Merchant Mariners at War: An Oral History of World War II
George J. Billy and Christine M. Billy. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2008. 324 pp. Illus. Notes. Bib. Index. $30.
World War II naval history concentrates on major combatants. Consequently, much less attention has been paid to the thousands of cargo ships that braved blockades and air and submarine attacks to deliver vital supplies to Allied forces. Undoubtedly, merchant mariners have not received the credit they deserve.
This work was drawn largely from the Merchant Marine Academy (MMA) Mariners at War Project and is based on taped recollections of graduates. It is not widely known that 142 cadet-midshipmen died in action before graduating, or that an estimated 7,000 American merchant mariners were lost by the war's end.
Merchant Mariners at War spans 17 chapters ranging from operations in the Atlantic to the Murmansk Run and the Mediterranean, from the Pacific theater to the final days of the war. Many accounts are based on personal interviews; others are the recorded tales of MMA graduates.