The book is one of the most memorable memoirs from the war at sea in WWII. It is the best of several memoirs I have read of service on an RN anti-submarine trawler in WWII. The author served on the Northern Gem which survived the infamous and tragic PQ17 convoy to Russia, the hard fought return convoy QP14 and convoy JW51B to Russia which was attacked by the German pocket battleship Lutzow and the heavy cruiser Hipper. Before the Russian convoys the author and the Northern Gem served in the Norwegian campaign (being captured briefly by German mountain troops), on the northern patrol (coming close to the path of the Bismarck) and on convoys to and around Iceland. After the Russian convoys the author served on his sole return convoy across the Atlantic. After three years continuous sea service in the Atlantic and Arctic he was posted to a naval unit dropping spies on the coasts of enemy occupied Italy and southern France and ended the war on an MGB.
Despite having seen much more action than most this is a modest and honest account. The author was a professional trawlerman before the war fishing in the same Artic seas that he would later traverse in war. He became the Coxswain, the non-commissioned officer responsible for all seaman crew (non-engineering room staff) on the Northern Gem at the age of 21. At action stations the Coxswain steered the ship. The author recounts situations of great risk and bravery, including his own, in a compelling but understated manner. He examplifies an outlook found in the fishing communities in which he was raised: modest expectations of life and high expectations of his own fortitude and courage.Read more ›
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