One of My Favorite Books: Escort, by D.A. Rayner – Part 5

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Rayner writes about his war with classic British understatement about combat with the Germans. His various ships were often under sustained air attack by the Germans while trying to prevent freighters from being torpedoed. At one point, Rayner’s own warship was torpedoed, the after third of the ship was blown off and the ship turned turtle shortly thereafter. Less than 1/4 of the crew survived.

Rayner himself almost died. After swimming away from the sinking ship (he was the last to leave) in the very cold water for thirty minutes or more, he wrote:

I was not as interested in going places as I had been. I could only see waves and more waves and I wished that they would stop coming. I did not really care anymore. Then I felt hands grasp my shoulders and a voice say, “Christ, it’s the skipper.”

His men pulled him aboard a raft and he survived.

Of all the books written by those who participated in the Battle of the North Atlantic, this is by far the best. It’s a little known gem and hard to find because the publisher, the US Naval Institute Press, constantly lets it go out of print. But if you can find a copy, you will do yourself a favor by reading it.

HMS Warwick, the Royal Navy destroyer under the command of D.A. Rayner, sunk by a U-Boat on 20 January 1944.

[Source: Escort by D.A. Rayner. Image courtesy of Wrecksite.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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