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Years of Endurance (ePub)

Life Aboard the Battlecruiser Tiger 1914–16

Maritime WWI Seaforth Naval Photographic eBooks WWI Photographic eBooks

By John R Muir
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 3.7 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 4 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399017213
eBook Released: 30th October 2021

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This memoir is perhaps one of the most immediate and vivid recollections of life in a Royal Navy battlecruiser to come out of the First World War. John Muir, a surgeon, was the senior medical officer aboard HMS Tiger from her commissioning in October 1914 until his departure in the autumn of 1916 when she was then undergoing repairs at Rosyth to the damage incurred at the battle of Jutland in June that year.

Vivid, authoritative, empathetic and beautifully written, this memoir takes the reader right to the centre of the action in the first years of the War. The book begins with a stirring account of a night in the wild North Sea with Tiger, head to wind in a gale, steaming at a reduced speed of 10 knots, her purpose to intimidate the German fleet ‘by the mere terror of our presence’. The scene set, Muir’s narrative then describes his experiences from the early days of mobilisation, when he was the Senior Medical Officer of the barracks at Chatham, to his arrival aboard Tiger on the Clyde, her commissioning and the drilling of fifteen hundred officers and ratings as she put out to sea for the first time. In the first months of her career she was involved in intercepting the German raid on Scarborough before fighting the battlecruisers Derfflinger, Moltke, and Seydlitz at Dogger Bank. In May 1916 she found herself in line just astern of the doomed Queen Mary at Jutland. Muir had a ringside seat at these critical and decisive clashes and brings remarkable perception and clarity in the telling of his experiences.

But more than a narrative of events, his story is also one about the officers and men who were his comrades in those years; about their qualities, their anxieties and the emotional dimension of their experiences. His insights are those of a man trained to understand the human heart, and they bring vividly to life a generation of men who fought at sea more than one hundred years ago.

This is a spellbinding and gripping memoir, brought to a new audience in a handsome collectors’ edition for the first time since its publication in 1936.

"The book provides a first-hand account."

John M Bingeman - Royal Naval Sailing Association

One of the interesting feature of the book is that it was originally published in 1937 (and some parts feel like they were written much earlier), when many of the scars of the war were still fresh – in particular the failure to catch the Germans after the Scarborough raid, the negative reaction to the battlecruisers’ performance at Dogger Bank, and public scepticism about the official report on the battle of Jutland. The title is well chosen – the general tone of the book is one of frustration combined with pride in the author’s ship – frustration at the tedium of life onboard, the inability to get to grips with the Germans, frustration with the public reaction to the Navy’s efforts. However this doesn’t mean that the book has a negative feel – Muir was clearly very proud of what his ship did, and that also comes across, making this one of the most interesting First World War memoirs I’ve read.

Read the full review here

History of War

This beautifully written and highly readable book must surely rank among the very best memoirs of the First World War. There is an authenticity about Muir's writing which brings the words out of the pages in a way that rarely happens. Whether the author is describing what it was like to live a troglodyte day-to-day existence in the bowels of the ship or the adrenalin rush of ship-on-ship action one can't help but be totally captivated by the narrative. Unusually in this genre, Muir's book serves to stimulate, educate and entertain. Recommended without reservation.

Phil Curme, Western Front Association

I am usually no fan of the writing style of the Victorian or Edwardian periods, finding the language used impenetrably dull (apart from Kipling). This book definitely doesn’t fall into that category; Muir writes in an engaging and accessible way, and his story is a page turner from start to end. Indeed, I can’t find anything to detract from this book.

Five mushrooms out of five!

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

"This outstanding memoir must be rated as one of the best about what it was like to serve on a battlecruiser or any other warship during the First World War."

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

Regular readers of this blog will know I have a soft spot for memoirs from Old Salts. Muir’s book is a vivid recollection of life in a Royal Navy battlecruiser during World War I. The author was the senior medical officer aboard HMS Tiger, from her commissioning in October 1914 until his departure in the autumn of 1916, when she sailed to Rosyth for repairs to the damage incurred at the battle of Jutland. Muir takes the reader right to the centre of the action in the first years of the war, his story also about the officers and men who were his comrades in those years; their qualities, their anxieties and the emotional dimension of their experiences. His insights are those of a man sensitive to the human condition in all its facets, and they bring vividly to life a generation of men who fought at sea more than one hundred years ago. Published in the late 30s, this new reprint edition is a valuable contribution to our present appreciation of the life in the Royal Navy afloat in the Great War.

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Julian Stockwin

"This book provides a somewhat unusual perspective on the Royal Navy in World War I, but is written in such a way, that all with any interest in this period, will find it enthralling and informative."

Les Brown, Small Warships

This beautifully written and highly readable book must surely rank among the very best memoirs of the First World War. There is an authenticity about Muir's writing which brings the words out of the pages in a way that rarely happens. Whether the author is describing what it was like to live a troglodyte day-to-day existence in the bowels of the ship or the adrenalin rush of ship-on-ship action one can't help but be totally captivated by the narrative. Unusually in this genre, Muir's book serves to stimulate, educate and entertain. Recommended without reservation.

Read the full review here

Phil Curme

Featured in

Great War IPMS, Great War SIG newsletter – October 2021

Vivid, authoritative, empathetic and beautifully written, this memoir takes the reader right to the centre of the action in the first years of the War. This is a spellbinding and gripping memoir.

Dreadnought, The Newsletter of the Battleship Special Interest Group: No. 179 October 2021

About John R Muir

Surgeon Rear-Admiral John R Muir, after his time aboard Tiger, was appointed medical officer in charge of British Weihaiwei on the northeast coast of China. In the Second World War, at the age of 66 and by then retired, he was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant RNVR and appointed as navigator and watchkeeper to HMS Campeador V, a vessel of the Auxiliary Patrol Service. Muir’s rank was recommended by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. In June 1940 she was blown up by an enemy mine while patrolling off Portsmouth; Muir was among those killed. He was an accomplished yachtsman and his sailing memoir Messing About in Boats is another classic work, recently reissued.

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