Personal accounts of sailors?

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by plnelson, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. plnelson

    plnelson Member

    Recently I posted a request for book suggestions for the experiences of ordinary soldiers in the Italian campaign (Link: Looking for good books on the Italian campaign)
    and I was just overwhelmed by the quality and numbers of the suggestions. I've ordered 9 books already and perusing the ones which have arrived so far, they seem exactly what I wanted.

    So given how well done that was I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions on a similar matter: books of the accounts of sailors in WW2.

    I'd love to hear suggestions for diaries, or memoirs written not too many years after the events that the memories have faded.

    Any theatre of the war - Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, etc, any Allied navy. I have a personal interest in smaller ships, especially destroyers, and especially accounts of life on ships that saw some fighting. I'd prefer accounts written by ordinary ratings or lower-ranked officers - say, not much higher than a Sub-Lieutenant in the RN or Lieutenant-JG in the USN. Well-written, readable books would be greatly preferred.

    Either a whole campaign or just one event - an Atlantic crossing, a battle, a run to Malta or Murmansk, etc, would be fine, but preferably book-length to really get the detail and texture of the experience from the point of view of the sailor.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    I finished this one a week or two ago and it is a proper Naval yarn.

    A Home On The Rolling Main: A Naval Memoir 1940-1946 by Tony Ditcham

    One of the best Naval memoirs I have read. Tony Ditcham joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman and the first half of this book covers his time as a 'Middy' for which he has used his officially issued Midshipman Journal to help tell his story, with the latter war details coming from memory. He was initially drafted to the battlecruiser HMS Renown post-Norwegian campaign before he was subsequently assigned to Destroyers with which he spent the rest of the war. Initially he served on a Hunt class but then went to HMS Reading, one of the 50 ex-US destroyers, on East Coast convoy work but would then join HMS Scorpion as an Officer Of the Watch and a Gunnery Officer and with which he spent time on the Arctic convoy route. His description of the Battle of The North Cape when HMS Scorpion torpedoed Scharnhorst at seemingly close range is a great read, aided by sketches of the big ship as he saw the action from the Gun Director Platform. He (and HMS Scorpion) would then go on and serve off the D-Day beaches providing shore bombardment and screening against German E-Boat sorties.
    Ditcham finished the war on the brand new destroyer HMS Finisterre which was heading out to join the British Pacific Fleet after the end of the European conflict. He left the Royal Navy in 1946.
    This memoir was originally meant to be for the eyes of family members only but after it was sent to a number of archives he was persuaded to get it published. There are plenty of photos and sketches throughout the book.
  3. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Heart of Oak by Tristan Jones

    Amazon Link

    I've not read many naval books so not got much to compare to, but i thought it was a good read.
  4. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  5. Combover

    Combover Guest

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