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Blinding Flash (Hardback)

The Courage and Sacrifice of a Bomb Disposal Hero, Ken Revis MBE

Military > Biographies Military > Frontline Books P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century WWII > Biography & Memoirs

By John Frayn Turner
Frontline Books
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399045964
Published: 2nd June 2023



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Ken Revis was training to be a structural engineer, and had almost qualified, when war broke out in September 1939. He promptly enlisted and, at the age of 23, was commissioned in the Royal Engineers. Training complete, it was during the Christmas festivities of 1940, such as they were in the Army in wartime Britain, that Ken glanced at a typewritten sheet pinned to a noticeboard to discover that he had been posted to a Bomb Disposal unit.

His first device, aside from those he had seen under the watchful gaze of his instructors, came early in 1941 in the form of an unexploded 500kg German bomb. Having failed to detonate, it had buried itself in a garden only a yard or so from a footpath leading off a pleasant avenue in the East Sussex town of Hastings. ‘This is it,’ Ken remembered thinking. ‘This is the real thing.’

Despite his nerves, Ken successfully dealt with this bomb, the first of many that he faced over the coming weeks and months. While most soldiers in the United Kingdom were busy training and preparing for the coming invasion of Europe, Bomb Disposal units were engaged with their dangerous craft in which almost daily they matched their skill and nerve against the inventive genius of the German scientists.

It was at 10.00 hours on 10 September 1943, however, that, in an instant, Ken’s life irrevocably changed. While he was removing anti-invasion booby-traps from the West Pier in Brighton, something went terribly wrong. In a blinding flash, thirteen mines blew up in his face.

After immediate first aid, the mangled body of Ken Revis was rushed to East Grinstead Hospital, home of the renowned plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe. It was the start of the long, hard trail that lay in front of him, for it required no less than twenty skilled reconstructive operations to rebuild Ken’s shattered face and body. But despite all the surgeons' best efforts, Ken’s sight could not be saved. Aside from the traumatic injuries he had suffered, he now had to deal with complete blindness.

In this moving biography, John Frayn Turner reveals the remarkable individual who was Ken Revis, exploring the many, and very different, challenges that he faced before and after the disaster on 10 September 1943. As Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks once remarked, ‘Courage and determination are the two outstanding qualities that emerge from this remarkable story’.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An inspirational novel regarding the life of a truly heroic man. He risked his life during WW2 as a bomb disposal officer in Britain. Following his tragic loss of sight following an explosion, his desire to fight on and not let his handicap stop him from living life to the fullest. This is a must read for all.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About John Frayn Turner

John was the highly respected author of thirty non-fiction books – mainly militaria and biography associated with World War 2. We are proud to have sixteen of his fine works in print including all the titles mentioned below.

Although born in Portsmouth with a Naval family background, he became closely connected with aviation and the Royal Air Force. During the Second World War, John worked at HMS Vernon on magnetic and acoustic mine trials before being conscripted from 1946 to 1948. Shunning a career in accountancy, he went into publishing culminating as editor of House Beautiful magazine. In the 1960’s John joined the Air Ministry and was responsible for RAF publicity and recruiting literature. He made numerous test flights, flew at twice the speed of sound and accompanied the Red Arrows. He later became managing editor of five London-based arts magazines. He wrote countless theatre and film reviews.

In 1968, already a well-respected author, John met the legendary Douglas Bader. The two men worked closely on Fight For The Sky and The Bader Wing. Bader wrote the Introduction to John’s classic British Aircraft of World War 2.

Our list also includes acclaimed epics like Invasion ’44, arguably the first full account of D-Day, Fight for the Sea, The Battle of Britain and the definitive VCs of the Second World War and The Awards of the George Cross. He also wrote The Life and Selected Works of Rupert Brooke.


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