Launched in 1936 by Princess Marina, the Duchess of Kent, HMS Sheffield was the third of the Royal Navy’s ten Town-class cruisers.
She marked a number of firsts: the first ship to be named for Sheffield, the first to have stainless steel fixtures instead of brass, and the first to carry operational RDF (Radio Direction Finding) equipment.
Old Shiny, as she became affectionately known, was manufactured to the high standards of peacetime.
Even hitting a mine was unable to render her inactive for long.
Her crew simply manufactured a wooden patch, and saw her safely home.
Achieving twelve honours over thirty years’ service, Old Shiny notably exchanged salvoes with the Bismarck, engaged Admiral Hipper and Lützow, and helped sink Scharnhorst.
A more unusual deployment came in 1956, as HMS Sheffield was one of the ships loaned by the Admiralty for the Technicolor epic The Battle of the River Plate!
Drawn from the experiences of the men who lived, fought and served on board, in HMS Sheffield Ronald Bassett paints an evocative and highly personal portrait of Old Shiny, and shows how she was more than just a warship.
Praise for Ronald Bassett
‘One of the most impressive things I found about the book was that you got a real feel for the time and place. Scenes set in India or England felt different and I think that's a great achievement.’ – Library Thing
‘vividly described … the voyage as seen through the sleep-robbed eyes of matelots and officers alike’ – Daily Telegraph
‘A catalogue of horror’ – Eastern Daily Press
‘There is a degree of authenticity that makes the blood run cold’ – Cambridge News
‘Fast, vigorous action’ – Sheffield Morning Telegraph
‘Graphic tale of slave and convict ships… not for tender stomachs’ – Books and Bookmen
Ronald Bassett (1924-1996) was born in Chelsea. During the Munich crisis, at age fourteen, he falsified enlistment papers to become a Rifleman of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles). Following active service, he was exposed and discharged. In his records, his colonel noted, ‘A good soldier. I am sorry to lose him.’ Undismayed, he immediately entered the Royal Navy, in which he remained for fourteen years, serving in the Arctic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, the Far East and, later, Korea. He died in Surrey.