Author: Bill Mallalieu
First published to huge acclaim during the war it describes, Very Ordinary Seaman relates-with humanity, humour and the authority of experience-lower-deck life in the British navy, from basic training to service on a destroyer protecting a convoy to Arctic Russia, a mission which came under heavy attack by air and sea, and from which many did not return.
"When Very Ordinary Seaman first appeared in the spring of 1944, V. S. Pritchett of the New Statesman described it as `One of the best pieces of documentary writing that I have come across during the war.' Elizabeth Bowen wrote in The Tatler, `the last chapters of Very Ordinary Seaman did leave me breathless; and also, feeling that we have known too little.' John Betjeman wrote, `This is so sincere and truthful, so much both, that you are held all the time... You become part of the community life of the ship, so that despite the dangers, boredom and discomfort you step ashore reluctantly.' By any standards this was a remarkable performance for a writer who was wearing the uniform of an ordinary seaman and sitting in a busy, overcrowded naval office `facing a blank wall and typing myself dry.'" - from Brian Lavery's Introduction