6 April 2009

New and Notable - 6th April

Torpedo Leader
by Wing Commander Patrick Gibbs DSO, DFC and Bar (Grub Street)

Written during the war without benefit of hindsight, this is a remarkable and valuable account. A very personal story, its lucid, exciting and readable narrative describes firstly the author's frustrations as a Staff Officer in Cairo, then his triumphs and disasters as a Beaufort Flight Commander on the anti-shipping operations from Malta with 39 Squadron in 1942, during which Gibbs' contribution was immense.

Wing Commander Patrick Gibbs, DSO, DFC and Bar, RAF torpedo bomber pilot and film critic for The Telegraph newspaper was born on April 2, 1915. He died on March 8, 2008, aged 92.

Read a full review on the Aircrew Book Review blog

Available from:
Grub Street (note: site works better in Internet Explorer than Firefox)

Further reading:
Times Obituary 26 March 2008

Guns Above, Steam Below
In Canada's Navy of WWII
by A.G.W. Lamont (Melrose Books)

Guns Above, Steam Below is the true story of the experiences of A.G.W. Lamont, an Engineer Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve.

His first sea-going experience was in the corvette HMCS Cobalt on the triangle run Halifax, New York, St. John's. Cobalt was one of many corvettes, fending off the U-boats while themselves experiencing Guns Above, Steam Below. The largest part of the book, however, deals with the River Class destroyer HMCS Qu'Appelle on various assignments, including the Normandy invasion of World War II.

Lamont provides a brief history of the ship with the aid of photographs and diagrams. Extracts from the memoirs of some of his ship-mates are used to recall life on board and he describes many of the crew in detail, and with great affection. Lamont also recalls his own experiences in the 'Steam Below' spaces of the ship where the men were oblivious to what was happening, either on-deck or in the sea below, and were subject to extreme heat and noise - including the noise of outgoing and incoming shell fire, depth charges and torpedoes exploding nearby. He then recounts his experiences of the events that took place during his career.

After several trips across the Atlantic, Qu'Appelle was assigned as the lead ship of four to be positioned at the west entrance of the English Channel during the Normandy invasion. Their orders were to prevent U-boats from getting at the enormous number of vessels in the invasion fleet. About a month later, Qu'Appelle was also leader of the four Canadian River Class destroyers engaged with their 'Guns Above' in the Battle of the Black Stones, launched against a group of U-boats and heavily armed escorts as they left port in Brest. In October 1944, when their presence was no longer required in the Channel, Qu'Appelle and three other ships, including HMCS Skeena were sent to patrol an area near Iceland. A vicious storm blew up and the shore authorities advised the ships to anchor until it had passed. This proved successful for all but one, HMCS Skeena. Lamont gives a most gripping and moving description of the wild and tragic events that followed as Skeena's anchor dragged and she was driven relentlessly onto the rocks near Reykjavik, causing the loss of a number of her crew.

Available from:
Melrose Books

Mogens Høirup
An Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary Man
by Howard and Hanne Kulin

Moved by a deep sense of justice, in early 1944 Jutland history teacher Mogens Høirup became a leader of the local Danish resistance movement. Subsequently captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo, Høirup survived and horrors of Neuengamme Concentration Camp and returned home at the end of the war.

Through original communications and family photos, An Extrordinary Story of an Ordinary Man, written by Mogens Høirup’s daughter and son-in-law, provides rare insight into this “quiet hero” of the Danish Resistance. Gripping and tender, his story and words are as meaningful today as they were more than a half century ago.

Available from:
Hellgate Press

1 comment:

Andy Wright said...

Hi Matt

Thanks for linking my Torpedo Leader review. Love the site. Have been trawling through it and it never ceases to amaze me just how much material is out there. I reckon I've got the easy job as I just concentrate on Commonwealth aircrew books. You do everything!


Andy Wright