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A Hard Fought Ship (Paperback)

The Story of HMS Venomous

Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing World History

By John A Rodgaard
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 480
ISBN: 9781036112349
Published: 15th May 2024


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Here is the exhaustive and exhilarating story of HMS Venomous, one of sixty-seven V&W destroyers built at the end of the Great War that were to play a key role in the struggle to keep the sea lanes open in the Atlantic, Home Waters and the Mediterranean during the following war. Her story was perhaps the most memorable of all her class.

When war broke out she was to find herself in the front line as the German blitzkrieg swept across Europe in 1940 and the V&Ws made high speed dashes across the Channel to bring troops and civilians back from Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk, and prepared for the expected invasion. Later that year she and her sister-ships escorted the Atlantic convoys which supplied our Russian allies with the weapons to halt the German advance.

She returned to the Mediterranean and took part in Operation Pedestal to save Malta, and as the allies prepared for the landings in North Africa she was ordered to escort the destroyer depot ship, HMS Hecla to the invasion beaches. When Hecla was torpedoed off the coast off Morocco Venomous fought the attacking U-boat and rescued 500 survivors. She escorted convoys along the coast of North Africa including the first-through convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria. and she joined the invasion force to Sicily during Operation Husky.

In October 1943 she returned to Britain for a major refit at Falmouth when she was converted to an air target ship for training Barracuda torpedo bombers based at Douglas, Isle of Man, and then, after being transferred to the east coast, she was nearly lost in a hurricane before being sent to Kristiansand to accept the surrender of German naval forces.

Venomous and her sister-ships were all scrapped after the War, but her extraordinary career, during which she fought without cessation, is brought to life in this rousing and beautifully told ship biography, a fitting memorial to the V&Ws and the men who served in them.

‘I would rate this as being in the same class as The Cruel Sea for a picture of small ship life in World War Two.’ The Naval Review

‘A portrayal of life on a wartime destroyer with a depth and insight that is possible unequalled by any previously published work.’ Warship Annual

This book is outstanding for its detailed insight into the life on not just a single destroyer but, by extension, life at sea aboard and Royal Navy destroyer.’ The Northern Mariner

‘A Hard Fought Ship is a vivid portrait of a fighting vessel and the men who operated her.’ Warships International Fleet Review

‘Highly recommended to both naval historians and the general public.’ Mariner’s Mirror

‘It is an exemplary ship biography where a detailed narrative of the destroyer’s exploits are brought to life by a wealth of first-hand accounts.’ Navy News

This book is a detailed and thrilling account of the life of a typical V&W class destroyer.’ Sea Breezes

"This is a first-class biography of HMS Venomous and its crew. It serves as a benchmark for future books which seek to emulate its coverage. The book is well written, and the text is complemented with photographs which show both the ship and its crew at various stages of its life."

Read the full review here.

Australian Naval Institute

As featured by

South West Soundings, South West Maritime History Society

About John A Rodgaard

Captain John A Rodgaard (Rtd) took on the writing and the completion of this book after the death in 2007 of the original author John Moore. Before turning to research and writing, he served for 41 years with the US Navy, including 29 years as an intelligence officer. He co-authored A Call to the Sea, the biography of Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution, and is now co-editor of the Trafalgar Chronicle, the yearbook of the 1805 Club, of which he is the Chairman.

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