||A. V. Sellwood
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Although I was only about nine or ten years old at the time, I still clearly remember my late father repeating the words, The most decorated small ship in the navy', again and again as he wrote the story of HMS Li Wo, and of her truly heroic but doomed battle against odds. I was impressed, as any boy would be, by such heroism; but his continued repetition of 'The most decorated small ship in the navy' told me that he was too. Having first been alerted to the story by an unusual posthumous Victoria Cross citation in the Admiralty archives, he set out to track down the few surviving members of her crew, and this book was the result. After beating off Japanese air attacks while attempting to reach Dutch-held Java, HMS Li Wo went into battle alone against an entire Japanese invasion fleet; but she was not a battleship or cruiser or destroyer, not even an MTB. She was a formerly peaceful Yangtse river steamer converted into a so-called 'patrol vessel' by the simple addition of an ancient (ironically Japanese made) single four-inch gun and two Lewis machine-guns. Neither was she cornered or trapped by the Sumatra-bound invaders, which seemed to be ignoring her. Escape was probably possible by hiding among the islands. But she did not choose escape...