A NEW book by a naval historian features the wartime experiences of a Royal Navy sailor from Keighley.

Southern Thunder, written by Steve Dunn, tells the story of the struggle to control the North Sea during the First World War. One combatant was Stanley Cubiss, from Keighley.

Mr Dunn's book narrates how Stanley survived the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the largest naval clash of the war, only for his luck to run out in the last year of the devastating conflict.

Stanley was the son of a general draper, Thornton Cubiss, and his wife Maria. He attended Keighley Trade and Grammar School.

During the war he served as an engine room artificer on the destroyer HMS Opal, which was stationed with the Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow.

He lost his life on January 12, 1918, during a night patrol in treacherous weather, searching for German mine-laying ships.

The Opal crashed headlong into rocks and 96 sailors died. Stanley, who was one of five children, had only recently married his wife, Florence. She made the journey from Yorkshire to Orkney after the war to see where her husband had died.

In a poignant footnote to Stanley’s story, his gold engagement ring, inscribed ‘To Stanley from Flo, 6 March 1916’ was found on the seabed by divers 89 years later.

Mr Dunn, who lives in, Worcestershire, said: “I’ve included this particular narrative because it shows how ordinary people sacrificed so much."

Stanley’s death, aged 25, was reported in the Keighley News on January 27, two weeks after the shipwreck which claimed so many lives.

Ten years earlier, Stanley had gained a scholarship from his school in Keighley to the Royal Naval College, at Portsmouth.

He was the first boy from West Yorkshire to win such an award by gaining honours in his examinations.

When married in March 1916, he had lived with his wife Florence in Southsea, Hampshire. Florence Cubiss died aged 82 in 1971.

Southern Thunder, which is published this month, (Jan) is Mr Dunn's seventh book.

The author, a member of The Society for Nautical Research and the Britannia Naval Research Association, added that now the centenary of the end of the First World War has passed, there is a danger the war will begin to diminish in the public consciousness.

“The war’s legacy still affects us today, good and bad, and it’s important we continue to reflect upon it and think about peace," he said. "Also, for me it’s about turning the spotlight on the heart-wrenching stories of individuals, many of which have never been told.”

He said his latest book includes many tales of individual bravery, involving sailors responsible for protecting the Scandinavian convoys, which was HMS Opal’s key task.

Mr Dunn explained: “This may not have captured the imagination of the public, who wanted a major sea battle like Trafalgar.

"But keeping the seas safe for British and Allied trade while blocking them off from Germany and its partners was critical to winning the war.”

Southern Thunder is available now in hardback from book shops and from Amazon, priced £22.25.