WWII threw up a lot of interesting characters, forcing some people to go to war who would never have expected to otherwise. Vasily Grossman in Soviet Russia was probably the most unlikely, but Edward Young, Penguin publisher turned submarine captain, is also a contender for the title. He was the first reservist to end up a submarine captain, and while perhaps not the finest sub captain of WWII, he has given us all a great story in One of Our Submarines. He covers the process from junior officer to captain, and includes the loss of HMS Umpire, as one of a handful of survivors of an accident on a training cruise.
Interestingly, his story covers the bulk of the war, from the frozen North Sea off Norway to the Med, and then the Japanese War out of Ceylon, and finally Perth. That's just about all the theatres of war you could drive a submarine in.
Young is upfront about his mechanical shortcomings, and you can feel his frustration with some initial poor shooting with his torpedoes: he is an ordinary man doing a hard job that needs doing. He also holds up a mirror to Britain's dawning realisation that her Navy - so long her pride - was being outstripped, easily so, by the growing USN both in quantity and quality.
This is a superb little memoir of WWII submarining, when you submerged by day but for a periscope, and surfaced by night in the safety of darkness - its completely different to submarine operations today, when you can stay underwater for months on end. As a little piece of history, this is an excellent read.