The story of HMS Venomous

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The new edition will be published as a hardback on 9 May 2017

A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous; by R.J. Moore and J.A. Rodgaard. Holywell House Publishing, May 2017.
A larger format (244x170 mm) with approx 450 pages, 256 photographs, 12maps and plans and six new chapters

ISBN 978-0-9559382-4-5. Hardback,  £35.

If you wish to be notified of availability contact the publisher now

These two photographs of HMS Venomous, taken by Lt Chris Eaton RNVR from the Crows Nest in 1942 while moored alongside HMS Sandhust at Londonderry,
show the exposed open Bridge (left) and, looking towards the stern, the torpedo tubes and searchlight platform (right).

Looking towards the bow from Crow's nestLooking towards the stern from the Crow's Nest
HMS Venomous was built at John Brown's shipyard on the Clyde in 1919 but for the ship's company the story starts with the “forgotten war” in the Baltic when the Royal Navy helped the Baltic states gain their independence by safeguarding them against attacks by a renegade German general and Bolshevic revolutionaries.
During the 1920s when the V&Ws were arguably the most advanced destroyers in the world Venomous and its sister ships “flew the flag” in the Mediterranean before being placed in reserve until war threatened and the Reserve Fleet was mobilised in 1939.
In 1940 Venomous fought off German tanks whilst evacuating the Welsh and Irish Guards from Boulogne and rescued thousands of troops from Dunkirk and guarded  the coast of England against invasion. Convoy duty in the Atlantic kept Britain from starvation and Arctic convoys to Murmansk in Russia supplied Russian forces.

Deployment to the Mediterranean as part of Operation Pedestal to relieve the besieged island of Malta was followed by a “night to remember” when Venomous fought the U-boat which sank the destroyer depot ship, HMS Hecla, and rescued 500 survivors.

In 1943 it escorted the first convoy from Gib to Alex after the surrender of Axis forces in North Africa and the invasion force to Sicily (Operation Husky).

Venomous returned to Falmouth, its engine “shot”, for conversion to a target ship for air launched torpedoes during a six month refit. As a “last hurrah” in May 1945 it went to Norway, to accept the surrender of German naval forces in Kristiansand before going to the ship breakers. Its name is kept alive today by TS Venomous, the Sea Cadet Corps unit in Loughborough, the city which adpted HMS Venomous during Warships Week 1942.

Appendices: Specification and battle honours, commanding officers, list of officers, list of ratings, shipboard organisation [by departments], life aboard Venomous, the sixty-nine V&Ws, abreviations. Finally, a bibliography and list of primary sources in archives.

A Hard Fought Ship begins with a survey of the world’s destroyers in 1919
and ends with a list of all the V & Ws giving date built and ultimate fate.

Reviews of the previous edition

Conrad Waters in Warship - "Naval Books of the Year, 2012"
"... a portrayal of life on a wartime destroyer with a depth and insight that is possibly unequalled by any previously published work."

"The authors have gone to considerable lengths to obtain a wealth of recollections from former crew members of all ranks and the result is an compelling read that vividly presents life onboard. The ship’s role in the events surrounding the loss of the depot ship Hecla and crippling of the destroyer Marne at the hands of Germany’s U-515 on the night of 11/12 November 1942 is especially well documented. Rigorous design and production values means that images are reproduced clearly to a high standard, and the overall book has a quality feel."

"This book is outstanding for its detailed insight into the life on not just a single destroyer but, by extension, life at sea aboard any Royal Navy destroyer."
Malcolm A.P. Butler in The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord July 2013, Vol 23 (3), pp325-6.

"The book does a splendid job of giving the reader a sense of what it was like to serve on a small, long-serving destroyer.  What makes A Hard Fought Ship of value is the way that the authors blend the story of the ship’s operations with the memories and accounts provided then or later by the ship’s crewmembers.  For those readers less familiar with destroyers and how they operate, we must thank Moore and Rodgaard for also providing the reader with very useful appendices on shipboard organization and routine life aboard Venomous. These appendices, and others, are the icing on a very edible 'cake' of a book."
Reviewed by Dr Thomas C. Hone, Naval Historical Foundation's Blog, February 2013.

"Containing humour, the grim reality of war as well as the mundane details that mean so much, a 'Hard Fought Ship' is a vivid portrait of a fighting vessel and the men that operated her.'
Warships IFR, August 2011.

"In the appendices one finds a virtual vade mecum of information about Venomous with details of honours, commanding officers, serving officers and crew, shipboard organization and information on the 69 V and W Class destroyers. This reviewer found the Appendix 'Life Aboard Venomous' particularly rewarding.
    "The author characterises Venomous as a 'fine destroyer, also a lucky ship that successive crews remembered with affection.' This book does justice to that memory providing the reader with a fine combination of technical detail and personal perspective from both the wardroom and below decks. This book is highly recommended to both naval historians and the general public."
Harold N. Boyer, Mariner's Mirror, May 2011

Writing about the rescue of survivors from HMS Hecla:
 "It is such accounts which make 'A Hard Fought Ship' a must read. It is an exemplary ship biography where a detailed narrative of the destroyer's exploits are brought to life by a wealth of first-hand accounts." Navy News, December 2010.

"The description of the ship’s activities in May/June 1940 (she was one of those destroyers which brought back the bulk of the BEF from Dunkirk) is extraordinarily vivid.  .... The book is copiously illustrated, some from the IWM, but the great majority being 'snaps' taken by members of her crew – they add immeasurably to the book and with the participants own words bring back the Navy of 70 years ago. In fact, I would rate this as being up in the same class as ‘The Cruel Sea’ for a picture of small ship life in World War 2. ...Recommended.  You may not learn much naval history of which you were not previously aware, but you will get something of the feel of being a destroyer man, in the second quarter of the 20th century."    
Alastair Wilson, Commander RN (retired) in the August issue of Naval Review

‘Un livre captivant dont on ne peut que saluer la quantité et la qualité des recherches entreprises par les auteurs. Un must pour tout lecteur intéressé pas l’histoire navale de cette période.’  
39/45 Magazine
(Editions Heimdal)

"For a true seaman it is depressing to see a good ship like the Venomous bound for the breakers. Occasionally, one is saved and becomes a showpiece. Pity there isn't more of them. A good read; highly recommended." Nautical Magazine, December 2010.

'This book is a detailed and thrilling account of the life of this typical V & W Class destroyer of which 69 were built at the end of the Great War. Above all this a tribute to all who served in this fine old ship in peace and war."   Sea Breezes

“The greatest interest lies in the recognition of the role of the human personalities involved, in situations showing courage, tragedy or humour. Profiles of the ship’s captains and other officers and ratings are supported by a fascinating range of images, many from private collections. They give a deep insight into the organisation, living conditions and events aboard this elderly destroyer and short range escort. Here is a fitting … tribute to “A Hard Fought Ship”: it is strongly recommended.”
GHC in Warship World

" ... a fascinating and most comprehensive insight into life in a very different world than today, beautifully crafted by the authors and a book well deserving of a place in your library …”
David Clements in Soundings

"It tells the tale in considerable detail, of one of the famous V & W class destroyers using the recollections and photographs of crew members together with the addition in this version, of material which places the ship's service into the wider context. The story tells well and the addition of the wider picture makes for a good read."
BBH in the World Ship Society magazine, Marine News

A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous; by R.J. Moore and J.A. Rodgaard. Holywell House Publishing, April 2017.
234x156 mm with approx 500 pages, 220 photographs and 12maps and plans. ISBN 978-0-9559382-4-5. Hardback,  £35.

 contact the publisher now If you wish to be notified when it is available

Holywell House
Holywell House Publishing
88 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 1DH, Britain
Telephone: +44 1727 838595
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