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Merchant Sailors at War 1943 - 1945 (Paperback)

Beating the U-boat

Maritime > Naval WWII > Photographic Books

By Philip Kaplan
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Series: Images of War
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781783463053
Published: 15th June 2015



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“The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome.” - Winston Churchill

Featured in this new volume from Philip Kaplan are images of some of the most iconic and important merchant ships of the latter years of the Second World War, along with intriguing shots of the men who sailed and worked on them. The indomitable HMS Sackville, the only surviving corvette of the Second World War, is afforded particularly prominent coverage, alongside a host of lesser-known but equally formidable ships.

The Corvettes (vessels that escorted convoys throughout the war) were amongst the wettest and most uncomfortable of all warships, and their crews were undoubtedly amongst the most heroic. This volume is, in effect, a photo essay on the corvette. Escorting the convoy system of defensive Allied boats in the Atlantic and tasked with preventing merchant ships from being sunk by German submarines and U-boats, the Corvette's job was invaluable.

This history, told in words and images, is sure to appeal to all military and maritime enthusiasts, representing an exciting addition to the established Images of War series.

This book provides an excellent introduction to the war at sea waged by the Allies against Germany and Italy. All of the books in this series are great starter books for anyone building a library on military actions in World War II.

Naval Historical Foundation

The book is divided into eight sections:

- The sea and heavy weather

- The tramp steamers that formed the bulk of the convoys, particularly the slow ones - life on board and ashore

- How the war was illustrated, mostly via reproductions of posters, some American (and some items are from the First World War)

- The corvette, with a focus on the last surviving one, HMCS Sackville which is preserved as a museum ship in Halifax, and on the RCN’s immense contribution to the Atlantic battle

- Arctic convoys

- Atlantic convoys, including a peaceful passage to and from by aircrew under training, contrasted with an engagement between a corvette and the Hipper

- Malta and the cost of its survival particularly in merchant ships, coming to a climax with Operation Pedestal. (There is an editorial glitch on p.97 where editorial slides into a quotation due to an accidental deletion)

- Normandy, mostly illustrated via shore-side subjects and closing with eight pages of photographs relating to U-boats and their concrete shelters on the Atlantic coast of France.

The illustrations (mostly photographs, excellently selected and informatively sourced) are supported by an eclectic mixture of reminiscences, documents and quotations linked by very informative editorial, for instance regarding lifesaving equipment. These sketch in the background to the section topics.

Army Rumour Service

The selection of pictures is a wide spread of all the aspects of the importance of merchant shipping... The text makes for some interesting reading and, accompanied by suitable photos.

Military Modelling
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About Philip Kaplan

Philip Kaplan is a Californian author and art-director who now lives in Cheltenham with his English wife, also an author. He has a long-standing fascination with aviation and naval history and has had ten previous books published by Abbeville, Cassell, Random House and Aurum. To date his books have sold well over a quarter of a million copies world-wide.

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