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Four Weeks in May: The Loss of "HMS Coventry" [Hardcover]

David Hart Dyke
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

13 Jan 2007
In March 1982, the guided-missile destroyer HMS Coventry was one of a small squadron of ships on exercise off Gibraltar. By the end of April that year, she was sailing south in the vanguard of the Task Force towards the Falklands. As diplomacy failed, crisis became conflict. By the time the ship left Ascension Island, its company knew war was inevitable - a war in which they would be in the front line. For Coventry, the war began in earnest on 1 May. Her job was to be 'on picket' to the north west of the islands. She was to provide early warning of approaching enemy aircraft from the west, and fend off any incoming threat to the highly valuable ships and aircraft behind her. On 25 May, Coventry was attacked by two Argentine Skyhawks, and hit by three bombs. The explosions tore out most of her port side and killed 19 of the crew, leaving many others injured - mostly by burns. Within twenty minutes, she had capsized, and was to sink early the next day. In her final moments, when all those not killed by the explosions had been evacuated from the ship, her Captain, David Hart Dyke, himself badly burned, climbed down her starboard side and into a life-raft. This is his compelling and moving story.

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Four Weeks in May: The Loss of "HMS Coventry" + Ordeal by Exocet: HMS Glamorgan and the Falklands War 1982
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition edition (13 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184354590X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843545903
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`Powerful account' -- Greg Eden, The Bookseller

`[An] honest, poignant and moving book.' -- Hugh McManners, The Times

About the Author

David Hart Dyke began his naval career as Midshipman (RNVR) in 1959. He then went to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth as a regular officer before serving as Commander of the Royal Yacht Britannia, Captain of HMS Coventry in the Falklands conflict, and Chief of Staff to the Commander British Naval Staff in Washington, DC. After he retired in 2003, he transcribed the voice-recordings that he had made on his return from the Falklands over 20 years earlier. These recordings, along with the reminiscences of his ship's company, became the gripping story of Four Weeks in May.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From June 2007 review in Navy News 24 April 2007
VETERANS of the 1982 conflict in the South Atlantic often complain that their ship was the `forgotten' ship of the war.

Others grabbed the glory, or the headlines, but their ship made the decisive contribution to victory.

It is a claim Captain David Hart-Dyke would never make on behalf of HMS Coventry, but it's probably fair to say her role in the Falklands war has often been overlooked.

She wasn't the first ship to be lost in the war; she would not be the last. She did not blow up spectacularly for the cameras like Antelope. She did not venture into Bomb Alley like Ardent. She did not survive an Exocet hit like Glamorgan.

She did, however, fight with supreme distinction and bravery - and made the supreme sacrifice, as her former commanding officer describes in the outstanding Four Weeks in May (Atlantic, 18.99 ISBN 978-1-84354-590-3).

The emotions, the nerves, the strain the Coventry men felt were identical to those felt by their predecessors 40 years before. The previous Coventry was subjected to repeated enemy air attack in the Mediterranean; like her successor, she fought with distinction but the odds were against her.

The sailors talked of home, of loved ones, they drifted oft silently into thought, tears rolling down their cheeks, they turned to God - irrespective of whether they were religious or not. And if the worst came, they prepared to die. "You know, sir, some of us are not going to get back to Portsmouth," Hart-Dyke's XO confided him as the war dragged on.

This was the real war, too honest to be trumpeted in the jingoistic press or to be reported to loved ones in letters home.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 13 April 2007
A brilliant history of one ship's contribution to the campaign to liberate the Falkland Islands and never falls into the trap that other similar works have of concentrating too much on either the overall conduct of the war or of the minutiae of day to day life onboard ship.

The book stands out for me in two ways; first of all the Captain manages to keep it centred on Coventry while filling in enough background about what is happening to other ships to ensure you are always aware what part Coventry is playing. Secondly, the account of the final fateful half hour of the ship's life is obviously the result of a great deal of research which must have been painful. As the son of a crew member, I was familiar with Coventry only from a few visits as a child - I well remember running up and down corridors and occasionally getting lost deep inside the ship. I am humbled to read the accounts of the heroics of the crew that searched through that complex interior with smoke, fire, holes blasted by bombs and a rapidly increasing list turning it into an inferno that any sane man would want to get out of immediately.

An excellent work that is a fine tribute to the heroes of the day, and the crew members who remain forever on patrol Down South.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb book, thoroughly recommended.. 19 April 2007
I have just finished reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a riveting read, I found it difficult to put down and is written in an easy and highly informative way, but also from a very human perspective.

It made me feel like I was there in the action, and believe the book to be a high testiment to the dedication, professionalism and bravery of the crew of HMS Coventry.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dougie's view 12 April 2007
This book is not hard to read, especially if you are familiar with the layout of a Type 42 destroyer. It is emotional at times, particularly the later chapters which deal with the home-coming and getting back to "normal". As a member of the crew at the time it was interesting to hear again about shooting down albatrosses which, I recall, drew a few laughs and boosted morale. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in British military history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful account of a distant conflict 12 April 2007
I really think this is a very good and thoughtful account by David Hart Dyke and his postion as the Captain of HMS Coventry gives him a unique view and insight into the Falklands Conflict. This book comes at a time when we remember something from our past 25 years ago, it is a fresh insight into a past Royal Navy, one we do not have today. I really reccomend this to Amazon readers who want to explore the history of the 1982 Falklands conflict (war).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Four Weeks in JUne 24 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was in the Royal Navy during the time that HMS Coventry and helped manage one of the support cells responsible for helping the survivors of the conflict readjust to normal life. I had the privilege of meeting some of the survivors. Captain Hart-Dyke provides the reader with an intelligent and human insight into this tragedy. If this book does not tug at the heart strings of the reader, then they cannot be human. A thoroughly excellent read and strongly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 12 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written by Coventry's CO this is a decent book, not brilliant but a good read.

Personally, I like a little more of the detail (the minutae as one other reviewer has put it) and this book doesn't quite fully tick that box. It is largely written from the author's viewpoint and experience which is fair enough of course but this does mean that it doesn't give you the full view of what was happening throughout the ship.

In my view, it isn't as good as the book on HMS Ardent and HMS Antrim by Mark Higgitt and David Yates respectively - both of these are written more from he lower deck perspective.

Having said all of the above, Four Weeks in May is a good read - hopefully it will encourage further memoirs on the Falklands conflict.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on the harsh realities of war.
The loss of the Coventry, along with the other UK ships, brought home to the public that this was a real war and our servicemen were getting killed and injured far from home.
Published 5 months ago by Mr. Peter Crosland
5.0 out of 5 stars David Hart Dyke - Falklands book
Brilliant book - well worth the read.
and really interesting too. The Real story of what went on!!
Do buy it,
Published 18 months ago by Janny Bean
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and moving
I originally heard about this when the author was interviewed on Radio 4, so i bought it. Really enjoyed this book, it was both interesting, insightful and very personal.
Published on 22 Sep 2011 by fillyouin
4.0 out of 5 stars Four weeks in May
Although he events portrayed took place nearly 30 years ago the author has the benefit of credibility and experience. It is a very readable book - Excellent reading
Published on 27 July 2011 by Tecman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work
A very wll written book. It takes you straight to the heart of the the Royal NAvy, Similarly, it is very good on the decision making and responsiblities of a warship Captain. Read more
Published on 12 Dec 2010 by Olly teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars Amaizing
Extraordinary report from those days, back in may 82.
Finished reading in two weeks.
Will definitely be a good item for the collective memory of recent events. Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2010 by LRS
5.0 out of 5 stars Increadibly moving!
I read this book a couple of years ago whilst at sea (I'm a serving member of the Royal Navy), and whilst it is clearly written by an Officer, the way in which he puts his thoughts... Read more
Published on 29 May 2010 by J. S. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book
I have read, recently, both this book (twice) and Sandy Woodward's book (100 days...). The different characters of the authors and the stresses and strains of their respective... Read more
Published on 24 Mar 2008 by Skimmer
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Considering that this is supposed to be providing the reader with an insight to the loss of a ship, I found this book to be very poor. [... Read more
Published on 12 May 2007 by F. Jordan
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