One Common Enemy
The Laconia incident: A survivor's memoir
'I'll see the world,' Jim McLoughlin told his parents as he set off to join the Royal Navy in 1939. 'It'll be fun.' Months later, this Liverpool lad was sailing to war aboard the massive battleship HMS Valiant. He saw some of the world, but it wasn't fun.
In One Common Enemy, he recounts how the chaos and carnage of war at sea in the Norwegian and Mediterranean campaigns led him to a fateful rendezvous with a much-loved ship from his boyhood, the passenger liner Laconia. Nostalgia turned to disaster when Laconia was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the South Atlantic. Despite a remarkable rescue attempt by a courageous, compassionate foe, Jim was condemned to a drifting lifeboat and a harrowing voyage of death and madness.
One Common Enemy is a story of a desperate personal battle for survival, but also a moving narrative of innocence lost and a lifelong battle with confronting memories.
Jim McLoughlin was born in Liverpool in 1921. He joined the Royal Navy at 17, serving aboard the battleship HMS Valiant during the Norwegian and Mediterranean campaigns. In 1955 Jim emigrated to South Australia, where he and his wife Dorothy raised five children.
David Gibb is a writer with an abiding interest in the literature of the Second World War, especially the personal experiences of veterans. He has worked extensively as a writer-producer in the electronic and print media, and has had short stories and poetry published, David lives in Adelaide and is married to Chris, with whom he has a son.