An Eastbourne man who celebrates his 90th birthday in February has written a book that will surely send shudders through the corridors of power in Whitehall.
The autobiography of former RAF ace Maurice R Hamlin is a fascinating story not just of war-time heroism but also of governmental corruption in which he alleges 50-year Security D notices were issued to hide the truth.
Survival is the name of the game as The Hidden Truth makes the amazing claim that a squadron leader gave illegal orders resulting in the crash and death of nine crew members.
In a business world congested with unanswered questions Hamlin uncovered wasted billion of pounds due to what he is convinced is either stupidity or criminal negligence within government departments.
But his constant clashes with authority contrasted sharply with an invitation to The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 1994.
Hamlin was born and bred in Eastbourne and attended Whitley Road School. He is the father of Sue Grimer, the wife of Eastbourne Borough FC stalwart Mick.
Even before joining the RAF on his 17th birthday Hamlin was bombed out of two homes within a couple of months and during his first month of air force training saw a new friend killed beside him.
Initially he found himself unsuitable both for the RAF and marriage. He was demobbed and divorced, but rejoined the air force, joining 36 Squadron, long range submarine hunters.
He recalls, “My friend jumped out of his aircraft without a parachute at 2000 feet but was the only one to survive! We had three crashes, the first when we hit the lead-in lights when landing, the second when the radar well caught fire 2,000 miles from home and the third when the under-carriage collapsed and we cart-wheeled down the runway at Malta. We were certainly survivors.”
The books makes the controversial claim that Air Vice Marshall Sir Harry Broadhurst crashed his Vulcan after refusing to act on three direct orders to divert. ‘He wanted to attend a grand media reception waiting to applaud him. He and his co-pilot ejected to safety, but the rear crew died. The truth was covered up when a 50-year D notice was issued but this has now expired. I was there and have proof of the facts.’
There are times when you have to gasp for breath as Hamlin recalls a NATO exercise which he survived but his entire crew was killed ‘because my glory-seeking commanding officer countermanded the orders of the Admiral in Charge.’ Hamlin insists that as sole survivor he has proof of the facts but was threatened with a Court Martial to keep him silent. Once again a D notice was issued to cover up the truth.
The crashing of a Vampire due to faulty landing gear, an horrific car crash, a spell in hospital and meeting his second wife Jaye and marrying within weeks at the age of 36; you could say just about everything happened to Maurice Hamlin.
He finally joined Civvy Street as a salesman but more great adventures were in store. He designed the first Cross Relational Database to solve the problem of computer selection for commerce and industry and it proved so accurate that Lloyds of London guaranteed each client’s results up to £1 million.
He was asked to analyse what went wrong with the way in which a group of NHS hospitals purchased and organised their computer systems. ‘I found and reported total inefficiency and corruption. I was sacked by the 13-man hospital computer committee but many other hospitals reading the press report requested my help.”
The final part of Hamlin’s book takes him into the Third Age when he and Jaye moved to Spain, but he continued to live on the edge. Returning from a short visit to the city of Toledo, a tornado struck, badly damaging his car. ‘It seemed my Guardian Angel hadn’t retired.’
However, additional leisure time did not come easily for Hamlin. He launched a website offering free advice on living in Spain and then, in partnership with Russell Thomson, the Consul General of Alicante, helped fight the many crooked property sales scams.
But after the celebration of his 80th birthday, life took a turn for the worse. Jaye was diagnosed with spinal stenosis which signalled the end of their dancing days.
However, the spirit and humour which had seen Hamlin through many dark days earlier in his life continue to carry him through. “Despite Jaye’s serious problems we laugh and enjoy every day,” he says. “In retrospect the RAF did me the greatest favour of all.”
The Hidden Truth is one of those rare breed of books that you pick up, start to read and find it extremely hard to put down until the very last page.
It is the culmination of a three-year operation combining war-time adventures with business expertise; heroism with investigation and behind it all 54 years of wedded bliss. ‘We are as good now as we were when we were married.”
It is a must-read for the young, middle-aged and elderly. It is a book which has few equals.
The Hidden Truth is published by FeedARead.com and is on sale via Amazon on the internet. Twenty per cent of all author royalties will be donated to the RAF benevolent fund.