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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Tinfish Run by Ronald Bassett

Excellent nautical fiction. The Virtue is an old WW I destroyer assigned with several other small escorts to convoy four large tankers to Murmansk. The idea was to follow in the distant shadow of PQ 17, a convoy of more than thirty ships protected by battleships and newer destroyers. The idea was to trick the Germans into attacking the larger convoy and to ignore the more important one carrying the fuel.

Bassett follows several members of the crew focusing on seaman Ludd whom he follows in subsequent books. I was not familiar with Bassett but stumbled across him somewhere and then was offered a copy of Neptune Landing (which I had coincidentally already acquired, it being third in the Ludd series.) Endeavor Press is a digital publisher and has a number of interesting nautical books worth checking out for those of us of the nautical bent.

Read the introduction; it provides a lot of useful historical information.

Someone once said that the Navy’s wartime role consisted of ‘periods of intense monotony alleviated by moments of intense excitement’, but this is true only if the word ‘monotony’ is understood to mean week after week of heaving green sea, bitter cold and stinging rain, debilitating fatigue, poor food and cramped quarters. Soldiers and airmen, whilst their locations may have been remote and their duties arduous, usually had the consolation of a NAAFI canteen and similar off-duty distractions, and respite, even if brief, from a war environment. They were seldom long separated from civilian influences and those warming glimpses of domesticity without which values become blurred, language coarsens, and mental processes become locked into formalized channels.

Bassett served in the Royal Navy during WWII and the Korean War and knows whereof he writes. Perhaps not for those who prefer landlocked books, but for us nautical freaks, very nice. I liked it better than Alistair MacLean’s H.M.S. Ulysses, perhaps because it’s not quite as dark and the characters seemed a bit more realistic even if the setting is described less vividly.
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