The Terror of Tobermory

Richard Baker

Puggy' Stephenson, Vice-Admiral and Commodore of the Western Isles, was best known simply as 'The Terror of Tobermory'. Even today he remains a legend. This is the story of his life.
Date Published :
July 2015
Publisher :
Birlinn
Illustration :
16pp b/w plates
No associated books available.

Overview
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Once the Commodore asked a Commanding Officer what he had heard about the base. 'Well, frankly, sir,' replied the CO, 'I've heard you're tortured until you're efficient. Then, if you've any strength left, you're allowed to go.' Without any preliminaries, he flung his gold-braided cap on the deck and said abruptly to the Quartermaster - 'That is a small unexploded bomb, dropped by an enemy plane. What are you going to do about it!!?' The sailor ...promptly took a step forward and kicked the cap into the sea ...the Commodore warmly commended the lad for his presence of mind, and then, pointing to the submerged cap, said: 'That's a man overboard! Jump in and save him!' This was the legend of 'Puggy' Stephenson, Vice-Admiral and Commodore of the Western Isles, best known simply as 'The Terror of Tobermory'. But Puggy was a terror for a purpose. Tobermory and the Western Isles were a theatre in the Battle of the Atlantic and Gilbert Stephenson knew well the responsibility he faced in training up raw and inexperienced crews into a trained and effective ship's company. His methods were directly responsible for the sinking of over 130 U-boats and the shooting down of 40 enemy aircraft. Behind his ferocity lay a marvellous sense of humour and a deep humanity. 'Terror' he may have been but he was loved and respected by all who met him. Even today he remains a legend. This is the story of his life.

About The Author
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During 30 years at the BBC, Richard Anthony Baker wrote and presented music hall and variety programmes for Radios Two and Three. For Radio Five Live, he devised the world’s first obituaries programme, Brief Lives, producing its first 300 editions. In 1990, he published a slim biography of Marie Lloyd to be followed in 2005 by a definitive history of music hall, British Music Hall: an Illustrated History. He contributes regularly to The Stage and the British Music Hall Society’s magazine, The Call Boy.

REVIEWS
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... provides a fascinating insight into the RN during its imperial heyday

- Broadly Boats

... a superb story ... paints a new picture of Tobermory to anyone who knows the town and tells the story of a remarkable man who did much to help Britain's war effort in the most unlikely of settings

- Forres Gazette

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