The royal navy supplementary volunteer reserve

More stirring stories of little ships

‘I found this story by accident,’ begins Julia Jones’s Uncommon Courage, referring to documents belonging to her late father that she discovered in a far corner of her attic. True, but also false. This is not one story: it is a tsunami of stories. Sometimes it’s hard going, as you try to shelve the curiosity aroused by each tale. But the author writes with vim and vigour and with her own curiosity to the fore. It is all, appropriately, as far from dry as one could wish. The imagination finds it difficult to yoke yachting with war – the one solitary and pacific, the other dense with people and mayhem