The Blooding of the Guns

Written by Alexander Fullerton
Review by John R. Vallely

Alexander Fullerton’s fictional biography of Nick Everard of the Royal Navy takes him from service on board a British destroyer in the World War I Battle of Jutland through equally hazardous service in the Second World War. Published in the UK in the 1970s, Everard’s exploits are now made available to American readers.

Fullerton knows the Royal Navy and demonstrates time and again his respect for the doggedness and sacrifice of its officers and men. The series begins with The Blooding Of The Guns as Everard, recently transferred from duty on board a battleship, assumes a critical role in commanding his destroyer in action against the German High Seas Fleet in the maelstrom that was the Battle of Jutland.

Everard is a likeable personality caught up in family problems as well as numerous difficulties with older, and more traditional, senior officers. The officers and ratings he encounters during his war years serve as representatives of the diverse types found on active duty in times of grave national crisis. The only negative is the relatively large number of minor characters with which the reader is forced to cope.

The reader may find this confusing and may long for fewer characters and tighter editing. This certainly worked with Hornblower and Aubrey. This aside, the series stands up quite well as an example of history presented through the eyes and experiences of a fictional character. I am looking forward to putting to sea on future Royal Navy campaigns in the struggles for naval supremacy from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.