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In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 (Hardback)

The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN

WWII Royal Navy Naval

By Alec Dennis, Edited by Anthony J Cumming
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781526718495
Published: 2nd November 2017



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.

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In Action with Destroyers 1939 - 1945 is a superbly written and exciting eyewitness account of the war at sea from 1939 to 1945. There can have been few, if any, naval officers who saw so much action as Alec Dennis, who served in four destroyers; HMS Griffin and Savage initially before commanding Valorous and Tetcott. While too modest to admit to it, he was mentioned in Despatches three times (Norway, sinking the Scharnhorst and in the North Sea) and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Greece 1942).

His war service also included the important but little known Madagascar operation, the Malta and Arctic convoys and D-Day.

For all the danger and action, Dennis recorded his remarkable experiences with a light even irreverent touch and, as a result, his memoir is not just a brilliant account of one man’s war at sea but a rattling good read.

As featured by

Mercator Chapter Belgium, October,December 2018

The author, Anthony Cumming, did a great job making an extremely readable and gripping book out of the notes of Commander Dennis. This is a ‘reading’ book, one that you don’t easily put down. It not only tells a story about one man’s adventures in WW2, it also provides the reader with an insight in life aboard one of the smaller but very important navy ships of the time, the destroyer.

What I also liked is the fact it provides some insight of the personal life of the commander, his leaves, worries and joys in life at what must have been an extremely stressful number of years. I can recommend the book to those new to the navy history, but also to those already familiar with the RN’s WW2 history. This book just ADDS another welcome view to it all.

Reed the complete review online here.

Flyin' and Ridin', Francois A. Dumas

As featured by

Ausmarine, July 2018

As featured by

Workboat World, July 2018

An exciting eyewitness account of naval war in the North Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean...

...not just a historic and candid account of war at sea but also a terrific, page-turner of a book. A real-life thriller, it's as close to the action as you can get without actually being there.

Warships IFR, May 2018

The editor, Anthony Cumming, has done a good job preparing the narrative for publication, topping and tailing it with an introduction and a note at the end giving the historical background. He has provided basic maps, sourced an eclectic collection of black and white photographs including some from Dennis' family albums, and gives us a bibliography which includes a number of sources for further reading or research. But most of all he has rescued and brought to us this tale of courage and endurance from the archives of the IWM where full many a flower is stored to blush unseen - but, thanks to Cumming, not this one.

Read the complete review here.

Rum Ration

★★★★★ An officer's six years of exhausting war in RN destroyers, very well told.

Read the complete review here.

Amazon, Robert Griffiths (Seaweed)

A unique story that has been brought to a wider readership by the efforts of its editor. The destroyer was the backbone of naval operations in the role taken by the frigate in Nelson’s time. A fast paced story that grips the reader – Highly Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


An extraordinarily powerful story illustrating the daily strains and courage of those who served, told in an understated way. The fact that Dennis’s family asked that royalties from the book go to Help the Heroes says it all.
Very highly recommended.


About Alec Dennis

Alec Dennis DSC entered Dartmouth in 1931. After serving in the battleships Rodney and Resolution, he transferred to destroyers, serving in four during the Second World War. His experiences are the subject of this book. He retired from the Navy in 1957 and emigrated to Canada. Eventually he became a teacher for 10 years in Vancouver.

About Anthony J Cumming

Following a career in the British civil service, Anthony J. Cumming earned his PhD at the University of Plymouth and won the University of London's Julian Corbett Prize for Research in Modern Naval History. He is the author of two books on naval and air force history including Battle for Britain and Inter-service Rivalry between the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, 1909-40. He lives in Devon with his wife and pet greyhound.

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