Nicholas John Turney Monsarrat, RNVR

Born  22 Mar 1910
Died  8 Aug 1979(69)


12 Jul 1940 T/S.Lt.
12 Oct 1940 T/Lt.
??? T/A/Lt.Cdr.

Retired: 1946


2 Jun 1943 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)

Warship Commands listed for Nicholas John Turney Monsarrat, RNVR

HMS Shearwater (L 39 / K 39)T/Lt.Patrol vessel3 Mar 194320 Oct 1943
HMS Ettrick (K 254)T/A/Lt.Cdr.Frigate30 Dec 194329 Jan 1944
HMS Perim (K 593)T/A/Lt.Cdr.Frigate16 Mar 194424 Dec 1944

Career information

Nicholas Monsarrat, a pacifist, served in the Royal Navy as part of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) from 1940 to 1946. He had been a lifelong sailing enthusiast and that made him a capable naval officer in charge of the smaller escorts.

Nicholas Monsarrat was a novelist and had been publishing novels since 1936. His most famous work was the Cruel Sea (1951, film made in 1953). He also wrote Three Corvettes in in 1945 and HM Frigate in 1946 - all drawing on his extensive wartime experience. Non-naval titles include the internationally recognized The Tribe That Lost Its Head (1956). He autobiography, Life is a Four Letter Word, came out in two volumes, in 1965 and 1970.

His attitude towards his former enemies, the Germans

From our The Cruel Sea review: His wartime experiences left him with intense feelings of bitterness and dislike toward U-boats and the men who served on them. This attitude is expressed openly in his preface to Schaeffer's book 'U-Boat 977', in which he deplores the "forgive and forget" attitude of the postwar years toward the U-boats and states that "if U-Boat 977 were not two things - a readable book and an engrossing piece of war history - I would not touch it with a depth charge".


Schaeffer, H. (1975). U-Boat 977.
Wikipedia (n.d). Nicholas Monsarrat.

Events related to this officer

Frigate HMS Perim (K 593)

16 Mar 1944

See mention in HMS Perin's first Captain's autobiography "Life is a Four Letter Word - Volume 2: Breaking Out" in which Nicholas Monsarrat says:

...I was standing by a newly built frigate in Providence, Rhode Island - a frigate which, as soon as she could be made to work, would be my own pride and joy. But she had been built at lightning speed, together with twenty-three others, by Henry J. Kaiser; and I was never surprised to learn, not many years later, that the Henry J. Kaiser car was no bloody good, because the Henry J, Kaiser frigate was no bloody good either.

Mine was called Perim, after the tiny island-colony near Aden (there was another one called Monserrat, but they wouldn't give her to me) and in Perim we ran fourteen sea trials, thirteen of them resulting in damage to our main bearings, before a little man from Tyneside was flown out, put his stubby finger on the trouble, and got the programme moving again.

Monsarrat, who would later write "The Cruel Sea", mentions that each of these ships cost five million dollars each. He also mentions that HMS Perim worked up off Bermuda.


Media links

H.M. Corvette

Monsarrat, Nicholas

The Cruel Sea

Monsarrat, Nicholas


  1. Personal communication

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