Wednesday, September 2, 2009


A Liberty Ship's crew and their Navy Armed Guard fight for survival while grounded on a Japanese-held island

By Marill Johnson 177 pp., illus., ISBN 0897452585 Sunflower University Press
Marill Johnson is an acronym for Will and Marilyn Johnson. Will was the Chief Radio Officer of the Liberty Ship Albert A. Robinson in this story. 
The Johnsons have written this book in an easy to read style and is suitable for virtually all age groups. The book is recommended for school age readers to impart the heroism of US Merchant Marine, which was comprised mainly of persons unfit for normal military duty, and the Naval Armed Guard which manned the defensive armament of these ships.While in convoy to Lingayen Gulf in a storm, a miscommunication between watchkeeping officers had the ship steer 355 degrees instead of the convoy course of 255 degrees. As a result, Albert A. Robinson ran aground on the Japanese held Negros Island. 
With a great deal of ingenuity, Albert A. Robinson mounted a defense against the unavoidable hostile response by Japanese military forces. The ship was subject to small arms and mortar fire from shore and an air attack. The latter included a Kamikaze strike on the ship, which caused extensive damage and injuries to personnel. 

Unfortunately the reader was left hanging at the end of the narrative as to what happened later to the crew and ship. It would have been nice to find out what must have been a court of inquiry under some jurisdiction. Also, it would have been nice to read what happened to some of these unlikely heroes after the war.
Apart from these minor quibbles, the book is highly recommended. 
David Shirlaw

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