Merchantmen at War

Category:  Civilian Life

Merchantmen at War

Throughout the war, the Merchant Navy brought vital supplies to Britain without which her war effort would have collapsed. This 144-page book, printed towards the end of the war, is both a vivid account of the Merchant Navy’s role and a tribute to the sailors who served aboard its vessels.

The reader is left in no doubt as to the hazardous nature of their task. There are stories of enemy attacks and the terrible losses they caused, particularly during the early years when ships were virtually defenceless against German submarines. Equally there are examples of dramatic rescues and ships which reached port despite being severely damaged.

Exhibit data



Approx. size:

18 x 23 cm
(7 x 9 in)

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While the book paints an uncompromising picture of the dangers facing the Merchant Navy’s sailors in wartime, their story is ultimately one of courage and determination.

This tanker reached home despite being torpedoed – one of many remarkable instances of ships ‘getting through’ despite the odds.

The original caption reads: “Rescue is here. Hands reach down to draw them out of the sea. A solid ship awaits them, with food and drink, dry clothes and a place to sleep.”