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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2000
This book was written prior to the more famous 'Cruel Sea' (which I have not read (yet!)).Interestingly most of the book was written and published during WW2. Three Corvettes is actually a collection of Nicholas Montserrat's work but is no less for this. Three corvettes is a factual account of the authors time on corvettes firstly in the Atlantic convoys and then in the East Coast convoys. It is beautifully written. I went to bed that night with the smell of the sea, the swell of the Atlantic and the fear of the torpedo. After reading this account my utmost admiration went out to the relatively unsung bravery of the Merchant Seamen. The other articles in the book include an account of the tragic sinking of the Lancastria with approximately 4000 passengers trying to evacuate from France. This was actually hushed by Churchill during WW2.Also covered are Dunkirk and the return of a crippled ship to port after being torpedoed. The collection includes 'The Ship that died of Shame' later a black and white film about a MTB boat which is converted for smuggling after the war. I will however remember this book for its frightening account of the convoy war and I look forward to reading the cruel sea.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I came across this gem on holiday recently while staying in a chambre d'hote, and found it to be riveting bed-time reading. I've owned a copy of The Cruel Sea since the seventies, but this is altogether more realistic.

My paperback 1973 Mayflower edition of Three Corvettes is actually a collection of three short autobiographical accounts of Monsarrat's experience serving on a corvette and is based on his diaries. Each piece was published separately at the time of writing, because, like many others, he was expecting to be killed the next time he went out on duty.

The structure, strengths and weaknesses of British WW2 Naval command are made all too clear, and the book makes one realise how lucky Britain was to win the war.

My eyes were opened wide regarding the duties of the different ranks, how the watches were organised, how the responsibilities were assigned, how the team functioned. If I were to write a novel or film about life on a small fighting ship, this would make excellent background reference material, far more revealing than any dry official manuals of ranks and standing orders.

I found the moralising somewhat overlong, hence only four stars, but this also serves to emphasise just how much the Services went through, and why they continued to do what they did with such dedication and heroism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2011
"Three brilliant finger-biting stories of men in small ships during one of the most crucial battles of the last war...the Battle of the Atlantic, when the convoys had to get through, despite the double threat of German bombers in the air, and U-boats, the invisible enemy below...Tales of heroism, fear and death, by the author of 'The Cruel Sea'."

"Nicholas Monsarrat is a writer whose terribly sharp eye sees, even in the midst of action, the things which second-rate writers always miss...This is writing: the craftsman is doing his honest professional job with his pen as the captain did so on the bridge of the wave-tossed cockleshell. He has written one of the best war books." - The Observer
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2012
This book is excellent.

As the other reviewers have stated it is a collection of stories based on his wartime experiences and a number of short stories (fictional) that are very well set-out.

Firstly, his war was horrid. Read the section entitled "It Was Cruel" and you'll be disgusted at what these men went through to keep Britain going, but at the same time, their sacrifice will make you proud.

Monsarrat also injects humour in the most unlikely of places and some sections genuinely had me giggling at the absurdity of it all. It has highs, lows, humour and sadness - the lot.

I just wish there was more of it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2011
For anyone who has read The Cruel Sea, and wondered at Nicholas Montserrat's ability to capture the pure essence of the war at sea, all will be revealed in Three Corvettes. Each story is a diary of the author's own experiences of life on a small escort ship, mundane and monotonous for the most part, dramatic and exciting in flashes, and the three combine to provide (in my opinion) the bedrock of his later masterpiece. Great reading, full of insights into that terrible time, and written with an apparent complete understanding of those he served with, and a warm sympathy towards their own lives and problems.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2013
Monsarrat does not pull any punches when desribing the horrors of the war at sea in WW2. His contrasts the teduim of long watches in freezing weather and the violence and terror of actions.
This is a must read for anyone interested in the Battle of The Atlantic. Had the Allies not triumphedI would be writing this in German.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2012
A truly gripping account of war at sea by a master story teller . All three stories two of which are of the writers own experience are so easy to read . The fact that I am myself with a background of WW2 service makes it all the more
nostalgic
Regards John
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2013
The author's writing style for 3 Corvettes is unusual but has a quality and a light touch that makes you feel like you are there with him, seeing events through his eyes. A combination of sharp observations and more personal anecdotes are combined in almost note-form to build up a powerful picture of the war as experienced by the author and the crews he sailed with. Humour and sadness are mixed and make the book all the more enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Of the short stories, I most enjoyed "HMS Marlborough" which really conveys the horror of a torpedoed ship and the daunting task faced by the remaining crew to try to nurse the vessel home.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2013
This book is based on Monsarrat's experience of convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic during WW2. He is a good writer anyway, but the fact that his sailing background saw him start the war as a Sub-Lieutenant RNVR and finish it as a Lieutenant-Commander, with much experience of command, makes this a compelling read. If conventional history books fill you with dread and yet you wish to know something of the Battle of The Atlantic, which Churchill called the most important battle of the war, then this is the book that will do it for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2015
This is an incredible book. As one who has spent time in the service (Royal Navy) I found the first two books particularly interesting and, at times, enormously funny. This book has served to revive some powerful memories of times gone by, times and events to which I can so easily relate.

Nicholas Monsarrat has long been a favourite author of mine - The Cruel Sea being a particular favourite. His style of writing is enviable.

Rest In Peace Nicholas.
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