Peter Dickens, 1974. Night Action. Seaforth Publishing.
Peter Dickens proves in this classic account of Coastal Forces warfare, that the literary genius of his great grandfather Charles Dickens was passed down through the generations. Written in 1974, this account of his time leading the 21st MTB Flotilla is probably the best account of the small boat war off the east coast during the war.
Dickens writes with an easy style that allows the reader to enjoy the story he tells, without getting lost in a myriad of history or technical language. His story of the birth of the flotilla, its early actions and the evolution of tactics make for gripping reading and give as full a taste of the war as a book will allow.
Dickens was able to access German records when he came to write his memoirs, which provides an enlightening element to his memories (and the official British record) of the engagements he took part in. At night in a fast moving boat surrounded by gunfire, the exact details of what has happened can easily be lost in the fog of war. Dickens quite happily recounts the engagements as he saw them, but then provides the insights of the German accounts which allows him to establish a version of events much closer to the reality. Dickens doesn’t mind the quite dramatic differences between these accounts, indeed he seems as fascinated as the reader that the merchant ship he thought he’d sunk was in fact a mere trawler. Certainly no one can blame anyone for not being aware of the true facts at the time an engagement occurs, but Dickens’ honest approach with the benefit of the German records is refreshing nonetheless.
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