We start with a look at recruitment and training, both pre-war and during the war. Next comes daily life at sea. The random nature of service in the navy becomes clear here, with a very different life awaiting each recruit depending almost entirely on the type of ship they were assigned to (even the way food was provided could change, with smaller ships split into individual messes that cooked for themselves and larger ships and submarines having shared messes where all cooking was centralised). The size of naval crews varied massively during the war, from the smallest ships with a handful of men up to massive battleships with up to 1,500 men and aircraft carriers that could peak at over 2,300!
The next three chapters look at the main operational theatres - the Home Fleet's battles off Norway, at Dunkirk, guarding against invasion, convoys to Russia and of course the battle of the Atlantic; the Mediterranean Fleet's long battle with the Italian Navy, the Luftwaffe and U-boats and the various fleets in the Far East as they weathered the initial Japanese onslaught and slowly fought back. Many of the key incidents in these campaigns are supported by eye witness accounts of the fighting. We finish with a quick look at demobilisation.
The target audience here would look to be the family historian who has an ancestor who served in the Navy and would like a greater understanding of how they lived - I would say that it achieves that aim, and is a short but useful account of the daily life of the RN sailor and the main campaigns that they would have participated in.
Learning the Ropes
Life on Board
A Cruel Sea
Fury in the Mediterranean
In Eastern Seas
Author: Angus Konstam