The year 1854 will always be perceived typical of the reign of private enterprise. The power of the middle class, its prophets, priests and kings was growing steadily. Steam was everywhere beginning to replace sail. This opportunity was grasped in both hands by William Macknnon, a young Scot. He along with his partner profited enough to transfer their headquarters to Calcutta and soon formed in 1854 the Burmah Steam Navigation Company. Their fleet numbered 17 and regular voyages were made from Calcutta to Singapore, Chittagong, Andamans, Madras, Karachi, Bombay, and later Persian Gulf, Britain, East Africa, Colombo, Brisbane and spread to the Far East. Many of its ships even carried English troops during the South African War and in the China Expedition. However after the opening of the Suez Canal, it faced stiff competition. By the end of its career it owned almost 500 ships and managed 150 for other liners. This book is a short history of the Company during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945.
Hilary St. George Saunders (1898-1951) was a British author, born in Clifton near Bristol. He was a chronicler of the Second World War.
By Sir William Crawford Currie, G.B.E. 'That it should fall to me to have the privilege of writing a foreword to the story of the many parts played by the members—British and Indian alike—of the British India Steam Navigation Company in practically every quarter of the globe in the Second World War fills me with pride.
At the same time, I feel—and I am sure every reader will share this feeling—a deep sense of humility when I read of the feats of courage and endurance which the pages of this book unfold. They were displayed by our people at sea who, in addition to their own perilous situation, had to endure the know-ledge that their wives and families at home were being subjected to the assault of air raids, flying bombs and V2 rockets. Well named is the title, beginning as it does with V, that famous sign with which a great Prime Minister encouraged the nation in the dark days of the early nineteen-forties.
The tale will, I hope, prove to be of some solace and pride to those who have been bereaved, a satisfaction to those who have survived and an inspiration to the young members of the Company who knew not the sea till after the war was over. This book is dedicated to those who made the great sacrifice, whose memory let us salute with the proud words `Semper Fidelis'.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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