Sailors behind the Medals - Waging War at Sea 1939-1945, Chris Bilham

Sailors behind the Medals - Waging War at Sea 1939-1945, Chris Bilham

The Royal Navy fought in just about every corner of the world during the Second World War, operating ships that ranged in size from the largest battleships and carriers down to the smallest landing craft. As a result many members of the Royal Navy had very varied and adventurous wars. This book looks at the careers of twenty three sailors who were awarded medals during the Second World War, mainly focused on lower ranked sailors.

In most cases we don’t get a great deal of detail about the exploits of the individuals featured in these stories. Instead, the focus is on the actions of each of their ships, so instead of getting twenty three short biographies, we get twenty three cross sections of the war at sea, with a smattering of biographical detail about the medal winners themselves. While there is some emphasis on the battles that led to the individual medals, the rest of the careers are covered in almost equal detail.

As a result we get a good idea of the impressively wide range of experiences available to British sailors during the Second World War. These men took part in battles with German battleships, suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean, struggled through the Arctic ice, were the target of kamikaze attack, defended the Suez Canal or served on landing craft. This is an interesting book that does a really good job of giving us an idea of how the world wide commitments of the Navy impacted on individual sailors.


1 - Death of a Pocket Battleship
2 - 'The Navy's Here!'
3 - Sole Survivor
4 - Dunkirk
5 - A Forlorn Hope
6 - Rescue in the North Atlantic
7 - Massacre at Matapan
8 - Kiwi at Crete
9 - Orion Under the Stukas
10 - One of Ark Royal's Engineers
11 - Born Survivor
12 - Dido in the Med
13 - Operation Mincemeat
14 - Operation Pedestal
15 - Desert Water Rats
16 - The Ship that Torpedoed Herself
17 - Russian Gold
18 - Convoy Rescue Ship Commander
19 - Arctic Convoys
20 - The Battle of North Cape
21 - Landing Craft Assault
22 - The Divine Wind
23 - Fighting Schoolmaster

Author: Chris Bilham
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 254
Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime
Year: 2017

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