"A Bloody War: One Man's Memories of the Canadian Navy 1939-45" (used book)
A Bloody War: One Man's Memories of the Canadian Navy 1939-45
by Hal Lawrence
About the Book
Used Book. Hardcover. Dust Jacket included. Good condition. Tearing to the dust jacket
-- From the dust cover
“A bloody war and a sickly season!” So rang the naval toast that was a particular favourite of junior officers in the fall of 1939; presumably such catastrophes would thin out the ranks of senior officers, thus opening the way for their own quick promotion. Yet for all their bravura, these young men, many of them still teenagers, would shortly encounter the sobering realities of war at sea and a cruel coming of age in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Among them was Midshipman Hal Lawrence, eighteen years of age and eager heir to a brave naval tradition that originated with Drake, Raleigh, and Hawkins. After weeks of humiliating basic training, he was given his first appointment to an examination vessel, the humble Halifax tugboat Andree Dupre. There followed a thorough if severe education in the seaman’s art, months in watchful coastal patrols, and years on board the legendary corvettes, escorts to the convoys that became the lifelines of a beleaguered Britain.
Life in the craped quarters of a rolling corvette held few comforts: its crew endured wretched weather and suspect rations, the idiosyncrasies of shipmates (some of whom went quietly mad in harmless ways), the merciless attacks of the U-boat wolf-packs, and the memory of pathetic survivors left in the water because the safe arrival of the convoy came before the rescue of comrades.
During all too brief leaves ashore, the men found solace in the rarefied and formal atmosphere of Admiralty house in Halifax, or the international camaraderie of England’s dockside pubs, or the dazzling sophistication of Manhattan’s supper clubs. And there was comic relief in generous measure: doctoring the watch-keeping officer’s hot ki; scrambling with fellow officers for a single fresh egg; confronting the enemy face to face on the heaving deck of a surfaced U-boat clad only in a skimpy lifebelt; the sigh of one’s King engaged in a rowdy game of “Horsy-Horsy”.