In the first of a series of books, naval expert Phil Carradice takes us through the war at sea in 1939, using previously unpublished and rare images of the battles, the ships and the people involved. The Second World War at sea began badly for the Allies. On the day that war was declared, the unarmed passenger liner Athenia was sunk off Rockall, creating an uproar on both sides of the Atlantic. The same month saw the loss of HMS Courageous, a badly needed aircraft carrier, as well as the daring raid by Gunther Prien's U-49 on HMS Royal Oak while she was berthed in the supposedly safe anchorage of Scapa Flow during October. In the meantime, German commerce raiders were creating havoc in the South Atlantic. It was only in December that the battlecruiser Graf Spee was finally cornered and scuttled off Montevideo, giving the hard-pressed Allies some good news to end the year.
Phil Carradice has written numerous books, including The Great War: An Illustrated History and Nautical Training Ships. He broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio Wales and lives in the Vale of Glamorgan.