"Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews" Provided by Rob Jerrard

Pen and Sword Books Reviewed in 2009


Business In Great Waters, The U-Boat Wars 1916-1945
Edition: 2009 Paperback 1st Published 1989
Format: Paperback
Author: John Terraine
ISBN: 9781848841352
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 12 October 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Twice within 25 years Britain was threatened with starvation by the menace of the U-Boat. In this study of submarine warfare, the author explains why Winston Churchill wrote "the only thing that ever frightened me during the war was the U-Boat peril". Until it had been overcome, the Anglo-American entry into Europe in 1944 would have been impossible. John Terraine concentrates on the combatants themselves, both German and Allied, but does not overlook the three main factors in the equation - the political, the military and the technological, as well as the intelligence, the weapons and the devices both sides employed in order to outwit each other. He also focuses on the fighting men on either side, seeing the action from "where it was at".

 
'The submarine is the most formidable thing the war has produced.' US Ambassador Page - 1917
'There is no good discussing plans for next Spring. We cannot go.' Admiral Sir John Jellicoe - June 1917
'The invasion of Normandy in 1944 would have been unthinkable if the Battle of the Atlantic had not been won in 1 941', Patrick Beesly
 

Most of the Introduction
 
Ten Books On the First World War published between 196o-82; a substantial statement on the Royal Air Force in the Second World War published in 1985; now U-boats, conducting Unrestricted Submarine Warfare between 1916-45: is there any connection between the subjects that have kept three decades of my life very fully occupied or does this diversity indicate mere dilettantism? I believe that a connection does exist and that it is an important one but I will readily confess that this perception is hindsight, and does not imply any deliberate intention at the time of writing, least of all when it all began some thirty years ago.
 
I belong to a generation to which the two World Wars were present realities marking the most impressionable part of a lifetime. In 1921, when I was born, my father worked in Brussels, where the signs of German occupation between 1914-18 were still visible even to a very small boy, where its weight still lay heavily on the people and continued to do so for the next eighteen years; I grew up with the Great War never far from people's minds and very often in their conversation. And it was usually very difficult indeed to make head or tail of what they were saying. It was a mystery not surprisingly, because I should say that no event in history has ever been so steeped in mythology since the time of the Old Testament.
 
World War II, which I lived through in what I now consider to have been a state of incomprehension at least equal to my confusion about its predecessor, added new layers of mythology, fresh fantasies to addle the minds of young and old alike. However, these did not stand up for long to the harsh audit of peace (if I may borrow a phrase from Correlli Barnett). Birds which had been well on their way to the roost in the 193os flocked home in the 195os. 1956, I suppose, was the year when they arrived, and one could begin to measure the enormous change that the wars had brought, to Britain, to the British Empire, and to the world.
 
It was during that decade that I began thinking to some recognizable purpose about the wars, especially 1914 to 1918, to try to unravel some of the mysteries. My first book taught me my first lesson: Mons: The Retreat to Victory was commissioned for Batsford's 'British Battles' series, and Mons has, indeed, occupied a significant pedestal in British legend, even including Angels! I learned that the truth was otherwise; General Smith-Dorrien's half-day skirmish at Mons on 23 August, 1914 took on a different look when I contemplated the long battle-line of the French armies, grappling with their massive, well-trained, well-equipped and courageous German enemy. This struggle cost the French over 210,000 officers and men - which is considerably more than the full strength of the British Expeditionary Force - in the month of August alone: a sobering thought. It dawned on me that exclusive inspection of the British contribution would not supply adequate explanation of the First World War's mysteries - and soon I also recognized that the same was true of World War II. If the 'British Battle' at Mons in 1914 shrinks perceptibly in the perspective of the main action on the main front, so, I fear, does the 'British Battle' of El Alamein in 1942.
 
More and more, as one book followed another, I became concerned with this matter of the main front and the main action - the decisive point, or what the Germans would call the Schwerpunkt. I did not, for a very long time, express it, even to myself, with such precision, but it steadily became my preoccupation: the Schwerpunkt, the centre of gravity of each of the two wars. And that is the connection: the Western Front in World War I, where first the French and then the British Armies bore the burden of the main action against the main enemy; the RAF, taking its position on 'the Right of the Line' in World War II; and the defeat of the U-boats, which in 1943 provided the only means by which the Western Allies could deploy their full forces against the main enemy once again. I was well aware that this amazing enterprise was not, in fact, the Schwerpunkt of World War II itself, which from June 1941 was always on the Eastern Front, where the German Army was ground down in even costlier Verduns, Sommes and Passchendaeles with Russian names. Yet as far as Britain and America were concerned, Operation OVERLORD was the main action of the German war, and that was no light matter.
 
My aim in this book has been to try, as far as a single volume permits, to identify and observe the ingredients of submarine and antisubmarine war. They belong very firmly to the new warfare of the Industrial Revolution whose nature was first glimpsed in America between 1861-65,* and which bared its teeth in World War I. It was a warfare which owed almost everything to Technology and which demanded the ever-increasing participation of Science. It called into existence a new anti-submarine armament ship- and air-borne depth charges, bombs and projectors, acoustic and magnetic mines and torpedoes, U-boat detectors (Hydrophones, ASDIC and magnetic), special vessels and aircraft loaded with instruments and devices of wonderful sophistication. It made heavy demands on discoveries like Radar, on Wireless Telegraphy and the intercepts thereof, on Direction-Finding, on Radio-Telephony and always, unceasingly, on the courage, endurance, ingenuity and skill of the men in the U-boats, the men who fought them at sea and in the air, and the helpless merchant seamen who were their quarry or their wards.
 
As always in such studies, I was struck by the great advances made (on both sides) between 1914-18; if I were to rewrite this book, I would give even greater emphasis to this. Equally striking was the astonishing readiness in Britain and America between the wars to forget so much that had been learned so painfully. The unity of the whole `unrestricted submarine warfare' period, from its effective beginnings in 1916 right up to the last actions in 1945, speaks, I think, for itself. It is the unity of a finite story, an unique phase in technological development. Nothing quite like it will be seen again for the simple reason that the nature of the beast has changed. The U-boat wars were not really submarine warfare at all; they were fought by submersibles torpedo boats with the power to dive. It certainly surprised me to see how tightly the U-boats were locked to the surface, and this, in most cases, was what caused their downfall. When, at the very end, the Allies made a brief encounter with vessels approximating to true submarines, their techniques were rendered obsolete. So the story ended with a bleak view of what I have called 'the unappealing landscape of
 
John Terraine March 1989

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2030


British Warships 1860-1906 A photographic Record
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Nicholas Dingle
ISBN: 9781844159802
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £35
Publication Date: 25 November 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Illustrated with 200 official admiralty photographs, many of them previously unpublished, this book traces the development of Royal Naval ship design in a period of immense change.
 
Opening with the Crimean War, this period saw the gradual transition from sail to steam and screw propulsion; from wood to steel construction; from fixed broadside armaments of bronze muzzle-loaders to turret-mounted steel breech-loaders and torpedoes. The period covered in this volume closes with the launch of HMS Dreadnought, which overnight rendered all existing ships obsolete and signalled the start in earnest of the Anglo-German naval arms race which contributed to the outbreak of WW1. Each photograph is accompanied by full specifications (where available) and a caption detailing anydesign features, while the main text gives an overview of naval developments across the period under discussion, setting the selected ships in context.
 
The half century covered by this book saw more rapid and radical change in naval technology than the previous half a millennium. Warships were transformed from wooden sailing ships firing solid shot from broadsides of muzzle-loading cannon to steel vessels powered by steam, armed with torpedoes and firing explosive shells from infinitely more powerful breech-loading guns mounted in traversing turrets. This was a period of great innovation, and no little confusion, in naval architecture, which resulted in a plethora of fascinating, though not always successful, designs.
 

Nicholas Dingle traces the evolution of British warships in this intriguing period, illustrating it with beautiful images selected from a remarkable collection of official Admiralty photographs housed in the National Archives.
 

The Author
 
Nicholas Dingle has a BA in War Studies from King's College London and a PhD in Computing Science from Imperial College London. After working for the Ministry of Defence he has returned to Imperial College London to take up a research post. He has interested in all things military from a very young age, and naval technology in particular.
He lives in London.

REVIEW
This book is constructed around a collection of photographs now based at Kew PRO. They were formerly held by the Naval Construction Department and cover from HMS Warrior 1860 to HMS Dreadnought 1906.
 
The author states that for details he has drawn heavily from 'Conway's All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905 and 1906-1921'. The four volumes of Conway are worth buying and themselves contain many black and white photographs. Details can be found at www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy\rnavy\rnavy.htm. See Conway Maritime pages.
 
Chapter 1 explains the Royal Navy 1815-1860 and the first photograph in the book is that of HMS Black Prince, which was a sister ship of the more famous HMS Warrior, which is now at Portsmouth. Captain John Wells RN called his book 'The Immortal Warrior - Britain's First and Last Battleship'. HMS Warrior arrived off Spithead for the first time on Friday, September 20, 1861, which made her an old lady by the time my Great Grandfather served in her in 1875 as an RMA Gunner. He would certainly be proud to see his old ship looking so good on display in his home City.
 
This is a book worth having and one could spend hours looking at the photographs. The last photograph is of Dreadnought. What a difference forty-six years made and what about now! The days of these magnificent ships are over, but we can still look at the images and wonder what it was like to serve in them.
 
Rob Jerrard


For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1991


Fleet Air Arm Carrier War
The History of British Naval Aviation
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Kev Darling
ISBN: 9781844159031
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 21 October 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the story of British naval flying from aircraft carriers, from its conception in World War One to the present day. It includes the types of aircraft and the men who flew them, the carriers and the evolution of their designs, the theatres of war in which they served and their notable achievements and tragedies. It traces navy flying from the early days of the biplane, through the rapid developments during World War Two to the post-war introduction of jet-powered flight. The British inventions of the angled flight deck and later vertical landing jets revolutionised sea warfare and allowed the carrier to play a vital part in many recent land wars when naval aircraft flew in support of Allied land forces.
 
Although the British carriers have always been smaller than their American counterparts, the Royal Navy and its aircraft have always been in the van of the development of ships and aircraft. This is the proud history of British Naval flying and ships such as HMS Eagle, HMS Hermes, HMS Glorious, HMS Ark Royal and many more.
 

Introduction
 
During its entire existence the Fleet Air Arm, the aviation wing of the Royal Navy, has frequently suffered from political interference. Having literally got off to a flying start as the Royal Naval Air Service the Admiralty was most upset to find the world's largest naval air wing being subsumed into the newly formed Royal Air Force in 1918. During the inter-war period the Royal Navy managed to hang onto its aircraft carriers although the aircraft it carried were under the control of the Air Ministry. Eventually the Admiralty managed to increase its influence over its own aircraft and the crews they carried. By the time hostilities erupted over Europe again in September 1939 the Royal Navy had fully regained control of both its ships and aircraft which, given the tasks that faced them, was the sensible option. Even though the Admiralty was now in control the major problems facing the carrier crews was the poor performance of the aircraft they were equipped with because they were designed for the warfare of a much earlier era. But, even though the fighter and attack units were equipped with obsolescent aircraft, through skilful flying and great bravery the crews managed to achieve some great feats of combat.
 
WWII brought a perilous period of existence for the Royal Navy when many of its fleet carriers were sunk. However, hasty conversions of merchantmen, the lend lease by America of the smaller escort, or jeep, carriers plus a speeding up of the building of replacement main and light fleet carriers meant that the navy was soon fully equipped again. Allied to the increase in carrier strength came a new crop of aircraft from both British and American manufacturers. With this new strength and the tide of war changing in the favour of the Allies the Fleet Air Arm and the aircraft carriers would finish their work in the Atlantic and then proceed into the Mediterranean and onto the Pacific and the war in the Far East. Here they would join up with the US Navy whose forces could only be described as massive.
 
When Japan finally capitulated in 1945 most people hoped that the threat of war would recede for many years. However, this was not the case as the power vacuum caused by the removal of conquerors and colonial powers would result in further conflicts. Again the Far East would figure greatly, this time it would be Korea where the Communists, both Russian and Chinese, would begin to flex their muscles. After nearly three years of fighting up and down the country a truce was finally achieved.
 
Nevertheless, Britain would find itself at war again in 1956 this time over the Suez canal which Egypt's President Nassar decided to sequester. Although a combined British and French force, with Israeli support, was making great headway against the Egyptian forces, pressure by the United States via the World Bank resulted in the operation ending prematurely.
 
After Suez the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Navy were active participants in the Cold War as was the remainder of Britain's Armed Forces. This would change in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in an effort to divert attention away from problems at home. After a massive effort the British Armed Forces successfully recaptured the islands. Again the Fleet underwent changes, this time the last of the vessels whose roots lay in the Second World War were finally retired and were replaced by three smaller carriers that were capable of operating both helicopters and Sea Harriers. Obviously machines as complex as aircraft carriers will eventually wear out so it is fortunate that the Royal Navy will receive the first of two new super-carriers within a few years. Not only will these new ships improve the capabilities of the fleet but the aircraft intended for deployment in these new vessels will also increase the effectiveness of the fleet. Should all this come to pass without too much political interference the future of the Fleet Air Arm looks good.
 
Obviously a work such as this could not be completed without the help of others therefore I would like to thank the staff at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, Air Britain, the late and sadly missed Ray Sturtivant, John Ryan, Ray Harding and all at Aerophot.


For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2050


Seaforth World Naval Review 2010
Edition: 2010
Format: Hardback
Author: Conrad Waters
ISBN: 9781848320512
Publishers: Seaforth Publishing
Price: £25
Publication Date: 18 November 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The World Naval Review is designed to fill the need for an authoritative but affordable summary of all that has happened in the naval world in the previous twelve months. It combines the standing features of regional surveys with one-off major articles on noteworthy new ships and other important developments. Besides the latest warship projects, it also looks at wider issues of importance to navies, such as aviation and electronics, and calls on expertise from around the globe to give a balanced picture of what is going on and to interpret its significance.
 
Intended to make interesting reading as well as providing authoritative reference, there is a strong visual emphasis, including specially commissioned drawings and the most recently released photographs and computer-generated imagery.
 
For anyone with an interest in contemporary naval affairs, whether an enthusiast or a defence professional, this annual is set to become required reading.
 
The only dedicated annual survey of world naval developments
Includes news, comment and the latest illustrations
Written by a team of top international experts
Highly valuable resource for enthusiasts and defence professionals alike
 

The Editor
 
Conrad Waters: A lawyer by training but a banker by profession, Conrad Waters was educated at Liverpool University prior to being called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1989. His interest in maritime affairs was first stimulated by a long family history of officers in merchant navy service and he has been writing articles on historical and current naval affairs for the last twenty years. This has included six years producing the 'World Navies in Review' chapter of the influential annual Warship.
 

Contributors
 
Richard Beedall: After fourteen years in the Royal Naval Reserve, he now works as a writer and consultant, having founded the influential 'Navy Matters' website on Royal Navy equipment projects.
 
Enrico Cernuschi & Vincent P O'Hara: This Italian-American partnership has co-authored articles for British and American publications, and both have written a number of well-regarded naval books in their own right.
 
Norman Friedman: Norman Friedman is one of the best-known naval analysts and historians in the US and the author of over thirty books. He has written on broad issues of modern military interest, including an award-winning history of the Cold War, whilst in the field of warship development his greatest sustained achievement is probably an eight-volume series on the design of different US warship types.
 
David Hobbs: David Hobbs, a retired Fleet Air Arm pilot, has written eight books and co-authored eight more. In 2005 he won the Aerospace Journalist of the Year, Best Defence Submission. He also lectures on naval subjects worldwide and has been on radio and TV in several countries.
 
Mrityunjoy Mazumdar: Mr Mazumdar, whose father served in the Indian Navy, has been writing on naval matters since 1999. He is a regular contributor to many naval and aircraft magazines and annuals around the world, and also maintains a comprehensive website on the Indian Navy at www.bharat-rakshak.com
 
Scott Truver: Dr Scott C Truver is Director, National Security Programs, at Gryphon Technologies LC, specialising in national and homeland security, and naval and maritime strategies, programmes and operations. Since 1972 Dr Truver has participated in many studies and assessments, and writes extensively for US and foreign publications. He has also lectured at the US Naval Academy, Naval War College and Naval Postgraduate School, among other venues.
 
Dawei Xia: A long-time researcher on the Chinese military and the Asian military balance, he is the editor and founder of SinoDefence.com, an online information source covering the latest developments in Chinese military capabilities. He is also a special correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly and Jane's Military Vehicles and Logistics.


Review
 
I must admit that modern ships are not instantly recognisable to me. The second photograph shows, inter alia, the Pakistan Naval Ship BADR, ex- HMS Alacrity an Amazon Class Type 21 Frigate. In the photograph beyond the ship mentioned I can see a much more familiar bow shape and a 4.5 gun turret. My mind is instantly taken to an even older class, possibly an ex- Leopard Class? Probably ex-HMS Jaguar or HMS Lynx, both now with the Bangladesh Navy. They have 2 type 41 and one type 61.
 
Some Navies still retain older ships, such as the Philippines Second World War vintage Cannon Class patrol frigate ex-USS Atherton.
The modern Submarine out of water certainly show that they are bigger than a first glance suggests. With the photographs shown you can compare the Canadian Submarine Chicoutimi (out of the water) with the USS Virginia (in the water).
 
If your interests are wide, now and in the future, this is certainly a book to add to your library.
 
In the 'Significant Ships' section at 3.2 the new HMS Daring is featured. I say new, because I remember the last one. There are to be more, all familiar names, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan.
 
This first edition of the new Seaforth World Naval Review does provide an up-to-date overview of the Worlds' Navies and I am certain it will prove popular.
 
Rob Jerrard

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2057


A Century of Carrier Aviation
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: David Hobbs
ISBN: 9781848320192
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £40
Publication Date: 4 March 2009
Publisher's Title Information
 

It is now almost exactly a hundred years since a heavier-than-air craft first took off and landed on a warship, and from the very beginning flying at sea made unique demands on men and machines. As warplanes grew larger, faster and heavier, air operations from ships were only possible at all through constant development in technology, techniques and tactics.
 
This book charts the progress and growing effectiveness of naval air power, concentrating on the advances and inventions - most of them British - that allowed shipborne aircraft to match their land-based counterparts, and looking at their contribution to 20th century warfare.
 
Written by a retired Fleet Air Arm pilot and and award-winning historian of naval flying, this is a masterly overview of the history of aviation in the world's navies down to the present day. Heavily illustrated from the author's comprehensive collection of photographs, the book will be essential reading to anyone with an interest in navies or air power.
 


Review
Gannets, Sea Hawks, Sea Venoms, Sea Vampires, Buccaneers: memories!, they are all there along with all the familiar ships. The detail is all there along with some superb photographs. This is a history worth possessing. From those early take-off and landings, to vertical and short take-offs, if you served in a carrier it all comes back - if you didn't, this as near as you can get.

Rob Jerrard,"Royal Navy & Maritime Book Reviews"


Other Reviews
 
Do I recommend this book? Categorically yes, the only dilemma being whether to look at all the pictures before reading the words! The Naval Review Aug 09
 
Altogether, A Century of Carrier Aviation is a magnificent achievement. A glossary, bibliography and index round the work's usefulness as a reference book, but this is a volume that can actually be read from cover to cover as well. Thoroughly recommended. Australian Warship Magazine
 
The book is strongly recommended..... The text is rich in technical and human detail and is profusely illustrated..... It makes for a towering reference book. Naval Historical Review - Australia - June 09
 
Illustrated witha fine collection of images and plans......This valuable book must be by your side to inform any study of carrier aviation, but you will need to have a table to put it on. Warship World
 
David Hobbs, as is always the case, has produced a book which sets standards others seek to emulate but rarely achieve. The contents are exactly as in the title, the evolution of the ships and the aircraft they carried; thus the book moves from the Beginnings, through the Early Days and the various ways that navies used the different techniques up the innovations, British of course, and the development of shipborne aviation to the level it is today.
 
Interestingly also included are the various deck arrangements for a variety of carrier classes and small ships with chapters on flying from straight deck carriers (aircraft parked with their tail wheels on outriggers to provide increased deck space) through to the painted angled decks of the RN's carriers and thence to the techniques for flying from the fully angled deck ship.
 
The book strikes the balance between text, pictures and diagram and being of the more small coffee table size does not detract but enables the worth of the many excellent pictures to be fully experienced. Those pictures from the early days, of indeed good quality, provide a fascinating view of the experimental and dangerous steps towards the prime naval weapon.
 
Amongst the many fine pictures the picture of HMS UNDAUNTED sinking beneath the waves is particularly wrenching depicting the final moments of the first RN frigate to be fitted with a flight deck for the operation of small anti-submarine helicopters. After UNDAUNTED's use for the trials of the Saunders Roe P531 the ship was a much valued and well used part of the Portland Squadron and many a helicopter pilot carried out their first practical ship borne landings on the deck. Many will see the depiction of the loss of this historic ship in 1978 (she was a conversion from an historic World War II destroyer) as symptomatic of our too frequent disregard for the worth of our Naval heritage.
 
This book is a very comprehensive coverage of the whole basis of operating aircraft at sea. It includes a set of comprehensive notes and most valuable, a Bibliography, the whole with an Index within 304 pages and a large range of pictures many of them seemingly not much known of before.
 
If a lasting momento of the Fleet Air Arm's 100 years of service to the country is wanted then look no further. Fleet Air Arm Officers Association - April 09
 
The detailed examination of the inventions that better enabled naval fixed wing aviation are fascinating with the author writing from a position of experience with some of the systems.
 
While the book is written from a British point of view, the US contribution to carrier technology and development is not overlooked.
 
Written by a retired RN Fleet Air Arm pilot and award-winning historian of naval flying, this is a masterly overview of the history of aviation in the world's navies down to the present day. The book is heavily illustrated from the author's comprehensive collection of photographs. Nearly all the images are previously unseen.
 
This book is essential reading to anyone with an interest in naval air power. It is truly the last word on aircraft carrier development. This book cannot be recommended more highly. The Navy Magazine - The Australian Navy League
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1850


The Great Edwardian Naval Feud
Beresford's Vendetta against 'Jackie' Fisher
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Richard Freeman
ISBN: 9781848840836
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 26 October 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
This is the story of the clash between two gigantic personalties in the early years of the twentieth century. The story of the high profile dispute between two strong-willed and able senior Royal Naval officers of quite different backgrounds and character.
 
On one side was Admiral Lord Charles Beresford. Aristocratic, charismatic and courageous, yet fiercely arrogant and hot-headed, he was the most popular admiral in the Navy. Addicted to the sound of his own voice, Beresford drew crowds of thousands whenever he spoke in public. On the other side was the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Fisher. Of humble origin, he had risen through hard work, determination and genius to become the greatest naval reformer that Britain has ever known.
 
Both men aspired to be First Sea Lord. When the prize went to Fisher, Beresford resolved to unseat him at any cost. He engineered attacks in Parliament, he plotted with Unionist politicians, he leaked state secrets and he courted public opinion. As a formidable public figure, no one dared to act against him until he finally over-stepped the mark by viciously hounding a Rear-Admiral out of his fleet.
 
A Cabinet inquiry followed, sitting for fifteen days. Its five members listened to Beresford's incoherent defence of his eight charges. In the end, they dismissed the case but, fatally, failed to show any warm support for either man. Both paid dearly: Beresford's career came to an end and Fisher's resignation followed, although he was to be reinstated later.
Richard Freeman's superbly researched work describes a saga of intense political, military and personal drama that scandalised the Establishment and the Royal Navy in the early years of the twentieth century.
 

Preface
 
Lord Charles Beresford admitted that he was always 'fond of a row' and he boasted of his insubordinations as a naval officer. He also revelled in a near half-century of attacking the Admiralty while claiming that he was only seeking to buttress the nation's defences. From April 1875 until his death in 1919, he mounted assault after assault on his employer. He would say that he 'had no desire to criticise' but would then launch into a string of complaints. Although he tried to soften each attack by saying that 'no one was to blame' and that the fault lay 'in the system', he remained hostile and insubordinate to the Board.
 
First Lords and First Sea Lords tolerated Beresford's antics, as did successive cabinets and Prime Ministers. They were shrugged off as the eccentricities of 'Charlie B', the nation's favourite admiral. But when, in the early twentieth century, Beresford began to attack Jackie Fisher, it became harder to ignore his behaviour.
 
What had begun as mere frictions between the two men developed into a systematic campaign by Beresford to undermine the First Sea Lord. Sometimes the dispute is referred to as a 'quarrel'. More commonly it is called a feud. I have retained the word 'feud' in my title, but with some reluctance. When I began work on this book I too saw the conflict as a feud, but the more I read the papers of Beresford and Fisher, the less convinced I was. Certainly Fisher found Beresford's behaviour exasperating and sought to tame his excesses. But one searches in vain for evidence of any attempts by Fisher to harm Beresford. At worst, Fisher can be charged with insensitiveness, but little more.
 
Beresford's part is altogether different. From the moment that Fisher was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, Beresford began to foster an all-consuming hatred of Fisher. From late 1904 through to the end of 1909 he waged an all-out war to have his rival removed from the Admiralty. Beresford's intention was to take Fisher's place or, even better, bring down the Liberal Government and become First Lord in a Unionist administration. The evidence for this is abundantly clear in his letters to Carlyon Bellairs and Walter Long. It is also supported by comments made by his friends (such as Jessica Sykes) in their own letters. All this leads me to see less of a feud and more of a vendetta.
 
However one wishes to describe the clash, for each man it only spanned at most one-fifth of their professional lives. For this reason I have sought to also show the greatness of the two men and the fullness of their careers. In very different ways, each was admirable and charismatic. Beresford was warm, impulsive, at ease with all classes of men. Although wealthy, he was generous; although aristocratic, he had an innate empathy for ordinary men and women. He was rash, courageous and dashing. He could always rise to a challenge and was the ideal man to have on hand in a crisis.
 
Fisher was dynamic with an instinctive reforming zeal. He eschewed society and social life, and worked long hours, goading the Navy to drag itself from nineteenth-century lethargy to face twentieth-century threats. He liked to stay in the shadows, describing himself as a mole, who was only evident through his upheavals. Long recognised as one of the Navy's greatest reformers, he can also claim a place alongside some of the twentieth century's greatest administrators. He was, besides, a remarkably talented letter writer. A mere short memorandum would be spattered with pithy phrases and telling metaphors. His longer letters were astonishing literary performances, even when they had been dashed off at great speed.
 
While Fisher left an archive of over 5,000 documents, Beresford (or one of his family) seems to have systematically destroyed almost every significant document in his possession. In his will he left 'all MSS, letters, memoranda, and private papers' to his wife, but all that now remains is a mere 200 documents. Most of these are trivial exchanges with the various monarchs of Europe. It would appear that, for all his protestations of innocence, deep down he felt he had much to hide. Fortunately for us, others took care to retain the rich trail of evidence of Beresford's vendetta against Fisher, as this book will show.
 
Richard Freeman Cambridge, May 2009
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1972


British Destroyers A-I and Tribal Classes
Shipcraft 11
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Les Brown
ISBN: 978-1-84832-023 9
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Seaforth Publishing
Classic Warships Publishing
Price: £14.99
Publication Date: 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the latest in a series that provides ship modellers with all they need to know about a famous class or type of warship and associated model kits.
 
This volume covers the inter-war destroyers of the Royal Navy, from the post World War I prototypes Amazon and Ambuscade, through the nine basically similar but incrementally improved classes, to the radically different and far more powerful 'Tribal' class design of 1936. Forming the backbone of the British and Canadian flotillas, these ships include some of the most famous names in destroyer history Cossack, Glowworm, Hardy, Ardent and Acosta, to name only a few.
 
With its unparalleled level of visual information paint schemes, models, line drawings and photographs it is simply the best reference for any modelmaker setting out to build one of these dashing little ships.
 
At the end of World War I the Royal Navy had a large number of relatively modern destroyers which were surplus to requirements. A large number of these, primarily the `R' and `M' classes, were sold for breaking up in the early 1920s. Many of the later 'S' class were sold in the 1930s but the majority of the later designs, the V's and 'W's, survived to fight again in World War II. There was therefore no urgent need to build replacement vessels and little inclination to develop destroyer designs.
 
It was not until the early 1920s that new designs were finally entrusted to two private companies, each of which had a fine pedigree in destroyer design. The two companies, Thornycroft and Yarrow, were selected after the Admiralty had requested designs be submitted by five different shipbuilding companies. Their two ships, Amazon and Ambuscade respectively, were both launched within a few days of each other in January 1926 (Amazon's launching was delayed by a few days after her naming because of bad weather), although Ambuscade had been laid down first, in December 1924, with Amazon following shortly after in January 1925. Amazon was the slightly larger vessel, 1352 tons as against 1173 for Ambuscade, but both shared similar machinery arrangements (twin shafts, Brown-Curtis turbines and
 
Yarrow boilers) and carried the same primary armament of four single 4.7in/45 BL Mk 1 guns and two triple 21in torpedo tubes. The design speed in each case was 37 knots. The Admiralty's original requirement had been for just 35 knots, but Yarrow offered 37 knots and Thornycroft were forced to match this. On initial trials, Amazon only made 34.5 knots but after modifications she achieved 38.7 knots six months later. Ambuscade exceeded 37.6 knots during her trials and proved more economical than Amazon at speeds in excess of 25 knots. These vessels were fitted with separate Parsons cruising turbines in addition to one high and one low power and an astern turbine per shaft.
 
Their size and armament were similar to the later destroyers of World War I but, with a speed about 3 knots faster, it was felt they offered a significant tactical advantage. Layout was similar to the 'Modified W' class destroyers, but with the addition of a sick bay and a surgeon's cabin. The Transmitting Station was also relocated to the upper deck.
 

HMS Amazon was of this class. She did not meet her design speed and underwent modifications in late 1927, going to South America for alltrials the following year.
 
In early 1939 she recommissioned to join HMS Vernon for Torpedo School sea training. During the war she was involved in convoy escort and anti-submarine work in home waters, the Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean before being withdrawn from operations in late
1943 because of the state of her hull, becoming an air target ship. Withdrawn from service in late 1944 she was used for structural tests until sold 1948.
 

Contents
 
Summary of design and development
Details of class variations and modifications
Colour reference for paint schemes
Gallery of photographs of outstanding models
Critical reviews of available kits
Sources of further information from books to websites
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1827


Carrier Operations in World War II
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: David Brown
ISBN: 9781848320420
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £40
Publication Date: 15 July 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Between 1939 and 1945 the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm grew from a small force into a powerful strategic weapon. British carrier-based aircraft fought throughout the world and David Brown here describes their activities in the Home, Mediterranean, Eastern and British Pacific Fleets, together with Forces created for specific operations, listing aircraft and units embarked during the various phases.
 
He goes on to describe carrier operations in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945, the greatest maritime war in history. Both the United States and Imperial Japanese Navies watched the Royal Navy's early carrier operations in the European Theatre and benefited from the lessons. American aircrews and sailors learnt quickly in action until, by March 1945, the United States Fifth Fleet with its associated Marine Corps formations was probably the most efficient and effective instrument of war deployed in the pre-nuclear age.
 
This new work contains material from two volumes, first published in 1968 and 1974, merged with notes for a third which David Brown prepared but never published before his death. They appear for the first time together, providing the most detailed single-volume account currently available of the operation of British, American and Japanese aircraft carriers in World War II.
 

The Author
 
J D (David) Brown served in the Royal Navy from 1957 until 1969 as an observer flying in fighter and strike aircraft. On leaving the RN he became a historian in the Royal Naval Historical Branch, remaining for more than twenty-five years and becoming Head of Branch in 1977. During this time he wrote a number of important books and monographs and lectured worldwide, but naval aviation was a specialty subject. However, his untimely death in 2001 left his masterly study of carrier operations unfinished: two volumes had been published, but the final part was still in manuscript or partially typed sections, so this is the first publication of the work in its entirety.
 
David Brown was married with four children and away from the office he always said that he spent most of his time commuting and avoiding gardening.
 
The Editor
 
David Hobbs served in the Royal Navy as a pilot for thirty-three years, flying both fixed and rotary wing. After retiring from the RN, he worked for eight years as the Curator of the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton. Himself the author of a number of highly regarded books on naval aviation, he was a close friend of David Brown and inherited his archive. From the surviving incomplete typescript and hand-written notes, he has reconstructed the final part of the Brown trilogy, producing a fitting posthumous tribute to a man he regarded as his mentor.
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1909


Assault Landing Craft
Design, Construction and Operations
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Brian Lavery
ISBN: 9781848320505
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 19 October 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
The landing craft assault or LCA was one of the unsung heroes of the Second World War. It took part in practically every amphibious operation from Norway to Normandy and landed around 400,000 men in action conditions, plus many more in training. It was the only serviceable British landing craft at the beginning of the War, and it remained in service until the Suez operation of 1956. It landed the first waves of infantry on the British and Canadian beaches in Normandy in 1944, and Americans on the notorious Omaha Beach. Its far-sighted design of 1938 remains the basis for the landing craft of today.
 
This is the first book devoted to this humble but essential craft. It examines its design history before the War, when amphibious operations were deeply unfashionable. It describes its design and construction with plans that will be useful to modellers and wargamers. It includes information on the role of the crew and the techniques and tactics used in landings. It gives an account of the larger ships which carried it and the life of the sailors and soldiers who travelled in it, with many vivid personal accounts. Finally, it describes its role in the many operations in which it took part, including withdrawals such as Dunkirk and the catastrophic Dieppe raid of 1942.
 

The Author
 
Brian Lavery has written 26 books on maritime history, including Ship of the Line and Churchill's Navy. He is Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum and is on the advisory committee of HMS Victory. He was historical adviser on the film Master and Commander and has sailed in many vessels, from a dinghy to a square rigger. In 2007 he won the Desmond Wettern Award and in 2008 the Anderson medal for his contributions to maritime history.
 
Introduction
 
THE Assault Landing Craft, or ALC, later known as the Landing Craft Assault (LCA), was the only serviceable British landing craft in the early stages of the Second World War. It had its first experience of combat, rather bizarrely, while landing the French Foreign Legion in Norway in 1940, and showed great promise during the evacuations from Dunkirk and Crete. It took part in many commando raids and landed the first British and Commonwealth troops in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. It was a tried and tested design by the time of the Normandy invasion, when it became the unsung hero. Boats commanded by leading hands or able seamen picked their way through beach obstacles to land the first waves of infantry, while more imaginative types of vessel such as the swimming tank, the Landing Craft (Rocket) and the Landing Craft Tank (Armoured) proved far less successful. It was still in service for the Suez operations in 1956.

The assault landing craft was the humblest vessel in the wartime Royal Navy during the Second World War. It was commanded by a rating rather than an officer, it did not appear in the Navy List, it had no armament of its own and it had a number rather than a name. It had no accommodation for cooking or sleeping so it was not expected to be used independently. It might be regarded as equivalent to a ship's boat, except that it was usually organised in flotillas and it was a true fighting vessel, not a support craft. It was certainly not pretty, in an age when the world had not yet become familiar with box-like vessels. Even in its role in amphibious operations, it tended to be dwarfed both literally and figuratively by larger vessels that could put tanks ashore with a certain amount of dramatic effect.
 
Nearly 2000 were built and these were a vital link in allied wartime operations. If each landed its full complement of thirty-five men only once, that would make a total of nearly 70,000. But if the average craft carried out four or five landings in action conditions, then they would have landed around 300,000, perhaps even more, and it is quite possible that half a million soldiers American troops had the experience of the short but uncomfortable and dangerous embarking into an ILA voyage onto a beach held by the enemy.
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1936


The Milk Cows
The U-Boat Tankers 1941-1945
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: John F White
ISBN: 9781848840089
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 8 June 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

During the Second World War the Germans developed a specially adapted U-boat oil tanker with two aims. First, by refuelling the attack U-boat fleet their range of operations and duration of patrol could be significantly increased. Secondly, these underwater tankers were far more likely to avoid detection than surface support ships.
 
The submarine tankers, affectionately known as 'Milk Cows', were regarded by both the Germans and the Allies as the most important element of the U-boat fleet. Allied forces had orders to attack the tankers first whenever a choice was presented.
 
Until late 1942 the German Milk Cows operated with great success and few losses. But from 1943 onwards the German rendezvous ciphers were repeatedly broken by the Allies and losses mounted rapidly. The Milk Cows were highly vulnerable during the lengthy refuelling procedure as they lay stationary on the surface, hatches open. By the end of the war virtually every tanker had been sunk with severe loss of life.
 
The story of this critical campaign has been thoroughly researched by the author and is told against the background of changing U-boat fortunes.
 

Preface
 
This is the story of Germany's submarine tankers, popularly known as the 'milk cows'. Germany's Kriegsmarine was, in the Second World War, the only navy in history ever to operate submarine tankers, a circumstance forced upon the U-boat Command by the difficulty of refuelling U-boats with conventional tankers in an ocean that would become dominated by Allied air and sea power. Their unique ability to submerge to evade detection provided the submarine tankers, for a while, with the means to continue their hazardous undertaking.
 
Any account of U-boat fortunes in the Second World War tends to leave the reader feeling stunned. By the end of the war, the Germans had suffered 30,000 dead and 5,000 captured U-boatmen from a deployed U-boat force of 41,000 men (latest German assessment), the worst casualty rate sustained by any armed force over a protracted period in all of history, and the milk cows suffered their full share of this carnage. British Intelligence was able to read most of the cows' numerous radio commands from 1943 to the end of the war, and their appalling casualty rate can be largely attributed to this cause. At times, the British Admiralty knew more about U-boat operations than did the Germans.
 
One cannot help but wonder why the Germans never understood that their ciphers were insecure. The ciphers were produced by mechanical interlocking devices, with rotating rotors to scramble the message, which the Germans well understood could be captured. The coded messages were then broadcast freely as radio messages in large volumes, so that code-breakers had plenty of material on which to work. The German faith in the machines' security relied on the fact that their settings were altered daily, and new mechanical rotors put in monthly, but clearly one could envisage this system being broken by a chance capture (as did occasionally occur) providing both settings and replacement rotors leading to a series of planned captures. Mostly, however, the British relied on the use of the world's first electronic computers to break the ciphers by trial and error.
 
The published memoirs of the few surviving U-boat commanders who were at sea after mid-1943 make it clear that the men at sea had realized that any broadcast message brought instant retribution, a problem exacerbated by the accuracy of Allied direction-finding equipment used to pinpoint the position of a transmitting U-boat. The older hands would send each other messages couched in terms that would only be understood by the recipient, if they used the radio at all. Yet BdU (U-boat Command) continued to send out radio commands to boats as soon as they had left port instead of providing 'sealed instructions' to be opened at sea. It is true that many U-boats were sunk fortuitously - for example, boats caught unawares at night by radar-fitted aircraft while travelling on the surface in the Bay of Biscay or even in mid-Atlantic - but constant changes to the U-boat ciphers indicated that the Germans had their suspicions.
 
It must have become apparent that virtually every U-tanker sent to refuel boats for remote theatres was quickly sunk after mid-1943, despite selection of the most secluded sea areas for the rendezvous. It seems extraordinary now that U-boat Command did not send out U-boats with written orders to head to a remote part of the ocean, then broadcast repeatedly in cipher from France that a refuelling was to take place at this remote area and order the U-boat to report back what happened. Several U-boats ordered to rendezvous with a milk cow in mid-Atlantic did report to base that they found only destroyers at the rendezvous, and the cow was never seen again.
 
Doubtless part of the problem lay with wishful thinking, for any interference with radio commands negated the whole basis of wolf-pack tactics, by which many boats were directed to a convoy located by one of their number. It is to be hoped that our current naval planners have not put the same unquestioning faith in their machine-operated ciphers as did the German Navy, particularly with the much-publicized advances in computer decryption techniques.
 
For the benefit of younger readers, accustomed to thinking of modern submarines as capable of remaining underwater for sustained periods (months), it should be mentioned that at the time of the Second World War the average 'submarine' was actually a submersible torpedo carrier. It was intended to operate on the surface in a manner similar to a destroyer armed with torpedoes, but with a much-reduced gun armament and with the priceless ability to submerge to avoid detection.
 
Conventional diesel engines requiring fuel oil were used when the U-boat cruised on the surface, which it did for most of the time, permitting a speed of 17 to 18 knots, far higher than the speed of most convoys and even of many of the convoy escorts. But once the U-boat dived, it switched to its main electric batteries. These provided it with a top speed of 7 knots for just one hour before running out of power, or with a crawling speed of 1 knot for anything up to forty-eight hours. Thus the U-boat lost all its mobility once it dived and the slowest convoy would leave it behind.
 
Moreover, it could not move any great distance before the exhaustion of its batteries required the U-boat to return to the surface, when the diesels could be used to drive the boat again and also to recharge the batteries (a task that took a few hours). By and large the milk cows did not need to submerge, except to dodge aircraft while passing between their bases (on the west coast of France) and the North Atlantic Ocean. Thus, most of the actions described in this book occurred on the surface.
 
In 1944 the Germans introduced the first examples of the 'true submarine', capable of remaining underwater for weeks at a time. These were the Type XXI and Type XXIII 'electric' U-boats, which were to revolutionalize submarine design from 1945 onwards.
But the electric boats do not form part of this story.


Review
 
Based on extensive research and the author's lifelong interest this is a detailed account of the innovative and unique operation of the German submarine supply ships of the Second World War. It also throws considerable light on the Allies Anti-submarine campaign in the brutal underwater war that threatened Great Britain's survival. Globally 2775 merchants ship were sunk and 784 U-Boats lost.
 
The essential background to the use and final destruction of these underwater tankers lies in the breaking of the German codes, the extension of the Allied air cover and their new weapons.
 
In September1939 Britain had bases for ships and aircraft across the world in Commonwealth and colonial countries and by the end of 1941 was losing territories to Japan and gained the advantages of the entry of the United States into the war. On the outbreak of war Germany had only the Baltic ports and Kiel, until with the collapse of France she gained the Atlantic seaboard from Norway to the Pyrenees when, critically, the ports on the French west coast became her submarine concrete-covered strongholds.
 
When by an Anglo-German agreement in 1936, the Reich was once again allowed to build submarines, Karl Doenitz, who later as head of state was to authorise the signing of the instrument of surrender, was appointed head of the U-Boat command. In this position, his one declared aim was to cripple Britain by sinking commercial ships; he also established a regime of centralised control of all his submarines at sea by wireless communication, which led in a large measure to their destruction. In his closing words, the author writes. 'The real lesson from the story of the milk cows, is the folly of over- reliance on any code or cipher system that an enemy can overhear.'
 
The author's narrative begins at the outbreak of war with the Kriegsmarine envisaging the use of three types of submarine, fast attack U-boats to attack convoys on the surface, heavier ones for minelaying to blockade Allied ports, and submarine tankers. For an attack U-boat with a range of 9000 miles to cruise off the African coast 3000 miles distance, even from the French ports its usefulness was limited without refuelling. By the end of 1941 the German surface tankers had been cleared from the seas and the submarine tankers, the Milchkuhe, were needed and ready for use. They were large, 220 feet long, some 1700 tons, carrying oil in outside tanks and slow. They carried substantial anti- aircraft armament, but of heavy construction. The plan was to evade attack by submerging. Their appointment with the attack submarines was arranged by U-Boat command whose communications were vulnerable, and had to be at a location outside the range of air surveillance. They would provide fuel and lubricating oil, drinking water, spare parts, munitions, provisions, medical assistance, and replacement crew members.
 
From the war diaries kept by individual U-Boat captains and that of U-Boat command, the author gives a vivid picture of the tanker operations. They would be escorted out of their base beyond the 50 metre depths after which they could submerge if attacked from the air. Radar would detect them and they in turn would acquire equipment to pick up the radar focussed on them in time to dive. They would arrive at their remote location and if necessary use homing signals to locate their flock. Through hoses they would refuel the attack submarines, possibly two at a time and more awkwardly ferry supplies and personnel in a rubber dinghy, working in wind strengths up to five or six, at all times ready to submerge. The first of these operations was in April 1942 when the United States seaboard gave the U-Boats easy targets before the Americans had established adequate anti-submarine defences. 10 of these U-tankers were built, and 8 minelaying boats were adapted for the same purposes. Only two of these eighteen survived the war, the majority sunk by aircraft with few survivors.
 
The accounts are kept alive by human detail; the U-Boats are cited with the captain's rank and name. U203. Kapitaenleutnant Muetzelburg, for example, on a warm summer's day in the Atlantic decided to join his crew bathing and dived in from his conning tower to land on the part-submerged saddle tank of his boat. The U-tanker, U462, Oberleutnant Vowe, with a doctor aboard was ordered to attend him, but he only arrived to find him dead.
 
The use of the tankers enabled the attack U-Boats to range far south down the South American and African coasts as far as Capetown to attack unescorted ships, and towards the end of the war to reach the Indian Ocean and Japan. The last six months of 1942 and until the spring of 1943 was the tankers' heyday, but with the final breaking of the code used for U-Boat instructions, the deployment of escort carriers with their aircraft, and new weaponry, their days were numbered.
 
In addition to his German sources Dr. White has consulted intelligence documents from the Admiralty and Air Ministry and the individual decrypts of German signals. He visited the famous 'U-Boot Archiv' in Cuxhaven to obtain eyewitness accounts and even advertised for a U-tanker survivor to receive only one response, a lucky man. Some idea of the scope of this work is given by the index where at the letter U, 288 individual U-Boats are listed! This is a well-written and authoritative book.
 
Your reviewer cannot but reflect sadly that so much human ingenuity and individual courage should have gone to such life-destroying ends.

Robin Crole
June 2010.
Further details on Pen & Sword:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1932


French Battleships 1922-1956
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Robert Dumas & John Jordan
ISBN: 9781848320345
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £35
Publication Date: 23 September 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
The battleships of the Dunkerque and Richelieu classes were the most radical and influential designs of the interwar period, and were coveted by the British, the Germans and the Italians following the Armistice of June 1940. After an extensive refit in the USA, Richelieu went on to serve alongside the Royal Navy during 1943-45.
 
Using a wealth of primary-source material, some of which has only recently been made available, John Jordan and Robert Dumas have embarked on a completely new study of these important and technically interesting ships. A full account of their development is followed by a detailed analysis of their design characteristics, profusely illustrated by inboard profiles and schematic drawings. The technical chapters are interspersed with operational histories of the ships, with a particular focus on the operations in which they engaged other heavy units: Mers el-Kebir, Dakar and Casablanca. These accounts include a detailed analysis of their performance in action and the damage sustained, and are supported by specially-drawn maps and by the logs of Strasbourg and Richelieu.
 
Twenty-two colour profile and plan views illustrate the ships' appearance at the various stages of their careers
 

The Authors
 
John Jordan is a former teacher of languages in a comprehensive school, and is fluent in French. He began writing about the postwar Soviet Navy in the late 1970s and authored two major books on the subject: Soviet Warships (1983; revised and expanded edition 1992) and Soviet Submarines (1989). Following the collapse of the Soviet Union he turned his attention to the interwar Marine Nationale, and over the past two decades has produced a series of articles for Warship annual, and in 2005 John took over from Antony Preston as its Editor.
 
Robert Dumas is also a former teacher, and worked in primary schools until his retirement in 1999. After many years of extensive and detailed research on the French battleships of the interwar period, Robert authored an acclaimed series of French-language monographs for the publisher Marines Edition during the early 1990s, and these were subsequently reissued as a boxed set in 2001. Robert has co-authored books on the postwar escorteurs d'escadre with Jean Moulin, and on the 23,500-ton battleships of the First World War with Jean Guiglini. He has produced numerous articles for Warship and for the Polish magazine Okrety Wojenne.

 
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1992


Captain Cook's War & Peace
The Royal Navy Years 1755 - 1768
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: John Robson
ISBN: 9781848320338
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £19.95
Publication Date: 31 July 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
Why was James Cook chosen to lead the Endeavour expedition to the Pacific in 1768? As this new book shows, by that date he had become supremely and uniquely qualified for the exacting tasks of exploration.
 
This was a period when who you were and who you knew counted for more than ability, but Cook, through his own skills and application, rose up through the ranks of the Navy to become a remarkable seaman to whom men of influence took notice; Generals such as Wolfe and politicians like Lord Egmont took his advice and recognised his qualities.
 
During this period Cook added surveying, astronomical and cartographic skills to those of seamanship and navigation. He was in the thick of the action at the siege of Quebec during the Seven Years War, was the master of 400 men, and learned at first hand the need for healthy crews. By 1768 Cook was supremely qualified to captain Endeavour and a reader might ask, 'why would you choose anyone else but Cook to lead such a voyage.'
 
Highly readable and displaying much new research, this is an important new book for Cook scholars and armchair explorers alike.
 

Part of the Introduction
 
James Cook's exploits in the Pacific are well known, having been covered by countless books. Cook, however, was already thirty-nine when he set out for the Pacific, and most of those books skip over Cook's earlier career in the Royal Navy if it is even mentioned at all. Flann O'Brien in his novel At Swim-Two--Birds had a character who 'was born at the age of twenty-five', and, in a similar vein, many of the authors of hooks about Cook have him 'born at the age of thirty-nine. For them, he was a ready-made explorer with no previous, personal history, just waiting to set off to discover peoples, lands and fortunes.
 
It is the intention of this book largely to ignore Cook's time in the Pacific but instead to focus on his career in the Royal Navy before his great adventures on Endeavour and Resolution. Similarly, only a brief overview will be presented of Cook's childhood and the time he spent sailing on colliers in the North Sea. For more detail on that part of Cook's life you are referred to the works of Cliff Thornton (Captain Cook in Cleveland) and Julia Rae (Captain James Cook Endeavours). Cook spent thirteen years in the Royal Navy before sailing to the Pacific, having joined in 1755. This book aims to show that most of the qualities that led to Cook being chosen to command Endeavour were developed during this period. His progress from able seaman to ship's master capable of drawing hvdrographic charts will be shown using examples from logs, journals and letters.
 
Cook's career over this time has been presented before, not least in an overview by JC Beaglehole in his Doe Life of Captain James Cook, but new information has come to light since the publication of that book in 1974. A few other authors have covered the period in part: Victor Suthren dealt with the Canadian aspects in To Go Upon Discovery; William Whiteley wrote about Cook in Newfoundland; and writers such as Raleigh Skelton and Andrew David have discussed Cook's development as a surveyorhvdrographer, which took place during this time.
 
The thirteen years under consideration divide neatly into two, providing an explanation for the title of this book. The first part, here called 'Captain Cook's War', was taken up with Cook's service in the Seven Years' War. The second part, 'Captain Cook's Peace' covers the six years during which he was occupied surveying the coast of Newfoundland. Each offered Cook opportunities to learn and develop new skills, which he did with quiet determination.
 
So who was James Cook and how did he come to be in the Royal Navy? He was born in Marton-in-Cleveland in the north-east of England, the second son of a farm labourer. His father, James Cook senior, who was originally from Ednam in Roxburghshire, south-east Scotland, had moved south to Cleveland some time in the 1720s. The details and reason for the move remain unknown but there he met Grace Pace, a local woman from Thornaby-on-Tees, and the couple were married in Stainton Parish Church on to October 1725 when the groom was thirty-one and the bride was twenty-three. Farm work was seasonal and temporary, so labourers attended the hirings held in local market towns and moved as necessary to wherever they could get work . The Cooks moved regularly around the Cleveland district over the next few years, albeit a few kilometres each time. Their first child, John, was born in 1727 when they were living in the Morton district. Shortly after, they moved a few kilometres to Marton, where Cook senior had secured work for George Mewburn.
 
The explorer, James Cook, was born in Marton on Sunday 27 October 1728 and was baptised a week later in Marton's parish church, St Cuthbert's, on 3 November. What little we know of Cook's early life is a mixture of fact, hearsay and legend, blended together over the years by biographers. The Cook family was poor and the children were expected to work as soon as they were able. It is believed, therefore, that young James was already tending stock, watering horses and running errands by the age of five for a local family, the Walkers. One story has it that, in return, Dame Walker is supposed to have taught him his alphabet and how to read. Two daughters followed James: Christiana in 1731 and Mary, born in 1733 (this Mary died in 1736).
 
It is thought that the Cooks lived in two separate homes in Marton but nothing remains of either of them. In 1736 the family left Marton to live at Aireyholme Farm on the slopes of Roseberry Topping near Great Ayton, six kilometres to the south-east. Aireyholme was owned by Thomas Skottowe, the lord of the manor of Great Ayton. The move was a promotion for Cook senior, who was the new hind or foreman on the farm. It also represented security for the family as it meant their travelling days were over, and they would stay at the farm until 1755, a period of nineteen years. At Ayton four more children were born: Jane in 1738 (died 1742); another Mary in 1740 (died 1741); Margaret in 1742; and William in 1745 (died 1748).
 
James, by now eight years old, went to the Postgate School in the village as well as working on the farm. It is thought that he was an average student though proficient in mathematics. He was a loner and obstinate but had the respect of the other boys. He attended the school until he was twelve, when he began full-time work, probably for the Skottowe family. This brought him to the attention of Thomas Skottowe, who would prove to have a considerable influence on Cook's life.
 
Skottowe was also a justice of the peace for the North Riding of Yorkshire and attended sessions at Guisborough, where it is probable that he met William Sanderson. Sanderson was a merchant and shopkeeper from Staithes, on the coast between Redcar and Whitby, who also acted as a constable in that district. The two men were friends and became related later on, when their sons married sisters named Gill. In 1745, when James Cook was sixteen and ready to leave home and get a job, it was arranged that he should work for Sanderson in his haberdashery and grocery shop at Staithes.
 
Staithes is a small, cramped, fishing village nestled at the foot of cliffs where Roxby Beck enters the sea. Always a very close community, newcomers took a long time to be accepted and, for a young boy like Cook, away from home for the first time, it would have been a strange and lonely place. However, Staithes did introduce Cook to the sea and Sanderson, realising that Cook was unsettled, used his connections and influence to introduce the boy to the Walker family in Whitby.
 
To link to Pen & Sword use this link:
www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1948


The Story of HMS Revenge
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Alexander Stilwell
ISBN: 1844159817
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the stirring story of a famous line of ships bearing the name Revenge. As there never was a country so bound up with the sea as England, readers will find that this book not only captures the spirit of that most British institutions, the Royal Navy but of the Nation as well.
 
The first Revenge, with its bold sleeklines, was emblematic of the boldness and flair of the Elizabethan era. A leap in time takes us to a very different ship, a battleship of over 25,000 tons, equipped with eight 15-inch.guns, the largest ever fitted to a Royal Navy ship. The first Revenge would have fitted neatly across her beam, with a metre to spare. This titan was representative of the power of a huge empire that, unrivalled, policed the seas of the world.
The last Revenge, the Polaris nuclear submarine, slipping menacingly through the depths of the ocean carrying a massive deterrent, was a fitting symbol of British resolve during the dangerous Cold War years.
 
Between Drake's Revenge and the Polaris submarine are the glory years of the British Empire and the Royal Navy. HMS Revenge was at the forefront of many of the greatest moments that punctuated that history, such as the defeat of the Armada, Nelson's magnificent victory at Trafalgar, one of the lynchpin battles in world history, and Jutland, a battle that according to Churchill could have decided the First World War in an afternoon.
 
It is also a story rich in personalities, not only of the great commanders, like Drake, Grenville and Nelson, but also midshipmen, ordinary seamen and stokers. This book vividly describes life on board the ships named Revenge often through the personal accounts of the men who served so proudly.
 

The Author
 
Alexander Stilwell is a professional writer and book publishing editor with considerable experience in military history and current affairs. He has an MA in International Peace and Security from King's College, London and has written or contributed to an impressive number of books and journals. He is married with three children and lives in Godalming, Surrey.
 

Extract from page 152
 
'In 1913 the building programme began that was to result in the last of the line of British First World War battleships and also the last surface ship named Revenge at the time of writing. The Revenge class battleships numbered five and included HMS Ramillies (launched 12 June 1916), HMS Resolution (launched 14 January 1915), HMS Revenge herself (launched 29 May 1915), HMS Royal Oak (launched 17 November 1914), and HMS Royal Sovereign (launched 29 April 1915).
 
HMS Revenge was laid down on 22 December 1913 at the Vickers shipyard, Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Barrow had been a small fishing village until the Industrial Revolution and the Furness railway brought iron ore to the area. The iron ore had been discovered, not by industrialists of the nineteenth century, but by medieval monks of the nearby Abbey of St Mary of Furness. The monks extracted the iron ore in open-cast mines and smelted it in early furnaces. Hundreds of years later, with the establishment of the Furness railway in 1846, it became possible to construct a steel work and by 1852 shipbuilding became established with the building of the first steamship in the area. The Barrow shipbuilding company was in due course taken over by Vickers in 1897. Barrow-in-Furness would also be the location of the building of the future Revenge nuclear submarine.
 
Whereas the Queen Elizabeth class battleships had been designed to run on oil, which had potential supply problems in time of war, the Revenge class battleships were designed to run on either oil or coal, plenty of coal being available in the British Isles. The oil or coal-powered, reaction-type, direct-drive steam turbines were located in three engine rooms.'

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1996


Stand By For Action
The Memoirs of a Small Ship Comander in World War 11
Edition: 2009 (1st Published in 1956
Format: Paperback
Author: William Donald
ISBN: 9781848320161
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £7.99
Publication Date: 26 February 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
The author of this compelling memoir proved himself one of the most successful small ship commanders during the Norwegian campaign in 1940, and then served at sea continuously throughout the rest of the War.
 
In Norway, as second-in-command of a Black Swan sloop, he experienced the suspense and nervous strain of operating in the narrow waters of a twisting fjord under heavy air attack, but his humour was never far away. 'I don't want to appear fussy, but are we going to be greeted by cheers and kisses from Norwegian blondes, or a hail of gunfire from invisible Huns?' he remarked to his officers on approaching the small town of Andalsnes.
 
His next task - in command first of a corvette and then a destroyer - was escorting East Coast convoys, and his experiences reflect the danger of this work against the menaces of E-boats, enemy aircraft and mines. He then took part in the landings at Anzio and the Normandy landings in 1944; finally, he rescued internees from the Japanese prison camp on Stanley, Hong Kong. His career was much helped by his highly developed sixth sense for danger, the deep affection of his crews and his affinity with cats which he believed brought him luck.
 
This record of varied and almost incessant action ranks among the most thrilling personal stories of the war at sea.
 

Introduction
 
As a naval memoir of the Second World War, this is a remarkably self-effacing account from which the author emerges as a brave, decent and frank individual; and the lack of postwar glorification makes it a fascinating and very honest account of one naval officer's war experiences. What adds particular value is that Donald spent much of his war in what, at least in the perception of mainstream naval history, is something of a backwater.
 
Donald makes little mention of his life in the service prior to the outbreak of hostilities. He was, in fact, born at Keswick, Cumberland, on i July 191o. His father had served as mayor of Carlisle and, after Dartmouth, Midshipman William Spooner Donald was sent to serve the empire in small men-of-war, mainly on the China station. At the beginning of 1939 he was back in Britain and, with the shadow of conflict looming in the months after Munich, he and nine other lieutenants were sent to Whale Island prior to taking up appointments as first lieutenants in newly commissioning destroyers and sloops. Donald passed out tenth, but was satisfied that he had "jumped the first hurdle" to command. He joined HM sloop Black Swan and, under Captain A L Poland DSC, was part of the Rosyth Escort Force whose main task was the protection of convoys up and down the coast from Methil to the Thames. This was in due course to be the theatre in which Donald spent the greater part of the War, but for the Black Swan's involvement in the Norwegian campaign. What became a costly debacle was no fault of the forces engaged, and the Black Swan was under intermittent air attack as she provided anti-aircraft defence to troops ashore, actually sustaining a bomb-hit in her stern which fortunately failed to detonate, though it drove several holes right through three decks and a bulkhead on its passage through the lucky ship. For his services in Norway, Donald was awarded the DSC.
 
The Black Swan resumed the task of escorting east coast convoys which, in addition to consisting of coasters carrying general cargoes and colliers with much needed coal for power-stations, industry and domestic consumption in the south of England, also included the deep-water merchantmen dispersed from transatlantic convoys with cargoes consigned to those few east coast portsincluding London that were still able to handle the discharge of their lading in defiance of the German blitz. These convoys, which proceeded through swept channels marked by dimly lit buoys at intervals of five miles, commonly consisted of fifty ships in close order. In shallow water off the East Anglian coast, obstructed by numerous shoals and subject to fierce tides, the task would have been difficult enough in those pre-radar days, but to the further natural complications of foul weather with gales at one end of the spectrum and oily, foggy calms at the other, there were the added risks of enemy action.
 
Spotting aircraft could call up Luftwaffe units, usually Junkers Ju88s, which attacked by day, while at night the convoys, trundling along their predictable routes at seven knots could easily be interdicted by fast, heavily armed German E-boats. Frequent sallies were made by the enemy in order to outwit the efforts of the tireless minesweepers, and mines accounted for many vessels, further complicating the convoys' navigation by littering the fairway with wrecks.
 
In due courseand after Black Swan had herself encountered a mine, Donald was promoted to lieutenant commander and appointed as captain to HMS Guillemot, a small, elegant Bird-class corvette which was also part of the Rosyth Escort Force. In Guillemot he continued the dull but dangerous task of working up and down the east coast. Although enemy attack was not inevitable, the risk of interception was constant, hence the title of his memoir, Stand by for Action, and Donald's text is eloquent of the fatigue induced by constant vigilance, fatigue which easily turned into exhaustion. He is candid enough to admit his own fundamental errors when things went wrong, and his book is a text for any would-be ship's captain, shorn of the glories and dwelling upon the realities of life in a small warship with its sparse pleasures and grindingly monotonous routines. There is no word of complaint and he devotes a section to the essential development of Coastal Forces and the gallantry of men like Lieutenant Commander R P Hichens who took the battle to the enemy.
 
Notwithstanding his modesty Donald was clearly a dedicated and thoroughly professional sea-officer, a fact recognised by Their Lordships, who next appointed him to the old V-Class destroyer Verdun, also part of the Rosyth Escort Force. Towards the end of the War Donald was transferred to command the new destroyer HMS Ulster in which, leading his squadron, he was engaged in a fierce engagement in the Western Channel with three German destroyers, an action which earned him a bar to his DSC. Later service in the Mediterranean confirmed his skill as a destroyer commander and he was present at the Anzio landings before being withdrawn prior to the assault on Normandy on D-Day in June 1944. His description of Operation Neptune is particularly vivid but he was now under great strain, suffering from battle-fatigue and requested to be relieved of his command.
 
In due course, however, he was appointed second-in-command of HMS Glengyle, a fine, fast cargo-liner which had been converted to an infantry assault vessel. Fortunately, rather than landing troops on the Japanese coast, the dropping of the atomic bomb found Glengyle repatriating internees from Hong Kong. Donald's end-of-war foray into the eastern seas on such a mission was clearly an emotional experience for him and brings out the humanity for which he was admired by his young ship's companies. He possessed an uncanny sense of premonition which saved lives on several occasions and which he was unable to account for.
 
After the War and promoted to commander, Donald commanded HM destroyer Concord before being invalided out of the Royal Navy in 1948 on account of debilitating deafness, probably brought on by exposure to frequent gunfire. He returned to his wife and daughter in his beloved Cumberland to run a business, where he died in 2002.
 
This book was a best-selling autobiography on its appearance in 1956 and retains a freshness and humanity which is a lasting testimony to its author.
 
Captain Richard Woodman FRHistS FNI
Author of the three convoy histories,
Arctic Convoys, Malta Convoys and the Real Cruel Sea

For More information go to the Pen & Sword Website at this page
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1798


The Battle Of The Narrow Seas
The History of Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea 1939-1945
Edition: 2009 reprint
Format: Hardback
Author: Peter Scott
ISBN: 9781848320352
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £20
Publication Date: 16 September 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the story of the struggle for the control of the narrow seas of the Channel and the southern North Sea during the Second World War, told by Peter Scott who, as a MTB commander, saw action against the enemy throughout the course of the War.
 
The book is much more than a memoir and tells the whole story of the wide-ranging conflict against the Germans, fought in the congested waters of the Channel. Actions against convoys and E-boats, often under the shadows of French cliffs, an impossible sortie against Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as they ran the gauntlet through the Straits in February 1942, the attack on St Nazaire, and the defensive and offensive roles taken on by MTBs during the D-Day landings are just some of the events covered in the book.
 
The bravery of the crews of these small ships became legendary and the casualties that were suffered during brief and fierce encounters were horrific. As the War dragged on Motor Torpedo Boats became household words, and their activities, often described, perhaps a little luridly in the press, helped to raise the morale of the nation in much the same way that the fighter aircraft had done in the Battle of Britain in September 1940. A much-needed new edition.
 

Endorsement
 
'A magnificent story. ... To read this book is to relive the excitement,
the determination and the optimism that were the defining features of
the young men of Coastal Forces in the second World War.'
 
Antony Hichens
 

The Author
 
Sir Peter Scott was the only son of the explorer Robert Falcon Scott who perished in Antarctica when the former was three years old. Though now probably best remembered for his work as a conservationist, his war career as an MTB commander was a remarkable one for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery, and this book, long out of print, made an important contribution to the history of Coastal Forces.
 

New Introduction
 
Peter Scott's The Battle of the Narrow Seas was published in 1945, in time for the first post-war Christmas market, as my own copy testifies it having been given to me as a Christmas present by my mother. My father, Lieutenant Commander Robert Hichens DSO* DSC** RNVR, features in it in many places and as a boy I thought of this book as a major contribution to Second World War naval history. Many years later it came as something as a shock to find that Captain Roskill's official history of the Navy in the Second World War made little reference to the stories of courage and adventure in Coastal Forces small warships which this book describes so freshly. It is indeed the feeling of immediacy which pervades the book, full of first-hand accounts of battles from which the smoke had hardly cleared, that distinguishes it from more analytical and objective naval history written later. Scott was himself a distinguished steam gun boat flotilla leader and he writes of his own experiences as well as those of other men he knew. He had clearly noted at first hand their descriptions of the actions they had fought and the book was compiled with official sanction while the war in the Channel of the North Sea still raged, possibly when Scott himself had come ashore to join the D-Day Directing Staff in 1944. Thus it has the strengths as well as the blemishes of an account drawn together at the time by one of the leading participants in that long naval campaign.
 
Scott describes the hesitant, amateur start of Coastal Forces in response to the sudden threat to the British convoy routes up and down the Channel and the East Coast after the Fall of France had, at one stroke, given the German Navy access to the Dutch, Belgian and French Channel ports. From these bases their well designed, fast and relatively heavily armed E-boats could sortie under cover of darkness to attack those vital highways with torpedoes and mines. Four years later, after the construction of hundreds of motor torpedo boats, motor gun boats and motor launches, manned predominantly by reserve officers and hostilities-only ratings, it was the British who snuffed out the capacity of the German Navy to escort its own coastal convoys on the far side of the water.
 
After 1918 the Navy had abandoned light fast fighting craft in order to concentrate available funds on heavier warships, a decision repeated ten years after the Second World War, so that this arm of the service had to be recreated in 1940. The early designs were inferior to the German E-boats and R-boats, but in war you learn quickly, or not at all, and by 1943 Coastal Forces had available to it an array of effective classes of miniature warships, many of them capable of exceptionally high speeds and suitable for taking the battle into the enemy's waters. Out of these fierce clashes, almost always at night due to the dominance of aircraft over the Channel by day, some remarkable reputations were formed, with men such as Pumfrey, Gould, Dickens, McDonald and, of course, Robert Hichens becoming as well known in naval circles, and indeed to the public, as naval leaders of far greater experience commanding infinitely greater destructive power in the destroyers, cruisers, capital ships and submarines of the greater fleet.
 
This is not strictly a history book. For Coastal Forces history read Peter Dickens' Night Action, Len Reynolds' MTBs and MGBs at War in Home Waters or Brian Cooper's The Battle of the Torpedo Boats. This is first hand recounting of wild adventures in which very young men led formations of small warships into yard arm to yard arm battles which were fought in darkness and at great speed, resulting in even greater confusion. The MGBs in particular fought at close quarters in an era when ships were generally sinking each other at distances measured in miles or under the surface by warships who seldom saw their quarry and only knew of his destruction through acoustic devices and the sighting of flotsam. Before radar directed guns, at night the enemy could only be seen at close quarters and the light automatic weapons were only then effective, so that action was routinely pressed home to point blank range. Although any naval war contains infinitely more hours of tedious patrol than it does of exhilarating contact with the enemy, when contact came it was exciting and stimulating. There is little doubt that the young men who fought in the North Sea and the Channel thought themselves fortunate compared with their comrades who put up with the hardships and tedium of Atlantic escort duty, which nevertheless would determine the outcome of the war to a far greater degree than these piratical clashes off Britain's shores. Another factor which made Coastal Forces so attractive to the young civilians who volunteered for the Navy was the ability to master the relatively simple technology of these small craft after only a few months of training and experience, so that in some cases men who had been at sea for less than a year were given command of their own ships and in time even flotillas. It was determination and raw courage, more than the mastery of complex technology and long naval experience, which defined successful MGB and MTB commanding officers and their crews.
 
It is inevitable that this book, compiled towards the end of the War, deals almost exclusively with the British point of view. German sources had not yet become available, beyond the transcripts of propaganda broadcasts which could easily be ridiculed. Neither side had a balanced picture of what damage it had inflicted on the other in those brief moments of contact, with night vision blinded by tracer and the flash of exploding shells and boats racing past each other at combined speeds of over eighty knots. What both reported in good faith when they returned to base sometimes showed irreconcilable differences of view about who had done what and to whom when compared years later. Yet the inexorable tide of growing British strength and competence in this form of warfare left its own unquestionable record in the attrition of German strength and finally a Royal Navy in confident control of the Narrow Seas. One of the few great E-boat successes of the latter part of the War, the sinking of American landing craft inadequately escorted by the Royal Navy across Lyme Bay on a pre D-Day night exercise, gets only the briefest of mentions. Perhaps it was still too sore a subject to record in more detail. Yet in spite of the inevitable bias of the time, and the lack of careful sifting of evidence, this is a magnificent story of how those young men fought and ultimately overcame their doughty and well armed opponents. It is beautifully illustrated, including many of the author's own vivid action paintings. To read this book is to relive the excitement, the determination and the optimism that were the defining features of the young men of Coastal Forces in the Second World War.
 
Antony Hichens, July 2009

For More information go to the Pen & Sword Website at this page
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2001

Review
 
This edition of a book published in 1945 has a new Introduction by Antony Hichens, who is the son of Lieutenant Commander Robert Hichens DSO* DSC** RNVR the author of 'We Fought Them in Gunboats', Michael Joseph 1944. Antony published a Biography of his father in 2007, see 'Gunboat Command' Pen & Sword. Robert Hichens was killed in April 1943.
 
Both 'We Fought Them in Gunboats' and this book under review, are remarkable unique insights into the past and record events as seen through the eyes of men who were there.
 
In the new Introduction, Antony Hichens says that this is not a history book and recommends we read Peter Dickens' 'Night Action' (recently re-published by Pen & Sword), Len Reynolds' 'MTBs at War in Home Waters' or Bryan Cooper's 'The Battle of the Torpedo Boats'. To these you could add, Bryan Cooper's 'The War of the Gun Boats' and 'Dog Boats at War - Royal Navy “D” Class MTBs and MGBs 1939-1945', The History Press 2009.
 
This book reviewed is just as described by Antony Hichens, a “First-hand recounting of wild adventures in which very young men led formations of small warships into yardarm to yardarm battles which were fought in darkness at great speed, resulting in even greater confusion”. However, the author Peter Scott asks us to consider it in a different light. He says that when war comes to a country certain sacrifices are necessary. He explains them fully and asks us all to read the sentences again once we have read the book.
 
The book starts with an account of a typical torpedo attack which took place in 1942. It goes on to set the scene and describe the background of the battle, and then it begins at the beginning and tells the tale in chronological order. There had not been space to describe every engagement which was fought, nor to mention by name all those who played the principal parts. The necessity for secrecy, too, had placed certain limitations on the book.
 
We are fortunate that we are able to read a book first published in 1945, for Naval Historians it is a must, however I hope it reaches a much wider readership.
 
Rob Jerrard


Black Flag - The Surrender of Germany's U-Boat Forces on Land and at Sea
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Lawrence Paterson
ISBN: 9781848320376
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £25
Publication Date: 30 September 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

On the eve of Germany's surrender in May 1945, Grossadmiral Karl Dönitz commanded thousands of loyal and active men of the U-boat service. Still fully armed and unbroken in morale, enclaves of these men occupied bases stretching from Norway to France, where cadres of U-boat men fought on in ports that defied besieging Allied troops to the last. At sea U-boats still operated on a war footing around Britain, the coasts of the United States and as far as Malaya.
 
Following the agreement to surrender, these large formations needed to be disarmed - often by markedly inferior forces - and the boats at sea located and escorted into the harbours of their erstwhile enemies. Neither side knew entirely what to expect, and many of the encounters were tense; in some cases there were unsavoury incidents, and stories of worse. For many Allied personnel it was their first glimpse of the dreaded U-boat menace and both sides were forced to exercise considerable restraint to avoid compromising the terms of Germany's surrender.
 
One of the last but most dramatic acts of the naval war, the story of how the surrender was handled has never been treated at length before. This book uncovers much new material about the process itself and the ruthless aftermath for both the crews and their boats.
 

The Author
 
Lawrence Paterson has had a longinterest in the Kriegsmarine, initially inspired by his time scuba diving on World War II wreck sites. He also lived for some years near the Brest submarine pens, which turned his attention specifically to U-boats. He has now written ten books on various aspects of the U-boat war, most recently Dônitz's Last Gamble, published by Seaforth in 2008. SEE http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/pen/pen2008.html#donitz
 

Foreword
 
In May 1945 Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied nations with whom it had waged war over the previous six years. During the course of this great conflict the lands conquered by the Third Reich stretched from the sands of North Africa to the frozen steppes of Russia, with the greater part of mainland Europe and Scandinavia falling under occupation. However, the high tide of German empire-building broke in 1942 and nearly three years of retreat followed. Germany had neither the men or resources required to maintain what it had taken in the face of the enormous reserves accumulated by the Allies, notably the United States and Soviet Union.
 
At sea, the Kriegsmarine had waged war in four oceans and five seas, this onslaught spearheaded by Grossadmiral Karl Dônitz's U-boat service. However, as on land, it was a battle of attrition that he could not win. Bested by Allied numbers, tenacity and technology, the German U-boat service's chance at victory ended in May 1943 and they, too, fought a defensive battle for the remainder of the war. Despite this fact, the boats which were largely becoming obsolete by the end of 1944 continued to sail and attack wherever they could. Brief successes against an all-powerful enemy, whether localised success in small group offensives, or single 'kills' made in lone-wolf patrols, were achieved right up to the final days of combat, whereupon the U-boats were ordered to cease fire and face the certainty of a humiliating surrender.
 
On land, the dispirited remnants of military formations, savaged in combat, were herded into confinement by the victorious armies. However, as well as the task of disarming thousands upon thousands of soldiers, there also existed large enclaves of Kriegsmarine personnel which still stretched from France to Norway in ports and bases from which the U-boats had operated. These men remained fully armed and almost unbroken in battle as Allied forces arrived to disarm them. In France, several of the harbour towns that had hosted the U-boat flotillas had been successfully defended against Allied siege troops, and were forced to surrender only because of the ending of the war. The complicated task of taking Germany's U-boat men into captivity often fell to small units of Allied troops, vastly outnumbered by crowds of unbowed German troops, many of them youngsters unwilling to consider their nation vanquished.
 
Coupled with the men ashore were those U-boats which still operated on a war footing around the United Kingdom, off the coasts of the United States, and as far away as Malaya. These had to be located before being shepherded into harbours where their surrender could be effected. For many Allied naval and air force personnel it was their first glimpse of the dreaded U-boat menace, and both sides were forced to exercise considerable restraint to avoid compromising the terms of Germany's surrender.
 
After this surrender, Dônitz's men were incarcerated with varying degrees of severity. Several were brutally interrogated by American intelligence officers in attempts to discover what potential weapons had been developed in conjunction with the Japanese, with whom the Allied powers were still at war. Elsewhere, German submariners found themselves held in prisoner-of-war camps that stretched from Canada and the United States to Britain. Many would not see their homeland until years after the end of the war. In the Far East, their erstwhile allies, the Japanese, incarcerated many U-boat men until Japan's eventual surrender some months later. The surrendered German forces were witness to much of the agony of Japan's troops and civilians in the dying months of the war which saw frequent bombing.
 
Meanwhile, Germany's underwater weaponry was eagerly seized and examined by the victors, particularly the Type XXI and XXIII electro-boats and Walter's hydrogen peroxide propulsion units installed aboard a handful of experimental boats. Interest was so high that even the American President Harry Truman boarded the Type XXI U-boat that had been commanded by the Ace Erich Topp; this resulted in an almost comical episode as the boat submerged and suffered a brief power failure, at which point the Secret Service men surrounded their Commander-in-Chief, amidst fears of a coup d'etat aboard the dreaded German U-boat.
 
Eventually, the majority of Dônitz's surrendered U-boat fleet was to be disposed of by the Allies in various ways, some providing targets for a certain limited amount of firing practice by Allied aircraft and naval vessels, whilst others represented a small measure of symbolism about Allied triumph over the much-feared U-boat threat.
 
Germany's submariners were much maligned in Allied propaganda, this image of savage cunning being reinforced by their seeming unwillingness to refrain from offensive action right up to, and regretfully beyond, their orders to cease fire being transmitted from Germany. Allied reasoning that only the hardcore Nazi element would continue to fight such a clearly lost war was naïve and incorrect. This assumption was mostly made by people who were not only unaware of the grim realities accepted by most U-boat men about their slim chances of survival, but who had also forgotten that a similar kind of dogged determination had led to Britain remaining steadfast when faced with disaster in 1940, Soviet forces counter-attacking in the winter of 1941 even after being roundly beaten by the Wehrmacht, and American troops summoning the strength and determination to hold their position at Bastogne in the face of overwhelming German assault. Such courage in the face of almost certain annihilation did not require the political motivation often ascribed to Nazi forces, or indeed to the Soviet troops who suffered the most within the ranks of the Allies.
 
In May 1945 the task of disarming and accepting the surrender of the U-boats fell primarily to the invading Allies from the West. Those that were taken by the Soviets were largely swallowed up into the unforgiving Gulags and the quest for secrets that would become hidden behind the rapidly-descending Iron Curtain. This is the story of the surrender of Dônitz's Grey Wolves at sea, in trenches on the French Atlantic coast, and in the battered cities of northern Germany.

For More information go to the Pen & Sword Website at this page
 
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1994

Review
 
Lawrence Paterson is an acknowledged authority on U-boats, having researched and written many interesting books on the subject. Some may wonder why we need more books on the U-boat war, but it is only after delving into this book and many more by Paterson and others , that the realisation dawns that this was a complex business with so many human drama stories , some still to make it into print. For avid U-boat readers, there are cross-references to some of the other material.
 
First impressions are good with many excellent pictures of personnel and the U- boats themselves, and a glossy dust jacket featuring a dramatic painting by Anthony Cowland . This may not be to everyone taste, as it belies the factual nature of the contents. The internal layout is orderly and there is a nice feel to the book. Shame that the excellent material, coupled with the rather hefty price, didn't perhaps warrant a better quality paper.

The chapters are well laid out, and deal with the events in May 1945, followed by the surrender at sea, and on land. There are chapters on Military Justice, and captivity. Some shocking facts emerge about the treatment of a few submariners by the Allies and their partners. Many readers will be labouring under the impression that the Germans and the Axis forces were the only perpetrators of ill treatment of prisoners, and this book goes part way to putting the record straight.

The section devoted to the events in France during the last hectic months is fascinating. Few readers, other than historians and war buffs, will have realised before that the notorious submarine pens and the areas of ,
Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, and La Pallice were still in German hands at the end of the war, and that they suffered a long siege for the last seven months as the Allied forces surrounded these strongholds. Brest, defended by a rag-bag collection of the German military, was finally captured, as was Bordeaux, which was abandoned to the Free French. The detail in this chapter, as it affected the men of the Kriegsmarine, is a revelation.

What becomes clear as the reader progresses, is that some understandable confusion existed at the moment of capitulation at sea, and Donitz's orders to the U-boats to fly the black flag and surrender were often questioned or disobeyed. Wild thoughts of escape were common, and turned to the fuel situation. This was compounded by the change of orders, from one to scuttle all the boats, issued on the 30th April 1945, into a later one to surrender intact. Some thought it was a false message. Many of the captains, still unbowed, were dismayed and confused. Each boat has its own story to tell, and surrounded as many were by rumours and suspicion, the total picture is a worthwhile subject handled expertly by the author. When the sea battles were over, the U-boat men and their officers were employed ashore putting up strong resistance around Berlin, and they accounted for many British tanks, by forming an effective and tough fighting group. What makes this read so interesting is the attention to detail and the fascinating anecdotes and vignettes which have been winkled out. It transforms what might have been a rather mundane list of U-boats and their fate, into a readable and even gripping account. All credit to the author, who clearly has a very enquiring and far-reaching mind, which takes him beyond the plain facts, interesting as they are. All of this, coupled with a crisp and appealing prose style, makes for a book of interest to the casual reader as well as the more serious student of the U-boat war.

190 pages in all with notes and appendices.

Alan Rawlinson


HMS Royal Sovereign & Her Sister Ships.
Originally Battleship Royal Sovereign. H/B William Kimber, London, 1988(ISBN 1 7183 0740 6)
Battleships at War
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Peter C Smith
ISBN: 9781844159826
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 15 July 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
This is the wartime history of the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign, along with the story of her four sister ships HMS Revenge, HMS Resolution, HMS Royal Oak and HMS Ramillies. These ships were built and launched during World War I and although old and slow, and bitterly criticised by Churchill and others as being "Coffin Ships", the Royal Sovereign class battleships in fact played a valiant and doughty role in World War II. The Royal Oak was an early loss, thanks mainly to pre-war Government parsimony, the other four ships played a full part, at Norway, bombarding the German invasion fleet in the Channel; escorting North Atlantic convoys; in the Mediterranean, in the Indian Ocean, the occupation of Madagascar and at Normandy and the South of France invasions. HMS Royal Sovereign herself, was handed over to the Soviet Union for several years and her service there is also detailed along with their final demise post-war. Many original eyewitness accounts and photographs enhance the book.
 

Author's Explanatory Note
 
It is a measure of the gap of 'sixty years on' that I find it necessary to explain to younger readers just what the nickname Tiddly Quid' meant. Following the restoration of the monarchy after Oliver Cromwell, it became practice to reaffirm loyalty to the Crown by prefixing warships' names with 'Royal' or 'Loyal', or renaming them to commemorate some act of allegiance or an event, such as Royal Oak, Loyal London and the like; and Royal Sovereign was in this tradition. However, ships of the Royal Navy have also been named Sovereign of the Seas as a mark of their great size and majesty, or just plain Sovereign for a variety of reasons. A more recent ruling (contained in the Appendices of this volume) has confirmed once and for all that all these variations are but different manifestations of the same continuity of lineage.
 
So much for proud tradition down the centuries; and as such warships' names perform a valuable function in forming a bond between the wooden walls of the sixteenth century and the nuclear submarines of 2008. But of course 'Jack' will have none of this. The lower deck has always come up with affectionate names of their own for the ships they fought and served so well down the centuries. Thus Bellerophon became 'Billy Ruff'n' to the common sailor, Penelope was invariably 'Pennyloap', and more recently the 1930s sloop Weston-super-Mare was immediately dubbed 'Aggie-on-Horseback' after Dame Agnes Weston, founder of the well-known sailors' homes. Royal Sovereign was always a smart ship - more than that, an extra-smart ship - in an age when burnished brasswork and holystoned white decks marked the outward manifestation of efficiency and pride. To the sailors such a ship was a 'Tiddly ship', the best, the smartest, the top-notch ship of the fleet. A sovereign was also the mark of coinage: the Imperial British Pound was a 'Sovereign', and so the transition of Royal Sovereign to 'Tiddly Quid' was a natural. From that to Marine Major Wray's inspired 'Regal Rouble' was but a short step for mankind! But to a whole generation of naval officers and seamen from 1916 to 1949 there will always be only one 'Tiddly Quid'. May this book help preserve her memory for future generations of fighting sailors.
 

Reviewer's note re HMS Penelope
 
I have meet a Royal Marine officer (Who was in Penelope, Captain M A Wilberforce RM) and he called it Pepperpot, apparently this was adopted because she had so many holes in her after a particular action. See ' Our Penelope - The Story of HMS Penelope' By Her Company, George G Harrop & Co Ltd, 1943.
 

The Author
 
Peter C. Smith is well-known to aviation and maritime history readers. He has written over 67 previously published books. Amongst these are Skua, Destroyer Leader, Into the Minefields and Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939 - 45, Midway: Dauntless Victory all published by Pen & Sword. He has spent many years researching for this book, culling obscure files and documents in archives around the world. See all Peter Smith's books at: www.dive-bombers.co.uk.
 
For More information go to the Pen & Sword Website at this page
 
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1950


Hitler's Navy
A Reference Guide to the Kriegmarine 1935-1945
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Jak Mallmann Showell
ISBN: 9781848320208
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £35
Publication Date: 29 July 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information

The German Navy, both before the War and throughout the years of fighting, was heavily outnumbered by the navies of Great Britain and the United States; nonetheless, it proved to be serious thorn in the sides of its adversaries. The U-boat war in the North Atlantic threatened the very liberation of Europe, while the major warships posed a constant threat to the Allied shipping lanes.
 
This important reference book is an indispensable guide to the ships, organisation, command and rank structure, and leaders of the Kriegsmarine, and helps explain why it was such a potent force. A detailed text, augmented by photos, maps and diagrams, studies the German Navy from the Treaty of Versailles to the collapse of the U-boat offensive and the demise of the Third Reich. After covering the background organisation and naval bases, the author gives detailed descriptions of all the classes of ship from the battleships to motor torpedo boats and minesweepers. The officers and sailors are covered along with their uniforms and awards and insignia. Biographies of notable personalities and a chronology of the main naval events are included, as well as appendices and a select bibliography.
 
Based on the author's 1979 title The German Navy in World War Two, this is a classic work of reference for a new generation of readers.
More Information can be found at the Pen & Sword website at
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1856


Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: J D Davies
ISBN: 9781848320147
Publishers: Pen and Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £40 Web Price £32
Publication Date: 3 November 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This new reference book describes every aspect the English navy in the second half of the seventeenth century, from the time when the Fleet Royal was taken into Parliamentary control after the defeat of Charles I, until the accession of William and Mary in 1689 when the long period of war with the Dutch came to an end. This is a crucial era which witnessed the creation of a permanent naval service, in essence the birth of the Royal Navy.
 
Every aspect of the navy is covered - naval administration, ship types and shipbuilding, naval recruitment and crews, seamanship and gunnery, shipboard life, dockyards and bases, the foreign navies of the period, and the three major wars which were fought against the Dutch in the Channel and the North Sea. Samuel Pepys, whose thirty years of service did so much to replace the ad hoc processes of the past with systems for construction and administration, is one of the most significant players, and the navy which was, by 1690, ready for the 100 years of global struggle with the French owed much to his tireless work.
 
This book is destined to become a major work for historians, naval enthusiasts and, indeed, anyone with an interest in this colourful era of the seventeenth century.
 
Review
 
This superb books deals comprehensively with possibly the mot tumultuous period in our country's history........ This is not only an impressive technical publication to satisfy the dedicated researcher, it is also a jolly good read for the enthusiast.
 
The Nautical Magazine - May 2009

More Information can be found at the Pen & Sword website at
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1760


A Century of British Naval Aviation 1909 - 2009
Edition: First
Format: Hardback
Author: David Wragg
ISBN: 1848840365
Publishers: Pen & Sword Maritime
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The Royal Navy was in the forefront of aviation from the start. Senior officers, such as the legendary Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher, quickly recognised the strategic and tactical importance of air power. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, was quick to volunteer the Royal Naval Air Service, the forerunner of the Fleet Air Arm, for the air defence of the mainland during The Great War. After the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918, the Navy had a fierce fight to retain its own air arm and this is a struggle, and rivalry, that continues today.
 
Published to coincide with the Centenary of Naval Aviation, this book tells the fascinating and proud history of the first century of British Naval aviation. During this period the Royal Navy has led the way with technological achievements such as angled flight decks, mirror deck landing systems and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). Operational successes during two World Wars include the sinking of the Konigsberg and the daring attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto, Arctic and Atlantic convoy protection and operations with the United States Navy in the Pacific. Post-war saw the politically ill-fated Suez intervention and the triumphant recapture of the Falklands after the Argentine invasion as well as operations in The Gulf.
 
The author, one of Britain's leading maritime historians, makes full use of personal accounts to describe many thrilling accounts of operations as well as including a chronology of major events. The Fleet Air Arm is held in affection and respect by the public and A Century of British Naval Aviation 1909-2009 is a worthy tribute to all those who have contributed to the reputation of this unique national institution.
 

The Author
 
David Wragg born into a naval family in 1946, he was educated in England and Malta. He has worked in journalism and PR, writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Spectator and Scotsman. He retired as Head of Corporate Communications with the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a consultant and author. Since then he has published with Harper Collins and Weidenfeld and Nicholson amongst others. His titles with Pen and Sword include Malta - The Last Great Siege (2003), Second World War Carrier Campaigns (2004), Stringbag (2004), The Escort Carrier in World War 2 (2005), Sacrifice for Stalin (2005), Sink The French (2007) and Plan Z (2008). He lives in Edinburgh.
 

Review
 
In his Acknowledgement the author rightly states that, 'no work on something as vast as our long history of naval aviation can cover every inch of ground'. He is correct of course; it would be a brave man who tried. He therefore points us towards other books, some of which are still available, some are older and out of print. Of the twenty listed, I have eight.
 
Compared to the history of our islands and the Royal Navy this is a short history. I was born into a world without jets and joined a Navy that still tracked aircraft with chinagraph pencils behind a see-through Perspex screen and remember early jets on HMS Albion in 1958. I served in HMS Victorious. Victorious served her purpose during the Indonesian Confrontation and again in East Africa in 1964 when a mutiny took place in the newly-independent Kenya.
 
In 1964 a potential Army mutiny in Tanganyika was nipped in the bud by swift Naval intervention, including a show of force from the squadron of Blackburn Buccaneers on board HMS Victorious. See http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/bantam/bantam2009.htm where I reveal what the Commissioning books says and, what it didn't say.
 
With the coming of jets at sea they speeded things up in all senses and the coming of the angled flight deck and steam catapults moved them up a gear.
 
It becomes apparent to me how far down this time-line of history I am, when I have to reach Page 172 to read words that triggers the memory - 'scimitar' followed by 'sea-vixen', 'Blackburn Buccaneer'. At last I have arrived on the scene.
 
Travelling about the world in the fifties and sixties we often came across one of our old aircraft carriers and many were instantly recognised by 'Old Hands'. “She was, Colossus once, she was the Old Venerable (HNLMS Karel Doorman & then ARA Veinticinco de Mayo”. I remember seeing an Aircraft Carrier at Buenos Aires in 1958, it could have been ex-HMS Warrior?
 
As well as covering history fully, there are some very useful Appendices, viz, 'Naval Air Stations 1914-1918', 'Naval Air Stations 1939-1945', which includes an airport I fly from (Eastleigh, which is now Southampton Airport), Ford in Sussex became an open Prison. What wonderful names they chose Hummingbird, Flycatcher and Robin to name three. Appendix 3 lists, inter alia, Aircraft Carriers 1914-1918 and Appendix 4 lists, inter alia, Aircraft Carriers 1939-1945, Appendix 5 lists post-war Aircraft Carriers and there are also excellent chronology and bibliography.
 
An excellent book full of facts and, plenty of black and white photographs.
 
Rob Jerrard


Ship Models From Kits
Basic & Advanced Techniques for Small Scales
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: David Griffith
ISBN: 9781848320246
Publishers: Seaforth (Pen & Sword)
Price: £25
Publication Date: 8 June 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

In the past thirty years the world of model kits has undergone a veritable revolution. New techniques in injection moulding have improved the scale accuracy and surface detail of the humble plastic kit, while many specialist companies now produce top-quality resin models, vastly broadening the range of subjects on the market. However, the really radical change has been the advent of photo-etched brass fret, which allows the finest detail to be reproduced to scale. In ship modelling, this has resulted in a new form of the hobby, mid-way between traditional build-from-the-box simplicity and the time-consuming demands of fabricating everything from scratch.
 
These new materials have prompted innovative techniques, which are comprehensively demonstrated in this new manual. Designed for those wishing to achieve the best results from their ship kits in the 1:700 to 1:350 range of scales, it uses step by step photographs to take the reader through the building of two models, one in plastic and one in resin, from basic construction, fittings and detailing, to painting, finishing and display.
 

Endoresment
 
This book should prove useful and insightful to ship modellers of all scales and skill levels. It is well written, with a light, pleasant tone to the prose, like speaking with someone you know. Dr. Griffith is a talented modeler, and it is quite the labor of love to share his abilities with the world in this book. I heartily recommend it for all ship modelers! modelwarships.com


The German Invasion Of Norway April 1940
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Geirr H Haarr
ISBN: 9781848320321
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £30
Publication Date: 15 July 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This new book documents the German invasion of Norway, focussing on the events at sea. More than most other campaigns of WWII, Operation Weserübung has been shrouded in mystery, legend and flawed knowledge. Strategic, political and legal issues were at best unclear, while military issues were dominated by risk; the German success was the result of improvisation and the application of available forces far beyond the comprehension of British and Norwegian military and civilian authorities
 
Weserübung was the first combined operation ever where air force, army and navy operated closely together. Troops were transported directly into battle simultaneously by warship and aircraft, and success required co-operation between normally fiercely competing services. It was also the first time that paratroopers were used. The following days were to witness the first dive bomber attack to sink a major warship and the first carrier task-force operations.
 
The narrative is based on primary sources from British, German and Norwegian archives, and it gives a balanced account of the reasons behind the invasion. With its unrivalled collection of photographs, many of which have never before appeared in print, this is a major new WWII history and a definitive account of Germany's first and last major seaborne invasion.
 

Endorsements
 
First-time author Geirr Haarr has expertly trawled through original documents in the archives of three countries to produce a book which is a model of clarity, well-written and lavishly illustrated. He has presented the political background to the invasion in a style that can be easily followed and his attention to detail in his account of the military and naval actions is to be praised. There can be little doubt that this work places the German invasion of Norway in its rightful place in the story of the Second World War and I can thoroughly commend it to anyone with an interest in the period. W.Alister Williams, Historian and author
 
I have read Geir Haarr's book and am extremely impressed. In my opinion it is now the most authoritative account of the naval aspect of the German invasion of Norway. I found myself gripped by the narrative and by the human as well as the technical aspects of the war at sea. This was the first major campaign of the Second World War, and it is clear that all sides were faced with unprecedented challenges, in the face of which improvisation, good and bad judgement and heroism all played their part. Using an impressive range of primary sources and an outstanding selection of photographs, the author has mastered both the broader strategic context and the innumerable engagements, large and small, that took place. He gives equal weight to the German, Norwegian and British sides and does not shrink from severe judgements on poor decision-making where appropriate. Long as the book is, I found myself wishing that he had been able to take to the story up to the end of the Norwegian campaign in June 1940 - but perhaps that is for a later project. Professor Patrick Salmon, Chief Historian for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


No Ordinary War - The Eventful Career of U-604
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Christian Prag
ISBN: 9781848320222
Publishers: Seaforth Books (Pen & Sword)
Price: £25
Publication Date: 18 May 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information

U-604 was a standard Type VIIC of which over 600 were built, and at first glance her six war patrols might seem typical - but they were far from ordinary.

Using the official war diary and the eyewitness testimony of survivors this book weaves a detailed but vivid tapestry of life and action during some of the fiercest convoy battles of the Atlantic war. Often counter-attacked, but seeming to bear a charmed life, U-604 had her successes, including inflicting the largest single loss of US mercantile personnel in one attack. However, the drama of her career pales alongside the epic story of her loss. After repeated bombing by American aircraft, Höltring, the boat's CO, organised an amazing rescue attempt by two other U-boats and finally scuttled U-604. This rescue itself went badly wrong, leading to the loss of one more U-boat and Höltring 's suicide in controversial circumstances.

Based on interviews with survivors and illustrated with previously unpublished photos, it is simply an extraordinary story.

Foreword
This book follows the fate of the German combat U-boat U-6o4 which operated in the Atlantic during World War II from the time of its maiden voyage to its sinking in August 1943. Using eyewitness accounts, logbook entries and technical data from the boat's six war patrols, an authentic account of the U-boat war in all its vicissitudes has been provided.

To me it was important to understand all aspects of the history of a combat U-boat in order to form a clear picture of the U-boat war. Each individual boat made up just a small part of the jigsaw puzzle that was the battle of the Atlantic, but concentrating on the fate of a single boat allows us to see what life was like on board: the crew's state of mind and motivation, the complex daily duty structures, battles, boredom, anxiety and courage. These are aspects that publications dealing with the strategy and tactics of the U-boat war are often unable to explore.

Who were the men that fought inside the steel tubes despite no doubt knowing their chances of survival were slim? What drove theni, and how did they deal with the endless waiting between battles? What did they do with their free time? How did they live in such close quarters and yet so isolated? This book attempts to answer these questions by following the complete history of U-604 from the laving of its keel to its scuttling and the tragic return journey of its surviving crew; it is hoped that it will fill the gap in so much related literature.

I came across the powerful story of II-6o4 by chance. In 1997 I was fortunate enough to meet a survivor from this boat: I heard the first-hand history of it and to see his private photo collections was fascinating. This fascination was, of course, not only for the fate of the boat itself but for its entire crew.

During the last two years research in archives and contact with other surviving crew members and their opponents from the Allied side have made it possible to show many facets of this brutal war, not just the boat's story but how the humans aboard lived and died.
Christian Prag, Stuttgart

The Author
Christian Prag is a young German electrical engineer currently working in research and development for the automobile industry. However, a chance meeting with a survivor of the U-604 inspired him to find out more about the career of this particular submarine as well as the wider war in the Atlantic. This required years of historical research in the extensive U-boat archives, while he also tracked down and interviewed many survivors of the underwater campaign. Most of them willingly shared their recollections with him and lent photographs from their personal albums, so for this, his first book, he has been able to illustrate many of the incidents with photos actually taken at the time, adding an extra dimension to the eyewitness testimony and documentary record.

Review
This is an account of the six war patrols of U-604, a Type VIIC German submarine built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg and scuttled east of Pernambuco on 11 August 1943 after being depth- charged by USN Destroyer Moffett and Aircraft VB107 and 129 on 3 August 1943. These were Venturas flying out of Recife. Fortunately the “Happy Times” were over and that month alone the allies sank twenty-five U-Boats. In fact during the sixth and final patrol 8 July-7 September, fifty-five U-Boats were sunk. That figure gives an insight into the odds they faced.
 
This particular U-Boat survived the critical period of March 1943 and by the end of May 1943 the German U-Boat Command had abandoned the fight against convoys in the North Atlantic and moved south.
 
Once again I adopt the words of Nicholas Monsarrat, who when writing of U-Boat 977 wrote, 'If U-Boat (977) were not two things - a readable book and an engrossing piece of war history - I would not touch it with a depth charge'. I admit I approached this book with the same attitude remembering not to fall into the trap of thinking 'that there were actually no Nazis at all, just millions of “decent Germans” suffering terribly because of the awful things they were made to do. Having got that off my chest, I found this is not a book that glorifies the U-Boats as such, merely one that tells in excellent detail the accounts of U-604 from the very beginning to the very end and it is a valuable contribution to the history of the U-Boat. There are some excellent previously unpublished photographs.
 
However, whichever way you look at it, these men were among the worst of these servants of world-enslavement and it was a good day for world freedom when they all headed for port flying a black flag indicating surrender, or in the case of U-873 a dark green curtain because no black flag was available.
 
The Proof Readers missed one very obvious mistake. The chart of the second war patrol on Page 76 is exactly the same as the first war patrol on Page 52.
Rob Jerrard

More Information can be found at the Pen & Sword website at
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1870


The War of the Gun Boats
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Bryan Cooper
ISBN: 9781848840188
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 29 May 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The 'little ships' of the Second World War - the fast and highly manoeuvrable motor torpedo boats and gunboats which fought in coastal waters all over the world - developed a special kind of naval warfare. With their daring nightly raids against an enemy's coastal shipping - and sometimes much larger warships - they acquired thespirit of an earlier age. And never more so than in the close hand-to-hand battles which raged between opposing craft when they met in open waters.
 
Large numbers of these small fighting boats were built by the major naval powers. The Germans called them Schnellboote (Fast Boats), referred to by the British as E-boats (E for Enemy). In the Royal Navy they were MTBs and MGBs. The American equivalent were PT boats (for Patrol Torpedo). They fought in the narrow waters ofthe English Channel and the stormy North Sea, in the Mediterranean off the coasts of North Africa and Italy and among the islands of the Aegean, across the Pacific from Pearl Harbour to Leyte Gulf, in Hong Kong and Singapore, and off Burma's Arakan coast.
 
The Author

 
Bryan Cooper was born in Paris where his father was foreign correspondent of The Times. In his varied Writing career, he has been a journalist, author, TV scriptwriter magazine editor and publisher. Starting as a reporter on the Kentish Times he went on to work for news agencies in Fleet-Street before joining BP to write feature articles on the company's worldwide activities. BP's sponsorship of motor racing led him to cover all the major Grands Prix arid Rallies in the heydays of the late 1950s. Earlier National Service in the RAF gave him an interest in military history and his published titles include The Ironclads of Cambrai, Tank Battles of World War One and The E-Boat Threat. His fiction writing includes short stories, radio plays, and scripts for film and television series. For some years he edited and published the international energy magazine Petroleum Economist.
 
He now lives in the Kent coastal town of Deal with his wife, Judith Windsor, the film and theatre voice coach.


The Wheezers & Dodgers
Edition: Second - First Published 1956
Format: Paperback
Author: Gerald Pawle
ISBN: 9781848320260
Publishers: Seaforth Publishing
Price: £9.99
Publication Date: 2009

Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the fascinating story of the Admiralty's Department of Miscellaneous Weapon Development, the so-called 'Wheezers and Dodgers', and the many ingenious weapons and devices it invented, improved or perfected.
The author was one of a group of officers with engineering or scientific backgrounds who were charged with the task of winning the struggle for scientific mastery between the Allies and the Germans in what Churchill enthusiastically called 'the wizard war'. Their work ranged from early stop-gap weapons like the steam-powered Holman projector, via great success stories like the Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar, to futuristic experiments with rockets, a minefield that could be sown in the sky, and the spectacularly dangerous Great Panjandrum, a giant explosive Catherine-wheel intended to storm enemy beaches.
The development of these and many other extraordinary inventions, their triumphs and disasters, is told with panache and humour, and a diverse group of highly imaginative and eccentric figures emerge from the pages.


Review
When I first opened this book I was surprised to see a Foreword by Nevil Shute until I realised that this book was first published in 1956. Nevil Shute Norway was born in London in 1899. He was an engineer who worked for De Havilland and Vickers. He worked on Airships including the R100. He served in WW2 in the RNVR. He moved to Australia and died there in 1960. Nevil Shute was sent from HMS King Alfred to be interviewed, he said that he was furious he felt he wanted to fight and had just got away from technical work.
 
Of all the weapons developed by the Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development the Hedgehog will interest Naval Historians and Chapter 12 explains its birth. The Hedgehog was followed by the Squid and later we had Limbo. All were ahead-throwing weapons
 
HMS Chichester has such a weapon. See www.rjerrard.co.uk\royalnavy\chirn\chirn.htm
 
These men of imagination certainly contributed to the war effort and they were not without their sense of humour as is shown by the scheme proposed to attach a small magnet to flat fish to blow up magnetic mines. Some wit submitted the following
 
'The suggestion contained in your 191/D 478 is considered of great value.
 
As a first step in the development of this idea it is proposed to establish a School for Flat Fish at the R.N. College, Dartmouth. Candidates for this course should be entered in the first place as Probationary Flat Fish, and these poor fish would be confirmed in their rank on showing their proficiency by exploding a mine.'
 
Then there was the Great Panjandrum, a giant Catherine wheel. If you saw the episode of Dads' Army repeated as recently as 3 April 2009, you will have seen the idea behind it. This invention was abandoned as unsafe, but it did lead to the Grasshopper and Alligator. Then there was the invisible boat - not really, but made entirely of Perspex to give it that appearance or should I say no appearance under certain conditions.
 
It must be said that many of these inventions saved lives and injuries
 
Winston Churchill summed it up
 
'This was a secret war, whose battles were lost or won unknown to the public. . . . No such warfare had ever been waged by mortal men.' SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL, The Second World War, Vol. II
 
Pen & Sword have recently published another book, which will also be of interest, viz, 'Depth Charge Royal Naval Mines, Depth Charges & Underwater Weapons 1914-1945'.

Some of this period of Nevil Shute's life is covered in 'Requiem for a Wren' Published in 1955
 
Rob Jerrard


The Age of Invincible
The Ship that defined the Modern Royal navy
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Nick Childs
ISBN: 1844158578
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
The Age Of Invincible tells the story of a ship that defined a difficult era of change for the modern Royal Navy. It is also the story of many key people who played parts in that. HMS Invincible emerged from a period of national upheaval in the 1960s that forced a painful alteration of course on the Navy. Her early career, including her crucial role in the Falklands War, was eventful to say the least, and certainly put her in the public eye. She evolved too as the Cold War ended, the world changed, and the Royal Navy began to redefine itself again for a new age in a way that would not have been possible without HMS Invincible.
 

The Author
 
Nick Childs is the Political Correspondent for BBC World Service radio and World News television. He was the BBC's Pentagon Correspondent, based in Washington, and has been a World Affairs Correspondent, covering international news (including the conflicts in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and the Balkans). Previously, he worked as a reporter for Jane's Defence Weekly, and has written numerous articles on naval and other defence issues. Nick was born in Winchester, read Modern History and Economics at St Catherine's College, Oxford, and now lives in London with his wife.
 

Foreword
 
I was fortunate enough to command HMS Illustrious in the mid-nineties which saw a period of continual change and concluded with the Ocean Wave Global Carrier deployment in 1997. The Invincible class was a product of the 1966 Wilson Government's cancellation of the CVA-01 aircraft carrier programme. The CVA-01 decision was precipitated by a change in foreign policy that dictated a withdrawal of national interest East of Suez which was the main argument for sea- based air power at the time. The result was the loss of independent power projection by the UK and a refocusing of defence priorities on the heartland of NATO's central front shaped by Cold War threats. The RAF were to provide air defence to the Fleet in conjunction with surface-to-air missile systems in new destroyers.
 
Within this smaller role for the Royal Navy, CVS was originally designed to accommodate twelve anti-submarine helicopters as defence against a large Soviet submarine force assessed as the main threat to the NATO alliance at sea. The offensive capability of the navy was to rest in its nuclear submarine fleet and amphibious capability deployed to protect NATO's northern flank.
 
The Soviets invested heavily in long range patrol aircraft such as the Tu-95 `Bear'. RAF interceptors could not meet response times which put surface units at risk from long range anti-ship missiles, most notably amphibious shipping. To counter this threat the Sea Harrier was born, increasing the CVS aircraft complement to seventeen.
 
The 1981 Nott Defence White Paper directed a swathe of cuts in the naval order of battle including amphibious shipping and the sale of Invincible to Australia. 1982 highlighted the white paper's erroneous assumption as Invincible and our amphibious forces became the bedrock for success in the Falklands. Another lesson re-learnt was the lack of organic airborne early warning (AEW) resulting in the loss of six ships. Post conflict, 849 Squadron re-commissioned with AEW Sea Kings and Invincible's air group swelled to 21.
 
By 1991 the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact had collapsed 'Options for Change' heralded the promise of a 'defence dividend'. 1991 also saw the first Gulf War and the beginning of an unpredictable world after the Cold War's relative 'stability'. The Balkans conflict, increased tensions in Iraq and the Kosovo War followed in quick succession with an Invincible-class ship always present.
 
The RAF's Harrier force had lost its raison d'etre with the fall of the Berlin Wall and became vulnerable to defence restructuring that followed. New Labour's Strategic Defence Review resulted in the formation of Joint Force Harrier (JFH); this drew together the strengths of land-based and maritime-based aircrew expertise. Concluding that an expeditionary force structure required assured combat air power, the UK once again committed to carrier air power thirty-two years after the cancellation of CVA-01. Sierra Leone in 2000 witnessed an amphibious operation, supported by JFH embarked in Illustrious. The next year Illustrious was conducting Exercise Saif Sareea off Oman when New York's Twin Towers were struck. The US response was swift with a surprise attack from the sea and Illustrious was re-configured with CH-47 Chinooks to deploy Special Forces into the mountains of Afghanistan.
 
As Nick Childs amply demonstrates in this excellent and very readable account of the life of one of the Royal Navy's most significant modern warships and the worlds from which she sprung and into which she emerged, the 'Age of Invincible' can be summarised as one of continual change. Designed for one role, developed for another within a Cold War strategic context, Invincible was pivotal for air power provision during the Falklands War and grew to accommodate a variety of global tensions spawned from the collapse of the Soviet era and ensuing unforeseen conflict areas. An agile ship in every respect, she has demonstrated the range of effects that aircraft carriers provide. Her gift was to extol the virtues of carrier air power and give the compelling operational evidence for CVF. Now and in future years UK forces on can be assured of air power provision at a time and place of military and political choice. CVF will be a Joint Defence asset, fit for the twenty-first century and at the heart of expeditionary operations this will require an education process. Wielding significant influence amongst our US and European allies she will offer military planners a wider range of options and effects against potential threats to UK interests.
 
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff


K Boat Catastrophe - Eight Ships & Five Collisions
The full story of the 'Battle' of the Isle of May
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: NS Nash
ISBN: 1844159841
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

On 31 January 1918 nine K Class steam-powered submarines sailed with the Grand Fleet to exercise in the North Sea. The ships left the Firth of Forth at a speed of 21 knots on a cold winter night with the flagship HMS Courageous leading the way. Following in her wake was HMS Ithuriel and the K Class submarines of the 13th Submarine Flotilla and then five nautical miles astern of them, four capital ships.
 
As they approached The Isle of May navigational confusion broke out, caused by the misinterpretation of ship's steaming lights and mayhem followed. During the next couple of hours five collisions occurred involving eight ships and resulting in the death of 104 officers and ratings. This fiasco and the resulting naval investigation and court marshal were shielded from the general public and kept in secret files until the full details were released in 1994. From this official report, the author now tells the full story of that dreadful night and the proceedings that followed. Background information on the evolution of the ill-fated and much hated K Class submarines is also included together with the investigation and court marshal proceedings of the events surrounding that tragic night.
 

The Author
 
NS 'Tank' Nash lives in North Berwick and can see the Isle of May from his home. He is a soldier, but has always wanted to be a sailor. For thirty-three years he wrote a regular humour column under the pen name Sustainer in the British Army Review and The Officer. Amongst his previous books are The Colonel's Table, Reveille & Retribution, On Laffan's Plain and Spit & Polish.
More Information can be found at the Pen & Sword website at
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1875


Safeguarding the Nation
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: John Roberts
ISBN: 978-1-84832-043-7
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £30
Publication Date: April 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The story of what the Royal Navy has achieved over the last fifty years is both a fascinating and proud one.
 
This New History Of The Modern Royal Navy is a full and exciting account of all the many campaigns, operations and deployments conducted around the world, from the Cold War and the Cod Wars to the Falklands War and the Gulf Wars. It hag been written and compiled from privileged access to secret and confidential admiralty papers and commanding officers' reports and contains much previously unpublished material.
 
The story of how the Royal Navy has adapted to meet the many new challenges of the modern world and how it has carried out its vital roles, from maintaining the nation's strategic nuclear deterrent to guarding vital offshore oil and gas facilities as well as protecting Britain's worldwide interests, is told with great skill. The development of ships, submarines, aircraft, weapons, tactics and strategies is all clearly described in the context of the Navy's changing role. The story is further enhanced by many contributions from people who served during this era.
 
Profusely illustrated throughout with many previously unpublished photographs and paintings, this beautifully-produced volume is a magnificent tribute to the Royal Navy as well as an eloquent and timely reminder that the ships and the skills and traditions of the Navy have an important role to play in safeguarding our nation in a fast-changing and increasingly hostile world.
 
From Chapter 1
 

At dawn on a clear day in the western Mediterranean two warships, a US cruiser and a British destroyer, were on a converging course some sixty miles south-east of Gibraltar. The sea was flat calm with the early morning sun rising over the eastern horizon. The ships were approaching each other at a combined speed of over twenty-eight knots. When they had closed to within visual range a challenge was flashed from the signal deck of the larger warship, a US heavy cruiser of the 6th Fleet. A short while later, on receipt of the correct identification signal, a brief further message was flashed from the US cruiser: 'Greetings to the second biggest navy in the world!' She then courteously dipped her ensign in the traditional salute to the Royal Navy.
 
An equally brief reply was flashed back from the bridge of the Royal Navy destroyer as she hove to on the cruiser's starboard bow: 'Greetings to the SECOND BEST navy in the world!!' The destroyer then dipped her ensign, acknowledging the salute from the US cruiser.'
 
This story of the exchange of signals between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the Mediterranean, some time after the end of World War II, poignantly summed up the dramatic change of status of the Royal Navy. For nearly 200 years, from the Seven Years War (1756-63) to World War II, the Royal Navy had been the supreme maritime power, exercising command of the sea and dominating the world's oceans. She had played the key role in supporting and defending the British Empire. At the end of World War II the Royal Navy had 8,940 ships and vessels of all types in commission and 864,000 people in uniform, yet the United States Navy was even bigger. Despite this the traditions, expertise and standards set and maintained by the 'Senior Service' of the world's leading maritime nation remained second to none.
 
Although the United States Navy had overtaken the Royal Navy in terms of size, Britain still held her position as the world's greatest maritime nation. The Royal Navy and Merchant Navy combined outnumbered the total number of warships and registered merchant ships belonging to the United States. Britain's merchant fleet was to remain the world's largest until well into the 1960s.3 Britain clearly remained a great maritime trading nation dependent on the sea. Over forty years later, in 2001, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, stated that 'The Royal Navy was still the second most powerful Navy in the world and certainly the best
 

The Author
 
John Roberts spent over thirty years in the Royal Navy, and is uniquely qualified to write this book. He went to sea in aircraft carriers, cruisers, frigates and minesweepers, and served in the Far East, the Middle East, Aden, the Radfan and the Gulf. He later. served on various Admirals' staffs, and spent ten years in the Ministry of Defence.

Review

I am certain this excellent book will be enjoyed by all Royal Navy enthusiasts and in particular by those who have served over the last fifty years, because as Admiral Lord Boyce points out 'the story of what the Royal Navy has achieved over the last fifty years is both a fascinating and proud one'.
 
The book is a treasure trove of photography, both black and white and colour spanning that era. For me the most exciting aspect of it is that it covers from 1958 onwards and celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of The White Ensign Association.
 
My memories of the Royal Navy span the years 1956-1968 and this book covers operations and developments from 1956-1968 very early in the book at Page 18. Thereafter it covers such operations as Jordan 1957/8 SEE http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/chicrn/chicrn.htm
And http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/jordanm/jordanm.htm
 
Cyprus Emergency, Aden, The Middle East Crisis and Lebanon. Additionally not so well known incidents are covered eg The Indonesian Confrontation, 20 January 1963 - 11 August 1966 and others such as 'Tanganyika and East African Mutinies 12 January - 19 March 1964 are matters not so easy to find in books purporting to fully cover this period.
 
These lesser-known deployments, to give them a general term are firmly fixed in the minds of my generation. Jordan 1957 has a very brief mention where the book states that 'on 6 July the SS Devonshire, escorted by the Destroyer Modest evacuated the last British troops from Jordan', It is my belief and certainly part of my memory that other British ships took part because we, in HMS Chichester went up to Aqaba in Jordan to take off some Highland troops, who we then conveyed them to Aden. I remember the terrible heat because I was at my action station in the tiller-flat. There were very high hills above us and we were told that guns were trained on us - fortunately they never fired.
 
This book would make an excellent present if Granddad served over the last fifty years.
 
Rob Jerrard


British Destroyers & Frigates - The Second World War And After
Edition: 2008
Format: Hardback
Author: Norman Friedman
ISBN: 9781848320154
Publishers: Seaforth Publishing
Price: £45
Publication Date: 2006
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The most comprehensive design history yet of modern British surface escorts
Much new information, some only recently released
Novel insight into the design rationale of many classes
Includes Commonwealth navies, particularly Australian and Canadian
Specially commissioned ship plans by A D Baker III
Appearance detail drawings by Alan Raven
Over 200 photographs
Detailed tables of particulars and building data
 

The first major study of Royal Navy destroyers in forty years, and the first ever of the smaller escorts, this book is a landmark contribution to the history of British warships. Beginning with the radically different 'Tribal' class of 1936 traces the development of destroyers, sloops, frigates and corvettes through the post-war era, in which these traditional categories began to blur and then merge, down to the latest Type 45 - the biggest 'destroyers' ever built for the Royal Navy.
 
Written by America's leading authority, it is an objective but sympathetic view of the difficult economic and political Evironment in which British designers had to work, and benefits from the author's ability to compare and contrast the US Navy's experience.
 

Norman Friedman is renowned for the clarity with which he explains the policy and strategy changes that drive design and this latest book lives up to that reputation. Not content to merely describe the development of each class in full technical detail, he uses previously unpublished material from his research in many archives to draw an entirely new and convincing picture of British naval policy over the previous seventy years and more.
 
The Author
 

Norman Friedman is one of the best-known naval analysts in the US, but he is as much at home with the history of warship technology as he is with contemporary defence issues. Because of his background in policy and strategy, he is especially adept at explaining why and not just how navies and their warships have developed along particular lines. This concern for the rationale of design gives his many books a unique depth.
 
He has written on broad issues of modern military interest, including an award-winning history of the Cold War, but in the field of warship development his greatest sustained achievement is probably the eight-volume series on the design of different US warship types. These combine in-depth original research with penetrating insight and analysis, an approach which Dr Friedman extends to his latest book, a study of British surface escorts since the late 1930s. A resident of New York, Dr Friedman is a regular guest commentator on television, and lectures widely on professional defence issues.
 

Review
 
Whilst I was interested in WWII British Destroyers and Frigates, my eyes immediately caught the 'And After', because during that period I served in two Frigates and a Destroyer, albeit the Destroyer HMS Aisne D22 (two little ducks) a Battle Class was launched 12 May 1945.
www.rjerrard.co.uk\royalnavy\aisne\aisne.htm
Naturally, before enjoying such a well-researched and presented book one is bound to look up 'old ships'. Aisne was a Battle Class and the Index in this book confirms correctly that she was originally I22 and was converted to a Radar Picket in February 1962 and broken up 27 June 1970. There isn't a photograph of her in the book. However there are photographs of other Battles eg Lagos, Barfleur, Trafalgar, Sluys, Hogue, Barossa, and Agincourt. Aisne came late in my short Naval interlude, before that it was HMS Grafton, a Blackwood Type 14 Second Class Frigate and HMS Chichester a Type 61. These are well represented in this book.
 
HMS Grafton is described in the book as a 'Type 14 a second-rate Frigate', which truly sums them up. See www.rjerrard.co.uk\royalnavy\grafton\grafton.htm
The author says, 'This ship is sometimes called a World War III Corvette'. I have never been in a Corvette, but I did experience a Force 8 Gale in Grafton (swing the lamp) and it was not pleasant. It also says, 'accommodation was for peacetime', which for this Junior Seaman First Class meant a hammock above the Mess Deck hatch - again very unpleasant, but who cares about a Junior Seaman, even First Class?
 
Chichester - www.rjerrard.co.uk\royalnavy\chicrn\chicrn.htm
she was better, but still a hammock in the After Mess, where you slept to the sound of the ship's engines and the sound of the tiller flat motors, or woke up if the ship stopped! 'What's that, what's happened - its OK the ship has stopped that's all'.
 
I was thrilled to see a large photograph on Pages 16 and 17 of a NATO Fleet in Malta. It says that one of the ships is a Tiger Class Cruiser. I can clearly make out C34, which makes it HMS Lion and during my service 1960-62 we spent a lot of time in Malta, so is one of those little white dots me? Also interesting is the photograph on Pages 10 and 11 of Gibraltar// in the late 1930s. I can make out 6 Cruisers, 3 Battleships and an Aircraft Carrier (Courageous or Glorious?) and at least 12 Destroyers. Those were the days of a real Navy. Also in the photograph can be seen two Mast-less old wooden sailing ships being used as accommodation perhaps.
 
There are so many ships to pick out of this wonderful collection of photographs and my attention was drawn to HMS Amethyst on Page 7. Anyone who has seen the film will recognise the shape of a Black Swan Sloop.
 
I will continue to enjoy this book and consider it to be a very valuable research tool because the entire book is backed up by the Data Tables and, the excellent list of ships, where one can find out the fate of ships you recall. There is also a very comprehensive Index and it is packed with photographs and diagrams.
 
Rob Jerrard


Coastal Convoys 1939-1945 The Indestructible Highway
Edition: First
Format: Hardback
Author: Nick Hewitt
ISBN: 9781844158614
Publishers: Pen & Sword Limited
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2008
 

Review

In the Foreword Captain Richard Woodman pays tribute to the thousands of Merchant Seamen who were part of the Second World War coastal element who have been mostly ignored, with the great majority of books concentrating on the main theme, viz, the Battle of the Atlantic.
 
The Author does not neglect the 'Coal-Scuttle Brigade' - the salt-caked and dirty coasters of Masefield's famous phrase:-
 
'Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.'
 
Many would have been, 'Posted as Missing'
 
'Dream after dream I see the wrecks that lie
Unknown of man, unmarked upon the charts,
Known of the flat-fish with the withered eye,
And seen by women in their aching hearts.'
 
John Masefield.
 
The Prologue sets the scene; 'Manny's War 17 March 1941' is an account of how it was for Emmanuel Raud and his time on SS Daphne, a French Coaster. This is just one story of coastal convoys covered in this excellent book. Why did we need these coastal convoys? The answer is given in the Foreword
 
'The internal rail and road systems were incapable of handling the level of traffic required and coastal shipping, already a major carrier of cargoes, had to be mustered in convoys, organized and escorted. To the small- and medium-sized coasters were added deep-water merchant ships carrying cargoes consigned to the east coast ports of England and Scotland, and this task was made all the more difficult after the early occupation of France, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway.
 
Coal in particular, required in the south of England to fuel power stations and domestic fires, was needed at a rate of 40,000 tons a week and the supply to the power stations of southern England meant that colliers had to traverse the English Channel, under attack from occupied France, while the main routes threading through the coastal shoals of England's east coast, were easily interdicted by fast patrol boats armed with torpedoes, destroyers and aircraft, besides running terrible risks from mines.'
 
In many cases these men lived in terrible conditions. An anonymous Trinity House Pilot quoted 'Slums ashore are bad, but slums at sea are worse'. The fact is these were very skilled seamen.
 
I was captivated to learn that 'In 1778 the coastal coal trade was famously subjected to the unwelcome attentions of the American naval hero John Paul Jones, who during his country's War of Independence attempted to enter the Cumbrian port of Whitehaven and set fire to several hundred colliers lying at anchor there. Also as early as 1691 the men of the colliers were immune from the attentions of the dreaded Press Gang, despite the resulting protests from the Navy about being deprived of such fine seamen. According to one account, in 1800 the Admiralty described the men of the colliers as 'the finest seamen under the British flag and their life . . . the hardest known to the seas'.
 
This is a very instructive book, which I enjoyed reading, it refers inter alia, to DEMS, 'Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships' - DEMS Gunners who manned the guns, and 'The Royal Naval Patrol Service AKA 'Harry Tate's Navy'.
 
The subject of coastal convoys is well covered with some good diagrams, excellent photographs and appendices to assist your reading.
 
I was intrigued by the common saying of the time, 'The RNR are sailors, trying to be gentlemen. The RNVR are gentlemen, trying to be sailors. And the RN are neither trying to be both'. Of course one assumes this only refers to Officers, because in my time we men had wives and officers had Ladies!
 
Rob Jerrard


The Cruel Sea Retold
The Truth Behind Monsarrat's Epic Convoy Drama
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Bernard Edwards
ISBN: 1844158632
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

When Nicholas Monsarrat wrote The Cruel Sea, his magisterial novel set in the Second World War, he drew on three actual Atlantic convoys for inspiration.
 
For his latest book, leading naval historian Bernard Edwards has researched the factual events of these convoys and the result is an utterly thrilling account of naval action. The author treats each convoy separately. The first part covers Convoy OG 71 which set out from Liverpool for Gibraltar with 22 merchantmen and eight escorts on 14 August 1941. The outcome was a disaster with no less than ten ships being lost without a single U-boat sunk. The convoy had to seek refuge in Lisbon.
 
The second convoy, named HG 73, sailed from Gibraltar for Liverpool on 17 September 1941 with 25 merchant ships and 13 escorts. Of these ten were sunk and only one U-boat was damaged. The personal recollections of one of this convoy's officers appears in an appendix.
 
The third and final part, entitled 'Retribution', sees the tables turned. During the December 1941 HG 76 sailed for England from Gibraltar commanded by the ace U-boat hunter Captain Johnny Walker. It comprised 31 merchantmen with a heavy escort of 15 warships. During a six day running battle five U-boats were sunk for the loss of seven British ships.
 
The dangers, whether from the enemy or the elements, faced by those who sailed on these convoys needs no hyperbole. The Cruel Sea Retold demonstrates that the true stories of these three convoys are every bit as dramatic as, and inevitably more poignant than, Monserrat's classic tale.
 

The Author
 
Bernard Edwards began his seagoing career as an officer cadet in merchant ships towards the end of the Second World War. He went on to command ships trading worldwide, spending a great deal of time in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. After nearly forty years afloat Captain Edwards settled in a tiny village in rural South Wales, far from the sound of the waves, to pursue his second career as a writer. His extensive knowledge of the sea and ships has
enabled him to produce a series of authentic and eminently readable books which have received recognition. Of these, Beware Raiders! (2001), Attack and Sink! (2002), The Road to Russia (2002), Quiet Heroes (2003), Twilight of the U-Boats (2004), Death in the Doldrums (2005), Japan's Blitzkrieg (2006), War of the U-Boats (2006) and Royal Navy Versus the Slave Trade (2008) have all been published by Pen and Sword Books.
 

Review
 
There cannot be many people who have not either read the book or seen the film 'The Cruel Sea' by Nicholas Monsarrat, first published in August 1951. Perhaps not so familiar is the book which preceded it, 'Three Corvettes', comprising HM Corvette, East Coast Corvette and Corvette Command, Cassell & Co Ltd 1945. This earlier book published originally during the war covered 1940-1943. In real life this covered his time in HM Ships, Campanula, Guillemot and Shearwater. This book was made up from notes, which later became the basis for 'The Cruel Sea'.
 
So what is 'The Cruel Sea Retold'? It is in fact the real story of OG71, HG73 and HG76, the three real convoys, which Monsarrat used for his inspiration. Monsarrat served in HMS Campanula, a Flower Class Corvette, although of course the names are altered in 'Three Corvettes' - 'No names no cap tallies'. HMS Compass Rose was not a real flower, but pointed in the right direction after all!
 
OG71 (outwards Gibraltar) set out for Liverpool on 13 August 1941 and carried in SS Aguila, twenty-one WRNS and one QARNNS Nursing Sister. All were lost, see http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/memoir/memoir.html#wren
and Nicholas Monsarrat said of it, “Whenever I think of the war I remember this convoy. It is my particular nightmare”. There is another book which already covers this convoy, 'Nightmare Convoy by Paul Lund and Harry Ludlam, published by W Foulsham & Co Ltd.
 
Monsarrat returns to OG71 at the very end of 'The Cruel Sea', 'All those chaps in Sorrell and the Wrens that were lost on that bad Gibraltar convoy'. All that time and they only sank three U-Boats, three in five years said Ericson.
 
'Nightmare Convoy' describes the lost Wrens as the 'Flower of the Flock'. Flowers figure largely in the Battle of the Atlantic and these three convoys, Bluebell, Campanula, Hydrangea, Campion, Wallflower, Begonia, Gentian, Hibiscus, Jasmine, Larkspur, Myosotis, Periwinkle and Stonecrop to name just a few.
 
Part 3 HG76 Gibraltar - Liverpool is retribution time, the turn of the tide. Commander FJ Walker's 36 Escort Group of two Sloops, Deptford and Stork and seven Flower Class Corvettes, Convolvulus, Gardenia, Marigold, Pentstemon, Samphire, Rhododendron and Vetch with three Escort Destroyers and HMS Audacity, a Woolworth Carrier.
 
There were losses, the Carrier plus others, but five U-Boats were sunk.
 
This is an excellent record of these three Convoys and worthy of space beside Nicholas Monsarrat's books and I am sure that he would have approved of us reading the facts, after all he said in his Foreword to 'Three Corvettes'
'This collection of three short booksall originally published during the warcovers time spent afloat from 1940 to 1943. It is not a complete picture (nor anything like it) of the whole of the Battle of the Atlantic during that period ; it is an account of one man's naval service during three critical years of the battle, when I had the luck to be serving in small ships in this crucial theatre of war….The notesthough I didn't know this at the timewere intended to be the basis of The Cruel Sea. But The Cruel Sea turned out to be quite a different book, and a long way ahead in any caseten years, in fact, though again I didn't know it at the time. Finally, I had the notes published as a series of smaller books, for a reason that impels many men to write and to publishI thought I was going to be killed.'
 
Perhaps this book goes some way to completing the story.
 
Rob Jerrard


Night Action
Edition: 2008, 1st Published 1974
Format: Paperback
Author: Peter Dickens
With an Introduction by Trevor Robotham
ISBN: 978- -84832-012-3
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth Publishing)
Price: £9.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This memoir is Peter Dickens' account of his experiences as the young commander of the 2I st MTB Flotilla during 1942-43, mainly in the North Sea and the Channel. In all the annals of the war at sea, comparatively little has been written about the role of the torpedo boat, and yet these small boats were at the heart of some of the most dangerous actions of the War. Travelling
at high speed amid storms and gunfire, and usually under the cover of darkness, these vulnerable craft sought out enemy convoys and escorts and wrought havoc among the German supply lines.
 
'Night Action' is a lively and thrilling account, and the daring of these sailors will inspire any reader. While there is humour to be found in the account, the horror of war is never far away and the author conveys a sharp sense of the reality of those operations in a way
that no history book can do.
 
An unrivalled insight into the courage and bravery of young men .. engaging the enemy with the minimum of protection in their lightly armed wooden craft.
 
New Introduction
 

In This Book Peter Dickens presents a remarkably vivid and engrossing account of Coastal Forces operations off the wartime East Coast of England and as far as enemy occupied shores. His story is told with humour and, in the author's own words, with accuracy and ungilded truth. As such it presents a quite unrivalled insight into the courage and bravery of young men, largely untrained and tested in this method of warfare in the early part of the War, seeking and engaging the enemy with the minimum of protection in their lightly armed wooden craft.
 
Accounts of engagements with the enemy are given in remarkable detail and show a clear insight into the need for those in command to make life and death decisions in the thick of war.
Although developed to a small extent in World War I with the use of Coastal Motor Boats, the disciplines of this area of warfare were much neglected in the interwar years. In 1939 the Motor Gunboats and Motor Torpedo Boats available for the tasks ahead of them were totally inadequate and were increased in number dramatically as 'Their big ship oriented Lordships', to quote the author, came to a realisation of the need for the protection of our coastal convoys and coastal waters from enemy attack. Much of the credit for the development of Coastal Forces can be given to those few specialist ship builders whose vision appeared to exceed that of the Admiralty. This was an area of warfare that was largely uncharted and, with innovation and the intelligent development of procedures, new disciplines of warfare were founded. Peter Dickens was part of this world and as a young Lieutenant, with only limited operational experience, he nevertheless brought to this scene a great sense of purpose and his ultimate contribution to Coastal Forces wartime operations was immense. He quickly saw the folly of racing into the enemy with all guns blazing, which was an approach which sat well with those then commanding Coastal
 
Forces operations from ashore, but which did little but alert the enemy to the Royal Navy's presence. He developed techniques of stealth, which in addition to bringing surprise to the enemy, gave the benefit of being able more carefully to assess the opposition and the potential targets. His torpedo attacks became increasingly successful and his ability and reputation as a wartime Coastal Forces leader developed in parallel. The conditions of this close action ship-to-ship warfare are brought out clearly but the attrition from adverse weather on open bridges, the constant high volume of noise from the engines and the ever straining of all senses as they tried to detect the enemy, must have produced human deterioration which is difficult to imagine. The small ships' companies bonded and were totally dependent on each other's professional skill. Peter Dickens writes of his respect and admiration for the legendary Robert Hichens, http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/royalnavy/pen/pen2008.html#cgunboat
who commanded the Motor Gunboat Flotilla and with whom he worked to great effect, both at sea and in lobbying the Admiralty for improvements in weapons and sensors.

The author had numerous encounters with the enemy and fought fifteen significant actions firing fifty-five torpedoes and gaining at least a dozen hits leading to either a sinking or severe damage. He gained first his Distinguished Service Cross for attacks on enemy shipping in September and November 1942 and his Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for a particularly daring attack on enemy shipping off the Dutch Coast on 13 July 1943. These accompanied a Mention in Despatches in early 1943.
 
Any autobiography or personal account will inevitably tell the reader a lot about the personality and character of the author and this book is no exception. Joining Coastal Forces in 1942 put him, as a career Royal Naval officer, in a slightly unusual position. Although Coastal Forces in the early war years, had been mainly manned by career officers with his background, these had largely given way to officers of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. These were officers in the service for the duration of hostilities and from a wide and vastly different range of backgrounds from that of the Dartmouth trained career officer. This must have produced tensions, which although not always clear in the book, were known to exist. Nevertheless, both this book and other accounts confirm the mutual respect that quickly developed between the two factions of service officers. Ambition and eagerness for command are not surprising characteristics in a 25-year-old naval officer on the threshold of his career and Peter Dickens had these characteristics in abundance. Once he had achieved his command of the 21st MTB Flotilla he started to demonstrate qualities of leadership and the ability to assess people and situations with remarkable clarity, which undoubtedly helped him gain confidence in his role. Nevertheless, he is candid about the fears and self doubt which haunt all commanders who are faced with putting the lives of others in danger. He made mistakes but manages to put these into perspective with humour and self-depreciation. What is particularly revealing is his genuine concern and respect both for each member of his crew and also for others working with him within the flotilla.
 
This is a fascinating account that will undoubtedly lead readers to learn more about the Coastal Forces of World War II and the men it moulded. Most particularly, the book confirms the wisdom of giving young men responsibility early in life and making them responsible and accountable for their actions.
 
Captain Trevor Robotham RN Director of the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust


The Battle for the Baltic Islands 1917
Triumph of the Imperial German Navy
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Gary Staff
ISBN: 1844157873
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

In 1917, despite the revolution, the Russians were still willing to continue the war against Germany. This book reveals Operation Albion, the German seaborne operation that changed their minds. The Baltic Islands were pivotal for the defence of the Finnish Gulf and the Russian capital, St. Petersburg. This campaign therefore had great importance for the war in the East, and it was only soon after the fall of the Baltic Islands that the Russians began peace negotiations (freeing hundreds of thousands of German soldiers for the Kaiser's last gamble on the Western Front).
 
A large part of the German High Seas Fleet took part in the invasion of the Baltic islands, including the most modern battleships. The Russians mounted a resolute defence under the command of Vice Admiral Bakhirev, and in the Battle of Moon Sound the pre-dreadnoughts Slava and Graschdanin joined battle with the new dreadnoughts Konig and Kronprinz, even though the Russians were heavily outgunned. Over a ten-day period there were many naval clashes around the islands as well as the campaign ashore, all of which are described in detail with the use of both Russian and German first-hand accounts, as well as previously-unpublished photographs.
 
Gary Staff's ground-breaking study of arguably the most successful combined operation (by any side) of the Great War, scuttles the myth that the Imperial German Navy's surface fleet achieved little after the Battle of Jutland.

 
The Author
 
Gary Staff is an airline pilot by profession but has had a life-long interest in naval history, and that of the Imperial German Navy in particular. He has been researching the Baltic campaign since the late 1970s, painstakingly translating original sources from German and Russian. His first book, German Battlecruisers 1914-18 was published in 2006. Recently retired from flying, he is now grounded in. Victoria, Australia.

Introduction
 
The participation of the High Sea Fleet in the conquest of the Baltic Islands represents one of the many high points in its brief history. The operation was very successful and the cooperation between the Navy and Army was exemplary. The operation also represented a successful example of an 'all arms' affair. The Germans used their air arm for reconnaissance, bombing and torpedo attack; their U-Boats for reconnaissance, laying mines and attacking shipping; their surface fleet to transport and support the Army and to counter the Russian surface and submarine forces; and their army to conduct the amphibious invasion. Their purpose was to capture the Baltic Islands, which were pivotal for the defence of the Finnish Gulf and therefore St. Petersburg, and to finally knock Russia out of the war. With this achieved, vast amounts of men and materials would be freed to support the offensive on the Western Front against the British, French and American forces in 1918. The operation was an unqualified success and contributed in no small way to forcing the Russians to the negotiating table at Brest-Litovsk. It also cleared the way for future operations such as the liberation of Finland and planned occupation of St Petersburg in 1918. Therefore the High Sea Fleet was instrumental in facilitating the political will and objectives of the German Government.
 
The source material available is remarkable because it was mostly written by those involved, and gives an authoritative and fascinating insight into what was happening and what was being planned and desired. Vice-admiral Michael Bakhirev was in command of the Russian Sea Forces of the Riga Gulf during the campaign and he wrote his report in July 1919. He was a seasoned naval officer, a veteran of the Boxer Rebellion and the Russo-Japanese War. In command he was both courageous and clear thinking, and his writing is not only an accurate narrative but also relates what he was thinking and what his unfulfilled requests to higher command were.
 
Captain 2nd Rank A M Kosinski was commander of the modern Russian destroyer Zabiyaka in 1917. He wrote a comprehensive work on the Moon Sound operations in 1928. His work provides much detail and fascinating quotes from other participants.
 
Leitenant Nicholai Bartinev was in command of the 30.5cm gunbattery at Zerel. His short article captures very well the mood of the garrison on the battery and the general atmosphere in the post-revolution environment. On the other hand, Captain 1st Rank S N Timirev was much less forgiving of the revolutionary element. He was commander of the cruiser Bayan during the operation, and he derides the revolutionaries, whom he terms the 'morale element'.
The most extensive work on the Russian Imperial Navy is by Leitenant Harald Graf, who served most of the First World War aboard the destroyer Novik. His work covers the entire war and has long been considered the standard work on the Imperial Navy during the conflict.
For the Germans the most detailed work is by Oberst von Tschischwitz, Chief of the General Staff of the Landing Corps. His position allowed him to write with authority and accuracy in his book Blue Jackets and Field Grey against Osel in 1934. The main German source is the official history, Der Krieg in der Ostsee.
 
This was written with reference to all of the logbooks of the participating ships, so that it was written partly using the observations of the commanders on the spot.
Likewise, the recollections of Leutnant zur See Friedrich Ruge in his autobiography and short publication about his time on the torpedo boat B110. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was acquainted with Professor Ruge and visited him twice at his home in Tubingen. He related many stories of his time in the navy and was always very encouraging and helpful to a young naval enthusiast. My last visit was just one month before he passed away.
 
The collected work Unconquered on the Sea also provides many valuable eyewitness accounts. Finally Vizeadmiral Albert Hopman's book, War Diary of a Naval Officer, completes the eyewitness accounts from the German side.
 
One of the best books covering this period is Expendable Glory, by Commander (Retired) George M Nekrasov. This book is about the career of the Russian battleship Slava and the author is well qualified to write about her. Commander Nekrasov was friends with none other than Leitenant Anatoly Vaksmut, who served firstly as navigation officer of Slava, and then, during Operation Albion, as commander of the destroyer Grom, from which he had to be forcibly removed when she was abandoned. George helped me greatly with questions about the Russian Imperial Navy and Slava. I owe him my gratitude and am greatly thankful for his help.
 
In writing this book I did not seek to make any great analysis of the fighting, but rather wanted to present a balanced and accurate narrative that gives the reader a genuine feel for the time, experienced in part through the eyes of those who participated. I wanted to present the story from both sides in a fair and unbiased way. I hope I have achieved this.
 
Gary Staff, January 2008.
More Information can be found at the Pen & Sword website at
http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1695


The War on Hospital Ships 1914-1918
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Stephen McGreal
ISBN: 1844155886
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

It is often said; 'The first casualty of war is the truth' and there is no better example of this than the furore caused by the claims and counter-claims of the British and German Governments at the height of the First World War. Wounded Allied personnel were invariably repatriated by hospital ships, which ran the gauntlet of mined waters and gambled on the humanity of the U-Boat commanders. For, contrary to the terms of the Geneva Convention, on occasions Germany had sunk the unarmed hospital ships under the pretence they carried reinforcement troops and ammunition. The press seized on these examples of 'Hun Barbarity', especially the drowning of non-combatant female nurses.
 
The crisis heightened following the German Government's 1 February 1917 introduction of unrestricted naval warfare. The white-painted Allied hospital ships emblazoned with huge red crosses now became, in German eyes, legitimate targets for the U-Boats. As the war on the almost 100 strong fleet of hospital ships intensified the British threatened reprisals against Germany, in particular an Anglo-French bombing raid upon a German town.
 
Undeterred the Germans stepped up their campaign sinking two hospital ships in swift succession. Seven hospital ships struck mines and a further eight were torpedoed. Faced with such a massacre of the innocents Britain decided her hospital ships, painted and brightly lit in accordance with the Geneva Convention, could no longer rely on this immunity. The vessels were repainted in drab colours, defensively armed and sailed as ambulance transports among protected convoys. Germany had successfully banished hospital ships from the high seas.

The Author
 
STEPHEN Mcgreal is a Wirral man who was originally employed as a shipwright. He later served as a carpenter in the Merchant Navy. He now runs his own joinery business including making and restoring rocking horses. He has written three published works. The Cheshire Bantams and The Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids 1918, are under the Pen and Sword imprint.

Introduction
 
During the early seventies while working as an apprentice shipwright within Cammell Laird Shipbuilders and Engineers I first became aware of men who, while serving in the merchant navy, survived an attack by torpedo. In this instance an unlikely-looking veteran of the Second World War had sailed as a carpenter on merchant ships running the gauntlet of the U-boat packs. In my youthful innocence the man appeared rather old, forgetful and occasionally confused. His workmates explained his demeanour in whispered tones 'His ship was torpedoed while he was securing cargo in the hold. He managed to scale the hold escape ladders with the sea water lapping at his heels and never quite recovered from the experience'. He was evidently suffering from what we now term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, something I would again become acquainted with during a stint as a carpenter in the merchant navy.
 
In the 1970s ageing veterans of the Second World War Atlantic convoys still abounded in an ever shrinking British-staffed merchant navy; they, like so many former veterans, shied away from discussing their wartime experiences. However, one individual routinely kept his cabin light off during the night, so as not to show a light to submarines! During the war his tanker was torpedoed off the Caribbean island of Curacao, and whenever our tramp tanker approached the island he suffered flashbacks, packed a valise and prepared to go to hospital. Three decades later the consequences of the term 'ship torpedoed' took on a new meaning as I witnessed at first hand, the trauma revisit an ageing seaman. It is a sobering thought indeed to imagine the fear and anxiety experienced by the merchant navy personnel as they determinedly maintained the United Kingdom's essential food and materials lifeline. The fourth service depended on women and men like my maternal great-grandfather who survived a torpedo attack off the Irish coast; family legend maintains he returned home, still in his wet clothes. To add insult to injury when a vessel sank, the shipping companies automatically ceased paying wages to the crew. Denied an income, the seafarer generally signed on the next outward bound ship; faced with the starvation of their families most took to the sea, to worry about the U-boats another day. During the great recruitment drive for the army, volunteers officially had to be aged between eighteen and forty-one years old, extended upwards in 1918 to fifty-one. The Mercantile Marine had no such confines, exemplified by Mrs Bridget Trenerry, a sixty-five-year-old stewardess drowned on Asturias. If a person's past life flashes by in the seconds before death, seventeen-year-old Henry George Taylor's must have passed in the blink of an eye, as he drowned trapped in the bowels of the Dover Castle. Their status as non-combatants meant little during the merciless war at sea.
 
As a keen amateur military historian, occasionally my research into a Great War combatant abruptly halted, with the sinking of what I imagined to be a troopship or leave boat. Occasionally further research revealed the torpedoed or mined vessel was actually a hospital ship. It seemed perverse that any belligerent should torpedo a vessel fulfilling a humanitarian role, yet history records numerous deliberate instances. Perhaps after the wars everyone decided to 'let sleeping dogs lie', for although the First World War press used the hospital ship losses as a powerful anti-Germanic propaganda weapon, evocative books on this still controversial subject are scarce. Internet forums abound with questions and answers appertaining to the demise of this or that hospital ship. Despite the immunity of the Geneva Red Cross the hospital ships became 'fair game', in a theatre of war largely overlooked by people whose modern perception of the First World War is one of trench warfare.
 
Intrigued by this relatively unrecognised aspect of the First World War and remembering my experiences with torpedoed veterans, I pondered on how much worse the situation may have been for those incapacitated on a rapidly sinking hospital ship. While searching for first hand survivor accounts within archives my enquiries revealed a startlingly overlooked chapter of maritime history fought by belligerents with an intensity to equal the war of attrition waged on the Western Front. In the post-armistice years the vessels of the Mercantile Marine resumed their usual service, past glories eventually faded into obscurity, as did the crews who faded away. This work attempts to again bring to the fore the terrible price paid by the heroic men and women of the Mercantile Marine and medical services who served on the Commonwealth hospital ships.

Review
For several hundred years hospitals ships have acted as offshore hospitals complete with operating theatres. Many were also floating ambulances taking the wounded back for treatment on land. In today's changed times, where helicopters medevac patients to safety, Britain has just one such ship - and it's only “part-time”: the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus.
 
Author Stephen McGreal lists 102 hospital ships in WW1, which carried tens of thousands of patients and staff. A number of these ships were sunk despite supposedly being protected by the Geneva convention. Famous names like the Aquitania, Asturias, Britannic, and Llandovery Castle were adapted passenger vessels from companies such as P&O, Great Western Railway Company, and Union Castle. With their giant scarlet crosses, white hulls and bright lights, hospital ships saved so many people -and heartened even more. Some ships carried over a thousand in beds, hammocks or simply lying on decks. A number of these ships sailed out, not just to pick up those hurt in France and Belgium, but to Gallipoli. Some patients were taken back to Britain, others to service hospitals such as that on Mudros. Southampton, for example handled 1.2 million casualties in the war, most of whom were taken away from the docks in ambulance trains.
 
Such floating hospitals have received very little attention from historians. Really Plumridge's work, Hospital Ships and Ambulance Trains (1975), has remained the main text for 34 years. So Stephen McGreal's book is a welcome opening up of this fascinating area. He focuses on just one period, WW1, with such a wealth of detail that it is evident that every war deserves its separate book on hospital ships. What a treat it would be if they all matched the standard of this book, which is both thorough and readable. Its many illustrations - sometimes four to a page - make the reading enjoyable, but also add an important dimension to the text.
 
The book is divided principally into four chapters, each dealing with a different part of the war. This shows very clearly the insatiable demand for hospital ships as casualties mounted in 1915; the terrible loss of ships in 1916; the unrestricted maritime warfare of 1917; and the 1918 doubts about whether Britain would defeat Germany. And it is not only the sailings and disasters that are discussed. Politics, personal stories and modern developments are there too.
 
Having attempted to study women working on hospital ships in both world wars, I know the resources the author has used, and the disabling absences of evidence. It is impressive that he has used so many archives and newspapers to such effect. The book is full of fresh information that has never before been seen in accessible form.
 
Maritime history traditionally tends to focus on vessels rather than the people who sailed on them. And histories of wars at sea usually dwell on the dramatic catastrophes rather than daily, less-dramatic, activities aboard ships. It's time for this tendency to be ameliorated, so that we have a richer history. So I would have welcomed more information about the day to day medical work done on these vessels by RAMC doctors and sick berth attendants, VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachments)(assistant nurses), army nurses in QMAAC (Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps ) and naval nurses QAIMNS(Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service ), as well as the Merchant Navy personnel who enabled the medical work to be done in the best possible conditions despite rough seas and enemy U-boats. However, it was warming to see these peoples' names recorded in the Roll of Honour at the back. And their personal accounts and photos appear throughout the book. McGreal's respect for the merchant seafarers, which inspired the book, is eloquently expressed in the introduction but also permeates his chapters.
 
While understanding that the thematic structure of the index was intended to be helpful, I did find the index frustrating to use. But that minor point is insignificant in the face of all the strengths of this well-researched and clearly-explained book. This excellent work will certainly set a benchmark for future historians of hospital ships in other wars. It is exemplary in its cogency, sensible arrangement of information, and visual appeal. A truly important addition to maritime and medical history, it will be an invaluable aide for decades.
 
Dr Jo Stanley


Images of War The U-Boat War 1939-1945
Edition: First
Format: Paperback
Author: Ian Baxter
ISBN: 1844157865
Publishers: Pen & Sword Maritime
Price: £14.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The U-Boat War 1939 - 1945 is a unique visual record of Hitler's infamous submarine fleet and a lively account of those that risked their lives stalking enemy shipping in the depths of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Using some 250 rare and largely unpublished photographs together with detailed captions and accompanying text, the book provides an outstanding insight into operations and the cramped and claustrophobic existence of the crews. It depicts how this potent force became one of the most dominant German fighting units during World War Two. Allied shipping losses became so serious that Winston Churchill is on record as saying that the U-boat threat was what concerned, him most during the war.
 
As the tide turned in the Allies' favour with the introduction of sonar, radio intercept and increasing use of airpower, even the courageous and determined German submariners could not prevent the Allies inflicting catastrophic havoc on the U-boat fleet. Of a total of 38,000 crewmen, only 8,000 survived the war. The book also covers the development of the U-boat and the recruitment and training of the crews.
 
The latest in the popular Images of War series, The U-Boat War will delight Second World War naval enthusiasts.
 

Review
 
In a Foreword to a book about a WWII U-Boats, Nicholas Monsarrat wrote 'If U-Boat 977 were not two things - a readable book, and an engrossing piece of war history - I would not touch it with a depth charge… twice these people, (Germans) and no other, have engulfed the world in misery and bloodshed, in pursuit of their dream of power… among the worst of these willing servants of world enslavement were the men serving with the German U-Boats', which as he said and I say again here, 'brings us to this book', 'Hitler's infamous submarine fleet'.
 
From the British point of view, out of 38,000 crewmen, only 8,000 survived, which is why we survived.
 
Having said that, these are rare photographs, which are now part of history.
 
Chapter 2 describes how basic conditions were.
 
'Only the commander, and later the cook, had their own bunks. The rest of the higher ranks operated a 'hot bunk' system…The lower ranks of the boat slept in hammocks, and some even had to make do with sleeping on thin mats covering the metal floor plates. In the bow torpedo room, for instance, where most of the junior ranks were accommodated, comforts were few and privacy among other shipmates was nonexistent.
 
In this busy, noisy, sweaty room, servicing equipment took priority over men wishing to relax and sleep. Consequently, the men were only able to grab a couple of hours of sleep at one time. This had a great impact upon their morale. Because washing was virtually impossible they had to content themselves with a rag soaked with lemon fragrance. Although there were washing tanks fitted on board, and some buckets for men to wash, water was regarded as an important asset, and could determine how long a U-boat could remain at sea. Commanders were therefore very careful to conserve the water supply, especially the drinking water. Nothing was worse than the thirst for water, especially when the interior of the boat reached temperatures of well over 50 degrees centigrade. This made life almost unbearable for many crew members.
Going to the toilet, too, was another problem each crewman faced daily. Although larger U-boats in the main had two of them, many were only fitted with one. This meant that almost the entire crew had to share a single toilet. At the beginning of the war, the problems were even worse as the boats did not possess high-pressure lavatories. This meant that they could only be used when the boat surfaced or dived at shallow depths. Consequently, the long periods of waiting compelled many to use empty tins or any other container among the growing pile of rotting rubbish.'
 
In spite of the subject matter this book will delight some world war naval enthusiasts, but I ask them all to read it bearing in mind what it represents.
 
I make no apology for using Nicholas Monsarrat's words again because men like him have a right to speak their mind, they fought the U-Boats; also in this case the words fit the bill.
 
'But read it for yourselves. It is valuable….for its authentic picture, close to and sharply focused, of this kind of warfare. It is more valuable still for the inferential story, the crude driving-force behind it all, the reason for which U-boats came into being in the first place. Reading it, absorbing its filthy and violent outlines, we know just how far politics can travel on the road to insanity, and what men can do to other men in their greedy lust for power.'
 
Rob Jerrard