"It’s Not the Ships is an invaluable contribution to the history of the RCN / RCNVR in WWII. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is compelling, technically precise, honest, humble, personable, and, in many places, humorous."

— Captain Wilf Lund RCN (Ret’d), naval historian and former submarine commander

“Superb! A most enjoyable read, and refreshingly accurate as to all aspects of naval life in the United Kingdom during World War II. It’s Not the Ships . . . is a deceptively modest title that belies an outstanding snapshot of a period in Canadian naval history that is not well documented — the personal accounts of Canadian naval reservists before World War II, the circumstances that led to their subsequent service, and their wartime experiences. Using letters home and wonderfully personal anecdotes, the author tells of life on and off British submarines and the deprivations that a society at war tolerated with little or no complaint. The narrative reflects a young man — typical of his generation — who was fabulously upbeat in difficult circumstances.”

— Captain Norman Jolin RCN (Ret’d)

It’s Not the Ships is the memoir of a modest man. This account of undersea warfare adds significantly to our knowledge of the Canadian naval heritage and takes a distinguished place among the published recollections of submariners. It deserves the attention of academics, sailors, and the reading public.”

— Commander Alec Douglas RCN (Ret’d)

“Fred Sherwood is a Canadian of whom we can all be proud.”

— Commodore Larry Hickey RCN (Ret’d)

“First a disclosure — I got to know Freddy Sherwood in the late 1980s and 1990s as I interviewed him for my first book, and I also met Philip Sherwood several years before he began the preparation of It’s Not the Ships....

“This is a large format, coffee-table styled book, replete with images and maps, and printed on coated stock. This treatment gives it a cherished feel of a family album and makes it a pleasure to either browse or read thoroughly.

It’s Not the Ships... is long overdue. The book is a memoir of one Canadian’s war in British submarines while serving in the RCNVR. Written in the voice of Fred Sherwood, Canada’s most decorated submarine captain, his patrol reports, letters, and oral reminiscences are featured throughout. This technique gives the reader a clear sense of his personality, character, optimism, and humour. By the time I finished the book I felt I knew Fred, the man and the submariner, a great deal better.

“Fred was fortunate to begin as a junior officer with one of the greatest submariners of World War Two, Ben Bryant. He served in two boats with Bryant and learned “the trade,” mostly in the Mediterranean at a time when fifty percent of the boats were lost. Fred had a hectic time at sea with its bad moments and lots of success.

“Later when he was a commanding officer of his own boat in the Far East, Fred proved to be a true hero, a humble man, and an example of all that is good in relationships and leadership. His memoir touched my heart and reminded me how honoured I was to know him.

It’s not the Ships... is a young man’s adventure story in the midst of war, a romance with submarines and his future wife, a sometimes amusing tale, and, best of all a page-turner.

“Highly, highly recommended for all who read naval history.”

— Julie H. Ferguson, author of Through a Canadian Periscope and Deeply Canadian

© Julie H. Ferguson 2014

Lives Lived: Frederick Henry Sherwood

The Globe and Mail - November 10, 2013


Dave Brown: A service for canada’s only second world war sub commander

Ottawa Citizen - May 5, 2013


Submariners Association of Canada (Central)

LCdr Frederick Henry Sherwood, DSC and Bar, RCNVR



Frederick Henry Sherwood DSC, RCNVR


Starshell, the National Magazine of the Naval Association of Canada

Summer 2014, p.25.

http://www.navalassoc.ca/images/starshell/Summer 2014.pdf