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His Majesty's Gunboat 658: The Small Boat War in the Mediterranean (Cassell Military Paperbacks) [Paperback]

Len Reynolds
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 7.01 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

14 Feb 2002 Cassell Military Paperbacks
Powered by four 1500 hp supercharged Packard engines and bristling with guns, MGB (Motor Gun Boat) 658 could reach 30 knots across a calm sea. Flotillas of these craft fought their German and Italian opposite numbers right across the Mediterranean during World War II. British Coastal Forces were involved in all sorts of naval actions, from raids on the enemy coast to escorting convoys in preparation for the Allied landings in North Africa. (It was during one such operation that two U-boats collided and sank while attacking the author's convoy!) A vivid tale of young men at war, first published in 1955, now updated by the author in the light of new information from both British and German records, and illustrated with personal photographs.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (14 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304361836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304361830
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Len Reynolds has recently completed a three volume account of RN Coastal Forces for Sutton/The Imperial War Museum

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I JOINED the group of midshipmen who were making forced conversation outside the C.O.'s door. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic story of a young man's war at sea. 26 May 2002
By A Customer
I first read this excellent book as a schoolboy in around 1955. The author was my English master but the book was read voluntarily! The story is an account of the Mediterranean sea war through the eyes of a very young, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve officer. The style of writing is as fresh today as when the book was first published. The drama which unfolds could have featured easily in any "Boys Own" adventure story!
The author joined Gunboat 658, a small but extremely powerful vessel, while it was still under construction and he remained with it to the end of the war. The story tells how the author gained experience and confidence under the guidance of his Canadian skipper and, eventually, became Gunboat 658's commanding officer at the age of 21!
The story of Motor Gunboat 658 is told in clear and straight forward language and provides a vivid description of life, hardship, death and camaraderie on these small and vulnerable fighting vessels.
The story is also significant for its account of the inspirational role played by officers of the Royal Canadian Navy in leading the gunboat flotillas in their daring, hit and run missions.
Motor Gunboat 658 is a thoroughly exciting and rewarding read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close quarters 13 Mar 2008
Len Reynolds wrote probably the best eyewitness account of small-craft warfare to emerge from WW2. Anyone who is interested in naval coastal warfare of that period should read it, even though the geographical scope is limited to the Mediterranean and Adriatic, where MGB 658 and Reynolds spent the whole of their service. His continuity of service in a single boat (as, successively, Navigator, First Lieutenant and Commanding Officer) gave Reynolds an appreciation not only of all facets of MGB operations, but also of the all-important factor of crew cohesion and morale.

Motor gunboat warfare was in some ways a throwback to a much earlier era of sea fighting; in reading the book I was often reminded of the exploits of John Nicholas and the brig-sloop 'Pilot' which played much the same role, in the very same waters, in Napoleonic days. Unlike the torpedo-armed MTBs, MGBs had no long-range armament that was effective from a platform which, because of its small size, was nearly always violently-moving. Thus, actions had to be conducted at point-blank range and casualties were severe when things went wrong. Reynolds describes seeing an enemy destroyer about to 'cross the T' of the MGBs' line; he claims even to have remembered the traditional 'Grace before Grapeshot', "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful". Sure enough, seconds later 658 was raked by the destroyer's secondary armament, and when he picked himself up from under the wreckage of the mast, he was the only man alive and unwounded of the five who had stood on the bridge a minute before. Many a deck officer in the frigates and sloops of Nelson's day could tell a similar tale.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good 12 Jun 2013
By Mango
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book, of its era and a fascinating insight into the smallness of war in the Mediterranean. Cracking description of boats, life and characters, although perhaps a little too many descriptions of awards and medals. Those who love naval jargon will enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. 19 July 2014
Great book. Its slower paced than some maybe but I couldn't fault it. You'd probably have to have some interest in the boats to really enjoy it. Few books on this area of the war. For that alone its worth it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gunboat 658 21 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good read ,very factual.A very good account of a little known war of its own in a very difficult area of operation
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