While the narrative of the book attempts to be as historically accurate as possible, the intent is to let the participants tell their stories as they saw and remembered them. In some cases the anecdotes and memoirs that are included differ from what other historical records state. While the book might correct a certain version of events, a former participant’s direct quotes, whether spoken in interviews or written as memoirs, are never altered. Even when paraphrased every attempt has been made to maintain the greatest possible integrity of a speaker’s or a writer’s original words.
For ease of reading, the use of technical and military terminology is limited. However, certain details about wartime events, shipboard equipment, naval operations, or day to day naval life must be included as the book attempts to provide as full an illustration of the men’s wartime experiences as possible.
A great deal of the material contained throughout the book comes from one of two very comprehensive sources pertinent to the first-hand experiences and observations of British participants of World War II. These are:
WW2 People’s War, an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.
The Imperial War Museum Sound Archive which holds over 33,000 recordings related to conflict since 1914. This consists of the largest oral history collection of its type in the world, with contributions from both service personnel and non-combatants as well as significant holdings of speeches, sound effects, broadcasts, poetry, and music.
Two other noteworthy sources of material for this book are the Glarac (for Glorious, Ardent, and Acasta) and the Force Z Survivor’s websites. The Glarac site is “dedicated to perpetuate the proud memory of the men serving in HM ships Glorious, Ardent and Acasta who lost their lives in the Norwegian Sea on 8th June 1940 and those who survived.” The purpose of the Force Z site is to “inform, educate, and help people to understand the events of December 10th 1941, and hopefully also serves to act as a tribute to the fallen men who went down with their ships on that fateful day.” David Woodcock and Gary Martin of glarac.co.uk and Alan Matthews of forcez-survivors.org.uk deserve special mention for their kind and attentive assistance with certain portions of this book.
Several of the book’s Royal Navy ship photographs are of scale models from the author’s miniature warship model collection. The models were assembled to closely resemble actual ships as they would have likely appeared at some time during World War II. The photographs are also the work of the author. The editors at Unicorn Press spared no effort in gathering the remainder of what has turned out to be an impressive group of images that serve to illustrate the book..
The author wishes to thank his lovely bride Elizabeth for her inspiration, repeated proof readings, and patience during the writing of this book, his dear daughter Allison for her encouragement and editing assistance, and his friend and former colleague Linda Winkler for her kindness and generosity in reading through the at times dubious drafts, and salvaging them, all through her tireless editing talents.