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

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Stand by for Action: The Memoirs of a Small Ship Commander in World War II.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    William Donald(Author)

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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.In 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. His 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. This record of varied and almost incessant action ranks among the most thrilling personal stories of the war at sea.
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Book details

  • PDF | 208 pages
  • William Donald(Author)
  • Seaforth Publishing; First Thus edition (15 Jan. 2009)
  • English
  • 7
  • History

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Review Text

  • By Guest on 18 June 2017

    good read

  • By David Lloyd on 28 December 2011

    Highly recommended. A memoir of service on escort vessels in the thick of the action in the European theatre in WW2. The author was second in command of the sloop HMS Black Swan, seeing intensive action in Norway in 1940 and winning the DSC. Then he commanded the corvette HMS Guillemot for the first half of 1941, and the escort destroyer HMS Verdun for 2 years to mid 1943, both on the east coast. Subsequently he captained the fleet destroyer HMS Ulster, winning a second DSC for an action with German destroyers off France in October 1943 before seeing action off the Anzio and Normandy beach heads.The author's time with the east coast convoys is particularly memorable. HMS Guillemot was a very small 580 ton 'Bird' class corvette operating with her sisters out of Harwich while HMS Verdun was a venerable V&W class destroyer converted as an AA escort with the Rosyth escort force. The escorts had a continual series of 3 day turn-arounds escorting convoys between Scotland and the Thames. These convoys consisted of 25 or 30 ships in two files, mostly ancient colliers, with 2 escorts, front and rear. The convoys followed 'the tramlines' of the narrow channel between the coast and the offshore minefields and shoals, including 'E-Boat Alley' off the East Anglian coast. The author's service coincided with the ascendancy of the E-Boats. There are vivid descriptions of night watches facing the threats of E-Boats, mines, wrecks and shoals.The author was a career naval officer from the fraternity of Royal Navy destroyer officers. He comes across as a consumate professional and a modest and likeable man who was committed to his crews. The account was a best seller when first published in 1956.See also Coastal Convoys 1939-1945: The Indestructible Highway, an excellent history; or East Coast Corvette, the second of the wartime corvette trilogy by Nicholas Monsarrat recounting his service as First Lieutenant on HMS Guillemot (included in Three Corvettes) (Donald doesn't mention Monsarrat so perhaps their service on the Guillemot didn't overlap; and "V.& W." Class Destroyers, 1917-45, an excellent concise history of the class.

  • By Ancient Spirit on 22 December 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.

  • By The Black Knight on 20 June 2010

    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 .

  • By Aldonio Silva on 6 December 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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