Customer Reviews


7 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A young sailor comes of age the hard way., 2 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
(publisher's review copy)

This book tells the story of Phillip Leonard Gunn while serving in HMS Clio, a 4” gunned sail and steam sloop attached to the China Station, from which she was detached in 1915 to support the Indian Army’s advance up the Tigris in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Phillip was lent to this ship and that, and was in the forefront of the action until invalided with malaria and returned to Clio in an extremely sick state. He was born in April 1895, the son of Chief Gunner (Warrant Officer) Philip James Gunn (1849-1933), and joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman in 1911. This part of his story has been reconstructed for us from notes and anecdotes by his son David Gunn, also in his time a naval officer (as was Phillip’s brother).

For the final push up the Tigris beyond Amara, by an exhausted and seriously depleted army, Phillip was put in command of RN2, a Punjabi river boat (with its original crew) saddled much of the time with two dumb lighters each bearing a naval 4.7”gun and its crew. It is surely unusual for an army’s advance to contact to be led by an able seaman and four Indian civilians.

The climate was appalling, the insect life absolutely pestilential, the river treacherous, and the infrastructure, particularly in the matter of medical support, was wholly inadequate. Challenged on this last point from London the Command responded with point-blank lies. When Phillip collapsed with malaria at the time of the final battle, for Ctesiphon on 23rd November 1915, five hundred miles up-river, he was on the receiving end of this appalling neglect of casualties. Fortunately, having been dumped on shore, he was retrieved before he could be, like other abandoned wounded, murdered and mutilated (not necessarily in that order) by the local Arabs. The distressing rigours of being jolted along in a cart and then taken down the river with no recourse to sanitation were ironically mitigated for him by lapses into unconsciousness.

The suffering of our wounded under these conditions of neglect is beyond imagining. Nobody can ever know how many of the 30,000 British and Indian deaths on the campaign might have been avoided with better organisation.

Phillip was restored to his Clio, where he was clearly popular, and at last properly looked after. Clio was detached to Ceylon for her company’s general recovery and Phillip and some others were sent to recuperate in an up-country rest camp. He was not fit for duty until well into 1916.

Throughout Phillip demonstrated outstanding qualities of seamanship, organisation and leadership, often under fire. His actions earned him a Distinguished Service Medal in 1916 and promotion to the Wardroom as a Mate in June 1918. He was promoted Commander in 1933, early in his promotion zone, and served as an Acting Captain in shore appointments from 1942. He retired in 1945 and died in Suffolk in 1983.

The National Archives holds two files on Phillip, ADM/88/668/10901 (Register of Seamen’s Services) and ADM/196/154/342 (Summary of Confidential reports on Officers).

Besides a number of interesting photographs it is illustrated with a selection from a series of oil paintings executed by Phillip in the 1970s, now in the National Art Collection. A wider selection can be viewed at:

[...]

The book is comprehensively indexed. It is supported by an extensive and relevant bibliography for further reading about the appallingly mismanaged Mesopotamian campaign, a classic of Mission Creep. Two further titles might be added:.

“Kut, the Death of an Army” R Millar, Secker and Warburg, 1969
“Townsend of Kut” AJ Barker, Cassell, 1967

As it is, the surrounding political and military situation has clearly been extensively researched by the author and he has sketched in just enough to explain how his father came to be where he was, without overloading what is essentially that sailor’s personal narrative.

Lower Deck memoirs are all too rare and this is a valuable addition to the genre, particularly as it deals with a less well-known naval activity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sailor in the Desert, 28 May 2014
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
As a retired RN officer, I thoroughly enjoyed Sailor in the Desert by David Gunn. I liked the way it was divided into short chapters telling the story in simple and straightforward terms of his father as a young sailor in World War one. Based on his diaries, the story captured the Royal Navy of those days, so different yet so similar to the Navy fifty years ago when I first went to sea, and also illuminated a fascinating but little known corner of the war fighting the Turks in Mesopotamia; he was clearly an outstanding young man who was given enormous responsibility at an early age. Awarded a well deserved Distinguished Service Medal for his bravery, the book ends with the battle won and Able Seaman Gunn promoted to Leading Seaman whilst recovering from severe wounds and illness. It left me eager to know the rest of his story; he served a full career, rising from Boy Seaman to Captain, a major achievement in itself, before retiring at the end of World War Two, when he then went off to devote himself to painting as a landscape artist. Several of his paintings showing his experiences in the Mesopotamia Campaign illustrate the book. Attractively produced, I thoroughly recommend this book as a good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An RN Able Seaman's story in Mesopotamia 1915, 14 Jan. 2014
By 
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
An excellent mix of the political and military history of the time during an often overlooked battle against the Turks in the Middle East during late 1915, and the experiences of a junior rating, Able Seaman Phillip Gunn, given amazing responsibilities during actions 500 miles from the sea up the River Tigris near Baghdad, and his lucky evacuation from being incarcerated in Kut where thousands of British and Indian troops were not so fortunate. Good descriptions of the historical setting, key political and military players on the world stage on the one hand, and on the other, Gunn's experience on shore leave near Basra drinking coffee in a street cafe talking to the local Arabs, asking, "What do you think of us being here?" and being told, "the Turks have ruled us for hundreds of years, and want to make money out of us. ... You will probably be the same. ... We just want to be left alone". Good maps, contemporary photographs and coloured illustrations by the subject of the book painted years later from memory - make a most readable and entertaining package.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sailor in the Desert, 29 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
An illuminating account of a hard fought and disastrous campaign, mostly unsung, against the dreaded Turk in Mesopotamia which was being conducted in 1915 at the same time as another disastrous campaign against the same enemy at Gallipoli. The allied military casualties were enormous, nearly 100,000 although many succumbed to disease. One can only marvel at the responsibilities undertaken by this 20 year old Able Seaman and the fact that he was able to record his experiences so vividly. Small wonder that he later advanced to become a Captain in the Royal Navy commanding ships between both world wars and during WW2. The book has been meticulously and affectionately compiled by Philip Gunn's son with a clear narrative supported by maps, many photos and also reproductions of paintings of the events by Philip Gunn himself in the early 70's. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an opportunity not to be missed, 3 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
I've just finished reading this unique WW1 book which I found fascinating,interesting, moving and vivid described with an underlying tenderness.
.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I suspect it would make an excellent film. Very well written, 9 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
A fascinating tale of an untold war. I suspect it would make an excellent film. Very well written
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915 (Hardcover)
an absorbing and very interesting read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews