Churchill's Thin Grey Line : British Merchant Ships at War 1939 1945
The first British casualties of the Second World War were not members of either the Royal Navy, the Army or the Royal Air Force but British merchant seamen on the liner Athenia, torpedoed by U-30 on 3 September 1939. For the duration of the War, Britain's merchant fleet performed a vital role, carrying the essential supplies that kept the country running during the darkest days and then made victory possible. Their achievements came at a terrible cost with 2,535 British oceangoing merchant ships being sunk and, of the 185,000 men and women serving in the British Merchant Navy at the time, 36,749 sacrificed their lives.
A further 4,707 were wounded and 5,720 ended up in prisoner of war camps. Their casualty rate of 25 percent was second only to RAF Bomber Command's. Using casebook examples, this well researched book tells the inspiring story of those brave civilian volunteers who fought so gallantly to defend their ships and the cargoes.