In Action with Destroyers, 1939-1945...


...The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN, from Pen and Sword


Title: In Action with Destroyers 1939-1945

Author: J A J Dennis, Edited by Anthony Cumming

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52671-849-5

One of my favourite types of book is  personal account like this. Commander Dennis tells his wartime story, from being a sub-lieutenant from finishing his training, to joining his first ship, the destroyer HMS Griffin, in Malta in 1938. It goes on to the end of the war, by which time he had his own command of a destroyer, HMS Tetcott. He finally retired from the navy in 1957 and passed away in 2008.

The book tells his story which after starting out in the Mediterranean moves on to include starting the war with patrols off the Dutch coast and being based at Dover before having to move out. Covering East Coast convoys, Arctic convoy escorts to Russia and the fight against the Scharnhorst. Then back to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar to Malta and Alexandria. Going to Greece, hunting Italian submarines and the dangers of fighting off air attack, then an excursion through the Suez Canal to Madegascar. COme 1944 he was back to the UK, and involved with supporting D-Day. One of the things which struck me was the point when his ship was the last one left from a group of 11 which had started the war.

The book is written in a very readable style, with touches of what I'd describe as typical Navy humour. It is a story of the war from the point of view of the destroyer, not the large capital ships which they so often protected. Adding to the personal story, the editor Anthony Cumming has included some helpful historical notes which add the wider context to the history of what was happening. A first class read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.