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Mention any of history's greatest conflicts and certain names spring readily to mind either because they were great commanders or great heroes. Generally speaking, Robert Hichens is not one of those names - though it should be!

The Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) is the RN equivalent of the Territorial Army and provides a platform for those who are not fully employed by HM Forces to undertake their military training and weekends and other convenient times. During WW2, of course, these reservists were called up for full time duty. Robert Hichens was just one such person.

Commencing his wartime career in minesweepers, he earned his first DSC by twice going ashore at Dunkirk to help organise the evacuation. In October 1940 he transferred to Coastal Forces and was given command of a fast motor gunboat. Such were his skills of seamanship and leadership that he was quickly given command of a flotilla of these craft and was soon operating against the larger and more heavily armed German equivalent. In April 1943, however, Robert Hichens was killed in Action. By this time he had earned two DSOs, another two DSCs and was also Mentioned in Despatches. He had also been recommended for the Victoria Cross.

Despite there being another two years of warfare to endure, Robert Hichens remains the most decorated member of the RNVR from WW2 and this is his story. It is a story about the man from his roots to his final action. It is a complete story recounted by his son Antony. It is a story which should be read by all those with an interest in the wide-ranging subject of World War Two - if only to bring the name of this highly decorated officer more readily to mind.

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on 14 December 2007
At long last someone has picked up this great hero of world war two and given a delightful biography of this famous MGB leader; and who better than his own son.The story is told with little sentimentality and puts Hitchens clearly in focus in his chosen area of operations. Particularly well written is Hitchens' time at University.
I read the autobiography many years ago and I could not understand why this war hero was not better known to the general public. Seemingly every other book about gunboats points to Hitchens as the greatest.
A great read, well done to the author, you must be very proud.
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on 8 January 2014
I bought this book for my father in law who is boat mad! He loved it, great illustrations and information.
It was delivered very quick and in excellent condition, certainly recommend as a good read.
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on 29 March 2010
Having read the orginal book written by "Hitch" just before his death..this book brings you closer to a man who was not "myth" but a man of high moral ethics and character!

His son has written more then a memorial about his father but has created a world unknow to so many. "Hitch" was the soul of MTB actions during WW2
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on 14 December 2014
found it a bit dull and repetative
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on 14 November 2014
If you have spent any time in the North Sea, as a yachtsman or as I have working in the wind farms on 20 meter fast catamarans, you will find that this book singularly evocative.
Robert Hitchens book describing his service in the RN Coastal Forces regretfully was never finished as he was killed in 1943. His son has done an excellent job of researching the holes left by his demise.
The extracts from RH's book evoke conditions which are all too familiar to small boats in the North Sea to this day yet un-ameliorated by enclosed helming positions, radar, GPS, and chart plotters.
The North Sea, in winter, in 40 knot boats, using dead reckoning, and fighting a war. Astonishingly evoked. May no body have to do it again.
Hats off to Mr Hitchens and to his son for getting
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on 15 May 2015
Very Interesting read
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on 22 December 2012
This commendable biography was well printed and bound. However the very good photographs in the centre of the book held a little secret. Some 10 or 12 pages in groups of two or three WERE COMPLETELY BLANK and missing from the text - therefore causing considerable breaks in the story line.
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on 8 March 2014
I can recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in World War Two Royal Naval Coastal Forces. It covers the first three years of the war, up until Robert Hichens' death in action.
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on 27 September 2009
I bought this book based on a recommendation that Junior Naval Officers should read it, it is after all their heritage. The book is written by the son of Lt Cdr Hitchens, and as such is sometimes very understandably partisan and tends to outline the subjects virtues and seems to miss some of his failings. The author is justifiably proud of his father and this shines through.

The first 2 chapters consist of a long genealogy of the Hitchens family, and an outline of 'Hitch's' time at Magdalen college at Oxford, and this is quite hard going though does help to put the person into context. The book later becomes a series of excerpts from Hitch's war diary, interspersed with comment from his son and corroborated with extracts from other books.

It is apparent that the original book 'we fought them in gunboats' is something of a undiscovered treasure, and the eloquence of the original author is apparent though sometimes, it is tough going and passages tend to be long winded descriptions of a dawn that would make Ransome proud.

The book was worth a read, though not exactly a page turner it is sad that the original author of the work died prior to completing it.
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