A CHANCE meeting with a bus driver nearly two years ago led a Borders historian to write about the untold story of a Selkirk war hero.

During a chat with bus driver Gordon Smith in October 2015, author and historian Brian Parker, from Yetholm penned the book after finding out that Gordon's father served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. 

With very little known about Gordon's father, Stephen Taylor Smith, 92 and intrigued to find out more, 70-year-old Brian set out on a task to fill in the gaps and write the book, to ensure his story lived on and recognise his achievements.

Author Brian Smith told the Border Telegraph: "I volunteered to help as there were bits of the story that intrigued me, especially when Gordon told that his father was in the DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships).

"I had not heard about that branch of the Royal Navy, nor had any of the sailors I asked during the initial research. A meeting was organised with Gordon's father, Stephen Taylor Smith and it became obvious that Stephen's branch of the Senior Service has never received any official recognition and now in his later life, he was 92, it's wouldn't happen.

"Once the few, handful of DEMS were gone, their war would be forgotten. It was the one thing Stephen had hoped to would change before it was too late."

15 months on from meeting, nearly a dozen copies have been published, all of which gone to family members. 

Brian added: "Now the family know about this brave man who went about his duty as an Acting Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, but who wore no uniform.

"His daily dress was a Merchant Seaman, he sailed on the Merchant Ships as a Gunner, and as such the Geneva Convention would not cover him.

"He was an ordinary young man who enjoyed life, a drink, and a dance on shore leave, his thoughts, observations, dreams, his war are recorded in his own words against a background of total war."

"DEMS will not be forgotten. His seven surviving grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren will now know about his part in the Nation's fight for freedom. His is the story of coverage."

One copy of the book has been sent to the Imperial War Museum in London for its archives.