Above are photographs of the front and back covers of my copy of the book which arrived a few days ago. It is almost as old as I. THEY WERE EXPENDABLE was first published in 1942, only months after the events it relates, the actions of Motor Torpedo Squadron Three during the fall of the Philippines. My copy, bought used from Amazon, is from the fifth printing, January 1943.
I first read THEY WERE EXPENDABLE as a teenager sixty years ago. I read it through today with sadness and awe at what people suffered then, starting around 9 AM and finishing at 2:30, breaking only to have lunch with Carol. MTS Three began the war with six boats and about 72 men. Within a few months all the boats were lost and only four of the men were not dead or captive. This is of course only a microcosm of what happened during those years when 70,000,000 to 85,000,000 died, two/thirds of them civilians. Multiply those numbers by 3.5 to get a similar proportion of deaths now.
If you don’t know, the Allies were losing the war during most of 1942. The Japanese and the Germans were triumphant. By the end of the year that had changed due to Midway and Guadalcanal and El Alamein and Stalingrad, but THEY WERE EXPENDABLE was published during dark and uncertain days.
Here is a page from the forward.
As I noted here a few weeks ago I am expendable in this pandemic. Justly so.
I highly recommend THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. It is eminently readable, and it puts our current crises in perspective.