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Years of Endurance (Paperback)

Life Aboard the Battlecruiser Tiger 1914–16

Maritime WWI Seaforth Naval Photographic Books WWI Photographic Books

By John R Muir
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 4 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399017206
Published: 3rd November 2021
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #18

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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.

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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