C S Forester wrote this book after spending time aboard the British cruiser HMS Penelope, and it tells the story of the part played by the fictional HMS Artemis in a battle that closely resembles the Battle of Sirte. This was an action fought between the British and Italian Royal Navies when five British cruisers fought off an attack on a Malta-bound convoy by Italian heavy units.
The book has an interesting structure. It is divided into twenty six short chapters, each of which has a heading containing a quote from the Captain's official after-action report. Each chapter concentrates on one or more of the individuals who make up the crew of the Artemis - and in one chapter the senior officers aboard the Italian flagship – telling their stories as they perform their duties aboard ship. It has the feel of a film script about it (C S Forester was – after all – a film screenwriter as well as a novelist) and it is a great pity that it has never been made into a film.