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The authors deliver a stirring account of one of the greatest David-and-Goliath stories in the annals of sea fights: the sacrificial defense of a British convoy by its escort Jervis Bay against Admiral Scheer, one of Germany's most feared warships. The extraordinary engagement received front-page treatment when it occurred in November 1940, but tales like this are often lost in the great kaleidoscope of World War II, where watershed events tend to overshadow smaller encounters. This is a story of such courage and resourcefulness, however, that it deserves to be remembered by today's history buffs.
The book combines an incredible amount of facts with gripping prose to recapture what happened in the North Atlantic when a convoy, escorted by an old cargo ship with a few obsolete guns bolted to her decks, was suddenly confronted by a mighty pocket battleship. It dramatically recounts how the Jervis Bay captain signaled his thirty-seven freighters and tankers to scatter and aimed his ship at full speed straight for the Scheer with its six big guns. It explains how this charge-of-the-light-brigade tactic allowed most of the other ships to escape into the deepening twilight and mounting winter storm and how sixty-five of the 256 men aboard the Jervis Bay managed to survive on rafts. For a full appreciation of the significance of what took place, battle scenes cover the action aboard several ships, including Admiral Scheer, and separate chapters put the battle in context with contemporary naval and political events. For his valor, the captain was posthumously awarded Britain's only Victoria Cross for convoy defense.