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A Very Strange Way to Go to War: The Canberra in the Falklands

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A Very Strange Way to Go to War: The Canberra in the Falklands

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    Available in PDF Format | A Very Strange Way to Go to War: The Canberra in the Falklands.pdf | English
    Andrew Vine(Author)

Vast and brilliant white, P&O's flagship the SS Canberra was a final salute to a bygone era of  opulence even as she embarked on her maiden voyage, For a decade she carried passengers between Britain and Australia, a 90-day voyage of pampering and decadence. But in March 1982, Britain went to war to defend the Falkland Islands and the SS Canberra found herself, surreally, requisitioned as a troop ship to carry the Marines and Paratroops into battle.

Against all odds she surived, playing a vital role as a hospital ship, At the end of the war she arrived back in Southampton to a heroes welcome, where she became fondly known as the Great White Whale.

This is the extraordinary and, as yet, untold story of how the crew of a luxury ocean liner:  waiters, cooks, nurses and cleaners, found themselves suddenly thrust onto the front line. A Very Strange Way to Go to War is a candid and captivating story, drawing from first hand accounts and previously unpublished archives, of the heroic courage of ordinary British men and women in the face of great adversity, at the outpost of empire.

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Book details

  • PDF | 336 pages
  • Andrew Vine(Author)
  • Aurum Press Ltd; PB Reissue edition (6 Feb. 2014)
  • English
  • 6
  • History
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Review Text

  • By M. Steedman on 26 July 2013

    A very strange way to go to a very strange war.What has not been written about the Falklands war? probably quite a lot but it will be difficult to find stranger story of a Luxury Liner and crew sailing into Port San Carlos with the intention of anchoring in water that shallow that she could not really be sunk.There are stories aplenty in this book that you feel Hollywood would never dare to put into a film, but happened anyway. I really liked the account of the board of trade "jobsworth" standing beside the ship as she was being overloaded in Southampton and repainting the max. load marking so they remained visible.While the combat forces have always had the most coverage in this conflict you cannot forget or ignore those others who took a risk, that they were not trained for, such as the ships doctor who phoned her brother to tell him she was sailing to war on the Canberra, while he was staying in Germany as a RAF pilot.The Canberra was truly one of the last of the great liners and I cannot help but wonder how one of the current floating hotels would cope in this situation.

  • By G. McNab on 6 May 2015

    This book is so well written that after a few chapters you almost feel you are aboard with the troops and the P&O officers and crew. When P&O asked for volunteers from the civilian crew to sail to the South Atlantic only one member refused to do so. All the rest volunteered although not all were taken. The extraordinary way these men and women of P&O took to the embarked troops and cared for them and the way this was reciprocated by the soldiers and sailors is indeed a heart-warming tale. And the ship herself, the Canberra, seems to have a spirit and mind all of her own which is lovely.Most people associate Belfast with the RMS Titanic, but this is another Belfast built ship which after decades of lines voyages to Australia, World cruises and genteel meanders around the Mediterranean, was suddenly requisitioned, hastily adapted and sent off as a troop ship to the South Atlantic. It is a riveting read and once I had started I was unable to stop. A great read and I enjoyed every single page.

  • By Mr. Peter Crosland on 20 September 2013

    The Great White Whale as she was called played a crucial part in the success of the war. Many of the clvilian crew volunteered to sail on her to the South Atlantic potential putting themselves at risk of injury or death. It is good to hear their tale told in detail at last.

  • By C. Pearson on 19 December 2015

    Bought as a gift for my husband, he's in the merchant navy and he says this book was very good.

  • By Sue on 7 September 2012

    This is good reading for anyone who sailed on the Canberra as I did for many year, a very enjoyable book well written in honour of a grand old lady of the sea's.

  • By David Harrison-Taylor on 7 September 2014

    A great book about a even greater ship,I was a member of HMS Ardent who she took down to South Georgia,and we where looked after as if we were cruising. I also had a cruise on her towards the end of her life again a great experiance,I was sad to see her go.

  • By Mr. R. D. Lancaster on 27 May 2014

    Describes this historical mission of a great liner to war, with particular attention to the people involved, both military and Merchant Navy. The humour, thrills, dangers, comforts and discomforts come across clearly. An absorbing read.

  • By geordie on 21 October 2012

    a fantastic book, as one who served with the band during this time it brought back many memories both good and bad.definetly a book to recommend

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