During World War Two, several thousand New Zealanders served in the Merchant Navy. Many braved the deadly German U-Boats during the Battle of the Atlantic and sailed in perilous convoys to Artic Russia and Malta.
Others manned transport and hospital ships for the Allied landings in North Africa, italy and France, or ferried troops and supplies across the vast Pacific and indian Oceans.
The mood set by Helen Clark's "Forward" is nothing but anticipation. One turns onto the next page and is immediately greeted by a briief introduction into seaferers at war: What they did, for whom, why, how etc. From there we move into the life story of LIONEL HUDGESON, who tells of his early days with boats, and moving on to his merchant shipping days, and from there on to his wartime activities, and then his retirement.
The amazing thing is, though this happens for over a dozen men, the story never gets boring. I stayed constantly enthralled in this text as I was introduced to fifteen men. I was told of their childhoods, youthfullness, and shipping tales.
When I put the book down I was shocked. I had my real knowledge exposed to me, I was shown how little I really knew about the merchant navy men of WWII, and the true extent of my ignorance was exposed to me through these 262 pages of stories and pictures of the men and the ships they sailed.
Overall an excellent text, recommended for those wanting to read up on history, or just find out about some of the true heroes of WWII.
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