Passport Not Required – U.S. Volunteers in the Royal Navy, 1939-1941

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Before America entered World War II, twenty-two U.S. Citizens went to England and volunteered with the Royal Navy. They were commissioned between September 10, 1939, and November 10, 1941. Standing side by side with their British compatriots, these American volunteers endured all of the hardships during Britain's darkest hours of World War II, fought with great bravery during the Battle of the Atlantic and on other fronts, and were looked upon with great admiration by the British people. While the history of Americans serving in the RAF during World War II has been told in books and films, the story of their naval counterparts has not, until now.

Most of these men were sent for training to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, thus initiating what was to become the famous ”over here” phenomenon as the two different cultures learned to adapt to each other's ways. The faculty recognised the arrival of the first three men with a commemorative plaque placed in the floor of the college's Painted Hall on June 15, 1941. However, mindful of the possible legal consequences, since foreign military service is against U.S. Law and could have resulted in loss of citizenship, their names were omitted from the plaque. Now, after more than 30 years of research, their identities and the details of their contributions can be made known. What makes this tale compelling is that the men actually had a significant impact on the war effort. Showing up was just the start; some achieved remarkable accomplishments. This is their story – who they were, what they did and why, and what became of them.

"This is a stylishly written account of the experiences of twenty-two privileged Americans, who in Britain's darkest days (1939-41), volunteered for service in the Royal Navy Reserve. At a time when the United States was asserting its neutrality in the earliest days of the World War II, they fought for Britain with selflessness and gallantry. This short work displays diligent research into the lives of deserving men, many of whom might have passed unnoticed. As an example of group biography, it will be of interest to World War II enthusiasts and students of the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain.” - William S. Dudley, former director, Naval Historical Center

Passport Not Required is a detailed account of the war careers of the largely unsung – though not forgotten in Britain – Americans who volunteered for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Passport Not Required will reward anyone who loves history or the sea.” - David Poyer, author of That Anvil of Our Souls and The Crisis

Passport Not Required is a welcome memorial to the handful of American volunteers who bent the rules to join Great Britain's naval war against Germany at a time when most of their fellow citizens remained oblivious to the implications of a Nazi victory. We owe our collective thanks to the authors for this fine act of remembrance.” - Lincoln P. Paine, maritime historian

Author: Eric Dietrich-Berryman, Charlotte Hammond and R. E. White

Publisher: Naval Institute Press, 2010

184 pages