Monday, September 7, 2009

SINK ALL THE SHIPPING THERE: Canada's Wartime Merchant Ship and Fishing Schooner Sinkings

Hardcover 192 pages Vanwell Publishing January 2005 978-1551250557
By Fraser McKee
The author's previous book, The Canadian Naval Chronicle, contains a chapter which gives brief details of Canadian merchant ship sinkings. While Fraser McKee and co-author Robert Darlington (who has self-published a history of the three armed merchant cruisers of the Royal Canadian Navy for which he refuses to provide review copies – never a good sign for a book’s quality) were researching those often-tragic stories it became apparent they deserved a fuller treatment in a book of their own. Here as a result are sixty accounts of ship losses, compiled from primary sources and, wherever available, first-hand interviews with survivors. Some are complete, with details of ship movements and attacking U-boats. In other instances there were no survivors and almost no record of what happened in those last hours.
The stories are grouped according to owners or other elements they had in common. Each includes a list of crew lost as well as sources used. Summary tables give details of ownership, convoy group, and means of destruction in a quick reference format.
Not a great deal of efforts to document Canada’s merchant marine in wartime, but McKee has done a good job here of correcting this work on the Second World War.
Losses are grouped together by common thread which is done in easily readable format. Ships from Newfoundland are included which I did not agree with as the then British colony did not join Canada until 1949.
Fraser M McKee deserves recognition for putting this fine work together; hopefully he has future projects in the works. Publisher Vanwell would be wise to use noted historians for their books instead of bus drivers as in one less than stellar effort of late.

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