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Lieutenant Commander Nick Bartlett was brought up at Manston Aerodrome in Kent, where his father, the author of the diaries, was adjutant to the airbase. He learned to fly on a tin monoplane, and joined the Navy in 1941, specializing in Marine Engineering.

For five years during the Cold War he was chief of a submarine, and then worked as trials officer for ship refits, followed by several years of lecturing in Scottish schools. He ended his career working in industry. He lives in the Peak District, is married with four children, and fills his time painting and writing.