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A Home on the Rolling Main Paperback – 30 Jun 2013

12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books; Reprint edition (30 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848321759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848321755
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 454,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Brilliant naval memoir. This book is an honest account of what life was like during the war but this is an open honest and factual account of that life aboard ship. As one of the last veterans left standing Ditcham provides us with some very powerful descriptive language, while using humour that covered his incident packed naval career. This is a wonderful memoir and it has been an honour to read it as it is probably one of the last to be written by a veteran as their number declines with the years. This is also an important voice being left for all of us to remember how war touches all of us and that people Tony Ditcham stood tall for us in our hour of need. This will be used by students of history as not just a memoir but a witness statement to life on the seas during World War Two. Paul Diggit (reviewed on: Goodreads, Amazon, Library thing, the readingroom, Waterstones and Shelfari

About the Author

TONY DITCHAM originally wrote this memoir for family and friends and self-published a very limited edition hardback. Attractively produced with many of the author s own illustrations and photographs, it was enthusiastically reviewed in the specialist press, prompting this paperback reprint.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ww2connection on 22 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
Tony Ditcham had a varied and incident packed career in The Royal Navy. The experiences he garnered made him one of a small band of veterans who served in several theatres of the Second World War, and as such his memoir must be one of the most comprehensive available.

As well as the authors skills as a naval officer he is just as adept with the pen. These two skills make this book a really enjoyable read. Full of descriptive accounts of some of the most well known actions of World War 2 including: D-day, the sinking of The Scharnhorst, The Battle of the North Cape, The Arctic Convoys, and defending British coastal shipping lanes from E-boat attack. He finished his wartime stint on route to The Pacific.

The excellent photographs, maps and documents enhance the book as in many other instances and as noted before, the authors clean and descriptive text make this a highly recommended read. Life at sea leads to long periods of boredom and sometimes loneliness but Mr Ditcham conveys many moments of humour that must have been priceless at such times.

If you only read one book in a quest to learn what life at sea with the RN during WW2 was really like then you could do far worse that to choose "A Home on the Rolling Main".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Hourigan on 29 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I read Ditcham's midshipman's log at the Imperial War Museum some years ago (he served on the same ship as my grandfather) and I was delighted to read this far more extensive account of a young officer's war at sea. There are many WW2 naval memoirs and this one, like many others, illustrates the selfless courage of British service personnel throughout several years of grueling combat. Ditcham's overwhelmingly out-gunned destroyer was, for example, in action against Scharnhorst at point blank range. And survived. Unlike Scharnhorst.

Ditcham's account has three great additional virtues. First, the book is richly illustrated, generally with previously unseen photographs and drawings. Secondly, the book is very well written, with great insight into naval warfare and the psychology of men in combat. It is also, on occasion, very funny. And thirdly, the book is deeply moving. Written decades after the completion of his naval service (but with his midshipman's log and other reference sources to hand) the book captures the awful randomness of death in war, the surprising moments of human contact and kindness that sustained men at sea and also, the depth of relationships that began amongst young naval personnel but that went on to last a lifetime.

This is an extraordinary book, written by an extraordinary man and a fine writer. It deserves to find a very wide audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By matthew t clark on 10 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is without doubt the best naval memoir I have read (and I've read a few). Engagingly readable, it is by turns both moving and funny. Many memoirs suffer from an understandable lack of narrative drive caused by the fact that most of our lives do not have the beginning, middle and end required of a good story. However, Lt Ditcham's story starts with his joining up at the age of 17 in 1940, and then grows as he gains experience in the Mediterranean and on the east coast convoys (where he was decorated for bravery), rising to the crescendo of his account of the Battle of North Cape in 1943, and the story completes with his discharge for the Royal Navy in 1946. It is told with self-deprecating wit and in a manner which brings alive the events, places and people in Lt Ditcham's story. I very highly recommend this book not only to those with an interest in the Navy or the sea, but to anyone who relishes an authentic account of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. A masterpiece which deserves wide readership.
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By Sailor on 14 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Mr Ditcham has used his extensive archive material and significant personal links with renowned maritime authorities to craft a book which brings life at sea in the 2nd WW vividly in front of the reader. Self published books usually deserve raised eyebrows; not this one, which deserves serious promotion and an international readership, not limited to Naval historians and those with the sea in their blood. Highly readable, well-illustrated and a quality production.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Seaweed on 4 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
(publisher's review copy)

The author, Tony Ditcham, served at sea almost continuously from 6th May 1940 until his release as a Lieutenant RNR 7th July 1946. By then he was in the new Battle-class destroyer HMS Finisterre, which had come out East to join the British Pacific Fleet, but not until after the sudden Japanese surrender. Soon after leaving school (in HMS Worcester on the Thames) he had been mobilised aged 17¾ as an RNR midshipman and was sent immediately to sea and to war. At 18 he had to grow up quickly, and learn to know fear but, icy calm, not to show it.

The first two years of the book are based on his Midshipman's Journal; the remainder on his recollections as collated originally in the 1990s for family consumption. Fortunately he sent copies to various archives and was, even more fortunately for us, persuaded to formalise the whole into a proper book. The result is intensely readable (and copiously illustrated with photographs and the author's own sketches).

After an initial six months in the battlecruiser HMS Renown Ditcham was sent ashore to hospital and on recovery was able to get himself into destroyers, where he truly found his feet, initially in a Hunt-class destroyer on gruelling East Coast convoys.

Central to the entire narrative is extreme fatigue. At sea in war officers and ratings were watch and watch, their off-watch time punctuated by dawn and dusk action stations, long spells at action stations and other ship's duties. Any rest period that survived this would be spent in cramped quarters and often being tossed around in a seaway; for days on end one would have physically to brace oneself against the motion of the ship. One wonders how many blunders resulted from this.
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