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Stand by for Action: The Memoirs of a Small Ship Commander in World War II [Paperback]

William Donald
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Jan 2009
The author of this compelling memoir proved himself one of the most successful small ship commanders during the Norwegian campaign in 1940, and then served at sea continuously throughout the rest of the War.returncharacterreturncharacterIn Norway, as second-in-command of a Black Swan sloop, he experienced the suspense and nervous strain of operating in the narrow waters of a twisting fjord under heavy air attack, but his humour was never far away. 'I don't want to appear fussy, but are we going to be greeted by cheers and kisses from Norwegian blondes, or a hail of gunfire from invisible Huns?' he remarked to his officers on approaching the small town of Andalsnes. returncharacterreturncharacterHis next task - in command first of a corvette and then a destroyer - was escorting East Coast convoys, and his experiences reflect the danger of this work against the menaces of E-boats, enemy aircraft and mines. He then took part in the landings at Anzio and the Normandy landings in 1944; finally, he rescued internees from the Japanese prison camp on Stanley, Hong Kong. His career was much helped by his highly developed sixth sense for danger, the deep affection of his crews and his affinity with cats which he believed brought him luck. returncharacterreturncharacterThis record of varied and almost incessant action ranks among the most thrilling personal stories of the war at sea.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Seaforth Publishing; First Thus edition (15 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848320167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848320161
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book: the author started WW2 as 'number One' of the sloop HMS Black Swan, which soon saw action in the Battle for Norway. For the next three years he spent his sea time on the East Coast convoys, known as 'the tramways' regularly up and down, escorting fifty or so ships at a time, with constant danger from the Luftwaffe, E-boats or mines. "Being mined is not particularly amusing." After Black Swan he was in command of HMS Guillemot. a corvette, strill on convoy duty; in July 1941 he commanded the old destroyer HMS Verdun, converted to an AA ship - still on convoy duty. In Guillemot and Verdum he sailed in 150 convoys!
In June 1943 he took command of HMS Ulster, a brand new Fleet class destroyer. serving in the Channel and the Med, up to and including the D-Day landings. After three-and-a-half years of continuing seagoing command Donald had reached the end of his tether and asked to be relieved of his command. In June 1945 he was appointed commander of HMS Glengyle, a troop ship/landing craft carrier, and took her to the Far East to reach Bombay when Japan surrendered. He took several hundred British prisoners from Hong Kong back home, andf the book ends when he sees them off in Colombo.

The author: Commander William Donald, DSC and bar, wrote this book in 1956. A Cumberland man, he was born in Keswick in 1910 and died in 2002.

My opinion: Excellent naval memoirs - honest, knowledgeable, well-written, by a man who was in the thick of it for much of the War. At times stirring, at times touching, this is a really good book if you want to know what it was like on small ships seeing a lot of action. Very good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life on the Ocean Wave 22 Dec 2010
A revealing account of a small ship commander's experiences in WW2 in E-Boat Alley,Norway,Normandy's shores and the Med.It's a really good read ! The author is very honest about his mistakes.How many are like him ? Very few, I reckon.I recommend this book to all good men and true.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a brief history 20 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A pretty truthfull account of one mans war , refreshingly truthfull , here is a man who admits his ( few ) mistakes and gives a rarely seen view of what actually happend to a ships captain through the war .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and honest first hand account 6 Dec 2010
This is a first hand account of sea warfare by a warship commander during the WWII. I have been surprised by his simple style in telling his adventures while commanding different warships with different duties. He is in fact very honest about it all. This is very good reading and it's more than worth your money.
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