THE CORVETTE NAVY.
Lamb, James B. Toronto. Collins. 1988. 192pp. paper. $4.95. ISBN 0-7715-9275-2. (The Macrnillan Paperback series #31). CIP
Volume 16 Number 5
The Corvette Navy is the story of the tough little ships that performed the lion's share of convoy escort duties in the vital Battle of the Atlantic.
In the late 1930s the rapidly growing German submarine fleet had become large enough to strangle Britain's vulnerable lifeline--food, fuel and industrial raw materials brought in by ships. As war approached, the Royal Navy recognized that it would need hundreds of escort vessels. These ships would have to be built quickly and cheaply without tying up the major shipyards that were needed to build the big ships.
The navy chose a design based on a whaling ship-a ship only 205 feet long but with an endurance of 4,000 miles at 12 knots, a maximum speed of 16 knots, and a small forty-seven- man crew. This ship could withstand the worst of weather. It was the only Allied warship with a turning circle smaller than a submarine, and as a result it could outmanoeuvre subs in the deadly games of attack and counter-attack.
James Lamb spent the war in the corvette navy and commanded two of these ships late in the war. This is a personal account of the life and experiences of the men in the corvette navy: their elation and despair; moments of sheer terror and hours, days, weeks of mind-numbing boredom; and the closeness of men facing death together.
This is a book that cannot be put down. It has the intensity and drama of a good mystery novel and the power of sharing great events with ordinary Canadians who performed like a race of supermen. This book is the perfect rebuttal to the reluctant student who claims that Canadian history is boring.
Neil V. Payne, Kingston. Collegiate V.I. Kingston, Ont.
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