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The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats, by William Geroux

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by ColHessler, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

    Dec 5, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Length: 390 pages, including index and photos.

    This is the true story of, not just seven brothers, but many men from Mathews Country, Virginia, which is a small dot on the map on the west shore of Chesapeake Bay. Most of the young men got out by joining the U.S. Merchant Marine. These men and many like them kept the supplies going across the seas in WWII, and faced many terrors in the process.

    We start off with the U.S. entry into the war, and the U-Boat offensive along the Atlantic and Caribbean shores. The ships traveled alone, and got picked off, both out in the shipping lanes, and within sight of American cities, which were lit up when the ships were blacked out.

    An uproar among the families and the men, as well as pressure from the White House, causes coastal convoys to be created, and escorts and planes assigned to save our freighters and tankers and sink U-Boats.

    We then follow the men around the world, from the Murmansk run, to Operations Torch, Husky and Overlord. Plus one captain makes the run to Suez, and then Malta from the east.

    The action the men describe, both in dodging attacks and surviving the sinking of their ships, and their trips to Cherbourg and Antwerp, is a great balance of the boredom and terror that such men had to deal with. The author also gives us a chart at the end with the losses in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

    We also get told about the survivors and their struggles with the loss of family and their own PTSD.

    Sometimes, Mr. Geroux gets a little facile in his descriptions of things which I would hope people wouldn't need, like in saying a smokestack is to get the exhaust out of the ship.

    This book does a great job in filling in the gap in telling about the role the Merchant Marine did in turning the tide against the European War.
    lwd and Otto like this.

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