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A Home on the Rolling Main: A Naval Memoir…
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A Home on the Rolling Main: A Naval Memoir 1940-1946

by A. G. F. Ditcham

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Brilliant Naval Memoir
In 1940 Tony Ditcham left the Royal Naval training ship HMS Worcester as a midshipman the first level on the naval career ladder. Nothing unusual in that really all except Britain was at war, and he would be entering an arena that would be important to the survival of the British. Through the comradeship on board he made many friends that lasted over 70 years.

Just like The Cruel Sea before it this book is an honest account of what life was like during the war but this is an open honest and factual account of that life aboard ship. As one of the last veterans left standing Ditcham provides us with some very powerful descriptive language, while using humour that covered his incident packed naval career.

Ditcham served on all the European battle arenas during the war and some of his very notable service took in the Arctic Convoys for which you would have to battle not only the weather and freezing cold but were in an ally where you could be picked off at will by the Germans. He also uses wonderful descriptive language for the Battle of North Cape in December 1943 and how he was once of the first to see the Scharnhorst and he had a grandstand seat as he saw it being destroyed. He also covered the American beaches on D-Day and saw ships around him being sunk at the same time as they were providing the cover for troops on the beaches.

This is a wonderful memoir and it has been an honour to read it as it is probably one of the last to be written by a veteran as their number declines with the years. This is also an important voice being left for all of us to remember how war touches all of us and that people Tony Ditcham stood tall for us in our hour of need. This will be used by students of history as not just a memoir but a witness statement to life on the seas during World War Two. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Sep 4, 2013 |
He joined Renown as a midshipman in 1940, then served in Holderness, Reading and Scorpion, finishing as a Lieutenant having seen service from Kola to Normandy. ( )
  Derek_Law | Nov 14, 2012 |
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From first joining the Royal Navy in 1940 until the end of the campaign against Japan, Tony Ditcham was in the front line of the naval war. After brief service in the battlecruiser Renown off Norway and against the Italians, he went into destroyers and saw action in most European theatres - against S-boats and aircraft in 'bomb alley' off Britain's East Coast, on Arctic convoys to Russia, and eventually in a flotilla screening the Home Fleet. During the dramatic Battle of the North Cape in December 1943 he was probably the first man to actually see the Scharnhorst and from his position in the gun director of HMS Scorpion enjoyed a grandstand view of the sinking of the great German battleship (his account was so vivid that it formed the basis of the description in the official history). Later his ship operated off the American beaches during D-Day, where two of her sister ships were sunk with heavy loss of life, and he ended the war in British Pacific Fleet preparing for the invasion of Japan.

This incident-packed career is recounted with restraint, plenty of humor and colorful descriptive power - his account of broaching and almost capsizing in an Arctic winter storm is as good as anything in the literature of the sea. The result makes enthralling reading, and as the surviving veterans rapidly decline in numbers, this may turn out to be one of the last great eyewitness narratives of the Second World War.
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An enthralling personal account of a very active war Full of incident and beautifully written Heavily illustrated with the author's own photos and sketches.

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Pen & Sword Books

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