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Maritime non-fiction / War history

Merchant Navy war history draws on author's first-hand experience

Running the Gauntlet, by Bernard Edwards

Captain Bernard Edwards draws on his 40 years in the Merchant Navy – and his skill as an experienced maritime author – to tell the story of the blockade-running cargo liners of the Second World War.

The crème-de-la-crème of the British fleet, these ships at first relied on their speed to escape German raiders. As the war grew more brutal, the Admiralty began relying upon the cargo liners to perform special missions, which required crew to expose themselves to terrible risks.

Edwards brings these stories of heroism and hardship to life through extensive use of eye-witness accounts and official reports written by the seafarers themselves. From Dunkirk to the siege of Malta, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, he gives us admirably clear overviews of the tactics involved in each encounter, and the vivid personal stories of those involved.

The book is, in many ways, a memorial to a more adventurous era at sea. Now 96 years old – and therefore part of that era himself, having made his first voyage in 1944 – Edwards has some hard words for the younger generations who have allowed the UK’s Merchant Navy to shrink. It is a privilege to read about a different maritime era from someone with not just knowledge, but a deep personal understanding of what it was really like to go onboard in that time. 

Running the Gauntlet          
By Bernard Edwards
Pen & Sword, £20.00           
ISBN: 978 13990 97864

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