“Five Bells” Job Done by Tony Liddicoat

Review by Robert Groth

For an avid diver, this book is a must read. Tony Liddicoat has been diving for over 44 years, and, as one of the book’s typists commented, “I don’t know how you’re still alive.” Tony pursued commercial, military, and recreational diving and his diving career has taken him all over the world. In 1981 he was named British “Diver of the Year”. The book includes chapters devoted to his time diving as a wreck excavator in Kenya, his military assignments in Germany and the Falkland Islands, as an Army diving instructor in Belize, and commercial and recreational diving throughout Europe. I particularly enjoyed the wealth of pictures he has in his book, like the picture of He and Jacques Cousteau talking aboard the Calypso, the pictures of his time excavating wrecks in Mombasa Kenya, or his cover photo of him on Soldier Magazine in November of 1988.

Picture of the recovery of a Wessex Mark V helicopter which sank off Portland Bill, UK in 1974

If you are interested in commercial diving, he provides a detailed description of what this is like. He was involved inspecting over a hundred British rail bridges, the construction and anchoring of pipeline in Holyhead, North Wales, repairing a reactor transfer tunnel for the Winfrith Nuclear Reactor in Dorset, and the replacement of the lock gate sill in Penzance, Cornwall. He also discusses his rescue of a diver in Belize while his stint as a diving instructor at he Army’s Adventure Training Centre a few miles from Belize City.

After reading the book, DivingInDepth.com has had the chance to interview Tony Liddicoat.

DivingInDepth: What was the most exciting event in your diving career?

Tony: The most exciting event in my diving career is probably the rescue of Dick Alba, the American diver in Belize. I descended into the black wild water in Belize at night in the face of Hurricane George, when he was unconscious, I had no mask and only a small hand held torch, but I saw that he regained consciousness at 30 metres, and he became ‘alive’ again. This was a big thrill for me as I value life above all else. There have been other special occasions and sights, but that dive holds special memories for me.

Artist impression of the Lazy Shot system used to rescue Dick Alba
Artist impression of the "Lazy Shot" system used to rescue Dick Alba

DivingInDepth: What are you most proud of during your 44 years plus of diving?

Tony: I am proud of all the novices and trained divers I have enhanced over the years at varying locations around the world. So many of them are not so emotional or gushing in their thanks but the deep sincerity when they shake your hand and say a simple ‘thank you’ – means so much, it is very humbling.

DivingInDepth: When were you in most danger in your diving career?

Tony: Difficult to answer, people’s opinion of danger varies. My life has included much work with explosives, fast currents and black water. The room for error in these situations is minute. Perhaps looking back, some of the fast water work I did recovering armoured vehicles was amongst the most dangerous but the job that silently gave me the shivers was diving in the contaminated ponds of a nuclear reactor.

DivingInDepth: Do you have a favorite diving destination?

Tony: In my later years having dived every ocean there is so much beauty under the waves that it often just took my breath away. I used to be very fond of the diving at the drop-off to the south of ‘Half Moon Cay’ on Lighthouse Reef in the Caribbean off of Belize.  The Blue Hole is also situated there – another of my favourites. In my later years I am excited by the wrecks to be found in the English Channel off of Folkestone. Every dive is different, as every wreck has a different story to tell from a different age. The last dive I did there , we recovered Gold, Silver and Diamonds during the dive. A first such dive for me.

DivingInDepth: Now that the book is published, what are you up to now?

Tony: Next month I have been asked to be a part of a small team and go and search for one of 2 wrecks belonging to the fleet of Vasco De Gama, which sank in the Arabian sea, with a priceless cargo of jewels on board, this also gives me a buzz.

How to Order the book:

Tony Liddicoat has self published this book,(ISBN 978-0-9561399-0-0) the RRP is £12 + P & P (US that is $19.61 plus shipping and handling). You can view the web site for other reviews at www.tonyliddicoat.com. The best way to buy it would be at : [email protected] If requested, signed and stamped copies are available at that address, [with Tony’s commercial stamp] You can use PayPal.