My book review of 'Uncommon Courage' by Julia Jones

by Julia Jones
Uncommon Courage
by Julia Jones

When the writer Julia Jones was looking through her attic for some old documents, she came across a suitcase owned by her late father. Inside were papers and diaries he'd kept in the war. She could remember he'd wanted to show them to her when she was a teenager but she wasn't interested at the time. Looking at them many years later, she was moved by his story and inspired to investigate further.

George Jones was a keen sailor and when he could see that war was imminent, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve to do his bit. 

LIke many others, he was bringing only the skills and experience of what had been a hobby, a leisure pursuit, and yet these men were called on to be involved in minesweeping, taking command of destroyers or submarines, patrolling in gunboats or undertaking surveillance, intelligence or sabotage.

It's thought there were only around 2,000 men in the RNSVR in what was initially a list of 'gentlemen who are interested in yachting or similar pursuits', aged between 18 and 39 who would be prepared to serve as naval officers in case of 'Emergency'.

While Julia's father, George had been a clerk in Birmingham, many of the men were lawyers, businessmen, publishers, teachers. There are many familiar names among them - the ornithologist Sir Peter Scott, authors Nicholas Monsarrat and Nevil Shute, the broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy. Even Ian Fleming worked for the Naval Intelligence Department and a footnote in 'Moonraker' claims that James Bond was in the RNVSR.

Julia traces these experiences as well as those of others who aren't so well known today and all deserve to be remembered for their astonishing contributions.

This is a fascinating and gripping read about a little known aspect of the war effort. It's packed with information about the progression of the war, the naval fleet and the characters and personalities who were so resourceful and courageous.

Date of this review: March 2022
Book publication date: 17th March 2022