Churchill's Thin Grey Line (ePub)
British Merchant Ships at War 1939–1945
Best Book award nomination
Nominated for the Maritime Foundation's 2018 Mountbatten Award for Best Book. View the full list of this year's nominations here.
The first British casualties of the Second World War were not members of either the Royal Navy, the Army or the Royal Air Force but British merchant seamen on the liner Athenia, torpedoed by U-30 on 3 September 1939. For the duration of the War Britain’s merchant fleet performed a vital role, carrying the essential supplies that kept the country running during the darkest days and then made victory possible. Their achievements came at a terrible cost with 2,535 British ocean-going merchant ships being sunk and, of the 185,000 men and women serving in the British Merchant Navy at the time, 36,749 sacrificed their lives. A further 4,707 were wounded and 5,720 ended up in prisoner of war camps. Their casualty rate of 25 percent was second only to RAF Bomber Command’s. Using casebook examples, this well researched book tells the inspiring story of those brave civilian volunteers who fought so gallantly to defend their ships and the cargoes.
It is a most welcome book as it helps to broaden the general interest in an important facet of naval/maritime history, showcases that naval warfare was by no means limited to the navies and sailors themselves but that civilian mariners were equally involved and affected, and most important that it were not only the “great men” making history, but ordinary merchant mariners.Naval Historical Foundation
Read the full review here
An eight-page section of black-and-white photographs illustrates this 235-page book's diligently researched stories of valiant civilians who fought to protect their ships and cargoes to help the U.K war effort.Toy Soldier & Model Figure magazine issue 238 – reviewed by Leo Winston
As featured byMercator Chapter Belgium, October,December 2018
Another brilliant book by a retired sea captain and master wordsmith who recreates the past as though we were there among the frantic nautical action. Nobody does it better.This England, Summer 2018
A cracking read which brings home to the reader how much we in this country owe to the Merchant Navy.Barry Gem, 8th March 2018 - reviewed by Brian Lee
These are stories which deserve to be re-told, and Bernard Edwards powerfully reminds us that they contain lessons that remain relevant today.Nautilus March 2018
The volume is both well-written and informative... a worthy example of its ‘War Story’ genre.NZ Crown Mines
First-rate book, with carefully chosen examples of the craft, cargoes, crews, and the dangers they faced constantly while trying to keep Britain and her allies supplied with essentials. Grippingly readable and very well researched, every story is worthy of a war drama - but this was reality. A highly recommended read for a true understanding of some of the sacrifices made by non-military services during World War II, largely overlooked at the time and since. To paraphrase Churchill, never have so many been acknowledged by so few; this book rectifies that.Alan Hampson