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All at Sea in Arctic Waters -bookcover

By: Dennis McDonald

All at Sea in Arctic Waters

Pages: 140 Ratings:
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This book is experiences of the author aboard a destroyer on the Murmansk Arctic convoys of WWII. In spite of it being related to war, the content of the book is really to show what life was like for the ordinary ratings and their tasks, not the fighting. Many of the happenings are strangely amusing, depending on how they are read. Most of the occurrences were just everyday duties or chores that somehow went wrong or were the result of naivety of the crew, most of whom had never reached the age of 20 years and were thrown into doing things they had never contemplated before. So this book is really short yarns, mostly of amusing instances of life aboard a ship at war. These yarns are short, but the book as a whole is unique in as much as it is history as far as life was concerned on small RN ships in WWII, much of which few people have ever looked into or even heard about. The author’s work dealt with intercepting messages from and locating German submarines by shortwave radio direction finding. This was specialised, little of which has ever been reported, although closely related to the work at Bletchley Park. Here it is dealt with extensively.

Dennis McDonald volunteered for the RN during WWII. Having a choice, he opted for the Navy and chose telegraphy as his duty. He was selected for special service – intercepting messages from U-boats and locating them by radio direction-finding.

Service life was tough but Dennis saw the amusing side of it, reflected in the titles of the chapters or yarns in this book. Most of his service was in the Arctic on the Zodiac escorting convoys on western approaches and Murmansk, Russia.

His aim is not to deal with action well documented elsewhere, but with the problems of the individuals. He claims this is unique and you will always want to read the next chapter.

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