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More Lives Than a Ship’s Cat: The Most Highly Decorated Midshipman in the Second World War -J Stoke

More Lives Than a Ship’s Cat: The Most Highly Decorated Midshipman in the Second World War -J Stoke

I really can’t believe that this book has come from the same publisher as my last review. This book is more than acceptable and a damned good read.

I want to thank the writer for making this book available to us, because the book is about his father, Mick, and it really is a story worth telling. It’s a very personal story, but of great interest, not just about the war, but also about the social aspects of society during these years.

The book takes the form of a personal diary through from Mick’s joining Dartmouth Training College in early 1940. The main entries are taken from Mick’s written material, mainly in letter form to others, typically his parents, girlfriend (later his wife), and an old school teacher. These letters are also supplemented with written artefacts.

The writer kindly fills in the background with his own knowledge and research he’s carried out, often under the rather awkward conditions of a COVID lockdown. This linking of the diary entries is not to be underestimated as it helps complete the story.

There are plenty of relevant pictures, unfortunately, clustered together in the middle of the book, which is a shame as they would fit far more appropriately within the body of the text. – But, in this case, I can live with it.

One thing I really appreciated was that even before starting the story was that the writer laid out the family background and gave a fairly complete list of relevant naval slang as was going to be used within the book. Even the two maps supplied were useful, unlike my previous read.

I really found the text engaging, and it was fascinating to read about Mick’s achievements and adventures (being torpedoed several times) as he travelled through the troubled years of WW2. Most striking (at least to me) was how quickly he developed from a young and rather naïve recruit into a competent and experienced officer.

The writer isn’t a professional author, and it shows. But this actually adds to the story and gives it something that no professional author could, a personal involvement, and personal pride in the subject. Jeremy is rightfully proud of his father.

I have one complaint about this book, and it lies at the feet of the penny-pinching publisher. The margins at the bottom of the pages are virtually non-existent and that makes lying in bed reading a little difficult. Come on, Pen and Sword, stop the penny-pinching, you really do spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. However, believe me, if this is the worst I can find, this book is pretty good.

Priced at £25.00 on Amazon at the moment, I’m going to run to 4 anchors, it really is a very good read, particularly if you are interested in the more personal side of how WW2 affected people.

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