Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
worth 4 and a half........
on 27 December 2011
An interesting collection of both factual and fictional stories all interlinked with the sea. Very enjoyable collection and a nice change to the novels he is most famous for. At times harrowing in its description of death and the harshness of the sea, obviously Maclean drew upon his own years in the Navy for inspiration.
The Dileas - Maclean's first story, entered into a Scottish newspaper competition and eventually leading him into a publishing contract. The story details a lifeboat crew that must endure a storm and make some tough decisions on lives to save. The dialect can be slightly confusing at times but a very nice introduction to both Maclean and the book.
St. George and the dragon - A fictional account of a trouble on the canal ways. George helps a lady in distress from a thug looking to steal her business. A funny little tale and quite unexpected
The Arandora Star - True account of how the ship was torpedoed despite showing the Red Cross flag. The ship was carrying over 1100 German and Italian internees to be sent to POW camps. Maclean also highlights how the press of the time vilified the prisoners advising that they fought over lifeboats etc. However, eyewitness accounts show that this is not the case. Also the reason for the high loss of life was the barbed wire surrounding the decks and lifeboats place by the British Navy to discourage escape attempts.
Rawalpindi - Another factual account of a British ship in wartime. The Rawalpindi was looking for German warship and misidentified its target. Unfortunately for Captain Kennedy he had sighted the Sharnhorst and was no match for its guns. Despite this the Rawalpindi declined to surrender and met its demise. A phenomenal account of British courage in the face of adversity.
The sinking of the Bismarck - The true tale of how the might of the British navy overcame the greatest German battleship of all time.
The Meknes - Factual account if the Meknes, a cruiser with nearly 1300 French men due to be repatriated. All lights were blazing (unusual as any light at sea made a target for U boats) and the French Flag flying. However a German U boat torpedoed the vessel sinking it and machine gunning the survivors as they sat in lifeboats. The UK government had advised the Crew that the German authorities were informed of the nature of the ship and requested safe passage, the Germans however declared no knowledge. Many years later it came to light that the British gave very little details, if any to the Germans.
MacHinery and the Cauliflowers - A made up story of smuggling and undercover police work to catch a drug dealer.
Lancastria - The sinking of this vessel has the title of the single largest loss of life in Maritime history. The ship, originally designed to hold around 2200 personnel was crowded with over 5000 under orders of the admiralty. Because of this disaster much of the story was covered up by the British Government at the time. (And I believe still, even today is signed under the official secrets act).
McCrimmon and the Blue Moonstones - Another fictitious tale. Two cousins decide to but some Diamonds from a local shady character and sell them on for several times their worth. Unfortunately things don't go to plan.....
They Sweep the Seas - True account of a day in the life of the sweepers. These are the brave men who by joining a length of chain between two trawlers `sweep' back and forth the shipping lanes collecting and then detonating any mines found.
City of Benares - The true story detailing the account of 2 survivors of the disaster. The ship was carrying 90 children to Canada as evacuees. Torpedoed by a German U boat all but 12 of the children died. It also details the cowardice of the Luftwaffe by dropping firebombs on the oil soaked sea in order to burn any survivors.
The Gold Watch - The smallest of the fictional stories details the relationship between a captain and his precious watch, can a mishap prove his waterproof claim?
Rendezvous - A strange tale that I found hard to follow and the reason for the book not getting 5 stars. A cruisers captain is asked to take aboard 2 agents in order to set up listening posts off the coast of Sicily. However they fall under suspicion when the Germans appear to start having inside information. Things are not as they seem as the tale unfolds...
The Jervis Bay - Factual account of the Armed Merchant Cruiser Jervis Bay and how she came to be sunk by the German ship Admiral Scheer. Edward Fegen, the Jervis' Captain was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross for courage shown. The Jervis Bay was the escort for 37 goods ships bringing much needed supplies to our shores. Although heavily outgunned Captain Fegen gave his life to slow up the Admiral Scheer, reported to have one arm blown off he still navigated his ship into the path of the oncoming enemy allowing the majority of the convoy to escape.
Give it a try...... :)