"The Merchant Seaman never faltered. To him we owe our preservation and our very lives" - The Right Hon. Alfred Barnes, Minister of War Transport. During the first stages of the Second World War, all forces were rallied in an attempt to support the Allied effort. With trade and supply routes to Britain suddenly being placed at great risk, a stalwart team of merchant sailors were required to protect vital supplies for the British people, as well as shipping vital army necessities back and forth. The efforts of the sailors involved really can't be overrstated. Despite the fact that they didn't wear uniforms, and few were rewarded with medals or memorials, they were certainly as worthy of the title 'front-line warrior' as the guardsmen and fighter pilots to whom they transported necessary combat supplies. Indeed, many are in agreement that their efforts stood between the might of German forces and the domination of the world. Over 30,000 men fell victim to the German U-boats between 1939 and 1945. This publication serves as a tribute to their efforts, and will be followed by a second volume covering the final stages of the war, from 1943-45.
Images of some of the most imposing merchant ships feature, accompanied by a lucid narrative describing the various roles enacted by the sailors on board and the wartime context in which they worked.
Philip Kaplan has written several books on a host of military themed subjects. He is the author of several titles published under Pen and Swords aviation Imprint, including Behind the Wire, Mustang the Inspiration and Sailor: Battle of Britain Legend Adolph G. Malan. He is of American birth but lives in Cheltenham, UK.