Book: No Ordinary Seaman - James Lake

I have just acquired an interesting novel (based on fact) courtesy of eBay.

I have only read some of it (I bought it because Ganges is mentioned in passing). One of the main characters in it turns out to be a current member of RR: an AB "Nutty" Gardiner. :grin: So that old avatar seems to be accurate after all! :roll:

From what I have read so far it is a very readable and accessible book, to both matelots and civvies alike. In the first few pages it describes the confusion of the new Boy Seaman, Lamb, onboard his second ship at all the bugle calls piped and taking time to learn what they mean and how to respond to them, relying on the notice board to tell him what to do until he shook down to the ship's routine. In one small section a character called Parker gets drunk after a tot too many and tries the excuse with the Joss, that it's his birthday... except that the Joss remembers that seven months earlier he also had another birthday. Very amusing.

by James Lake

First published 1957, Second Impression 1957.
Published by Arthur Barker, London.
Hardback, 224 pages.

Here is what the blurb says on the from cover:

Although No ORDINARY SEAMAN is yet another war novel, the author has tried to highlight a facet of the navy's war that is not always known or generally realised—the part played by boys of the Royal Naval service. .

Unlike other services the Royal Navy had its boys in the " front line " of the war at sea, for they lived in warships ; fought in warships ; and often died in them . for a ship at sea has no " safe " areas, and all—from the captain down to the lowliest boy seaman—share a common danger in a common line.

Sidney Lamb is a fictional replica of many such boys : boys who died in the Royal Oak and Hood and many other ships of the Royal Navy. H.M.S. Aigrette is a fictional cruiser—whose brief life and final death in the sunny waters of the Mediterranean may seem, to many, to recall memories not so fictional.

The year 1941 was a sombre year in the Middle East. The Royal Navy retained its moral if not numerical superiority, and the Italian Fleet fought shy. Only the entry of the German dive-bombers altered the picture for the navy for a while, when, during and following the Greece and Crete campaigns they began a non-stop whittling-down process on the British Mediterranean Fleet with mass dive-bombing attacks on each and any unit they found at sea.

Aigrette may well have been a flying chip in that whittling.