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Memoir by RAN Patrol Boat Officer

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:57 pm
by Edward
A Merciful Journey - Recollections of a World War II Patrol Boat Man
Melbourne University Press (2005)
Marsden Hordern
368 pages with 34 B&W photos

This book has shot to the top of my "must buy" list. The excerpts that I have read indicate it is well written and compelling. A page on Hordern's patrol boat HDML 1347 has several of the author's photos as well as episodes from his wartime service.


Description from Melbourne University Press

"In 1939 Marsden Hordern's mother refused to sign the paper allowing her seventeen-year-old son to fight overseas with the Royal Australian Air Force. 'I did not rear you to be killed in an aeroplane,' she said. 'Join the navy.' He took her advice and in doing so determined his future. In small patrol boats, Fairmiles and a Harbour Defence Motor Launch, he patrolled the shores of Japanese-held territory, assisted beleaguered commandos in Timor, and was finally caught up in the drama of collecting Japanese prisoners of war from the islands.

A Merciful Journey presents a vivid and compelling account of Hordern's life from a happy childhood growing up in Sydney during the Great Depression, to his years serving in the Royal Australian Navy from 1942 to 1947. Drawing on the letters and journals he wrote at the time, Hordern engagingly recounts his triumphs and disasters as a naval officer, detailing his rise from a young and callow sub-lieutenant to a lieutenant in command of his own ship. He recalls his hopes and fears, and, in the face of the horrors of war, reveals an appealing enthusiasm for new experiences and a growing love of the sea.

About the Author
After serving in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II, Marsden Hordern took up flying and ocean sailing and for some years navigated yachts in the early Sydney–Hobart races. He founded a print gallery in Sydney, was a director of two public companies, served as a Lieutenant and Lieutenant-Commander with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Naval Reserves, and was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration. His two previous books Mariners are Warned!: John Lort Stokes and H.M.S. Beagle in Australia 1837–1843 (1989) and King of the Australian Coast: The Work of Phillip Parker King in the Mermaid and Bathurst 1817–1822 (1997) were published by the Miegunyah Press to great acclaim. In recognition of the contribution made by these books to Australian history, in 2004 the University of Sydney conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters."

1. Milk and Honey
2. Being Prepared
3. War
4. Convoys
5. A Fairmiler
6. Darwin's Navy
7. Easy Living
8. Touching New Guinea
9. In Command
10. All at Sea
11. Road to Hollandia
12. Working for the Yankee Dollar
13. Soldiering On
14. Sea of Troubles
15. All Ashore

This is a fine book. Marsden Hordern is a splendid descriptive writer, who brings to life the period and the whole atmosphere of the campaign, which includes not only the blood, sweat and tears but many lighter moments as well.” Hal G. P. Colebatch, Quadrant, October 2005

A Merciful Journey is an engaging story of the experiences that shaped a young Australian in a time of worldwide upheaval.” Bruce Quirey, Newcastle Herald 2/7/05

Re: Memoir by RAN Patrol Boat Officer

Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:17 pm
by Andy in West Oz
Very, very, very good book. Delightfully written. I got my copy about four years ago for $12.95 (!!!) so it can be found cheaply and not for some of the silly prices I have seen online.

Re: Memoir by RAN Patrol Boat Officer

Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:19 pm
by Andy in West Oz
His experiences travelling up the rivers of New Guinea in the late stages of the war and post-war to collect Japanese prisoners make for particularly good reading.