by Jack Edwards
Ely, Cambrdigeshire: Melrose Books, 2005. Pp. x, 355.
Illus., maps, diagr., append. ₤20.99. ISBN:1-905226-39-X
Edwards’ joined the Royal Navy as a “Boy” in 1938, and spent virtually all of the following seven years at sea, mostly in the light cruiser HMS Nigeria. His service was surprisingly varied, including the Bismarck chase, Atlantic convoys, anti-aircraft operations during the Battle of Britain, duty on the Murmansk Run and in the White Sea, support to British commando raids, Malta convoys, and finally operations against Japan in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Out of this, Edwards has produced a very readable, informative memoir—one of the best to come out of the war.
The book has numerous sea stories, some involving notable people such as Noel Coward, Admiral Vian, and even George VI himself, interwoven with insights into the social life of the times. Naturally there’s a lot of combat, some of it grippingly told, and, of course, the daily routines of a warship at sea, ranging from the commonplace (like chipping and painting) to the horrendous (like collecting the dead following heavy action).