RogerBW's Blog

A Prayer for the Ship, Douglas Reeman 12 March 2014

Sub-Lieutenant Clive Royce is assigned to a Motor Torpedo Boat working off the east coast of England during the Second World War.

Reeman is better known for his Napoleonic fiction, which I haven't read. This was his first novel, and it drew heavily on his own experience with MTBs during the war. The technicalities seem reasonable enough, but there isn't much in the way of overarching plot; Royce gradually moves into more senior positions, and realises that things he's learned have made him able to cope with them, but the book ends well before his career does. He meets and falls in love with a Wren, but this mostly consists of his being amazed that she's prepared to have anything to do with him.

Similarly, the characters aren't much; they have their traits, but one doesn't feel that one gets to know any of them. (Part of this is because there are rather a lot of them: Royce's own crews, his commanders, and his fellow officers in the squadron.)

As for the action that's clearly the main reason for this book, it seems plausible enough. I always thought that MTBs were supposed to get into torpedo range slowly and quietly, whereas these chaps seem to dash in at full speed getting cut to pieces by enemy gunfire, but I may well be wrong.

Not objectionable, but nor did it fill me with a desire to read more.

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  1. Posted by John Dallman at 07:24pm on 12 March 2014

    I think the idea with MTBs is to sneak until you reckon you'll be spotted soon, and then charge. If your opponent is expected to be alert, this may reduce to "Charge!"

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