Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

Conway Maritime Press

The Liner - Retrospective & Renaissance

Edition:1st 2005
Author:Philip Dawson

ISBN: 0851779837

Publishers: Conway Maritime Press

Price £30 RRP UK

Publication Date: July 2005

Publisher's Title Information

The iconic ocean liner, with towering dark hull, brilliant white superstructure and traditional coloured funnels, remains a powerful symbol of human endeavour. Through two centuries of architectural and engineering creativity, liners crossed the seas when there was no other comparable transport available to the masses. Their sheer size and opulence, and the romance and tragedy surrounding them, has ensured an enduring place in the hearts and minds of those who travelled or served on them, as well as those who have only ever experienced their like in literature, on film or in their imagination.

From their origins in mail services and along trade routes, liners became the means by which the world could be discovered by the adventurous individual of the 19th century. After embracing the role of population­ movers to the New World, liners provided increasingly luxurious accommodation to the travelling passengers of international high society. Although the apogee of the liner was witnessed between the wars which employed and destroyed several of their kind, the story of the liner continued, resulting in vessels designed for the dual roles of cruising and traditional line trade. Even in the 21st century, with cruising now a major tourist industry, a new liner has emerged which champions a clear sty­listic lineage from some of the most illustrious vessels of the past.

Here, for the first time, the design, history and mystique of the ocean liner is rediscovered from the retrospective of the 21 st century, from the early paddle steamer Great Western of 1838 to the modern renaissance embodied by the first liner to be built for 30 years, the Queen Mary 2. Established favourites such as Normondie, Mauretania, Olympic and Titanic, Bremen, the United States and the Cunard Queens are included along with less famous but significant ships such as I'Atlantique, Kungsholm, Lucania and Nieuw Amsterdam. Beyond the design, construction and service life of the vessels them­selves, there is also the human story - of engineers, builders, crew and millions of passengers - which explores the interplay between socio-economic trends, design movements, technological advances and the his­torical contexts of an ever-changing world.

Illustrated throughout with many colour and black-and ­white photographs, artworks and plans, both contempo­rary and specially commissioned, this is an essential work for all liner enthusiasts, maritime historians and all those who have sailed aboard these fine vessels.

The Author

Philip Dawson's  fascination with merchant ships stems from his childhood years spent in the Brazilian city of Bahia de Salvador, where his English father was in the business of exporting cocoa butter by ship.  Following his education in England and Canada, emphasising technology and engineering studies, and a career in computers, he is now a writer and photojour­nalist, specialising in commercial shipping, civil aviation and transport infrastructure.  He is the author of several Conway Maritime Press books, including: British Superliners: A Design Appreciation of Oriona, Canberra and QE2; Canberra: In The Wake of a Legend, Cruise Ships: An Evolution in Design; and he is a co-author of Conway's History of Seafaring in the Twentieth Century.  He contributes to several shipping and aviation industry journals and is published in the architectural press.  He lives in Toronto.


By Stephen M. Payne, Obe Bsc Eng (Hons) Frina Ceng Vice President & Chief Naval Architect, Carnival Corporate Shipbuilding, Southampton Designer, Cunard Line Queen Mary 2

For many generations past, nothing in the world could rival the sight of a majestic ocean liner in her natural element at sea.  With their long sleek hulls, towering superstructures and smoking funnels, they were the epitome of man's engineering genius. National steamship lines vied with each other on routes around the world with bigger and faster ships, many sponsored by their respective governments.  In the 1930s a profusion of spectacular ocean liners, dubbed the ‘Ships of State’, were built, and which, seen in retrospect, clearly represented the golden age of travel.

The liners were always viewed as technological marvels.  Steam turbines, reciprocating engines, diesels and, latterly, diesel/gas turbine electric plants of colossal proportions, propelled them at ever-increasing speeds, fuelled initially by scores of stokers performing Herculean feats of stamina in shovelling tons of coal into the boilers. Technology moved on and oil-firing improved efficiency, reduced manning and negated the filthy process of  ‘coating ship’.  Steam gave way to diesel propulsion, firstly with direct drive, then mechanically manipu­lated with a gearbox and more recently with electric drive.

Passenger comforts and amenities also moved for­ward with the times.  Gas lamps gave way to electric lighting, lifts appeared providing ease of access between decks where previously there had been only stairs, and squash and tennis courts for active recre­ation became commonplace.  Public rooms increased in size, grandeur and number, and grandiloquent restaurants provided epicurean experiences.

Philip Dawson, author of several previous acclaimed passenger ship works, has carefully researched and studied the liner form, mystique and contribution to the movement of mankind across the oceans of the world. Step aboard this voyage of dis­covery and celebration, intermixed with calamity and reflection.  It is all here.

Liners have worked hard in both peace and wartime doing what they do best - carrying passen­gers across the globe.  During conflicts some were transformed into auxiliary cruisers and even aircraft carriers.  Liners survived until cheap air travel became available with the introduction of large jet airliners such as the Boeing 747.  One by one their routes succumbed until there was but one left - the original North Atlantic route. Happily this crossing is still alive and well into the 21st century with the lat­est and most spectacular liner of them all, Cunard Line's RMS Queen Mary 2.

'Suiting his title, Dawson has document­ed not only transatlantic but worldwide flotillas of ocean liners as well.  He describes deftly many imperishable interiors and has included a cornucopia of splendid photographs, many of them new to me. This volume belongs unquestionably in every ship buff's library.'         John Maxtone-Graham


British ships have been in evidence across the world for as long as can be remembered.

Whenever I think of Great ships I am reminded of a definition learnt for a legal exam

 'High seas' in s. 281 has the same meaning as when used with reference to the Admiralty jurisdiction, namely, all oceans, seas, bays, channels, rivers, creeks and waters below low-water mark where 'great ships could go.'

 Prior to the enactment of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England had included jurisdiction over offences committed on the high seas.  Indeed, the definition of 'high seas' adopted in Liverpool Justices, ex parte Molyneux was developed in cases decided under the Admiralty.

I have memories of the Great liners leaving Southampton.   As a boy I lived in Southsea, Hampshire and we spent our entire summer holidays on the seafront every day.  You always knew when a Great liner moved up the Solent because it caused a wash along the shore, and, of course they were very visible from the shoreline.  When the more famous ones passed it always caused more interest.

RMS Queen Mary was built by John Brown and Co Ltd, Clydebank.  There is an amazing photograph of her on the launching slip on page 127, showing her immense size.  In fact the photographs of this ship in that chapter are really stunning.  Later in the Royal Navy I again frequently saw these great liners and this book, is for me a trip down memory lane.

The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was incorporated under Royal Charter in December 1840.  These ships particularly came to my attention during my Naval service because for me they performed a personal service of transporting items I purchased in the Far East back to the UK.  Like so many young sailors I purchased China tea sets in Singapore and dolls to be sent back to my family and much of the mail travelled home in P&O.

This book tells the full story of many of the great passenger ships of our time and moreover, their wartime experiences which may be of interest to enthusiasts of royal naval ships.  Indeed during the Great War and World War II many of the great liners, passenger ships and cargo ships played a vital part when converted to armed merchant cruisers or troop carriers.  Two names spring to mind, HMS Jervis Bay and HMS Rawalpindi.

If you take just one of the tragic stories of World War II it could be the story of the Queen Mary running down one of her escorts HMS Curacoa.  HMS Curacoa was an elderly cruiser first commissioned in 1916.  The Queen Mary left New York on 27th of September 1942 with 10,398 troops on board and five days later, at about 7 a.m. on the 2nd of October she sighted her escort cruiser and accompanying destroyers.  The Queen Mary was zigzagging and as Curacao’s best speed was 26 knots she performed a modified zigzag which kept as close as possible to the great liner whilst maintaining the same mean course.   At 2.15 p.m. the Queen Mary was on the starboard leg of her zigzag when the Curacoa converged on her from the starboard side and the Queen Mary collided with the cruiser about 112 feet from the latter's stern, slicing through the warship.  Of 430 crew members there were only 101 survivors.

Who cannot have not heard of the P&O liner Canberra, launched in 1957 and sailing on her maiden voyage on 2nd of June 1961 to Sydney.  During the Falklands War she became known as the ‘Great White Whale’.  The climax of her service being when she arrived in Southampton water and edged into her berth.  The emotional welcome reached its peak with the Royal Marine band striking up Land of Hope and Glory to the accompaniment of 2500 marines on board, and the huge crowd ashore.  As a nation we had truly taking Canberra to our heart

I am sure that anybody that has an interest in the great liners will be thrilled to own a copy of this book.   As well as the more familiar lines the names of which I have mentioned, there is of course coverage of all of the lesser known Companies.

Appendix A concludes with ship's profiles of, inter alia, Aquitania, Bremen, Britannia, Canberra, City of Glasgow, France, Great Britain, Great Eastern, Great Liverpool, Lusitania, Mauritania, Normandie,  Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary, Queen Mary 2, Titanic, United States and others.  If you collect naval books this is definitely one for your collection.

Rob Jerrard

The U-Boat War - The German Submarine Service and the Battle of the Atlantic

Author: David Westwood

ISBN: 1844860019

Publishers: Conway

Price £20 RRP UK

Publication Date: May 2005

Publishers Title Information

"The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril." Winston Churchill

"The enemy holds every trump card, covering all areas with long-range air patrols using location methods against which we still have no warning... The enemy know secrets and we know none of his." Grand Admiral Dönitz

This book is an in-depth study of the U-boat section of the German navy, which came so very close to bringing Britain to its knees during the Battle of the Atlantic in 1941-2. It looks at pre-war German efforts to build up and reinvigorate the U-boat theory of war, consulting hitherto lightly researched material in the Bundesarchiv, and the U-Boat Diary during the war. It follows the clandestine U-boat research of the 1920s and early 1930s, and the effects of the assumption of power by the Nazi Party in 1933. It investigates Döntiz's early career and his subsequent efforts to run the U-boat arm during the Second World War.

It does not stop here; it will constitute a thorough new look at the entire U-boat campaign from the start of the war through to the final days, and points out the moments when fortunes changed for both sides. In particular it highlights the technological developments which made success for the Allies inevitable. It also criticises Donitz's strategy, in that he was too much of a 'father' to the U-­boat arm; he failed to strategise purposefully; failed to persuade Goering of the value of air reconnaissance; and so on.

It also looks at the development of the electro and Type-XXI U-boats which, had they been part of a more organised effort, might have changed the pattern of the second half of the war. There will be drawings and photographs and an extensive bibliography.

The U-boat war was one of the most crucial theatres of conflict in history. This is a fascinating evaluation of the strategy, tactics, infrastructure, resource-management technology of the U-boat force from the aftermath of the Versailles Treaty up to its defeat by 1945. It examines both the pre-war concept and the wartime experience U-boat arm in its primary aim of crippling Allied merchant traffic in the Atlantic.  Using wartime U-Boat Diary and other key sources, along with tables and statistical analysis the author draws damning conclusions about how, with changing fortunes, Dönitz and' Kriegsmarine prosecuted the submarine war.

Author’s Introduction

Second World War was marked by a series of campaigns, mostly on land, which were of long duration. Among these were the campaign in North Africa (1940-3), the German invasion of Russia (1941-5) and the air war against Germany (1939-45). However, none of these campaigns stands against the Battle of the Atlantic, which had a similar duration to the air war (1939-45) but also carried with it the weight of grand strategy.

The other campaigns were all of significance, and for Germany a successful conclusion would have been of immense importance. However, the campaign in the Atlantic was one in which the victor could hope to create or eliminate the threat of a cross-Channel invasion that would then threaten Germany with war on two fronts. If Germany had managed to close the Atlantic to merchant shipping there would have been the extra benefit of Great Britain strangling in the grip of starvation, deprived of the food brought across the ocean from the United States. Furthermore, military aid would also have failed, and US troops would not have been able to assemble in Britain prior to D-Day.

Winston Churchill referred to the Atlantic as a 'lifeline'; and it was just that. Britain was greatly dependent upon supplies (military and civilian) from the United States, and the threat of the U-boats was that they might, even in 1943, stop the convoys to the United Kingdom, thereby reducing the war effort here to a minimum, and even bringing the fear of capitulation or withdrawal from active prosecution of the war into reality.

Luckily for Great Britain and the western Allies, Germany had no great strategist in its senior ranks, not even in the German Navy. Hitler himself was no sailor, while Raeder and Dönitz were more than able seamen but failed to impress upon Hitler the real significance of the Atlantic as a supply route: eliminating that supply route could have forced Great Britain out of the war, or at least reduced the potential of these islands as a base for the masses of US troops and airmen who would pose the final threat to Germany.

Dönitz commanded the U-boat fleet throughout the war (even after his promotion to Head of the Navy in 1943), but he himself failed to grasp fully what his force was capable of, had he concentrated all his efforts on the Atlantic. Further, if he had had the courage to gainsay Hitler's strange ideas about Norway, the Indian Ocean and other faraway places, he would not have been constantly bemoaning the fact that he was short of U-boats. Mistakes were undoubtedly made by both sides, but the biggest mistakes were made by the Germans. It was for this reason more than any other that they lost the war.

This book attempts to describe the character of the war in the Atlantic and the measures implemented by each side in fighting that long campaign. Many factors came into play; perhaps one of the most obvious is the reluctance by the air supremos on both sides to see how important the convoy battles were. In England the RAF leadership continually blocked the provision of suitable long-range aircraft to Coastal Command, and in Germany Goring failed to provide the U-boat arm with the long-range reconnaissance force that might have swung the battle the other way.

The book looks at the strategic, operational and tactical aspects of the battle. It examines the technology that was developed to combat the U-boats as well as German counter-technology. Radar, Sonar (Asdic), acoustic torpe­does, aerial searchlights, codebreaking, deciphering operations, decoys, radar detectors, escort carriers and forward-throwing anti-submarine mortars all played a part in this conflict, as well as many other technologies and tech­niques. It is hoped that the narrative answers some of the reader's questions, and clarifies what was often a confused field of battle.

If the Allies had lost control of the Atlantic sea lanes, it is quite possible that D-Day would never have occurred, and that the Russians might then have gained control of Europe to the Atlantic coast of France and down to the Mediterranean. That scenario would have augured badly for the post-war situation.

Type VII U-Boat -

"Anatomy of the Ship" series.

David Westwood

ISBN: 0-85177-933-

Published 8 August 2003

Conway Maritime Press

RRP: £25:00


Everything you need to know about this type of U-Boat.

Gunther Prien had one (U47 - the Snorting Bull), Otto Kretschmer had one (U99 - the Golden Horseshoe) and others too numerous to mention here also had one. What was it they had? A Type VII U-Boat and both collectively and individually those commanders made this craft one of the most successful submarines of all time. With that success came both fame and notoriety - not only for the dashing and daring captains, but also for the submarine itself. Even today, almost 60 years after the Type VII fired it’s last torpedo, there are websites and members’ clubs in many different languages dedicated to researching the finest detail of this specific ship and every aspect of the battles they fought. For all those ardent enthusiasts, for all those with a more general interest in World War Two and (speaking as an underwater photo-journalist) for scuba divers the world over, this book is exactly what is required.

Conway Maritime Press are well-known for their "Anatomy of the Ship" series in which they provide the finest documentation for specific ships or ship types ever published. "The Type VII U-Boat" is hard-back measuring 10¼" (wide) x 9¾" with 95 pages of detailed and factual information. The wide format allows the publishers to produce first class detailed line-drawings of every aspect of the boat, in a size that is easy to see and follow. All the information is there - right down to the last nut and bolt.

Commencing with a potted service history of the Type VII and it’s evolution during WW2, we are then treated to a series of "Tables", which provide us with the technical details of each derivative (i.e. Type VIIA through Type VIIF) followed by similar details for both the torpedoes, deck guns and their mountings. Next is 10 pages of historic photographs followed by 70 pages of detailed line-drawings and technical information.

And detailed they are too; Under just one main heading "General arrangement - external" we have drawing after drawing showing every aspect of the 6 variants of this submarine itemising each of the slight changes made as the vessel evolved and improvements in design were made. Not only is the entire hull shown in both elevation, plan and cross-section, there are individual close-ups showing the different bridge layouts and deck gun configurations. Then everything is repeated for the internal features both longitudinally and by cross-section - compartment by compartment, including such features as propulsion, steering, control room, engine room and quarters - to name a few.

Finally, we have the armament and fittings. With the original boats having one deck gun and later versions having two and with different calibre guns being introduced as the ship was improved, this section covers them all in great detail. This is followed by similar information on the shells fired before coming onto the different torpedoes used throughout WW2. Finishing off with various incidental fittings, this book is complete and I congratulate both the author and publishers for a job well done.


Second Review

David Westwood is the author of Conway's acclaimed 'Anatomy of the Ship' volume The Type VII U-Boat.

Having spent time creating a Royal Navy website and studying naval history, I welcome this new opportunity to learn more about U-Boats and their war. After all, as David Westwood rightly points out, the Battle of the Atlantic was a battle we could not afford to lose, we would have been deprived of food and US military aid would have been impossible. 

We learn how Nazi Germany slowly moved towards its goal of creating a U-Boat fleet, whilst at the same time declaring, "Germany wants peace, desires peace". Hitler took power on 30 January 1933. Fortunately for us in these islands, war came too soon for the German Navy, who would have been ready in 1944-45 and 1947 would probably have been perfect.

As well as the U-Boats themselves the book looks in detail at the technical aspects and examines the technology of radar, ASDIC (SONAR), acoustic torpedoes, escort carriers and anti-submarine mortars and examines the part they play. For me and thousands of others ASDIC will always be that familiar ping and the returning echo, very often relayed on the loudspeaker in the operations room and often hours and hours of exercising with a consort ship trying to find the submarine. In my case exercise, but for many the real thing.

It is interesting to learn that HMS Daring was the first ship to be fitted with retractable ASDIC dome in January 1932.  

I have learnt much from this book, which reminds us how history would have been so different had we not defeated the U Boats. This book will certainly find its way into any naval collection worth its salt and I for one will read it and refer to it again since it is so comprehensive and detailed with some fine photographs, drawings and appendices.

Rob Jerrard

The Line of Battle

Conway's History of the Ship: The Sailing Warship 1650-1840

Author: Edited by Brian Lavery

ISBN: 0851779549

Publishers: Conway Maritime Press

Price £16.99

Publication Date: October 2004 Paperback Edition

Although purpose-built fighting ships had existed earlier, the principal characteristics of the classic sailing warship were only defined in the mid ­seventeenth century, when the emergence of strong central governments, as in Cromwell's Commonwealth or the France of Louis XIV, combined with the novel line-ahead tactics to produce for the first time national fleets of reasonably similar line-of ­battle ships.

As the battleship became more distinct, the need for a specialized cruising ship became apparent ­particularly as warfare became more global - and from this the frigate was born. Gradually during the period, myriad types of crafts were adapted for naval use and the central emphasis of this volume is on the increasing specialization of the fleet and the evolution of each ship type, down to the period when the installation of the steam engine sparked another revolution in tactics and technology.

This volume includes:

The Ship of the Line

The Frigate

The Sloop of War,

 Corvette and Brig

The Fore and Aft Rigged Warship

Fireships and Bomb Vessels

The Oared Warship Support Craft

Design and Construction

Rigs and Rigging

Ships' Fittings

Guns and Gunnery

Ship Decoration


Naval Tactics

The Author:

Robert Gardiner is an acknowledged expert on the sailing navies and ship technology and is series editor of Conway's History of the Ship volumes. Brian Lavery, consultant editor, is the world's leading expert on the sailing warship, and the author of many acclaimed Conway titles, including Nelson's Navy (0851775217) and Jack Aubrey Commands (0851779468).

One Reviewer’s Opinion

'The work that gave me the most pleasure [last year] ...was undoubtedly the on-going Conway's History of the Ship - intoxicating' Jan Morris In The Independent

The World's Worst Warships

Antony Preston, Published by Conway Maritime Press, £19.99, 2002

Front cover illustrations.

Charles E Turner's painting of the Sinking of the Bismarck, 27 May 1941. (Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Picture Library.)

Publisher's Title Information

Some warships achieve notoriety because they are so outlandish, either in design or merely in appearance. Others are lost dramatically in action or by accident, suggesting a serious weakness in design. And some warships never endear themselves to their operators, whose opinions foster prejudice against the design.The World's Worst Warships, covering a wide range of experimental, badly designed or just disastrous ship types, is a serious study of the reasons why certain warships have achieved bad reputations.

In fact, relatively few ships are incompetently designed. Most errors originate at Naval Staff level, with flawed operational concepts, over-ambitious specifications, poorly designed sub-systems (usually weapons), or financial stringency. Some warships are built to meet a rational tactical need, which disappears before the ship enters service, while in wartime many warships are forced to perform tasks never even imagined during the design-stage, bringing their alleged shortcomings into prominence.

Covering the period from 1860 to the present day, the warships featured here include the Russian Popoffkas, the French battleship Brennus, the British vessels Captain, Inflexible and Shehield and the battlecruiser Invincible; the US monitors, USS Katahdin and USS Vesuvius, the Japanese light cruiser Mogami; and the'K' class submarines.

Others that will be of interest to British readers are HMS Swift (destroyer); HM Ships, Courageous, Glorious, and Furious (light battlecruisers), HMS Hood; and Type 21 AS frigates.

This authoritative examination of a complex aspect of naval history will prove fascinating reading for all naval historians and enthusiasts.

This is a very interesting book coving many ships within the memory of those who served in the Royal Navy, and not overpriced; many good illustrations.

ANTONY PRESTON was born in 1938 in Salford, Lancashire. He was educated in South Africa at King Edward VII School, Johannesburg, and the University of Witwatersrand. His many years of contributing to naval magazines have made him an expert on the design and construction of British warships. In the 1970s he was one of the editors of the Warship Profiles series and the first editor of Conway Maritime Press's Warship annual, a job he resumed in 1996. He was also a major contributor to the Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships series. He has written numerous books and articles on naval history and technology including Send a Gunboat!, Warships of the World and The Royal Navy Submarine Service: A centennial history.


A fascinating selection of ships.

Before settling down to read this book, I began by glancing through the pages to see what sort of warship might be regarded as the world’s worst. The inclusion of the "K" class submarine did not surprise me but the Yamato, Graf Spee and Hood - I thought these were the outstanding ships of their day. Then, having read the narrative for each vessel, it became quite clear why they are included.

"The World’s Worst Warships" is a hard-back book measuring 10" x 8" containing almost 200 pages of detailed information on a carefully chosen selection of warship types. Commencing with the Monitors of the American Civil War, the Author brings us through his book; chapter-by-chapter and development-by-development, as this particular type of war machine evolves and improves. Each chapter becomes a fascinating read and the book is well illustrated with a generous selection of line-drawings and historic photographs. Incidentally, all illustrations are courtesy of "Chrysalis Images." Chrysalis Books are the parent publishing company and I suspect many readers will find some of the images to be new and previously unpublished.

At the beginning of the book, it is very easy for the reader to mock the early efforts of those building the very first iron-clads - the benefits of hindsight and all that. Later on, however, we can only stand in awe as we learn of the political thinking and sheer dogmatism that surrounded the design of this and the building of that. To think that the one country which truly recognised the value of the Aircraft Carrier right at the outbreak of WW2 would also insist on building two Yamato class Battleships - the construction of which almost bankrupted the nation and also even deprived the country’s fishermen of their nets. It’s all in there.

This is a work of reference to interest ship’s historians the world over. I also suspect it will be much sought after by Scuba Divers who look for the reasons why this wreck or that wreck is where it is today.


Conway Maritime Press: The Age of Sail

The International Annual of the Historic Sailing Ship: Volume 1

Edited by Nicholas Tracy

Publication: February 2003 RRP: £30.00 Hbk ISBN: 0 85177 925 5

'Save yourselves!', he cried, `Save yourselves - if you can!' Almost paralysed with fatigue and terror, they threw on what clothes they could find and rushed up on deck. They were thunderstruck by the sense of immediate and inevitable danger. The seaman, too conscious of the hopelessness of any exertion, stood in speechless agony, certain that in a few minutes they must meet the destruction which menaced them.'

And in fact, in 1795, Admiral Christian's fleet met its tragic end. During a savage storm, six ships were hurried onto a Dorset beach in the space of one hour and most of the hundreds on board were killed. The greatest British overseas expedition of the century had ended in disaster even before it began.

This dramatic account, taken from original documents, is one of several in a new annual publication - The Age of Sail - which examines all aspects of maritime warfare from 1500 to 1860, including warship development, maritime strategy, naval campaigns, fighting tactics, and naval social life and infrastructure.

Although the design of the sailing ship changed little during these years, huge advances occurred in fighting tactics, naval administration, and means of combating disease and ill health. Many causes of personal injury resulted from the accidental explosion of guns. Caused by overloading and the rapid rate of fire achieved by British gunners, severe burns, wounds and fractures were not uncommon. During a battle in 1788 the ratio of killed to wounded among the French was 1:1 but only 1:4 among the British!

Containing reviews, notes and queries, a gallery and a section with important original documents, The Age of Sail will be the foremost resource for the historian and naval enthusiast as well as the general reader.

Contains contributions from distinguished members of the international maritime community and edited by major naval historian, Nicholas Tracey.

For those who have an interest in Sir John Jervis, Earl St Vincent; I am sure this will include many Boy/Junior Seamen who started their Naval life at HMS St Vincent, the book contains a chapter on the rift between Nelson and St Vincent over Prize money it seems Nelson needed the money to keep his mistress in comfort. For a whole year of our lives we were faced with Sir John every time we went or came back from ashore.

THE AGE OF SAIL annual explores all aspects of maritime and naval history during the period of the historic sailing ship. This includes topics such as maritime strategy, naval campaigns, fighting tactics, social life, naval infrastructure, maritime finance and insurance, exploration, merchant shipping, maritime art and literature, archaeology, ship development and construction, modern refurbishment and reconstruction.

Contents of Volume I

The destruction of admiral christian's fleet, 1795 by edwina boult

Naval surgery in the time of nelson by surgeon admiral sir james watt

The expedition to lorient, 1746 by professor richard harding

 St Vincent: the rift with nelson by peter trew

Lord cochrane in chile:

Heroism, plots and paranoia by brian vale

`To the imperial mind'- the secret war plan of lord dundonald kronstadt and sevastopol by charles stephenson

Full of mysts flying and fading: exploration of the coast of maine by henry hudson by donald johnson

Early trading voyages in hudson bay, 1700-1750 by william glover

The sloop-of-war hms swift: an archaeological approach by cristian murray,

Dolores elkin & damian vainstub efficiency in dockyard administration 1660-1800: a reassessment by ann coats

Marine plates from the microcosm by nicholas tracy `

The most uncomfortable ship': a voyage aboard the polly woodside in 1904 by ann gibson

The `sextant' section

From the archives: the 24 gun frigate seahorse by peter goodwin

News, diary, notes and queries, reviews & gallery

"HMS St Vincent My pages on the Boys/Juniors Training Establishment"

Every Man will Do His Duty

An Anthology of First-Hand Accounts from the Age of Nelson

Edited by Dean King with John B Hattendorf

Published by Conway Maritime Press, PBK Original, £6.99

If you served in the Royal Navy two dates will always be with you, Trafalgar and Glorious First of June in 1794, to which if you were a St Vincent boy you can add 14th Feb 1797 (The Battle of St Vincent)

Nelson’s Great Signal is recalled in H.H.S. Victory by Kenneth Fenwick, Cassell 1959.

“When the Victory was about a mile and a half from the enemy line, says Blackwood, `I was walking with him [Nelson] on the poop when he said, "I'll now amuse the fleet with a signal"; and he asked me if I did not think there was one thing yet wanting. I answered that I thought the whole of the fleet seemed very clearly to understand what they were about, and to vie with each other who should first go nearest the Victory or Royal Sovereign.'

Nelson then went over to Pasco : His Lordship came to me on the poop, and after ordering certain signals to be made, about a quarter to noon said, "Mr Pasco, I want to say to the fleet, ENGLAND CONFIDES THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY. YOU must be quick, for I have one more to add, which is for close action."

`I replied, "If your Lordship will permit me to substitute expects for confides, the signal will sooner be completed, because the word expects is in the vocabulary, and confides must be spelt." His Lordship replied in haste, and in seeming satisfaction, "That will do, Pasco: make it directly."

`As the last hoist was hauled down, Lord Nelson turned to Captain Blackwood, who was standing by him, with, "Now I can do no more. We must trust to the great Disposer of all events and the justice of our cause. I thank God for this great opportunity of doing my duty."

`When Lord Nelson's message had been answered by a few ships in the van, he ordered me to make the signal for close action, and keep it up. Accordingly I hoisted Number 16 [Engage the enemy more closely] at the topgallant mast-head, and there it remained until shot away.'

Blackwood says of the signal of England's expectation, 'the shout with which it was received throughout the fleet was truly sublime,' and Surgeon Beatty states that it 'was spread and received throughout the fleet with enthusiasm. It is impossible adequately to describe by any language the lively emotions excited in the crew of the Victory when this propitious communication was made known to them.'

While this may have been true of the Victory and some other ships, there were many officers and men who knew nothing about it until afterwards. Some ships never even logged the signal, and in others the captains, on being handed it by the signal staff, did not trouble to pass it on to their subordinates. Moreover, it seems never to have been received at all by some ships in the Victory's column. This was probably due to the flags being obscured by the sails of ships between the Victory and those that did not receive it, or possibly the flags, drooping in the feeble wind, could not be distinguished.

We are reminded here that Patrick O'Brian's best-selling novels recreate the world of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars in dazzling detail. Now this new book, Every Man Will Do His Duty, reveals the real-life world of the sailors that populate O'Brian's books. Drawn from memoirs, diaries and letters, these remarkable non-fiction accounts portray the authentic voice of naval life in the age of sail.

From battles, fire-ship and cutting-out missions to shipwrecks, press gangs and deadly encounters with cannibals, these tales reveal the reality of life on the high seas. Some accounts are taken from contemporary journals, others from letters written shortly after the events occurred: William Henry Dillon recorded the events of his career - including the several years he spent in a French prison - in letters to his cousin; Bethune's account of the Battle of Cape St Vincent was originally written as a letter to his father; while other stories were written well after the event by aging and often financially strapped seamen.

In addition to English accounts, there are also several American memoirs, including one from sailor, James Durand, who made an unfortunate decision to remain on board his ship, just prior to embarking on a cruise, to avoid any risk of falling prey to the hot press in Plymouth. His shipmates frolicking on land escaped the hot press, James didn't, and his is a bitter account of the treatment he and other Yankee sailors received on board a British man-of-war.

Together these portraits of war enable us to grasp exactly what it was like to fight aboard a sailing man-of-war in the era of Nelson.

A whisper ran along the crew that the stranger ship was a Yankee frigate. The thought was confirmed by the command of "All hands clear the ship for action, ahoy!" ', Samuel Leech's story of the engagement between HMS Macedonian and the USS United States in 1812 is just one of twenty-two first-hand accounts of action in Every Man Will Do His Duty. The events occurred during the War of 1812 and Britain's Great War against France from 1793 to 1815, and include the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson in 1805, and the cruise of the USS Essex in the Pacific in 1813. The vivid tales are of both officers and ordinary seamen, and the incidents take place both aboard and on land.

Every Man Will Do His Duty is a distinguished collection drawn from memoirs, diaries and letters, describing a singular period in maritime history in the words of the men who lived through it.

 Rob Jerrard

Warship 2002 - 2003

Edition: Volume XXV 2002 - 2003

Editor: Antony Preston.


Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Publication Date: April 2003

Warship is devoted to the design, development and service history of the world's combat ships. The contributors are respected authorities, and so detailed and accurate information is the keynote of all the articles - fully supported by plans, tables and photographs.

Volume XXV includes:

The Riddle of the Shells:

The Approach to War 1882-1914

Rivers of ink have been spilt in explaining the failure of British heavy shells at Jutland in 1916. Here, for the first time, lain McCallum shows the origin and history of that failure, analysing the interaction of chemistry, ballistics, industrial capability and human shortcomings in the story. He begins a three-part series with the story of the pre-war developments in shell-types and explosives.

The Aircraft Transport Commandant Teste

Following the First World War, the French Marine Nationale hesitated between the fleet aircraft-carrier and the mobile aviation base. The conversion of the incomplete hull of the bat­tleship Beam to a fleet carrier in the British mould was followed by the construction of a purpose-built transport d'aviation, the Commandant Teste. Here, John Jordan examines the development of a ship that was to remain unique in conception.

The 'Battle' Class Destroyers

The harsh circumstances that the Royal Navy faced in the Second World War, particularly in Norway and the Mediter­ranean, were to result in the need for a new fleet destroyer with a main armament capable of engaging enemy aircraft effec­tively. George Moore considers the evolution and circum­stances surrounding the construction of these controversial warships.

Your Reviewer served on a "Battle Class", HMS Aisne in 1966-67,   I would not describe her as a comfortable ship; to a certain extend I was spoilt by having served the 1st Commissions  of HMS Chichester and HMS Lion .  I think remembering the amount of water on the messdeck of Aisne I am tempted to submit it as an entry for "The World’s Worst Warship".  I was drafted to her because I was a Seaman Radar Specialist and by that time the ship had been converted to a Radar Picket.  There is a nice photograph of Aisne on page 46.  If you served on a "Beautiful Battle" this book gives all the details of the class with photographs and much more.

German Motor Minesweepers at War, 1939-1945

To many students of naval warfare during the Second World War, the German Navy's schneUboote bore the brunt of fighting in coastal waters. However, as Pierre Hervieux shows in his lat­est instalment on the war experiences of minor German war­ships, the raumboote (or R-boats) played a major pan.

Armstrongs and the Italian Navy

The financial constraints that restricted spending on the Ital­ian Navy after the Battle of Lissa in 1866 began to reverse in the 1880s. These constraints had encouraged the building of a few high-quality designs. Peter Brook describes how the British firm of Armstrongs supplied cruiser designs that set a template for successive classes of protected cruisers, the first to enter service with the Italian fleet.

An Argentinian Naval Buildup in the Disarmament Era: the Naval Procurement Act of 1926

The long rivalry between the so-called 'ABC' navies - those of Argentina, Brazil and Chile - spawned battleship programmes before 1914. The rivalry has persisted, as it was only recently that the-old rivals engaged in competition to acquire aircraft carriers. Guillermo J. Montenegro looks at the expansion plans of the Armada Republica Argentina in the 1920s.

Defeat in the Atlantic? Anti-Submarine Warfare 1917-1919

For many historians and laymen, the battle to defeat the U-boats in the First World War is a closed book. Some claim that the victory was a close one, with the likelihood that a resur­gence of U-boat attacks in 1919 would have put the Allies and Associated Powers in a desperate situation. David K Brown RCNC demonstrates that the battle was won decisively in 1918 (after a near defeat in the spring of 1917), tying togeth­er all the complex factors which made the victory possible.

Warship Notes

Short articles on interesting aspects of warship history, heritage and research.

Naval Books of the Year

Reviews of some of the latest publications on naval history.

The Admiralty Fire Control Tables

Between the two world wars, the Royal Navy developed a new generation of elaborate fire control tables. John Brooks describes the debt owed to earlier tables, how they were designed and built, their principal features and their perform­ance in battle.

Navies in Review 2001-02

A summary of the significant naval events and developments, complied by Antony Preston.

Marked for Misfortune

An Epic Tale of Shipwreck, Human Endeavour and Survival in the Age of Sail

Author: Jean Hood

ISBN: 0851779417

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £14.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: August 2003

"The Winterton, East Indiaman, seems to have been marked for misfortune from the moment she was launched" The Times, 23rd August 1793.

"A perfect night under a new moon: no cause for any more concern than a conscientious Third Officer ought to feel when left in charge of one of the world's finest merchant ships, a cargo worth over £100,000 and the lives of nearly 300 souls. Nevertheless, Dale was anxious. The light wind brought a smell of land to his nose, sapping his confidence in their position."

On the night of 19 August 1792 the East India Company ship Winterton struck a reef off the coast of Madagascar. As the ship broke up and her precious cargo of silver dollars was lost to the surf, the passengers and crew were forced to take to the sea in improvised rafts. Traumatised, dehydrated and exhausted, some of them spent days at sea before they finally reached the shore. One of the senior surviving officers, John Dale, organised a daring rescue mission in the Winterton's one remaining boat. Without proper charts and at the mercy of the currents, Dale set out with a small crew towards the Mozambique mainland. With luck, he hoped to return with a ship in a few weeks.

Months later, and after a torturous trek into the hinterland of Mozambique, he returned alone to be confronted by a miserable sight. Climate, living conditions, and a mysterious fever had all taken their toll on the survivors. But their misfortunes did not end there. The strained relationship between Britain and prance following the French Revolution had by this time erupted into war and this was going to play a crucial role in their attempts to reach Calcutta, and ultimately in Dale's efforts to return home.    


An incredible tale of shipwreck, tragedy and more.

I rarely read novels - not even those about ships and the sea - preferring instead to read stories of real adventures - largely because fact is often stranger than fiction. As stories go however, few can be stranger than that which followed the wrecking of the East Indiaman "Winterton" off Madagascar in August 1792. This is a story with all the ingredients one would expect to find in a novel; and more!

In her book 'Marked for Misfortune,' Jean Hood recounts an epic tale (and epic it truly is) of how this ship, with it's precious cargo of 300,000 silver dollars was wrecked on one of Madagascar's treacherous reefs.  Of how 300 of those who had survived clung to wreckage as it was swept towards a violent, surf tossed, shore and how 40 of their number perished in that surf. Also of how surviving officer John Dale set out for Mozambique in their only boat on a journey that should have taken him 5 weeks; only to return 7 months later to find half of those he had left behind, had died from malaria.

And if that is not enough, it doesn't end there - because on the way home they are captured by the French, twice!

Those on board the Winterton in 1792 were indeed 'Marked for Misfortune' from beginning to end and I congratulate Jean Hood on the enormous amount of research that has gone into a book which is so well written.

I believe every diver who has ever visited, or intends to visit a shipwreck underwater, should read of the price paid by some of those who inadvertently created the object of their diving passion.


The Author Jean Hood grew up in Essex and studied English at the University of Durham. She first came across the Winterton 20 years ago while working as Information Officer for Lloyd's Register of Shipping and resolved to piece together the complex and fascinating true story of John Dale and the other survivors. Jean is also the author of a children's book The Dragon of Brog. She now teaches English and lives in Cheshire with her husband, teenage son and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Building the Steam Navy Dockyards, Technology and the Creation of the Victorian Battle-fleet 1830-1906

Author: David Evans

ISBN:  085177959X

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £30.00 RRP UK

Publication Date: June 2004

If one picture is said to be worth a thousand words then the pictures and diagrams in this fascinating book are worth the price; there are some exciting photographs of past-times, the type that always interest me.  If you served in the Royal Navy you would have at some time been into different building in the Dockyards at Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth (Devonport); but did you consider the history of the building? If not you could read about it and maybe - for the first time appreciate why it was laid out as it was and for the first time understand and enjoy the memory.

*           This is said to be the first major work in a generation to examine the shore­based infrastructure of the Royal Navy's dockyards during the nineteenth century.

*           Fully illustrated with photographs, plans and drawings, many reproduced for the first time.

*           Specially commissioned by English Heritage, this work is an historical and archaeological journey through the Royal Navy in the Victorian era.

*           Provides an excellent background and useful guide to the many surviving dockyard buildings of this fascinating period.

By the end of the Napoleonic wars, the shore-based facilities of the Royal Navy employed nearly 16,000 people in the UK and formed the greatest manufacturing complex in the world, a direct consequence of the Royal Navy's role as Britain's first line of defence. The importance of the dockyards increased drastically throughout the nineteenth century, when many technological developments transformed the Royal Navy forever - culminating with the symbolic end of the Victorian naval era with the completion of HMS Dreadnought in 1906.

The facilities at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham, Portland and Sheerness, have closely guarded the secrets of the Royal Navy's built heritage for many generations. This work, commissioned by English Heritage and heavily reliant on documentary evidence, provides a full and vivid account of the development of the dockyards, their infrastructure, supply and workings as the continuing introduction of new technology forged a revolution in ship design and construction. It has made some significant new discoveries and, when placed in the broader context of the Industrial Revolution and other comparable military sites, has contributed to our understanding of the national and international significance of what has survived.

Amongst all the iron and steel, full weight is given to the human aspect: not just the driving force of men like William Scamp and Colonel G T Greene - whose vision and flair for innovative workshops and pioneering constructional systems resulted in the construction of many buildings that exist to this day-but also to the many individuals who were employed in a whole range of tasks in the steam factories, workshops, mills and building slips.

This book will appeal to all readers with an interest in the Royal Navy during the age of steam, and to a wider audience of enthusiasts, industrial archaeologists and those visiting the surviving structures of the Victorian Navy.

The Author:

David Evans began his scholarly career by teaching Mediaeval English Literature at the University of Exeter, with a special interest in the art and architecture of the period, which eventually came to fruition when he co-authored "The Great East Window of Exeter Cathedral" with the late Professor Chris Brooks (Exeter, 1988). While devising historical projects for the Manpower Services Commission he became aware of the enormous amount of documentation on the built environment preserved in the archives of the Admiralty and the War Office. For the last twenty years, he has been working as an architectural historian and researcher, mostly on the military-industrial complexes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

John Paul Jones A Restless Spirit

Author: Peter Vansittart

ISBN: 1-86105-621-4

Publishers: Conway Maritime

Price £19.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 19th August 2004



Author Peter Vansittart uncovers the mysteries behind this difficult man.

Often considered the founder of the American Navy, John Paul Jones was a Scottish seaman who was commanding ships from the age of 12.

Fleeing to America after a murder charge, he was the only rebel in the US War of Independence to land on English soil, attempting to fire at Whitehaven Harbour.  Off Flamborough Head with thousands watching, he captured an English flagship.

During his adventurous career he was knighted by Louis XVI, created an Admiral by Catherine the Great and awarded the Congress Gold Medal for Valour by George Washington.

A controversial character whose reputation wildly varied across continents, he was considered a 'bogeyman' by 18'" Century English children.         

With a part to play in the French and American revolutions, John Paul Jones truly helped shape the international landscape.

John Paul Jones (1747-92) may have been the first to carry the stars and stripes into British waters.  A quarrelsome; highly original Scottish seaman, who was at sea from the age of 12, Jones commanded slave and merchant ships until he fled to America following a murder charge.

 In America he is often regarded as the founder of the US Navy. Controversies about this - and about his difficult themes of this larger-than-life adventure story of violence, triumph and disappointment set in the era of the French and American Revolutions amid the growth of Russia as a world power.

"I Wish To Have No Connection With Any Ship That Does Not Sail Fast, For I Intend To Go In Harm's Way" John Paul Jones

"...The Principal Hope Of America's Future Efforts On The Ocean" Thomas Jefferson On John Paul Jones

"The English Nation May Hate Me, But I Will Force Them To Esteem Me Too." John Paul Jones

"And every schoolboy know that John Paul Jones was Only an unfair American pirate" Ogden Nash, "England Expects", 1936

The Author:

Peter Vansittart is an honorary Fellow of Worcester College Oxford and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has published 26 novels and five history books.