Former RAF Lyneham serviceman Paul Moran, of Chippenham, has written a book which recalls the day he helped in the dramatic rescue of 62 Royal Navy sailors from a stricken warship.

Mr Moran, of Salisbury Close, was just 12 when the minesweeper HMS Wave ran aground in St Ives in 1952, but that did not stop him from battling through awful conditions to join in with the rescue mission.

“I was in my house, which looked over St Ives, when the whole thing happened,” said Mr Moran, 70.

“I could see the superstructure of the minesweeper up against the houses in the harbour, and it was quite spectacular.

“Like all of the other children I ran down to see what was going on.”

Mr Moran made his way down to the harbour, where he could see huge waves crashing across the bay and into the ship, and dozens of people being pushed around by the gale force winds.

“She was about 100 yards out but the incoming tide was clearly forcing her around onto the rocks,” said Mr Moran, who began the book while working as the principle technician at Wiltshire College.

“Already lines were attached to her. Somebody shouted that they were going to start a breeches buoy operation to get the crew off.”

For several hours the youngster stayed at the harbour, until he was told that he should head to school.

“We got covered in oil and spray, and when we got to school a lot of people were sent home to clean up,” he said. “But unfortunately I had to stay because I wasn’t in too bad a state.”

The book details the vessel’s grounding, the rescue and salvage operations, and is the result of years of careful research by Mr Moran, who went on to serve at RAF Colerne and Lyneham.

He organised a reunion of Wave survivors in 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of the rescue, and interviews with them are included in the book.

Part of the Shore: The Saving of HMS Wave is available from The St Ives Printing and Publishing Company on (01736) 795813.