THE story of a scientist stationed at a secret base in Fairlie during World War Two who went on to invent a revolutionary fuel cell which was used in the Apollo moon mission has been revealed in a new book.

Thomas Bacon devised the 'Bacon Cell' which was powered by hydrogen and oxygen and allowed Saturn V, the rocket which propelled the Apollo 11 crew into space, to take off.

He was personally thanked by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and President Nixon.

His story was uncovered by villager John Riddell, whose novel tells how Fairlie played a significant part in combating the menace of the Nazi U-boats during the brutal conflict.

The book also delves into the story behind the annual commemoration at Fairlie Parish Church to remember the six crew of the HMS The Kingfisher's crew who drowned during a storm.

It was one of the vessels closely linked with the secret anti-submarine base in the village which pioneered U-boat detection equipment.

A commemorative plaque resides in Fairlie Parish Church in memory of the six heroes, who lost their lives in March 1944.

John is a retired civil engineer and has lived in Fairlie since 1972, with a great interest in the Clyde, its ships and local history.

His research into the top secret facility, which was based within the former Fife boatyard in Bay Street, revealed how the team there were the first to develop sonar to track the silent Nazi killers, with hundreds of scientists, officers and local men and women playing their part.

He said: "Churchill described the work done at Fairlie as critical to winning the Battle of the Atlantic, and ultimately the war.

"The research remained relevant long after the war, and is still relevant today.

"Fairlie's role in the conflict was not disclosed until relatively recently and the book tells the full story for the first time."

It describes the impact it had on local people, and their relationship with the naval officers and scientists who came to work there between 1940 and 1946.

Throughout their service, the development of the asidic equipment was built, tested, proved and delivered without which the Royal Navy could not have achieved success in its battle with the U-boats today, and the groundbreaking research is still very much in use today.

Fairlie's Secret War is available from all good booksellers and via the publishers