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A Merciful Journey
A Merciful Journey

A Merciful Journey

Recollections of a World War II Patrol Boat Man


352 Pages, 6.34 x 9.57

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $37.95 (US $37.95) (CA $51.95)

Publication Date: April 2005

ISBN 9780522851656

Rights: US & CA

Melbourne University Press (Apr 2005)
Miegunyah Press

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In 1939 Marsden Hordern's mother refused to sign the paper allowing her seventeen-year-old son to fight overseas with the Royal Australian Air Force. 'I did not rear you to be killed in an aeroplane,' she said. 'Join the navy.' He took her advice and in doing so determined his future. In small patrol boats, Fairmiles and a Harbour Defence Motor Launch, he patrolled the shores of Japanese-held territory, assisted beleaguered commandos in Timor, and was finally caught up in the drama of collecting Japanese prisoners of war from the islands. A Merciful Journey presents a vivid and compelling account of Hordern's life from a happy childhood growing up in Sydney during the Great Depression, to his years serving in the Royal Australian Navy from 1942 to 1947. Drawing on the letters and journals he wrote at the time, Hordern engagingly recounts his triumphs and disasters as a naval officer, detailing his rise from a young and callow sub-lieutenant to a lieutenant in command of his own ship. He recalls his hopes and fears, and, in the face of the horrors of war, reveals an appealing enthusiasm for new experiences and a growing love of the sea. A Merciful Journey is a delightful memoir of a young man's coming of age in wartime.

Author Biography

After serving in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II, Marsden Hordern took up flying and ocean sailing and for some years navigated yachts in the early Sydney-Hobart races. He founded a print gallery in Sydney, was a director of two public companies, served as a Lieutenant and Lieutenant-Commander with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Naval Reserves, and was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration. His two previous books Mariners are Warned!: John Lort Stokes and H.M.S. Beagle in Australia 1837-1843 (1989) and King of the Australian Coast: The Work of Phillip Parker King in the Mermaid and Bathurst 1817-1822 (1997) were published by the Miegunyah Press to great acclaim. In recognition of the contribution made by these books to Australian history, in 2004 the University of Sydney conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters.