, a disastrous attempt by the Allies to send supplies via merchant ships to North Russia from Iceland.

Available online from MERRIAM PRESS for worldwide delivery. Please note: delivery takes place in a few days rather than a few months and is by peacetime civilian mail service rather than by beleaguered merchant vessel...

The story concerns the fortunes and misfortunes of thirteen merchant ships and their crews attempting to reach North Russia in late October/early November 1942. The ships were spaced some 200 miles apart and no escort was provided. Seven of these ships were British, five American and one was Russian. Five reached Russia safely—two British and three American. Five were sunk or lost en route—three British, one American and the Russian vessel. Three were forced to return to Iceland—two British and one American.

This is a fantastic but otherwise neglected part of WWII history and is available in hardback, paperback or CD-Rom format.

Highly recommended and no WWII library, private or public, is complete without it!

To purchase online click here.

Thursday, 12 July 2007


The more I work on this project the more I realise that I am not a historian, just a lucky sod who's stumbled upon someone else's hard work. It's a fascinating story and my function (at the moment) is just to "tell it as it is". I don't have the wherewithall to improve upon the product from a historical point of view. That said, it doesn't need a lot of improving upon!

Approximately 120,000 words taken from paper-based typing into electronic format so far, lots of formatting and checking of that remains to be done however. That covers just over one of the thirty-one volumes of research.

Files and graphics have been put together ready for the main website and approaches have been made regarding re-printing and re-publishing Harry's other books, including Sparks Around the Bridge, Grimsby's Fighting Fleet and Arctic Interlude: Independent to Russia.

The main website will house, among lots of other things, the index to the work while the research itself will be available in two formats: smaller volumes relating to groups of U-Boats and - eventually - a master-set of reference volumes.

Any and all contact, updates and suggestions are welcome en-route, from those who knew Harry or from those just interested in the research - just click on the link to the right!

Monday, 2 July 2007


31 volumes of manually-typed (non-electronic) history of the battle and battles between Axis U-Boats and Allied Merchant Navy vessels between 1939 and 1945. Technical specifications, crew lists, tonnages sunk, patrol details, personal stories from men involved on both "sides" of the conflict - and four large storage boxes of photographs. Information culled from any and every source including survivors, witnesses, Associations and other historians plus the Public Records Office at Kew - official government interrogation records and Merchant Navy records.

My Father began this work in earnest in order to keep himself occupied when working away from home. In that sense then he was more occupied than most of Europe during the war. Everything was checked and double-checked and nothing considered sound unless verified from multiple sources. That said, the nature of the Beast of History is that it is subjective, written by the side whose ammunition out-lasted the opposition's supplies and is always an exercise in digging facts out of incomplete and difficult-to-come-by resources. There will always be errors and ommissions - and it is my intention as I carry out this work to encourage anyone, anywhere and any time to please let me know of any such corrections!

I value and would appreciate any help, advice or criticism relating to this work or the subject matter in general. As is the way of such things my interest was not sparked until long after it was too late to soak up any of my father's expertise - and so I am learning as I go.

There are a million and one sources of information on this fascinating slice of history but none, I believe, where so much varied information has been collected and vetted in one place or with so much personal detail and history from those involved.