Veteran Roy loses his final battle

Swindon Advertiser: Author Roy Conyers Nesbit  with his book The Battle For Burma Author Roy Conyers Nesbit with his book The Battle For Burma

SECOND World War veteran and acclaimed historian Roy Conyers Nesbit has been praised for his modesty and dedication in a tribute from his brother following his death this month.

Roy, 92, died peacefully on February 2 after a five-month battle with oesophageal cancer.

Roy became something of a celebrity in Swindon after racking up 25 books as an author of military history in the last 40 years.

Roy was the second-eldest of four brothers. Michael Nesbit, 90, of Dorking, Essex, was one of Roy’s younger brothers.

He said: “He individually researched all of his books. He never once trusted or used other people’s work. He personally researched every fact. He was quite modest I suppose. He was one of four brothers, so we always knocked him into shape if he ever got out of line.

“I always admired the dedication he had for whatever he started doing.”

Essex-born Roy was a veteran of the Second World War, having joined the RAF at about noon on September 3, 1939, an hour or so after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced on the radio that Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany.

Speaking to the Adver following the publication of his 25th book, The Battle for Burma, January 2010, he said: “After war was declared the sirens went off, but we knew it was just a test.

“I rang up a friend and we met and volunteered for the RAF.

“At the time I was working for Lloyds Bank and my father was with the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street.

“I didn’t like my bank studies – I wanted some adventure. I also didn’t like the Germans, so I volunteered!”

Roy initially trained as a pilot, only to discover that there was a glut of pilots but not of certain other crew positions. That was how, at the age of 19, he found himself in the role of navigator and bomb aimer in Bristol Beaufort aircraft targeting German U-boats in low-level attacks on their heavily-defended pens on the French coast.

After 50 hazardous missions he became an instructor in navigation and related skills, eventually seeing service in Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – and later throughout the Far East.

He left the RAF as a 24-year-old Flight Lieutenant in 1946 and studied at the London School Of Economics before working as a director of various manufacturing and retail firms in London until he retired at 63. He then moved to Swindon, where a number of his friends lived.

Roy’s writing career began in the early 1970s when political strife led to three-day weeks, which in turn left him with time on his hands, although he had previously had an article published in the magazine Aeroplane. He told the Adver: “I was sitting there, wondering what to do. With tongue in cheek, I wrote a personal account of my experiences in the RAF.”

That book, entitled Woe To The Unwary after the motto of his old squadron, was published in 1981 and opened the floodgates for publishers’ requests for more. Roy’s funeral will be held at Kingsdown Crematorium on Tuesday, February 25 at noon.

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