"Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews" PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

Conway Maritime Press, Anovabooks
A Seaman's Pocket Book June 1943
The second larger scan is of an original which has a small bullet hole through it. I understand this was not the result of enemy action and the owner lived 81 years.
By Authority of the Lords Commissioners of The Admiralty
Introduction by Brian Lavery

ISBN: 184486037

Publishers: Conway, an imprint of Anova Books

Price £6.99

Publication Date: September 2006

Publisher's Title Information

‘A true seaman is always ready to act in time to avoid injury to his ship or his shipmates, or to himself.  He does the right thing as he has learned how the sea behaves…treat your ship as a personal friend - after all, you have to live together’

A Seaman’s Pocket Book, June 1943

At the height of the Second World War this small pocket-book, outlining all the basic tasks a seaman needed to know to perform his duties efficiently, was issued to all ratings on board ships of the Royal Navy.

Emphasising the need for all seamen to have 'sea sense', the handbook, in straight period prose, explains the terms, skills and conventions of shipboard life; a life that required a common language and where failure to respond to orders instantly could mean the difference between life and death.

With an introduction by one of Britain's leading maritime historians, this reproduction is a real mixture of wartime nostalgia and historical authenticity.


Faithfully reproduced, with a short introduction by Brian Lavery, which explains the importance of a book like this to a navy that had to take on vast numbers of civilians or Hostilities Only men to meet the manning needs of the war, this volume provides a real mixture of wartime nostalgia and historical authenticity. It makes a world now lost to us accessible again, explaining as it does the terms, skills and conventions of ship board life, a life that required a common language, and where failure to respond to orders instantly could mean the difference between life and death.

The book is sure to appeal to those who served in the war as well as the current generation who are becoming increasingly interested in the role their grandparents, fathers and uncles played during that time.

Brian Lavery was, until recently, Curator of Naval History at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and is a renowned expert on the sailing navy. He has written a number of best-selling titles on maritime history and his latest work - Churchill's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1939-1945.


A Seaman’s Pocket-Book

In his Introduction Brian Lavery refers to the Manual of Seamanship, a revised edition of which was published 1932-1937. I have a copy of Vol I reprinted in 1942, priced 7s 6d (38p). I also have Vol II which is BR 67 (2/51) reprinted 1956. My Royal Navy certificate of service records 15 March 1963, passed professionally for Leading Seaman and 19 October 1962 issued BR 67 (II). This is a little confusing as the dates are out of order.

Why and how did this much smaller version come about?  It seems it was because of the shortage pf paper, plus the need to train up hostilities only seamen ratings.

By the time I joined we all issued with BR (1938) Naval Rating handbooks.  I have a 1965 copy, not the smaller one I was issued with in 1962.  I suspect that the Seaman’s Pocket Book was very welcome at the time because it is such a handy size - it really is for a pocket measuring in old money, 49/10 x 74/10.  I would have been very glad of a copy had it been available for us in 1956.   I want to set you a test, can you describe or explain the following:

Marry the falls?
What is a Lug-less joining shackle?
What is a Blake Slip?
Where would you find a Fairlead?
Where would you have found Robinson’s
disengaging gear?
How many bells would have been rung at
0300 hrs? What are rowlocks and crutches?

Answers are not required on a postcard,
talk amongst yourselves at 'Stand easy'!

Enough, enough, perhaps it reminds you of times gone that you would rather forget, I doubt it because we remember the good times. 

If you still mess about in boats or love to read Naval books this could be very handy.  I certainly like the quote on the rear cover, "Jumpers.... must be pulled down to the full extent.  Bulky things must not be stored in the pockets:  They cause an unsightly bulge, and are apt to fall out".  Presumably since females now go to sea this will need an amendment!

A super little book, a friend who was an HO rating in 1944 said he not issued with one but always wanted one, perhaps at 80 it’s a little late!

Rob Jerrard

Churchill's Navy The Ships, Men and Organisation 1939- 1945


ISBN: 1844860353

Publishers: Conway, an imprint of Anova Books

Price £40

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher's Title Information

A full account of all aspects of the Royal Navy - social and technical - during the Second World War.

Contemporary paintings, photographs and line drawings from naval manuals and Admiralty fleet orders.

Presented in full-colour throughout in Conway's large reference format.

In this timely follow-up to his best-selling Nelson's Navy, Brian Lavery has turned his attention to the Royal Navy of the Second World War.

Delving into all areas of the Royal Navy, Lavery casts a lucid eye over the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation that was put under acute strain during the war period, yet rose to the challenge with initiative and determination. The merits of technological advances in ship design, armament and sensors as well as the endurance of naval customs and tradition are all discussed and set in context.

Churchill's Navy is essential for anyone who wants to cut through the myth and propaganda to understand the reality of life in the Royal Navy during those crucial years.

Part 1 The Navy in 1939 The Navy in 1939   

Part II The Background to Naval Power My Lords of the Admiralty

Admirals and Fleets

Intelligence and Communication

The Arts of the Seaman


Part III Enemies and Allies Enemies


The Merchant Navy

Other Services

PART IV The Ships Ship Design






V The People The Administration of Naval Personnel

Naval Medicine

Naval Law and Discipline

Naval Custom and Tradition

Part VI Officers and Ratings Officers

The Higher Rates

Jack Afloat and Ashore

Engineers and Others

The Royal Marines

The Wrens

Part VII The Battle Fleet Ships in the Battle Fleet

Life in the Battle Fleet

The Fleet in Battle

Naval Bases

Naval Aviation Aircraft Carriers

The Personnel of the Fleet Air Arm


Aircraft Techniques and Tactics

Squadrons and Bases

Part IX The Submarine Service The Organisation


Submarine Techniques

Part X Escorts Escort Vessels

Life in the Escorts

Escort Techniques

Escort Bases

Part: XII The Coastal Navies Coastal Forces

Mine Warfare The Patrol Service and Harbour Defence

Part Amphibious Warfare Combined Operations Personnel

Landing Vessels Combined Operations Techniques


Why Churchill's Navy?  When Churchill took office again as First Lord of the Admiralty on the first day of the Second World War, a famous signal went out to the fleet: 'Winston is back'.

Before I begin, let me say that the title should read 'The Ships, Personnel and Organisation'.  The Title is, inter alia, 'Men', yet it has a chapter on 'The Wrens' and a photograph of one on the rear cover.  Only yesterday I had a conversation with two men, who said that both their wives had been WRN Boats' Crews in WWII.  "Join the Wrens and Free a Man for the Fleet"  There were also the shipyard and dockyard workers who supported them.

Where would you begin to review a book of this magnitude?  Whatever your particular interest you will find a section covering it.  Working through the main twelve headlines, which are sub-divided up to a total of fifty, indicated the task ahead of me, which pales into insignificance compared to that of the author. 

We must of course start with the navy in 1939, which had dipped somewhat since the beginning of the twentieth century from being on the crest of a wave into the hard times of 1918-1922 and having the 1922 Treaty forced upon it at Washington.  This didn’t end there, because the treaty was reaffirmed in 1930. 

In 1931 the crew of several ships of the Atlantic Fleet mutinied against pay cuts, which would bear hardest on long-serving seamen.  I well remember discussing this with retired RN seamen in the pubs at Portsmouth in the late 50s and early 60s and they were still angry.

Part 1 of this book explains the lead up to WWII in some detail and it is worth reading thoroughly to understand how the Royal Navy stood at the brink of war.  So how was it? How stood Nelson’s Navy, would he have been proud of what they had done to it?

 “The fleet that went to War in September 1939 consisted of 129,000 officers and men, supplemented by 73,000 reservists. Including Australian and New Zealand forces it had 317 operational warships, consisting of 12 battleships and battlecruiser, 8 aircraft carriers, 58 cruisers, 100 fleet destroyers, 101 escort vessels and 38 submarines.

Its record in the inter-war years was not one of failure. The enormous spirit of the Royal Navy had been maintained through many tribulations. It was a much more flexible organisation than in 1914, both tactically and in its ability to take new personnel and ideas. All this would be reflected in its "-wartime performance”.

As a member of the HMS ST Vincent Association I found a reference to that Establishment in Part VIII, “Candidates were selected by interview and stiff medical examination. They were sent to HMS St Vincent at Gosport for initial training, under the watchful eyes of Chief Petty Officer Wilmott ‘of the yellow fangs’ and the bloodshot and unremitting eye and a voice like a rusty winch, and Petty Officer Trim who had been twenty years a postman and was not relishing his recall to the colours.  ( Sea Flight, Hugh Popham A Fleet Air Arm Pilot’s Story William Kimber 1954) They learned naval discipline in the same way as all new recruits, by foot drill. They were trained in a certain amount of seamanship, for they had to co-operate with ships and report on enemy activities. They also learned about the navigation and the theory of flight before being sent on to flying training. They were also finally, selected for further training as a pilot or observer”.

This book really is a must for anyone interested in the Royal Navy of this period.

Rob Jerrard

The author

Brian Lavery was, until recently, Curator of Naval History at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and is a renowned expert on the sailing navy.

He has written a number of best-selling titles on maritime history including Nelson's Navy, now in its twelfth reprint, the highly successful Jack Aubrey Commands and The Island Nation.

The Aircraft Carrier Victorious

Edition: 2004

Author: Ross Watton

ISBN: 0851779964

Publishers: Conway Maritime

Price £25.00

Publication Date: 2004

I served in HMS Victorious from 2 April 1963 until 9 August 1964, so it was a great pleasure to receive this book for review.  She had a long and distinguished career starting on 4 May 1937 when she was laid down until 1969.  Having survived WWII, modernisation began on 23 October 1950 but was not completed until January 1958 when she appeared with the familiar 984 radar that was to figure largely in my life aboard as an RP2 (Radar Plotter 2nd Class).  

The purpose of the modernisation was to bring the carrier up to the required state for operating the much faster and heavier jet fighters which were being brought into service by the 1950s.  It was thought cheaper to modernise an existing carrier than to build from scratch. The Admiralty instituted a 9-year modernisation plan in 1948. With the start of the Cold War, Russia had become the main threat, but it seemed unlikely that a war would break out before 1957. Victorious was chosen as the best candidate from the Illustrious class for such a refit, although Formidable was originally provisionally selected.  Implacable and Indefatigable were also scheduled for similar modification in 1953-55 and 1954-57 respectively, and Indomitable for conversion to a deck landing training ship in 1957.  With the new Eagle and Ark Royal due for completion during the first half of the 1950s, the Royal Navy would be equipped with five fleet carriers by 1957.

Pilots joined with their aircraft.   I joined by a slightly slower method.  We did join for the same reason; because of aircraft.  I was involved with controlling them.  She was the first ship and the only one of three to be fitted with the 984 3D Radar and comprehensive display system (CDS) which revolutionised aircraft control.  As an RP2 I was an 'Intercept Officer’s Assistant'.  We worked as a team of two on these new displays and controlled one aircraft - a Buccaneer by my time, and we would place the aircraft in a perfect attacking position.  984 was certainly ahead of its time and I recall one conversation by radio with a US Navy pilot refusing to believe we had him on radar at that distance and what’s more we knew his exact height.  It was only after he changed height and we confirmed it that he believed us.

Model makers will consult this book looking for the finer details.  However, those who join a ship will immediately concern themselves about the accommodation and food.  On Page 86 at D6 a drawing of a ‘three-tier bunk’ fitted after modernisation is shown, I occupied a middle section (some of the time).  However the messdeck number does not come to mind and I have been unable to trace it from the very detailed drawings of the layout at D3 and D4.  If only I could remember the number, was it 20?

Catering is discussed.  I recall it was of a very high-class in Victorious with a cold buffet served at lunchtime, including whole dressed salmon.  

Pages 16-19 give a career summary.  Needless to say this summary is very brief – the period of my entire commission is summed up in a few words.

There are some magnificent photographs of Victorious (the Mighty V or Vic for short) and those on Pages 18 and 19 taken in 1959 are stunning, as is the 1966 shot of her arriving in Valetta, Malta.  The one of her in Fareham Creek stripped of all fittings is very sad – the end of a long career.  There are some photographs on my website at http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/vict/vict.htm

The technical drawings are in amazing detail.  I could spend hours trying to pinpoint certain parts of the ship which occupied my time onboard.  Even the boats are covered by detailed drawings.  She carried one of my favourites, the 35-foot fast motorboat which I crewed and for which I was later Coxswain, also the 27-foot whaler and the Pinnace.  

There have been other books on Victorious eg 'HMS Victorious 1937-1969' by Neil McCart, which details each commission with facts.  However if it is technical detail you seek, this Anatomy of the Ship Series’ will be the one you want and Victorious does not disappoint.  Happy Days.

Rob Jerrard

The 44-Gun Frigate USS Constitution "Old Ironsides"

Author: Karl Heinz Marquardt

ISBN: 1844860108

Publishers: Conway Maritime

Price £25 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2005

'Old Ironsides', as the USS Constitution is affectionately known, acquired her nickname during the dramatic confrontation with HMS Guerriere in 1812, during which the enemy's shot failed to penetrate her strong oak hull. By this time she was already fifteen years old. As one of the six original frigates ordered by George Washington on 27 March 1794, she and her sisters represent the birth of the US Navy and she occupies a special place in its history.

In 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law the repair and restoration of Constitution as a museum vessel, and she has remained one of the major visitor attractions of the Boston National Historic Park since its inception twenty years later. In this brand new addition to the well-established and highly popular 'Anatomy' series, the author has compared draughts from the twentieth-century restorations with original plans from 1796 and drawings from her major refit in the 1840s, to produce, for the first time, an accurate set of plans for the frigate as she would have appeared during the Anglo-American War.

A full description of one of the United States' most famous historic preserved ships in her 1812-1815 appearance

More than 250 perspective and 3-view drawings, with in-depth descriptive keys, of every detail of the ship - general arrangements, hull construction, fittings, masts and yards, rigging and sails, and armament Pictorial section showing full-view and on-board photographs

One large-scale plan on the reverse of the fold-out jacket

A complete anatomy of the ship in words, photographs and drawings.

From the Author’s Forward

Putting pen to paper to tell the story and explain the lines and details of all existing ship might look like a breeze (and in some cases it is), but it becomes an obstacle course when trying to envisage only the fighting 'teenage years' of a ship.  The period under observation goes back to the years of opposition between the young United States Navy and the British Royal Navy around 1812, when USS Constitution was a glorious war-horse.   Her 1812 appearance does not match that experienced by present-day visitors aboard the surviving snip.  Not only does her exterior appearance differ, but also many of the 'original pieces' - pumps, anchor-chains, capstans etc. - are from a later period of the ships life.

Early major overhauls were purpose driven to update fighting capacity, to turn her later into a Navy Academy training vessel and at the end into a receiving ship.  The idea of reconstructing an old pump, oven or capstan would have sounded absurd during that period; they were replaced with available new and more modern items.  It was neither practicable nor fashionable for a commissioned ship to utilise a restored turn-of-the-century stern or capstan and our modern desire of reliving history just did not exist.  In reality it would be much easier to reconstruct a complete 1812-1815 replica of  'Old Ironsides' from keel to truck rather than trying to re-shape her many­ times-repaired surviving hu11 into that specific time-frame, but would it be the same,

With draughts only known from her planning stage of around 1796 and others from her major overhaul before the 1844-45 circumnavigation, today's

Drawings were established in 1927 and later, in short during twentieth century reconstructions.  They provide the actual lines of the ship and the status of stern and head as they appeared when the new drawings were made.  Every additional part of the reconstruction of the ship in her sailing days must be considered like any other restoration: it has to be seen as an individual interpretation of known facts, whether general or specific, which means that there are many possible interpretations. In this we have to include the current sail plan, rigging arrangements, the boats and many other items.

In defence of the ship's current status as a museum ship in the Boston National Historic Park, it must be acknowledged that it is much easier to bring individual thoughts to paper than to apply them three-dimensionally to an old hull.  Even with the final goal being an 1812 likeness, what can be achieved is determined by construction and financial restraints.  Keeping the ship afloat has priority- over any alteration of details towards a specified period.  This should be understood when considering why this jewel of the US Navy is still, even after the latest reconstruction efforts, not a mirror image of her youthful years when she earned her popular nickname 'Old Ironsides'.

Karl Heinz Marquardt is an internationally acclaimed draughtsman who contributes regularly to Conway's modelling quarterly Model Shipwright and has written 18th Century Rigs & Rigging and The Global Schooner, along with two other Anatomy of the Ship volumes on Cook's Endeavour and Darwin's Beagle, for the Conway list.

The Series

This highly acclaimed series aims to provide the finest documentation of individual ships and ship types ever published.  It is a radical departure from the usual monograph approach, which concentrates on either the ship's service history, its technical details or external appearance.  All of these aspects are included in the Anatomy of the Ship', but what makes the series unique is a complete set of superbly executed line drawings - the conventional 3-view type of plan as well as explanatory perspective views with fully descriptive keys.  Although elaborate drawings are extremely popular in aviation publications, this is the first attempt to document ships in similar depth - literally down to the nuts and bolts.

These drawings are accurate, visually exciting and totally comprehensive, offering ship buffs, historians and model makers a novel insight into the technicalities of each ship type covered.

The jail that went to Sea.


Peter Haining




Robson Books



Publication Date:

Hardback, 2003

Fly sheet Summary

In 1941 the British people had their backs to the wall in their lone fight against the might of Hitler's Germany. America was neutral and the violent and dangerous underworld of Glasgow became the starting point for one of the most amazing and, until now, untold episodes of the war.

This is an extraordinary account of the most unlikely crew ever to take a ship to war. Government officials, desperate for men to sail merchant ships across the Atlantic to collect vital equipment and supplies from North America, devised a plan to enlist convicts from Barlinnie Prison and use them to crew a 25,000-ton merchantman, the George Washington. This unprecedented and dangerous operation was probably the nearest thing to press gang tactics since the days of Lord Nelson. Quite simply a choice of death or glory, this book relates the extraordinary story of a motley band of seaman through the accounts of two survivors, the log and memories of Captain David Bone and documents finally de-restricted by the Public Records Office in London.

Reviewer's Comments

Like many ex-navy people I enjoy reading books about the sea, but with the emphasis generally being on books about the Royal Navy. When asked to review this book I thought it would prove to be very interesting, as it would give me more of an insight to life in the merchant service during the Second World War.

By the summer of 1941 Britain was suffering merchant ship losses at a rate of loss equivalent of 7 million tons/year - we were losing them at three times the rate we could build new ones! Then Roosevelt came up with the Lend-Lease agreement but with proviso that ships need to be manned by British crews. With our manpower losses mounting the government surreptitiously began scouring the prisons to enlist ex-cons to crew some of these vessels.

Although I found the book to be interesting reading it, sadly, failed to fully live up expectation. This was because it dealt more with the onshore antics of the anti-heroes (a small band of five Bridgeton, Glasgow hoodlums), rather than being a true seafaring story. It also inferred that there were many other ex-cons recruited, but provides no detail on any of these.

The book covers the activities of the five 'Bridgeton boys' from mid-August 1941 when they left Barlinnie Prison and were coerced (press-ganged?) into joining the merchant service - to mid-March 1942 when the George Washington, the ship they had joined, was handed back to the Americans. During this period, the only time they spent at sea was the few weeks on the voyage out to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Pasteur and two short 120-mile trips to New York — one to carry out sea trails, the other to return the worn out liner back to the Americans.

In between the five hoodlums, on full pay from the British government, created mayhem in Halifax, then Montreal and to a lesser extent in New York. While in New York, two of the infamous gang of five, McCormack and McCourt, jumped ship - and were never heard of again! The other three then caused so many problems on the return leg to Halifax that they were kicked out of the boiler room and put on to other duties. They also plotted to mutiny and take the ship to South America but the skipper, aided by the crew (including some stokers from HMS Manchester) quickly knocked this plan on the head. After the ship was handed back the other three then disappeared and were also never seen again. The whole episode ended up being a massive waste of British money!

During the voyage out to Canada the ship did have an amazing escape when, halfway across the Atlantic, it came under surface gunfire from U402. It managed to evade the shelling efforts of the subs gun crew and eventually the skipper gave up the chase and turned away towards home - apparently the U-boat had used up all its torpedoes on earlier victims.

The story is based on unfinished research carried out by a famous historian (W.O.G Lofts) and completed by Haining, who seems to be better known for his editing of horror anthologies and writing of Dr Who stories. The book dwells rather heavily on some of this historian's research material and most of the onshore activities of our ant-heroes are based on the recollections of a few of the other crew members.

Interestingly, Haining mentions a British destroyer - HMS Manchester - that was being repaired at the League Island, Philadelphia yard at the same time as the conversion work was being carried out on the George Washington. As mentioned earlier Captain Drew, the skipper of Manchester had loaned Captain Bone some of his engine-room staff for the brief journey back to Halifax, but the ship in question must have been the Southampton-class cruiser - not a destroyer. I had only recently finished reading a super book - Destroyer's War by AD Divine - which covered the exploits of HMS Firedrake and the other destroyers of the 8th flotilla. She sustained severe damage to her boiler room from a 500Kg bomb while involved in the same Malta convoy as Manchester. They accompanied each other across to the US for repairs - Firedrake to Boston and Manchester to Philadelphia.


The George Washington was given a major refit by the Americans with new oil-fired water tube boilers and converted to being a US troop carrier. Over the next three years she made numerous successful runs to the Far East carrying up to 5,000 US troops. On one visit to Bombay she was berthed near a British armed merchant cruiser - HMS Circassia. The commander of this ship was none other than Captain Bone, who was now nearing 70 but was still holding down a very senior position in the merchant service.

Mike Welfare

Book Reviews Editor’s Note

Mike is correct about HMS Manchester, which was a Southampton Class Cruiser.  She arrived in Philadelphia 23rd September 1941, according to George Luscombe who served in the ship and wrote an account in "Total Germany", published in 1999 by The Pentland Press Ltd.  Manchester’s repairs finished 27th Feb 1942 and she returned in March to Portsmouth Dockyard to finish repairs.  She was sunk 13th August 1942.

Rob Jerrard

The Age of The Galley

Edition: Paperback 2004

Author: William James

ISBN: 0851779557

Publishers: Conway Maritime Press

Price £16.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: October 2004

For thousands of years organised naval warfare was the exclusive preserve of the galley. Oars provided a level of control and manoeuvrability beyond the capabilities of the contemporary sailing ship, and not experienced again until the era of the screw propeller. Precise control allowed squadrons and fleets to operate together, as a unit, which promoted the evolution of early fighting tactics. However, for fleets to be more effective than collections of individual vessels, they needed training and organisation, from which the first state-funded navies were to develop.

The Age of the Galley charts this development from the earliest paleolithic craft, some of which were paddled rather than rowed, to the classical trireme and its Roman and Byzantine successors. However, as a warship the galley survived the coming of the three-masted sailing ship and even adapted itself to gunpowder artillery, so later chapters are devoted to the medieval and Renaissance fleets that served the later maritime powers of the Mediterranean. The principal historical chapters are backed by more general sections on the design and oar systems of galleys, on the organisation and infrastructure of galley fleets, and on non-military applications of the galley.

This volume includes:

Paddled and Oared Ships before the Iron Age

 The Ancestry of the Trireme 1200-525 BC

The Trireme

Hellenistic Oared Warships 399-31 BC

Fleets of the Early Roman Empire 31 BC-AD 324

Late Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic Galleys and Fleets

From Dromon to Galea: Mediterranean Bireme Galleys AD 500-1300

Merchant Galleys

The Naval Architecture and Oar Systems of Ancient Galleys

The Naval Architecture and Oar Systems of Medieval and Later Galleys

Oar Mechanics and Oar Power in Ancient Galleys Oar Mechanics and Oar Power in Medieval and Later Galleys

The Geographical Conditions of Galley Navigation in the Mediterranean

Economics and Logistics of Galley Warfare Naval Installations

The Athenian Navy in the Fourth Century BC

Title: The Royal Navy Handbook

Edition: 1st

Author: Produced by the Defence Procurement Agency

ISBN: 0851779522

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £14.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2003

This is the official MoD guide to the Royal Navy of today and tomorrow - the definitive MoD Guide, with a foreword by Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP and an introduction by 1st Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West.

Definitive information on every type of vessel and aircraft and their weapons systems in service with the Royal Navy around the globe.

The Guide examines strategic forces, the submarine and surface fleets, naval aviation, the Royal Marines Commandos, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and support forces, Joint forces, naval bases and future procurement projects.

Full specifications are given with colour illustrations and plans showing the UK's maritime forces in unprecedented detail.

This is a complete work of reference for the professional and enthusiast alike.

This is a super little book - anyone interested in the Royal Navy will want a copy, the colour photographs are of a very high quality and it is full of information about today’s Navy.  Highly recommended.

To find out more about this and other Naval books; and to purchase a copy, go online to www.rjerrard.co.uk and follow the Royal Navy link, or E-mail robjerrard@aol.com

Rob Jerrard

HMS St Vincent, Duncan 972 Class Nov 1956-Dec 1957

RN 1956 - 1968

Title: Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815

Author: Brian Lavery

ISBN:  0851775217

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £35 RRP UK

Publication Date: Reprinted 2000

Cover illustration: An original painting by Geoff Hunt depicting the Hard at Portsmouth.

The popularity of sea-stories set during the Napoleonic Wars bears witness to the great romance associated with the sailing navy at the apogee of its success. Of course, these accounts are fiction and accurate descriptions of either the technicalities or contemporary social conditions are not their main aim, but they whet the appetite for more information.

For all those with this deeper interest in the workings of a great fleet, Nelson's Navy will prove the perfect guide. The book is divided into fourteen thematic sections which deal with the design and construction of ships; with the Navy's central and local administration; with the training and organisation of officers, seaman and marines; with ship administration; and with life at sea. By means of dispassionate descriptions and personal accounts the author reveals a world far removed from the popularly depicted poverty and cruelty of life in the Royal Navy.

Brian Lavery - one of the world's leading authorities on the sailing navy - has produced a book which is truly encyclopaedic in its scope and at the same time eminently readable. Derived from considerable original research, Nelson's Navy is the first single-volume work to cover in such depth this vast and complex subject, and give a clear and authentic picture of the Senior Service as a whole. It will become an important source book for the naval historian, a valuable reference work for the enthusiast, and a revelation to the general reader.

Patrick O'brian, says of the book, ‘There is no royal road to a knowledge of the Navy of Nelson's time ... but Brian Lavery's book is the most nearly regal that I have come across in many years of reading on the subject ... you name it, Nelson's Navy has it.'

THE TIMES says of it, ‘A masterpiece on life in the Senior Service under England's favourite seafaring son.'

Your Reviewer certainly agrees- this is a magnificent book about these times, packed with information and illustrations.  You may read, Alexander Kent, Dudley Pope, C S Forester and others but this is the real thing.  The frontispiece is a detail of Nicholas Pocock’s Nelson’s Ship’s, an imaginary composition depicting five of the ships Nelson distinguished himself in.


Brian Lavery is one of the world's leading authorities on the sailing warship. Apart from contributing numerous articles to magazines and journals, he edited and introduced Deane's Doctrine of Naval Architecture 1670, the earliest full treatise on the subject in English. He is author of the two-volume Ship of the Line, The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War 1600-1815 and of two `Anatomy' volumes, The 74 gun Ship Bellona and The Colonial Merchantman Susan Constant 1605. Nelson's Navy is the culmination of many years of research. He is currently Curator, Ship Technology, at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Title: The Cruiser Belfast, Anatomy of the Ship Series Edition:


Author: Ross Watton

Edition Revised 2003

ISBN: 0851779565

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £25 RRP UK

Illustrations 20 b&w photos & 8pp colour

Publication Date: 2003


HMS Belfast was the last ship I served in - she was not seagoing at that time in 1967/8, but I am still glad for that brief period in a great ship

HMS Belfast was the largest British cruiser of the Second World War and saw distinguished service throughout the conflict, including playing a major part in the destruction of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst. Today she is preserved as an historic monument on the River Thames in London.

The 'Anatomy of the Ship' series aims to provide the finest documentation of individual ships and ship types ever published. What makes the series unique is a complete set of superbly executed line drawings, both the conventional type of plan as well as explanatory views, with fully descriptive keys. These are supported by technical details and a record of the ship's service history.

This volume features a full description of one of Britain's historic preserved Ships.  A veteran of the battle of North Cape in 1943

With over 100 perspective and 3-view drawings. Accompanied by in-depth descriptive keys.

The Author

Ross Watton has also written the Anatomy of the Ship on HMS Warspite.

The Floating Prison

Author: Louis Garneray Translated from the French by Richard Rose

ISBN:  0851779425

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  RRP UK £17.99

Publication Date: 15th October 2003

Louis Garneray (1783-1857) is famous as one of France's greatest marine artists. He went to sea at the age of 13, served on board privateers in the Indian Ocean and was captured by the British in 1806. He was confined until 1814 amongst thousands of prisoners o£ war in the hulks, the floating prisons, of Portsmouth Harbour.

Richard Rose is the author of the acclaimed social history Pembroke People. He has done extensive research into Napoleonic prisoners of war. The material he has included with The Floating Prison is the first serious and accurate study of life on the hulks to have appeared for many years.

Boy Seamen who joined the Royal Navy and Trained at HMS St Vincent, Gosport, Hampshire, (Turk Town), will remember their Training Establishment’s link with the Hulks.  Behind St Vincent was an area known as the "French Cemetery".  The following description is given by Tom Robson in his book "Boy Seaman RN"

"In 1908 a battleship of 19,250 tons was built at Portsmouth to become the next HMS St Vincent, until she was scrapped in 1921.

The first Boys Shore Training Establishment, HMS Ganges, had been operating successfully since 1906 so it was decided by the Admiralty to open a second establishment. This was to be HMS ST Vincent at Gosport. The Barracks at Forton was thus designated.  Forton Barracks had been built in 1713 as a Naval Hospital.  At the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1756 it was converted into a Prison Camp for prisoners of the French and American Wars. The graves of the French prisoners were behind the new Seamanship Block of 'Hawke Division' and a detail of Boys were ordered to remove the Headstones and place them on the perimeter wall to allow cultivation of the land.

Forton then became the home of the Royal Marine Light Infantry for many years until 1923. The official commissioning, for the new role of Boys Training, took place on 17th May 1927 under the command of Captain P L H Noble CVO RN "

A Summary of the book

It is an extraordinary account of nearly 9 Years captivity on the British prison hulks during the Napoleonic Wars.

A dramatic narrative of the author's captivity on board the prison hulks in Portsmouth Harbour from 1806 to 1814.

The book contains a Foreword, Epilogue and notes that illuminate the history of the hulks and complement the narrative.

It contains 16 pages of plates in colour and black and white, including. unpublished examples of Garneray's art, with over 50 illustrations in total

The Floating Prison, Garneray's unique account of his captivity during the Napoleonic wars, is the remarkable record of a young man, captured at sea by the Royal Navy in 1806, who was confined for nearly nine years with hundreds of others in the prison hulks moored off Portsmouth.

Garneray's lucid and sometimes grimly humorous narrative is the longest and most detailed of the few memoirs that chronicle the world of bizarre contrasts that existed in these hulks. Prisoners gambled, starved, fought duels, forged banknotes and made desperate attempts to escape; they also studied, made exquisite ship models and wrote and performed plays. Garneray began a career as an artist in the almost impossible conditions on board, pursued his art with astonishing determination and after his release in 1814 went on to become one of France's greatest marine painters.

The Floating Prison was first published in France in 1851 under the title Mes Pontons and has ever since been accepted as an accurate account of conditions on the hulks and of Garneray's early life. In his commentary Richard Rose examines the story for the first time against contemporary records and reveals unknown facts and an enigma behind the artist's narrative.

"Remember this well; on board the hulks a prudent man never lets himself be carried away by generosity nor by any other feeling whatsoever. You must get used to shutting your heart, your eyes and your ears to all pity."

This bleak advice was given to Louis Garneray in 1806 on his first day as a prisoner of war in one of the British hulks, the former warships used as floating prisons in Portsmouth Harbour.

The Floating Prison is Garneray's unique account of his captivity during the Napoleonic wars.

Original woodcuts designed by Garneray, colour reproductions of his paintings, and illustrations of life on the hulks introduce the reader to a great artist who was also a notable writer. The foreword, notes and appendices by Richard Rose are complementary to Garneray's text, reveal the true stories of French prisoners in Great Britain and are an outstanding contribution to an unknown aspect of maritime history in the Napoleonic era.

Rob Jerrard

Destroyer An Anthology Of First-Hand Accounts Of The War At Sea 1939 - 1945

Author: Edited by Ian Hawkins

Foreword by Len Deighton

Introduction by Rear Admiral John Hervey, CB, OBE, RN, Retd

ISBN: 0851779476 HB & 1844860086 Paperback 2005

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £19.99 HB & £9.99 Paperback

Publication Date: HB 9th January 2004 PB June 2005


The Publishers say "No ships of the Second World War Royal Navy were embroiled in a wider range of tasks than its destroyers. At the heart of many vital operations, they were required to do the 'dirty work' of the navy time and time again. From shepherding Britain's convoy lifelines across the Atlantic, to fighting tooth-and-nail against E-boats in the Channel; from courageous inshore work in support of beleaguered troops, to capturing the keys to hitherto unbreakable German codes, the destroyer was always 'in amongst it' and frequently the first into, and last out of, action."

This is probably true, it would certainly be backed up by any "Destroyer Man"

Having served in a Battle Class Destroyer HMS Aisne I suppose I can claim that right, however it was Peace Time in 1967 at the end of Her life.

This isn’t the first book to be given the title "Destroyer", Ewart Brookes published one under that title in 1962, Arrow issued it in paperback in 1973 and 1977, this is a good read if you can find a copy, this latest "Destroyer" is the observations of the men who served and, as such, will provide a much more in depth study of the WW2 operations and is highly recommended, purchase of it will also help to preserve HMS Cavalier.

Anthologist Ian Hawkins has drawn together numerous stories from the officers and crew who served on 'B' class destroyers and others. These, together with excerpts from official reports and speeches, news articles, books and his own explanatory notes, combine to produce a wide-ranging anthology whose pages bring vividly to life the courage, stress, danger and hard routine of going to war in a destroyer.

Whether describing how it felt to man an anti­aircraft gun against relentless aerial assault, to race at full-speed to the aid of a blazing merchantman, or to penetrate far up enemy-held rivers on special service, each account brings sharply into focus many memorable personal experiences of major events at sea, including such actions as the Battles of Narvik, Channel evacuations, the capture of the Enigma machine, convoy JW 51 B, the sinking of the Scharnhorst, D-Day patrols and Pacific operations, and many others. Also included are rare insights into less famous but equally fascinating episodes, and grimly humorous observations on the daily life and conditions endured by the destroyer crewman. As Len Deighton states in his foreword, "If you want to know what that generation of matchless heroes were like, Ian's book will show you." The result is a valuable work that fills a gap in the recorded history of the war and unforgettably impresses upon us the

Ian Hawkins became interested in the history of the Second World War as a boy growing up in East Anglia; his father, a Royal Navy destroyer commander, and an uncle, a Royal Air Force squadron leader, were both killed in action. A former civil engineer, he sustained very severe head injuries in an attack in Saudi Arabia in 1976 and was left paralysed down one side of his body. He is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of his paralysis. This is his fifth book.

All royalties from the sale of this book are being donated to the Cavalier  (Chatham) Trust, a "registered UK charity" whose objective is the restoration of HMS Cavalier, the last remaining Second World War British destroyer, currently berthed in Chatham Historic Dockyard, as a lasting memorial to all destroyers and the special men who served aboard them.

Review by John Whatling

They are called the "Greyhounds of the Sea". Destroyers, fast and lethal, the protectors of the fleet. Ian Hawkins has collected the personal recollections of those who served in B Class Destroyers Keith, Blanche, Boadicea, Bulldog, Beagle, Brazen, Basilisk, Brilliant, and Boreas between 1939 and 1945.

There are many other ships mentioned both Allied and Axis and additional reminisces from members of the US and German Armed Forces. The Merchant Navy is well represented in the narrative, the gallant seamen who manned ships, in many cases well past their sale by date, loaded with all the requirements of war, food to sustain us and weapons to execute the war.

The book takes each year in turn and leads the reader through an almost diary-like replay of events as they occurred month by month. The experiences of the men who manned the ships are the book, they were there and saw it all happen, additional information is only used when necessary to make the overall picture complete.

Rear Admiral John B Hervey RN Retd provides a prologue for each year which gives an insight to the war situation and an introduction to the main players and the ships on which they served. Iain Nethercote DSM leads off in 1939 by describing his days at HMS Ganges and first ship HMS Keith and the commencement of hostilities. His account of his time at Ganges will bring back memories to many a sailor who passed through its gates over the years.

Reminisces of 1940 cover the Norwegian Campaigns, operations from Dunkirk, Boulogne and St Nazaire and the evacuation of the Expeditionary Force from France. We follow the fates of the convoys both on the East Coast and Atlantic, the magnificent defence of Glorious by Ardent and Acasta. Our tremendous losses at sea, both of Merchant and RN ships did not bode well for us in the first year of the war.

If 1940 was bad, 1941 started off horrifically and our losses at sea rose sharply. We stood alone fighting on two fronts, at home and in the Mediterranean. Seven Destroyers were lost in a week during the evacuation of Crete and another 16 during convoys and actions in the Med.

As we progress through the year three significant events happened. Germany invaded Russia, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and HMS Bulldog captured and boarded U-110 retrieving an Enigma machine and codebooks. The first two can be considered as the first steps to victory, though the cost of aiding Russia as it turned out was high in ships and men. The capturing of an Enigma machine can be thought as the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. For the first time we were able to outwit the enemy by reading their signals. Other memories of the year include working up at Tobermory, the sinking of HMS Cormorin and a tribute to our submarines.

The beginning 1942 was not a success. The term World War meant just that. Our ships were in action in every ocean in the world. Our losses of destroyers rose to 48 the highest of any war year, 26 in the Med, 8 in South East Asia, 10 in the North Atlantic and 4 in home waters.

The losses of Merchant ships became frightening. Convoys to home ports and Russia, often in the most savage of weather are well documented including the tragedy that was PQ17. Not to be forgotten are the convoys to Malta.  Beleaguered by constant air attacks, this tiny Island so necessary to our efforts towards North Africa, almost starving and low on fuel and ammunition continued the fight regardless of the cost.

The escape of Scharnhorst and her sister Battle Cruisers from Brest up the Channel to Germany is retold by John Beeley. He recalls the brave efforts to stop the enemy by MTB’S, Swordfish and Destroyers, with attacks pressed home as close as 3.000 yards. The bad news did not end there, the loss of HMS Curacoa when overrun by RMS Queen Mary did nothing to help morale at the time.

The year did close on a better note, only three days after the success of El Alamein the Allied landings in North Africa seemed to indicate that things were beginning to change.

Change they did, for 1943 could be considered the turning point of the war. At last enemy submarines were being sunk at a rate that was unacceptable, 41 in May alone. This was due to the valuable information we were receiving from "Ultra", having five superb Support Groups to bolster the convoy escorts. Additionally, we had at last "Closed the Gap."  Long range maritime aircraft from both sides of the Atlantic could now give air cover to the convoys.

The Mediterranean dominated the news for most of the year.  The Axis were finished in North Africa, our landings in Sicily and then on the Italian mainland, led to their surrender. On a lighter note a wonderful description of "Crossing the Line" ceremony aboard Boadicea certainly bought back memories to me.

The arrival of 1944 certainly saw the pace hotting up. The preparations for

 D-Day was foremost in the planner’s minds for the first half of the year. This

was marred by the tragedy of Slapton Sands, when a practice landing by LCT’S

was attacked by nine E-Boats sustaining heavy loss of life.

Elsewhere things were at last going our way. Convoys to Russia, some made

up of forty or more ships were getting through. In February, Convoy JW47

delivered 250,000 tons of war material to Russia with one casualty, an escort.

In the Far East the allies were making inroads towards Japan. Italy was now

the springboard into southern Germany. As D-Day arrived and the biggest Armada

the world had seen, crossed the Channel to France, the general consensus was that

the end was in sight.

Recollections of this year are many and pay tribute to the heroism of our ships

and the men that manned them. We hear of the rescues of downed pilots, attacks

on ships during and after D-Day with radio controlled glider bombs and V1 Rockets.

By the end of the year it seemed that our enemies knew they were beaten, but

would not lie down.

So we arrive into 1945.  The war in Europe ended on the 8thMay and in Japan

on 15thAugust. In the meantime we continued to lose ships on convoys and

would continue to do so until the very last days of the war. The fighting in the Pacific

continued, as island by island the allies fought their way towards Japan. It only

took the Japanese six months to achieve their aims, it took the allies three years

to get it back again.

Destroyer losses during the war amounted to 154. The areas in which the

losses occurred were: Mediterranean 63, Home Waters 50, North Atlantic 21,

Arctic 10, Pacific 7 and Indian Ocean 3.

Ian Hawkins has collated the recollections of the men who fought this war in a way

that has not been done factually before. The stories are told without glamorisation,

yet as Len Deighton so succinctly puts it "Here is a book which matches

and complements that bestseller 'The Cruel Sea' "

The appendices are full and informative, containing a history of the ships

and Naval Obituaries amongst a wealth of other information.

I am sure this book will in time become a classic in its own right.

John Whatling

Rescue At Sea

An International History of Lifesaving & Coastal Rescue Craft

Author: Clayton Evans


Publishers Conway Maritime Press (Chrysalis Books Group)

Price: £35 RRP UK

Publication Date: 25th Sept 2003

Published with the full support of the International Lifeboat Federation and the RNLI.

Provides an unprecedented international perspective on rescue at sea.

Numerous dramatic accounts of wreck, tragedy and rescue.

Highly illustrated with photographs, scale plans and historical engravings.

Rescue at Sea is a highly illustrated reference and general interest book which deals with all elements of coastal lifesaving and rescue at sea from the earliest times to the present day.

The book is broken into four principle sections.

The first section deals with the history of coastal lifesaving, how lifesaving organizations developed (principally in China, Great Britain and continental Europe) and how the humanitarian ideal would eventually spread to other parts of the world.

The second section, on the development of rescue craft, deals with the more technical elements of coastal lifesaving and provides a chronology of lifeboat and rescue craft design by profiling milestones in the evolution of these vessels from the earliest pulling and sailing lifeboats to the high-tech, high speed heavy weather motor lifeboats of today.

The third section of the book profiles many of the prominent countries and maritime rescue organizations now in operation; their development, their rescue craft and their coastal operating environments.

Finally, section four provides information on aspects of coastal and oceanic search and rescue (SAR) network, including radio and satellite communications and the roles of aircraft and offshore patrol vessels in the international maritime SAR structure.

Special interest chapters tell the stories of the coastal heroes, and the tragic side of coastal lifesaving, the losses of lifeboats and their crews throughout history. On the technical side there is a chapter dealing with current trends in lifeboat and rescue craft design and technology. Rescue story sidebars are featured in most chapters, these describe some of the most awe inspiring, and harrowing, tales of rescue at sea throughout the ages.

RESCUE AT SEA is both a reference and a general interest book that deals with all elements of organised coastal lifesaving and rescue at sea from the earliest times to the present day.

Since mankind first took to the sea in boats the waters have claimed a heavy toll. For many centuries there were no organised efforts to offer assistance to shipwrecked mariners, and hapless victims died in appalling conditions within sight and sound of horrified bystanders ashore. The earliest known attempts at rescue and recovery were undertaken in China where the use of river lifeboats was first recorded in 1708. It would be more than 50 years before such organised humanitarian efforts emerged in Europe but in 1767 the 'Institution for the Recovery of Drowned Persons' was established in The Netherlands while in 1774 the English took up the cause with the establishment of the 'Royal Humane Society'.

From these early beginnings came such organisations as the Shipwreck Institution (UK), the Societye Humaine de Boulogne (France), the Asilo dos Naufragos (Portugal) and The Massachusetts Humane Society (USA).

The middle history (1850s to 1950s) of lifesaving at sea is well documented and read but here, for the first time, the whole story, from the 1700s to 2003, is presented in one volume that encompasses the history of coastal lifesaving, the evolution of coastal rescue craft, and the development of a world-wide network of rescue services. Of particular significance is the comprehensive profiling of the most prominent of today's sea rescue organisations around the world from the Aland islands to Uruguay.

Canadian Coast Guard coxswain Clayton Evans has spent a decade researching, sourcing and bringing together material from all over the world to create a reference book like none other that successfully handles both the wonders of modern lifeboat technology and the emotive stories of heroism and tragedy from all eras.

The Author Clayton Evans has been involved in maritime rescue for over 20 years, working primarily as coxswain on the Canadian Coast Guard's fast rescue craft and lifeboats along the coast of British Columbia. He has also served on the CCG's larger ships, as a rescue co­ordinator at JRCC Victoria and as a SAR instructor at the Canadian rigid hull inflatable (RHIOT) training centre (Pacific). He holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria as well as a Master of Laws (Maritime) from the University of Wales, Cardiff.

A proportion of the author's royalty income from the sales of this book has been donated to the International Lifeboat Federation.

This is truly an International book, I feel certain that all ex-RN will find this a fascinating book, if you spend any time at all at sea in the Royal Navy, you cannot fail to take part in some “Rescues at Sea” In former days we only had very small cheap cameras, these photos were taken from HMS Chichester in 1958, with a Kodak 127, off the Welsh Coast when we attempted to put out fire on this ship, our only method was to take a portable pump in the whaler and play hosepipes at her, she finally sunk in tow to harbour.

Rob Jerrard

Jack Aubrey Commands - An Historical Companion to the Naval World of Patrick O’Brian

Author: Brian Lavery

ISBN:  0851779468

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £19.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 10 Oct 2003

The Cover illustration on the book cover is: ‘Patrick O'Brian's Dispatches for Admiral Thornton' by Geoff Hunt RSMA. This Mediterranean scene depicts Jack Aubrey's frigate HMS Surprise arriving with dis­patches for Admiral Thornton in the 110-gun ship HMS Ocean. (It is reproduced on the book cover by kind permission of the artist.)

As the Publishers tell us, “No fiction writer of the modern period has captured the world of wooden walls, broadsides and the press gang in quite the same way as the late Patrick O'Brian. The twen­ty books in the O'Brian canon, featuring the lives and adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and confidant, the naval surgeon, Stephen Maturin, are read and lauded across the world for their blend of classic sto­rytelling, historical scholarly accuracy and consistently inspired characterisation.

In Jack Aubrey Commands Brian Lavery, one of the most respected naval historians of his generation, relates the naval fiction of Patrick O'Brian and C S Forester to the real world inhabited by famous Royal Navy heroes such as Lord Nelson, Sir Sidney Smith and Thomas Cochrane. It draws on the experiences and activities of men such as Frederick Marryat, the founder of naval fic­tion, the Austen brothers whose sister Jane created our most intimate picture of shore life in the period, and Nelson's chaplain Alexander Scott, who also served as a part-time spy. All these individuals and others provided inspiration for Patrick O'Brian's character of Jack Aubrey. The historical naval facts behind the great works of naval fiction are fully explored while the text fully contextualis­es a number of key episodes and characters as well as the minutiae of naval life in the era of Nelson, as it input for­ward in these enduring sea stories.”

The book includes a foreword by Peter Weir, director of Master and Commander.- The Far Side of the World, where he outlines the challenges posed by, and encoun­tered in, the dramatisation of the O'Brian novels.

 The Author Brian Lavery is Curator of Ship Technology at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and a renowned expert on the sailing navy.

His other published titles include: Nelson's Navy, The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815, the two-volume The Ship of the Line; The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War 1600-1815 and The 74-gun Ship Bellona and The Colonial Merchantman Susan Constant 1605 in Conway's Anatomy of the Ship series.

This is a very well written book packed with good illustrations and will certainly appeal to many ex-RN who enjoy reading books on the age of sail, highly recommended.

Rob Jerrard

Title: D-Day Ships The Allied Invasion Fleet June 1944

Author: Yves Buffetaut

ISBN:  ISBN 0851776396

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £25.00

Publication Date: May 2004

From the eclipse of the galley in the sixteenth century until the widespread introduction of steam This appraisal of the Normandy landings of June 1944, history's largest amphibious undertaking, is a unique account of the naval contribution to the Allied effort as well as a detailed analysis of the craft involved.  Buffetaut not only examines the ships themselves, the strategic and tactical planning, the Channel voyage, the landings on both American and British beaches, the Mulberry Harbours and the great storm, but looks at the Allied invasion from the perspective of amphibious operations throughout World War Two to provide a complete guide to why, where, how and with what the Allied armies began the liberation of occupied Europe.

With its clear and detailed listings of the fleet - landing craft, bombardment ships, support vessels, and the Mulberry harbour ships - and extensive illustrations, this is the best available account of the Normandy landings.

There are some superb photographs and plans in this book that I found fascinating, the naval bombardment plans show exactly which targets were allocated to a particular ship.  My Uncle who was lost with the sinking of HMS Barham, also served on the Cruiser Hawkins.  At the end of my Naval career I served on HMS Belfast; both Hawkins and Belfast were allocated targets, and with all the TV coverage it is interesting to know which one.

This really is a great book with photographs on almost every page.

The Author:

Yves Buffetaut was a university lecturer in modern history and is now a full-time writer and historian; his works include The 1917 Spring Offensives: Arras, Vimy, Le Chemin des Dames (Histoire et Collections, 1997); EI Alamein (Histoire et Collections, 1995); and Objective Moscow! (1998).

Rob Jerrard

Title: Warship 2004

Edition: 2004

ISBN:  0851779484

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £30 RRP UK

Publication Date: June 2004




In the second part of his trilogy, lain McCallum reviews the nature of the heavy shell supplied to the Royal Navy's capital ships during the early phases of the First World War. With the notable exception of the attack at the Dardanelles, actions at sea were generally successful, but gunnery officers were increas­ingly inclined to question the effectiveness of their projectiles.


After the First World War naval planning by the French envisaged minelaying as an important element in their strategy for containing future German naval operations. John Jordan examines the cruiser Pluton, the first purpose-built minelayer for the Marine Nationale.



Perhaps two of the most interesting warships constructed on the River Tyne were the cruisers Naniwa and Takachiho, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Both saw action at Tsushima in 1905. Kathrin Milanovich details their background, construction and careers.


America's `New Navy' began in 1883 with the so-called ABCD ships. Their antiquated designs were much criticized, and the navy turned to Armstrongs for the latest practice. Peter Brook's last article traces the influence of the Tyneside firm's cruiser drawings and, more than a decade later, the Navy's acquisition of actual Armstrong-built ships.



In 2003 Italy launched Salvatore Todam, the culmination of the nation's century-long quest to build a true underwater warship. Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent O'Hara tell the story of the design innovations and technological accomplishments that marked attempts to build a single purpose engine submarine.

MINELAYER CLASS FLEMING: AN EARLY GAS TURBINE SHIP The Swedish minelayer Class Fleming was built in 1914, laid up in 1917 and saw little service after that date, but underwent several refurbishments. Daniel G. Harris describes this example of extensively modernising an old hull when funds for new ships were not available.


Starting in the mid-1930s the Soviet Union embarked upon an ambitious shipbuilding programme. A central element in these plans was the construction of large cruisers, described as battlecruisers in western publications. Stephen McLaughlin describes the tortuous design history of these ships.


The new first-class frigates constructed for the Royal Navy in the mid-twentieth century embodied the hard-won experience gained during the Second World War, and technical developments which evolved in the immediate post-war era. George Moore describes the story of their evolution.


The valour shown by the ANZAC troops during the First World War is legendary. Colin Jones details the story of the four warships to bear that honoured name in the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy.


A summary of the significant naval events and developments.

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


Readers take up the challenge to comment on Antony Preston's controversial book The World's Worst Warships.


Reviews of some of the latest publications on naval history.

Once again this year’s volume makes interesting reading, for the second year running I have been lucky to find an article on a class of ship that I served in, (some say on) THE DAWN OF THE SALISBURY, LEOPARD AND WHITBY CLASS FRIGATES brought back memories of HMS Chichester 1st Commission 1958 see www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/chicrn/chicrn.htm   for my web page on the ship.  I took these photos of Chichester in Dry Dock.

I spent a day or so? in HMS Salisbury ( Some Radar ratings were transferred over from Chichester)and remember being in company with many other ships of this class during my service from 1956 to 1968.

Readers take up the challenge to comment on Antony Preston's controversial book, The World's Worst Warships.  There were times when I could happily have given this title to HMS Aisne in 1966 when I remember the flooded messdeck, but perhaps that would be unfair because she was on her last legs.

A good book to add to your Naval Collection.

Rob Jerrard

Title: The Flower Class Corvette Agassiz

Edition: 1st

Authors: John McKay & John Harland:

ISBN:  0851779751

Publishers Conway Maritime Press

Price:  £25 RRP UK

Publication Date: July 2004

In the Introduction the authors themselves explain this book. "The subject of this book is a Flower class corvette built in Vancouver and commissioned in January 1941.  Agassiz is pronounced Aga-see.  She was built, with a short forecastle configuration and differed considerably from the com­mon conception of the long-forecastle 'Flower', such as the museum ship HMCS Sackville in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or the Greek corvette Kriezis (ex-Coreopsis) which represented HMS Compass Rose in the film The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat, or 1/72 scale models from the popular Matchbox/Revell kit.

It was, however, the short-forecastle configuration that was in the mind's eye of Nicholas Monsarrat when he wrote The Cruel Sea, HM Corvette, East Coast Corvette and others, and this version best represents the Canadian Flowers as they were flung into the thick of the bitter Atlantic convoy battles of 1941-2, described in James Lamb's The Corvette Navy and Alan Easton s 50 North: Canada's Atlantic Battleground.

In 1939, like the other combatants, Canada plunged into a war for which her naval staff were ill prepared. Despite the U-boat campaign waged by Germany in World War I, little attention had been paid in the 1920s and 1930s to the problems of anti-submarine warfare, since it was widely believed that the future threat to merchantmen would come from surface raiders and from aircraft. The RCN had investigated the pos­sibility of building escorts based on the handsome RN Halcyon class sloops, but these plans had not reached fruition by the time hostilities broke out. The timely arrival of plans for a 'Patrol Vessel of Whaler Type' from the British Admiralty in 1939 thus offered a solution to a very serious weakness in Canadian naval preparations for the new war. The corvette (as the new vessel became known) was widely seen as a stopgap until more sophisticated escorts were available, but in the event was built in great numbers"

This is a fantastic book with 29 really good Photographs of the class with a full colour guide and over 350 isometric and 3-view drawings.  This has always been a class of ship that interested me, probably because my generation grew up with the "Cruel Sea" often on the TV, something which I never tire of seeing, even if I think it does not do justice to what many believe to be the best Naval Novel of WW2.  I have always found it difficult to find good photographs of "Flowers", to me even their names seem magic, probably not a word that came easily to the crews in these small ships that must have been hell to serve in.  In Nicholas Monsarrat’s book "Three Corvettes", HB Edition 6th Edition Sept 1953 there is a photograph on page 38 which bears the caption "We are the smallest ships", it shows a corvette with its bow out of the water, and I really mean out - another photograph on page 88 is captioned "She was elegant".  

I am sure all their crew’s thought them "Elegant"; it’s something about us matelots that makes us refer to a ship as she and call "her" elegant.  A fine book which I am very pleased to own.

Rob Jerrard

The Heavy Cruiser Takao

Author: Janusz Skulski


Publishers: Conway Maritime

Price £30 RRP UK

Publication Date: 1994, this edition 2004

Anatomy of the ship

Complete with 1/450 Scale Fold-out Plan

From the Introduction

The origins of the modern Japanese cruiser can be traced back to the early 1920s. On 31 July 1923 the light cruiser Yubari entered service in the imperial Japanese Navy. This ship differed greatly in her appearance, profile and in innovatory technical features from light cruisers of the earlier Tenryu, Kurna, Nagara and Sendai classes. She was not a large vessel, even compared to contemporary light cruisers, with a standard displacement of 3387 tons (4075 tons at two-thirds trial displacement). Officially described as an 'experimental light cruiser', the ship was built to test the concept of a cruiser of high speed and relatively high fire­power, on the smallest possible displacement.

The originator of this new cruiser design was Naval Constructor Hiraga Yuzuru, head of Fundamental Design, part of the 4th Shipbuilding, Section of the Navy Technical Department. In the summer of 1921 he proposed the building of a cruiser with a standard displacement of 7500 tons, 35kts speed, armed with six new type 20.3cm (8in) 50ca1 guns in single mountings, and six twin 61cm broadside torpedo tubes. The in­stallation of such a large armament in relation to the displacement was made possible because of the following radical weight reduction measures:

- the side and deck armour was worked as longitudinal strength mem­bers for the hull,

- a flush deck from bow to stern with an unusual undulating sheer line, - continuous upper deck, which made the longitudinal strength mem­bers very effective and, at the same time, reduced structural weight. However, such a complex structure necessarily complicated the con­struction of the hull.

In October 1921 the building of an experimental ‘small’ cruiser was approved by the Naval General Staff, based on the design of the proposed 7500-ton cruiser. Under Hiraga's supervision, Fujimoto Kikud, Hiraga's assistant, worked out the design of Yubari. Construction took fourteen months, from June 1922 to July 1923. At the same time, the general outline of the basic design of the 7500-ton cruiser (known later as the Furutaka class) was approved by the naval authorities in August 1921. As for Yubari, the design was the work of Hiraga Yuzuru, assisted by Fujimoto Kikuo, and was intended to surpass the US Omaha and British Hawkins classes. The building of two cruisers was approved in February-March 1922, and work commenced in November-December 1922.

In the meantime an important conference took place, which increased interest in the cruisers' building. This was the Washington Naval Con­ference of 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922. The resulting treaty limited the number of capital ships -battleships and aircraft carriers -but did not limit the number of ships up to 10,000 tons (10,160 tonnes), which were defined as 'auxiliary surface combat craft'. This placed a limit of 10,000 tons standard on the displacement of cruisers. The standard, or Washington, displacement was the tonnage of the ship ready for sea, with full stores, ammunition and complement but without fuel, reserve feed water and lubricating oil.

Prior to the Washington Naval Treaty the Japanese Navy used the normal displacement (in British tons) corresponding to the ship ready for sea, but with only a quarter of the fuel, three-quarters of the ammunition, a half to two-thirds of the stores and lubricating oil, and no reserve feed water. After 1920, however, ships were designed in trial condition: two ­thirds trial displacement (in metric tonnes), that is, in full load condition minus a third of the full load fuel oil, lubricating oil, potable and reserve feed water, and stores.

As a signatory of the Treaty, Japan was forced to abandon her am­bitious '8-8 Programme' - the construction of eight modern battleships and eight battlecruisers. On 3 July 1922 the new 'Naval Limitation Pro­gramme' was approved. This comprised fifty-nine ships, including the building of two cruisers with a standard displacement of 7100 tons (me­dium type) and four with a standard displacement of 10,000 tons (large type). Fujimoto Kikuo undertook the design of the two medium-type cruisers, while Hiraga was abroad.

Under pressure from the Naval General Staff, Fujimoto altered the armament of these cruisers, installing three twin 20.3cm (8in) gun turrets (compared with six single 20.3cm gun turrets in Furutaka and Kako), four single 12cm (4.7in) HA gun mounts (four single 8cm (3.2in) HA gun mounts in Furutaka and Kako) and a new type of catapult. The torpedo armament in both types of cruiser (twelve broadside torpedo tubes) was not changed. Named Aoba and Kinugasa, the new cruisers had an in­creased displacement at two-thirds trial of about 320 tons (Kinugasa 9930 tons). The additional topside weight reduced stability compared with the Furutaka type, and Hiraga protested strongly against that decision on his return to Japan.

At the end of 1922 the Naval General Staff presented Hiraga with the requirements for a new cruiser design of 10,000 tons displacement and 20cm (7.8in) guns. The requirements of the Naval General Staff were as follows:

1. An armament of eight 20.3cm (Sin) guns in twin turrets, three turrets forward and one aft.

2. Anti-aircraft armament of four single 12cm (4.7in) HA guns. 3. Eight broadside 61cm (24in) torpedo tubes.

4. Protection of ship's vitals against indirect hits by 20.3cm (Sin) cm shells and both direct and indirect hits by 15cm (bin) shells.

5. Protection along machinery space by 'bulges' (anti-torpedo and anti-­mine).

6. Maximum speed over 35kts. 7. Range 10,000nm at 14kts.

8. Equipped to carry two floatplanes.

Hiraga did not entirely agree with the basic requirements, suggesting an increase of the main armament to ten 20.3cm (Sin) guns (the point being to obtain an advantage over foreign equivalents, which usually had eight 20.3cm guns); an extension of anti-torpedo protection by fitting longitudi­nal armoured bulkheads inside the 'bulges'; a reduction of range to 8000nm at 14kts; and omission of the torpedo tubes as both unnecessary and dangerous (the likelihood of explosion if hit in action).

Early in 1923 Fujimoto, under the supervision of Hiraga, began work on the design, taking into account the changes suggested by Hiraga. However, during Hiraga's next posting abroad Fujimoto bowed to the pressure of the Naval General Staff, adding eight broadside 61cm (24in) torpedo tubes and increasing the number of 12cm (4.7in) HA guns from four to six (during construction the number of torpedo tubes was further augmented to twelve). In 1924 building started on the cruisers designated No 1 to No 4, later named Myoko, Nachi, Ashigara and Haguro. The dis­placement of the Myoko class cruisers was as follows:

Standard 10,980 tons (11,156 tonnes) Two-thirds trial 13,071 tons (13,280 tonnes) Nachi 13,090 tons (13,300 tonnes).

In March 1927, after discussions with and under pressure from the Naval General Staff, and as a result of the approval by the US Congress of a programme to build eight new cruisers of 10,000 tons displacement, the new shipbuilding programme (Showa 2 Nendo Kantei Seizo Shinhoju Kei­kaku - '1927 Shipbuilding New Replenishment Programme') was signed during the 52nd session of Parliament, held from 18 January to 26 March 1927. This programme comprised the building of twenty-seven ships during 1927-32, including four 10,000-ton cruisers.


"Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews" Copyright Rob Jerrard