Frank Wade

Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

A Midshipman's War

A book covering the Sinking of HMS BARHAM

Also available on DVD

By Frank Wade

A MIDSHIPMAN'S WAR takes the reader to and behind the battle lines of modern naval warfare. Frank Wade's first appointment following graduation from his training ship was to the battleship Queen Elizabeth, flagship of the Royal Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1941.

From then on at little more than school leaving age he was in the thick of the Mediterranean naval war. In his duties as a cipher officer he was privy to many of the secrets of the high command as he had the job of coding and decoding signals or messages. He saw much action personally and through his duties knew of much more at first hand. He witnessed the sinking of Queen Elizabeth's sister battleship Barham in a tragic torpedoing which saw very heavy loss of life. He was there when another sister, Valiant, and Queen Elizabeth herself were both partially sunk in shallow water in Alexandria harbour. Further service in the period covered by his book included appointments in Jervis, a famous destroyer leader, the cruiser Orion and the HQ landing ship Bulolo.

He covers the battle of Crete, the Syrian campaign, the siege of Tobruk, Malta convoys and the disastrous Tobruk raid, Force K from Malta and the Sicilian landings. Naval losses on both sides were enormous in a sea war which was fought with a ferocity equalling anything occurring in any other theatre of war.

The naval war was part of a frontline defence of the vital Suez Canal and strategic Malta and went on continuously, while Marshal Graziani and then the charismatic General Rommel opposed British and Commonwealth forces led in succession by Generals Wavell, Auchinleck and Montgomery. The military land war went from defeat to final victory while the Royal Navy protected the Eighth Army's coastal flank at the same time as it defended Malta-bound convoys and harassed the Axis sea supply lines from Italy to North Africa.

The author's first hand account is one of continuous activity with great detail on all the actions fought and sinkings which occurred. This is truly an historic book supported by maps, photographs and extensive data with a full index. There is much anecdotal material including an interview with the German submarine commander who sank Barham and is now a resident of Canada.

FRANK WADE was born in Brandon, Manitoba of English parents in 1921, and was sent to England as a boy to complete his education. This led to a choice of a career at sea with three years in the Royal Naval Reserve followed by 27 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. His first ship was the old wooden wall training ship Conway, at that time anchored in the River Mersey off Birkenhead.

Today he lives in quiet retirement on the West Vancouver hillside overlooking a modern day view of shipping entering and leaving Vancouver harbour. He is past president of the Canadian Authors Association - Vancouver Branch, and is actively involved in writing his next book.