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

Pen & Sword Books Reviewed in 2010

Churchill's Pirates
The Royal Naval Patrol Service in World War II
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Jon Sutherland & Diane Canwell
ISBN: 9781848842564
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 10 November 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
The Royal Naval Patrol Service, or Harry Tate s Navy as it was commonly known, was a unique service with its own rules and regulations. The officers and seamen were mainly ex-fishermen who had manned trawlers in Icelandic waters. The service was armed mostly with obsolete weaponry and suffered heavy casualties in the early stages of the war. The service was not confined to the seas around Britain and their small trawlers, drifters, paddle steamers, yachts and tugs saw service as far away as the Mediterranean and Newfoundland coast. Their main tasks included convoy escort duties, mine sweeping and anti-submarine work. Many awards for bravery were won including a VC. This book looks at the Service personnel, the boats, equipment and includes many first-hand accounts from crew. Lengthy Appendices include vessel s names, numbers and fate.

The Authors
Jonathan Sutherland and Diane Canwell have written widely on historical subjects, in particular on military and aviation history, and they have long been fascinated by the history of Norfolk and its military heritage. Among their many books are The RAF Air Sea Rescue Service 1918-1986, The Battle of Jutland and Air War Malta.

Introduction

The Royal Naval Patrol Service, variously nicknamed Harry Tate's Navy, The Lilliput Fleet or Churchill's Pirates , was a very special service. It had its own rules and regulations, its own silver badge, and its fleet consisted of literally hundreds of requisitioned vessels. These Minor War Vessels, as the Admiralty called them, consisted of drifters, paddle steamers, trawlers, tugs, whalers and yachts.

If they were armed at all they had vintage weapons. Their headquarters was the unlikely municipal gardens of the Sparrow's Nest, close to Lowestoft High Street and boasting a concert hall, an open-air stage and conservatories. It first became HMS Pembroke X, a rallying point and base, initially for men of the Royal Naval Reserve and later for the Hostilities Only Men, who would become known as the Royal Naval Patrol Service. It was an assembly point for these men who were rapidly organised into crews and despatched to vessels scattered amongst the ports around Britain, to serve around the world. The Sparrow's Nest ultimately became HMS Europa, a landlocked major naval vessel and the administrative headquarters for more than 70,000 men and 6,000 vessels.

As the majority of the men were reservists the Royal Naval Patrol Service became 'a navy within a navy'. It quickly acquired its unofficial titles. The term 'Harry Tate's Navy' was an unofficial one and probably derived from the Scottish comedian Harry Tate. There

are many theories as to how the service acquired this name. Undoubtedly Harry Tate was used as a slang term, possibly connected to the Merchant Navy title for the mate, or chief officer. Hence it may be linked to cockney rhyming slang. More broadly, it was a phrase used to describe something rather amateur. Harry Tate would often play a clumsy man who could never get to grips with contraptions. The Royal Navy used the term as a way of poking fun at the drifters and trawlers, although in time they would begin to appreciate one another and have a special camaraderie.

Because of the Royal Naval Patrol Service's unwavering support from Winston Churchill the service readily accepted the second nickname of 'Churchill's Pirates', since the men were predominantly more civilian than service orientated. They were proudly independent and coped with conditions on tiny vessels that were more reminiscent of the privateers than a regular naval force.

Lord Haw Haw dubbed them the 'Sparrows' because of their connection with the Sparrow's Nest, but it was meant in a derogatory way. Others called them the Tilliput Fleet', focusing on the size of the vessels rather than the immense job that they would perform throughout the course of the Second World War.

The service can trace its roots back way beyond the First World War, when it had been recognised that small ships were ideal for minesweeping and other wartime duties. For generations Britain had a massive fishing fleet, with thousands of trained seamen that could, in times of hostility, act as a ready reserve for the Royal Navy.
The Royal Naval Patrol Service, in its launches, fuel carriers, converted trawlers and drifters, naval seaplane tenders, corvettes and specifically-built vessels would serve in all theatres of the war, from the Arctic and the Atlantic, across the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and to the Far East. Perhaps their most significant contribution was to ensure that the coast of Britain was as clear of mines as was humanly possible.

It is difficult to estimate exactly how many vessels were deployed by the Royal Naval Patrol Service, but it is certainly around 6,000, of which there were at least 1,600 different types. In excess of 260 were

lost in action in the Second World War, and around 15,000 Royal Naval Patrol Service personnel were killed. Nearly 2,400 of them have no other grave than the sea.

Although there was just one winner of the Victoria Cross from the service, Lieutenant Stannard, who was awarded it whilst in command of the trawler Arab during the 1940 Norwegian campaign, there were thousands of others who were given other awards for outstanding acts of bravery. Alongside them were many thousands more unsung heroes whose courage was never formally recognised.
The Royal Naval Patrol Service lives on, as does HMS Europa, in the form of the association's Stannard Room Museum, still situated amongst the buildings in the municipal park in Lowestoft. In the walls of the Europa Room some 850 men who won honours during the Second World War are listed, in addition to a list of over 200 more that were mentioned in despatches.

HMS Europa was decommissioned in 1946, and in October 1953 a memorial was unveiled by the then Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Rhoderick McGrigor. On its base were seventeen bronze panels, bearing the names of the 2,385 officers and men of the Royal Naval Patrol Service who died in action during the Second World War. A granite memorial, with a replica mine at the top, was unveiled in August 2009; seventy years after the service had been established. This was a fitting tribute to the forgotten fleet and the exploits of Churchill's Pirates.

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Warrior to Dreadnought - Warship Design and development 1860-1905
Edition: 2010, First Published in 1997
Format: Paperback
Author: D K Brown
ISBN: 9781848320864
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £16.99
Publication Date: 22nd Sept 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

In the 50 years that separated Warrior from Dreadnought there occurred a revolution in warship design quite unparalleled in naval history; a period that began with the fully-rigged broadside ironclads and ended with the emergence of the great battleships and battlecruisers that were to fight in the First World War.
 
The author explains how ninetheenth-century designers responded to developments in engine technology, armour protection and armament in their attempts to develop the best possible fighting ships. He details the development of more efficient engines that brought about the demise of the sailing warship, and the competition between armour and armament, with every increase in the power of guns stimulating the development of ever more sophisticated methods of protection.
 
Importantly, he explains that the Victorian Royal Navy, far from being the reactionary body it is so often depicted as, was, in fact, at the forefront of technological change, for example in the employment of torpedoes and the development of countermeasures to them.
 
Full accounts are given of the significant naval events and battles of the period, making the book a fine narrative history as well as a brilliant work of warship reference.

The Author
 
D K BROWN was a distinguished naval architect who retired in 1988 as Deputy Chief Naval Architect of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. He published widely on the subject of warship design and built a reputation as a clear and brilliant commentator on the development of the ships of the Royal Navy. He died in 2008.
 

Forward

Warrior represented the ultimate technology of 1860 but, in the next 45 years, her single screw, iron hull and thin, soft armour and her inefficient machinery were superseded by steel hulls, shaped by scientific experiment and driven by turbines, hardened steel armour and guns which could reach to the horizon. The theory of naval architecture had advanced to the point where every part was shaped and sized with understanding and usually by calculation rather than by judgement.

This book follows my earlier work Before the Ironclad and deals with developments in the design of the ship, including its protection and its engines, though it is not a full history of marine engineering guns, their projectiles, and other weapons will be discussed only briefly in the light of their effect on the ship. The emphasis is on the development and application of innovative technology rather than on describing each and every ship in detail. A few tables of data are included for comparison but for full information the reader must turn to reference books such as Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905. The text will concentrate on the battleships which were usually the most advanced ships, although there was much of interest in the smaller classes where, sometimes, a new idea or a new type of engine would be tried first. In photograph captions, the date given for a ship is that of its launch, unless otherwise specified.

The text is, of course, the view of someone who has designed real ships and had experience in reconciling the conflicting views of individuals and of departments. I hope that, in consequence, my comments on the great designers will be sympathetic, understanding and only critical in the most proper sense. The most complete definition of 'Design' is that given by Fielden in 1963:

Engineering design is the use of scientific principles, technical information and imagination in the definition of a structure, machine or system to perform specified functions with the maximum economy and efficiency.

Creative ship design is the art of putting together many specialist technologies, of keeping many balls in the air at the same time. A designer will usually work with three parameters simultaneously whilst keeping some five or six more in mind. It is a team sport:

The Irregular Verb `To Design'.
I create,
You interfere,
He gets in the way,
We co-operate, You obstruct,

They conspire (written by the author whilst head of preliminary design)
A book can only give an imperfect description of design since each topic is dealt with in turn and hence the text must jump frequently from one subject to another. The treatment is roughly chronological but it will often be necessary to follow some particular topic to its end. Where appropriate, subtitles contain dates for the section.

The main issue for much of the period was stability, still not well understood today, which I have tried to explain painlessly using generalisations in the text and a slightly more detailed treatment in an appendix. The Royal Navy was not involved in a major war during the period of this book and there were few elsewhere involving large, modern fleets. The actions which did take place were studied carefully and these studies were supplemented by full-scale trials. Such studies and trials had a major influence on design and will be described in detail.

Good designs develop at the same time as the statement of the role as the chicken and the egg but a clear idea of the role of the ship was sadly lacking for much of the period, whilst funds were usually very scanty. As Admiral Fisher was to write:
Strategy should govern the types of ships to be designed. Ship design, as dictated by strategy, should govern tactics. Tactics should govern the details of armaments.

The Naval Defence Act provided the funds from 1897 and White, probably the greatest designer of all time and a superb manager, provided the ships and the organisation to build and support them. His first battleship design, Royal Sovereign, was a major advance and further refined in Renown. The similarity in style of his later ships concealed major advances in armour, guns and structure and the success of his ideas was demonstrated in the battles of the Russo-Japanese war. The loss of the Victoria led to improvements in watertight integrity.

The tide of the chief designer changed several times: they were all great men.

Unless the tide is important, I will generalise as the `Director'. In most cases they made their reputation before reaching the top, in their mid-40s, credit for their contribution going to the then Director. However, the Director was responsible, shown very formally when he signed the building drawings. These great designers owed much to their staff and frequently failed to acknowledge such help. Where possible, I have tried to rescue these men from obscurity and show their contribution. I have also tried to record the achievements of engineers of other specialisation.

The naval officer of the period, and the Board of Admiralty in particular, are usually portrayed as reactionary, opposed to all new technology. This impression is discussed in the last chapter where it is suggested that it is only true, if at all, to a very limited extent. The enthusiast will always see any opposition or even a pause for thought as reaction and obstruction, as the author well knows from his own experience pushing the case for hovercraft and hydrofoils.
Comments based on the author's experience, with hindsight, will be found, mainly as footnotes. Ship design is fun; I have included a few incidents to justify that statement.

David K Brown

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Warspite
Edition: 2nd Paperback 2010
Format: Paperback
Author: Iain Ballantyne
ISBN: 9781848843509
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £14.99
Publication Date: 22nd Sept 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

No warship name in British naval history has more battle honours than Warspite. While this book looks at the lives of all eight vessels to bear the name (between 1596 and the 1990s), it concentrates on the truly epic story of the seventh vessel, a super-dreadnought battleship, conceived as the ultimate answer to German naval power, during the arms race that helped cause WW1. Warspite fought off the entire German fleet at Jutland, survived a mutiny between the wars and then covered herself in glory in action from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean during WW2.
 
She was the flagship of Admiral Sir John Cunningham when he mastered the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean, her guns inflicting devastating damage on the enemy at Calabria in 1940 and Matapan in 1941. She narrowly avoided destruction by the Japanese carrier force that devastated Pearl Harbor. She provided crucial fire support for Allied landings in Sicily, Italy, Normandy and Walcheren. A lucky ship in battle, she survived dive-bombers off Crete and glider bomb hits off Salerno.
 
The 'Spite' had a reputation for being obtuse at unexpected moments, running aground and losing her steering several times; she broke free from her towropes on the way to the breakers and ending up beached at St Michael's Mount where it took a decade to dismantle her. She had fought to the end.
 
But this is not just the story of a warship. Wherever possible the voices of those men who fought aboard her speak directly to the reader about their experiences. The Warspite is also the story of a great naval nation which constructed her as the ultimate symbol of its imperial power and then scrapped her when the sun set on that empire.

The Author
 
Iain Ballantyne is a much published naval author. His books for Pen and Sword include Warspite, London and Victory in the Famous Ships of the British Navy series as well as Strike From the Sea. He is editor of Warships International.
 

An extract from Chapter Two, “BIRTH OF A SUPER DREADNOUGHT”

Taking the Gamble

'Suggesting a ruling monarch should authorize the naming of a warship in his very own Royal Navy after a man who had arranged the beheading of a previous king, was not perhaps the most subtle move. But here it was in black and white from the First Lord of the Admiralty.. again!

King George V had already asked his Private Secretary to write to Winston Churchill and make it abundantly dear, when the Iron Duke Class was being built, that under no circumstances would a battleship be christened His Majesty's Ship Oliver Cromwell.

Now, in October 1912, Churchill had come back with the same suggestion, pointing out that Oliver Cromwell had done much to establish the Navy and ensure its rise to supremacy.

A new super dreadnought class was being laid down and, aside from Cromwell, Churchill was putting forward the names Queen Elizabeth, King Henry V and King Richard I.

He claimed to have prime ministerial support for putting forth Cromwell again. But, with senior naval officers warning Churchill they would take a dim view of a name so unpopular with the King being foisted upon them, Churchill eventually realized he had to concede defeat. In the end the only one of the four new warships to bear a name put forward by Churchill was the lead ship in the class, HMS Queen Elizabeth. The rest of the names were provided by the King King Richard I became Warspite, Henry V was Barham, Oliver Cromwell became Valiant. The fifth Queen Elizabeth Class vessel, HMS Malaya, was so named because she was built with funds provided by the Malay Federated States.

Despite this early dispute over suitable names, the Queen Elizabeth Class vessels were to be the crowning glory of a British naval supremacy established at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.'

Go to my page on HMS Barham

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Review

This book covers the careers of all eight ships to bear the name HMS Warspite, detailing the origins of the name given to the first ship launched in 1596 and commanded by Sir Walter Raleigh. It and the other five that followed were all very much involved with the wars against the Spanish, French and Dutch covering the period up to the 20th century, and the initial chapter gives a potted history of each ship's involvement. In the final chapter the author looks at the most recent ship to bear the name Warspite, the nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine, now mothballed in Devonport, and briefly summarises her Cold War career.
 
The book's focus is the history of the battleship Warspite, one of five sister-ships of the Queen Elizabeth class and the first Royal Navy ships to have fifteen-inch guns and oil-burning boilers. Her story is told interlaced with reminiscences from members of the crew, who provided their accounts and some excellent private photos that help illustrate the text. The camouflage schemes seen on the British and Italian battleships are a very useful reference for warship modellers.
 
Warspite and her battle record cover some of the most important naval actions of the 20th century, Jutland, Narvick, Matapan, The Indian Ocean, Normandy and Walcheren. I found it interesting to read how accident-prone the ship was with numerous steering jams or collisions with other ships described. In addition she was a very lucky ship surviving a battering from the German High Seas Fleet at Jutland, and two severe bombing attacks from the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean. Both the Germans and Japanese claimed to have sunk her at various times.

I found the book a fascinating account and an enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in naval history.

Jon Jones
 


Captain Kidd
The Hunt for the Truth
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Craig Cabell, Allan Richards, Graham A Thomas
ISBN: : 9781844159611
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 27 September 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
The execution of Captain William Kidd on 23 May 1701 is one of the most controversial and revealing episodes in the long history of piracy. The legend that has grown up around Kidd's final voyage, his concealed treasure and the dubious conduct of his trial, has made him into one of the most intriguing and misunderstood figures from the golden age of piracy. For either Kidd was a legal privateer or he was a wicked pirate - indeed he has been described as one of the most feared pirates to sail the high seas. But his story is complex and ambiguous. This timely new account of Kidd's life and seafaring career reassesses the man and his legend - it makes compelling reading.
 
The Authors

Craig Cabell is the author of fifteen books. He has also worked extensively as a journalist, reporter and columnist, contributing most notably to The Independent. He is a former in-house reporter with MOD Focus and has worked as a short story writer and historical advisor for radio and TV documentaries.
Graham A. Thomas is the writer of six previous books including the acclaimed Operation Big Ben - The Anti-V2 Spitfire Missions 1944-45 with Craig Cabell. Graham is also a former reporter with MOD Focus and has worked extensively in radio. Allan Richards wrote VE Day - A Day to Remember and enjoyed extensive media coverage during the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. He has travelled the world and written about his experiences for travel magazines, amongst others.


Introduction
In the Beginning

With every groan and creak of the ship, every roll and yaw the vessel made as it rode the waves on its trans-Atlantic voyage the man was tossed around as much as the chains binding him would allow. For what seemed an eternity he'd been kept below decks in a tiny cabin in steerage. Unwashed, his hair and beard flowing down his soiled clothes, illness wracking his body, he was a shadow of the man he used to be.

The prisoner was being taken back to England to stand trial for his life. As the days rolled by he must have wondered how on earth he had ended up where he was. For only three years earlier he'd been on top of the world, commanding one of the most impressive private warships ever built. His triumphant sail down the Thames towards open sea had quickly turned to disaster.

The ship yawed from side to side with every swell of the sea and the prisoner grew weaker. He ached for his young wife and family. To see them again would lift his spirits so much.

After weeks of being confined below decks he felt the ship heave to. Above him were the shouts of the crew as the sails were lowered. He could hear the tackle being pulled as men brought the sails down; he felt the ship slow in the water until it was simply rolling with the sea and not under way. The prisoner wondered what was happening. Then some men came and brought him roughly from his dark, stinking hole into the light and the wonderful sea air. It filled his lungs as they moved him across the deck and unceremoniously transferred him across to the ship that was tied up alongside. It was smaller than the one he'd left and seemed so familiar.

The ship they approached was the Katherine, the King's Yacht, and the prisoner, Captain William Kidd, must have had a profound sense of déjà vu. The story of Captain William Kidd and his final voyage which ended so miserably has become the stuff of legend. In most of those legends he has been branded the most notorious pirate to ever sail the waters around America. Most historians still believe that Kidd was a pirate though he maintained to the last that he was a privateer doing the King's work. The first person to brand Kidd as a pirate was Captain Charles Johnson who wrote a biography of Kidd in his book, A General History Of The Most Notorious Pirates, which was first published in 1724. There is some doubt as to who Johnson was: some believe he was the famous Daniel Defoe who wrote Robinson Crusoe, while others think he was a pirate because of his knowledge of the sea that comes through in his accounts of the pirates and their way of life.

For our purposes we will refer to him as Johnson. This is what he writes about Captain Kidd:

We cannot account for this sudden change in his conduct, otherwise than by supposing that he first meant well, while he had hopes of making his fortune by taking of pirates, but now weary of ill success and fearing lest his owners out of humour at their great expense, should dismiss him, he resolved to do his business one way, since he could not do it another.'

The story of Kidd leads up to his final voyage where he sailed from England, across the Atlantic to New York, then to Africa into the Red Sea and India, and back to New York. His life culminates in this voyage for it is here that he is claimed to have turned pirate. We'll look at the facts of this voyage in much greater detail but first we need to look at the man and his earlier actions.

The fables and stories of Kidd say that he was a ruthless pirate, tremendously wealthy, and that he buried treasure up and down the eastern seaboard of America. Novels, plays, films and cartoons have helped to propagate the legend and myth of Captain Kidd. Famous writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson used the Kidd tales in their fiction, helping to propagate the piracy myth. 'Kidd leaped suddenly into piratical fame and never has lost ground."
More recent historians like Richard Zacks believe that Kidd was a victim of circumstance and that his unruly crew were the cause of his being branded a pirate. `He was created by those forces of commercial and political exploitation that we recognise and in part deplore as typical of an expanding America."

However, in Kidd's case there are many grey areas and the facts can be interpreted ip different ways. But the legend of Kidd that was built up during this voyage and after his trial and execution simply points to him as a pirate. `Imagination was stirred in the tavern and down the backstairs as well as in the House of Commons and at the trial in the Old Bailey.'

Let's see what the facts are.

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The Grand Fleet
Warship Design and Development 1906-1922
Edition: 2nd 2010, 1st published in 1999 by Chatham Publishing
Format: Paperback
Author: D K Brown
ISBN: 9781848320857
Publishers: Seaforth ( Pen & Sword )
Price: £16.99
Publication Date: 22nd Sept 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
The launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 ushered in one of the most rapid periods of warship development in history; and only ten years after this all-big-gun, turbine-powered battleship was completed, two entire fleets of Dreadnoughts would meet at Jutland and put the work of the prewar designers to the ultimate test.
 
The renowned warship author, D K Brown, examines the development of these vessels and looks at how wartime experience affected warship design. As well as battleships and battlecruisers, for the first time the developmental history of smaller vessels such as minesweepers, monitors and escort vessels, built in direct response to wartime needs, is described, as is that of the submarine and aircraft carrier. A detailed study is made of battle damage, including the role played by ammunition explosions in the loss of three British battlecruisers at Jutland. Also described are the postwar capital ship designs, killed off by the Washington Treaty, which are among the most fascinating 'might-have-beens' of naval history.
 
A classic work again available for historians and enthusiasts, detailing the development of all those ships that enabled the Royal Navy to rule the waves supreme and defend country and empire.

The Author
 
D K Brown was a distinguished naval architect who retired in 1988 as Deputy Chief Naval Architect of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. He published widely on the subject of warship design and built a reputation as a clear and brilliant commentator on the development of the ships of the Royal Navy. He died in 2008.

Part of the Forward

The aim of this book is to review the design and construction of British warships and their machinery up to and during the First World War, together with the immediate post-war years when lessons of the war were studied, concluding with the Washington Treaty. The technology of guns and their fire control, of torpedoes etc, will be considered only in sufficient depth to recognise their impact on the overall design of the ships. Some of the story is well known and will be dealt with briefly but there are many topics which are less familiar and will be treated in more depth. Where possible, designs which were not built will be described in some detail as they often form the `missing link' between well-known classes. In particular, attention will be paid to the battleships and cruisers designed just prior to the First World War when ideas were changing rapidly.

By the time Dreadnought was designed, naval architecture was a well-developed technology, with scientific backing for most aspects and soundly-based empirical solutions available where direct calculation was not possible. Stability was well understood, though there was some uncertainty over its link with rolling, while the two Froudes had developed procedures for model testing of hulls and propellers, supported by trials, which worked well in most cases and gave the RN an important lead. The structural design method initiated by Rankine and Reed and applied by White had been verified by Biles' trials on the Wolf. The design process was not, however, an automatic one and there was plenty of scope for individual styles, perhaps most apparent in the arrangement of armour. Thicker plates were all of the well-proven Krupp Cemented (KC) material but materials for thinner plates varied and the arrangements, confirmed by trials, differed widely. The design methods in use differed little from those which I was taught as a student and used as a young assistant. Only the introduction of the computer made major change possible

Submarine design developed quite quickly and by 1914 the RN's large fleet included a considerable number of overseas boats. From 1913 onwards, the many problems of carrying and operating aircraft at sea were solved, giving the RN in the Argus of 1918 the only true aircraft carrier of the war. It is convenient and nearly correct to attribute ships built before the war to Sir Phillip Watts and those during the war to Sir Eustace Tennyson d'Eyncourt. Both were great gentlemen in the traditional sense and great designers.

It was, however, the age of the Marine Engineer. Turbines were novel and there was keen competition between Parsons designs and those of the American Curtis company for which John Brown held the UK licence. Turbines benefited greatlyas did propeller efficiencyfrom the introduction of gearing just before the war. The use of oil firing presented many difficulties which were gradually overcome. British engineers led the way in all these aspects but, surprisingly, they continued to use large tube boilers long after the benefits of the small tube boiler became apparent, penalising RN ships in weight and space.

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The Final Betrayal
MacArthur and the Tragedy of Japanese POWs
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Mark Felton
ISBN: 9781848840942
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 5th August 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This book examines the period between the unconditional surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945 and the arrival of Allied liberation forces in Japanese-occupied territories after 2 September 1945.
 
The delay handed the Japanese a golden opportunity to set their house in order before Allied war crimes investigators arrived. After 14 August groups of Allied POWs were brutally murdered. Vast amounts of documentation concerning crimes were burned ahead of the arrival of Allied forces. POW facilities and medical experimentation installations were either abandoned or destroyed. Perhaps the greatest crimes were continuing deaths of Allied POWs from starvation, disease and ill-treatment after the Japanese surrender.
 
The blame rests with the American authorities, and particularly General MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific. MacArthur expressly forbade any Allied forces from liberating Japanese occupied territories before he had personally taken the formal Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. Vice Admiral Lord Mountbatten, Commanding Allied forces in Southeast Asia, protested against this policy, believing that pandering to MacArthur's vanity and ego would mean condemning many starving and sick prisoners to death. Deaths among British and Commonwealth POWs were significant as opposed to American POWs who were already largely liberated in the Philippines and elsewhere.

The Author
 
MacArthur's and the American leadership's obsession with sidelining the British in Asia cost hundreds of British and Commonwealth lives, hundreds and hundreds of lives, that otherwise would have been saved if Mountbatten had been permitted to proceed with his liberation plans.
 
Born in Colchester in 1974, Dr Mark Felton gained a BA in History and English at Anglia University, Cambridge. He holds an MA and PhD in American History, both at the University of Essex. He currently lives and works in China with his wife and son, where he teaches at Fudan University, Shanghai. He has contributed to many historical periodicals and is the author of Yanagi: The Secret Underwater Trade Between Germany and Japan, 1942-1945, The Fujita Plan: Japanese Attacks on the United States and Australia during the Second World War, Slaughter At Sea and The Coolie Generals (all published by Pen and Sword Books Ltd).


Destroyer Down
An Account of HM Destroyer Losses 1939 - 1945
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Arthur Evans
ISBN: 9781848842700
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
 
Publisher's Title Information
 
Publication Date: 9th August 2010
 

At sea there was no such thing as a Phoney War. In the four months from the outbreak of hostilities until the end of 1939, thirty Royal Navy vessels were sunk, three of these were destroyers, the first being HMS Blanche.
 
His Majesty's destroyers had a long and costly war. Some eight thousand destroyer men did not survive. At the height of the war the Royal navy was commissioning four new vessels a month, which was only sufficient to replace those which had been sunk or severely damaged. This outstanding book contains the details of the majority of the sinkings that occurred throughout World War II and includes many first-hand accounts from the officers and crew involved.
Note

The manuscript for this book came to light as a result of a visit to the late author's widow, Joan Evans, in connection with the republication of his much acclaimed record of wartime submarine losses entitled 'Beneath the Waves'. See This website for details.

This book follows the same theme but as applied to World War II Destroyers of the Royal Navy. Pen & Sword have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information within this volume, but without the author to consult, every minute detail cannot be checked. The publishers would be pleased to note any factual modifications readers may wish to offer.

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Historical Dreadnoughts
Marder and Roskill: Battles for Naval History
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Barry Gough
ISBN: 9781848320772
Publishers: Pen & Sword (Seaforth)
Price: £35
Publication Date: 5th July 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

This is the story of the remarkable, intersecting careers of the two greatest writers on British naval history in the twentieth century - the American professor Arthur Marder, son of immigrant Russian Jews, and Captain Stephen Roskill, who knew the Royal Navy from the inside. Between them, these contrasting characters were to peel back the lid of historical secrecy that surrounded the maritime aspects of the two world wars, based on the privileged access to official papers they both achieved through different channels.
 
Initially their mutual interests led to a degree of friendly rivalry, but this was to deteriorate into a stormy academic feud fought out in newspaper columns and the footnotes of their books - much to the bemusement (and sometimes amusement) of the naval history community. Out of it, surprisingly, emerged some of the best historical writing on naval themes, and a central contribution of this book is to reveal the process by which the two historians produced their literary masterpieces.
 
Anyone who has read Marder's From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow or Roskill's The War at Sea - and they were both bestsellers in their day - will be entertained and enlightened by this story of the men A J P Taylor called 'our historical dreadnoughts'.


Review
 
As I started to get further into this book, two aspects of the entire affair became apparent. The first is, what a terrible shame that two such eminent naval historians should devote so much of their valuable time attacking each other. Its seems, at times, that they did co-operate. However the constant disagreement dragged on and people were obliged to take sides.
 
This is an enthralling book which I found hard to put down. The author finds it difficult to decide who the better historian was. To quote Page 318 'We therefore come to the issue of who was the better historian - the one of the service or the one from the outside. That too will be a historical dispute without end'.
 
What were they at loggerheads about? You may well ask. Can a period of history belong to one historian? Was a gentleman's agreement broken? This book does appear, prima facie to come down on the side of Harper.
 
Much of the struggles between Marder and Roskill were over the Hankey diaries and over the interest of the roles of Churchill and Pound in the course of the Second World War, but each accused the other of breach of copyright or not returning papers.
 
Does it matter, could it be as Geoffrey Bennett claimed in 'The Battle of Jutland, 1964, BT Batsford,' that the Jutland controversy had been dead since 1940, see appendix 111. The Harper's record of the Battle of Jutland was released in 1927 and Harper himself released 'The Truth About Jutland' in the same year. Also published in 1934 was 'The Riddle of Jutland - An Authentic History by Langhorne Gibson & Vice-Admiral J E T Harper, Cassell. Bennett suggested the issues were fully settled when Corbett's 'Naval Operations' Volume 3 was released in the late 1930s.
 
As to the argument about Pound and Churchill this is another issue that will continue to be debated, however Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape was adamant that Pound was fit for the job and was not Winston's stooge.
 
Whatever your views this is a serious study that throws light on the background and careers of both men who between them have contributed so much to Naval history and as such deserves a place in any Naval library.
 
Rob Jerrard

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Fighting Flotilla - RN Laforey Class Destroyers in World War 11
Edition: 2nd, 1st Published in 1976
Format: Hardback
Author: Peter C Smith
ISBN: 9781848842731
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 5 July 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The 'Laforays' were the largest, most powerfully armed and successful ships of this type to see frontline action with the Royal Navy in WWII. They were also the handsomest warships to see service and presented a perfect combination of power and speed. They were assigned to the most dangerous theatres of war including Force H, sailing between Gibraltar and Malta, from where they operate against the German supply lines to North Africa. They escorted minelayers into the German backyard in the North Sea and their convoy escort work in the North Atlantic proved them to be highly effective hunter killers of the U-Boat packs that threatened every cargo ship carrying vital supplies to the UK. Such was the pace of their war, that out of the eight ships of the class only one survived the war.
 
The book also includes chapters on their origin, planning and building, wartime operations and indices cover weapon systems, general fittings and complements and battle honours for each ship in the class.

The Author

Peter C. Smith is one of the world's leading authors on things maritime and is highly respected throughout the world

Forward

It is an almost overwhelming task for me to write the foreword to Peter Smith's book about the 19th Destroyer Flotilla. I have been asked to do it because, as the wife of R.M.J. Hutton for forty-five years, it had been thought that I would know what made him tick.

'Tubby' was captain of Laforey and D.19 for most of that gallant ship's life. He stood by her when she was building in Yarrows yard and served in her from her commissioning on 12 August 1941 until he was relieved on 28 November 1943. Sad as he was at leaving her he was delighted to hand over to 'Beaky' Armstrong, , a distinguished destroyer captain for whom he had the highest regard but who was to lose his life in her so tragically only a few months later.

This book is about the birth, life and death of the ships of the 19th Flotilla, but at various times 'Tubby' found himself as Captain (D) for many other destroyers that were attached to his command. He was, therefore, well known in the destroyer world of many nationalities and he believed very much that those who commanded should be known to those under their command. He never liked serving in big ships he complained that they were too impersonal. He liked to know his lower deck almost as well as he knew his wardroom, and I know those who served under him knew him as a good mixer.

He was a professional. All the officers of his rank, at that time, were. There were no short service commissions in those days. After World War I the Royal Navy was cut to the bone and only the professionals, aided by a good deal of luck, managed to survive in the service. He went to Osborne at the age of thirteen and was brought up in the traditions of the Navy. On 3 August 1914, when he was fourteen, he solemnly wrote to their Lordships requesting an immediate sea posting something their Lordships decided to defer for eighteen months!

He had three spells at the Staff College and was well indoctrinated with the theory of waging war, but above that, he was quite sure the spirit of the men who fought was the most important thing. He, himself, was a very simple, very devout Christian. Whenever possible he held Sunday services aboard and he tried never to go into action without a brief prayer himself. Talking to Laforey survivors in 1974, I was delighted to know how much they appreciated this side of his character.

There were never any grey zones in his life things were good or they were bad. He hated war but, in spite of endless self-criticism, he knew it was the result that mattered.

He kept his finger very much on the common pulse, believing the best could only be achieved through the goodwill of men; he was able to be friendly without being familial:, considerate without being soft-hearted. Throughout his life he managed men without misgiving or mistrust.

Laforey, and the 19th Flotilla, were the epitome of his life that 'grey mistress' of which I, his wife, could only be immensely proud. May his spirit and example, and that of the men of the Laforeys, live on in this book.

Lois Hutton
Oak Lawn, Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight,
March 1976
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Review

This hardback book is a comprehensive account of the Laforey class destroyers in WW2, and follows the fate and exploits of each vessel until lost in action. There is masses of detail, clearly laid out, and extremelywell crafted by a successful and well respected author. It will certainly grip the reader who is fascinated with all things military and with the navy especially. Such a book poses the difficulty of staying readable, preferably with attractive prose, whilst trying to satisfy all of the technical experts and war buffs. They will no doubt search for the slightest aberration, but as an account of these beautiful work horses, the book is a gem.
 
The 8 chapters are in a logical sequence, starting with ' The Origins ' and ending with ' The Final Actions ' What makes it more readable is the inclusion of extracts, some taken from reports and others from first-hand accounts of the conditions aboard in difficult times, and under fire.There are several pages of photos of the Laforey class vessels, showing their greyhound like qualities.
 
Overall this is a great book, serving both as a record of the time of the Laforey class destroyers, and as a readable account of war at sea for the casual reader thirstingsome insight.Some of the technical details could have benefited from translation into layman's terms to make it more digestible, but to be fair, there is a glossary at the back. the ship plans and diagrams are too small , which is a shame.Because of the size of ship plans the expense of fold out pages was probably an issue, but it resulted in theinclusion of diagrams with near unreadable print.
 
This reviewer found the section onnames a real treat.The RN has a tradition of keeping names down the centuries, passing from ship to ship, and Laforey turns out to be a French Huguenot name stemming from one of their favourite sons of the 18th Century.
 
The section on the Mediterranean conflict and the role by the Laforey class destroyers and other vesselsin the defence of Malta is comprehensively dealt with. The battle to supply Malta is well known and these ships had a torrid time in the thick of it. Anecdotes abound, and this brings the narrative to life.book is peppered with interesting detail, such as the fact that the time taken to stop dead in the water from a full speed of 36 knots, was only 70 seconds!
 
The brutality of war at sea is starkly spelled out in a couple of chapters. The sudden arrival of death in action comes somewhat as a shock to the reader. Large numbers of combat hardened men, who seconds before were comfortably relaxing, suddenly found a watery grave or worse. We all owe them.
 
Not all of the chapters will have the same appeal to the general reader, the exhausting detail aboutthe design and build will be heavy going for many. Not for the real RN buffs, however. No one can say that these ships were built without agonising over the balance between weight, speed, armaments, sea worthiness, etc. and there was much tweaking of the figures to get such an apparentlyfineresult.
 
To support the narrative, there are comprehensive appendices, a glossary, and a moving Foreword by the wife of Laforey's Captain, tragically lost with his ship after years of priceless service.
 
Alan Rawlinson


Killing the Bismarck - Destroying the Pride of Hitler's Fleet
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Ian Ballantyne
ISBN: 9781844159833
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 12th July 2010
 

'A HARROWING INSIGHT INTO THE UNREMITTING CRUELTY OF WAR AT SEA, AS WELL AS THE COURAGE AND COMPASSION OF FRAIL HUMANS PITTED AGAINST SAVAGE WEATHER AND PLUNGED INTO BRUTAL COMBAT…'
 
In May 1941, the German battleship Bismarck, accompanied by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, broke out into the Atlantic to attack Allied shipping. The Royal Navy 's pursuit and subsequent destruction of Bismarck was an epic of naval warfare.
 
Astonishingly, nearly seventy years on, this new book by Iain Ballantyne, Killing the Bismarck, alters our perception of this legendary episode, by focusing on the eyewitness accounts of British sailors, marines and carrier aviators, some of them published for the first time in a compelling narrative.
 
During this action-packed story we go aboard cruisers playing a lethal cat and mouse game as they shadow Bismarck and experience the horror of the British battlecruiser Hood's destruction, a disaster that filled the men of pursuing Royal Navy units with a thirst for revenge. We fly in Swordfish torpedo-bombers as valiant aircrews take off in atrocious weather and defy storms of anti-aircraft fire during desperate bids to cripple Bismarck. We sail in destroyers as they make daring torpedo attacks, battling mountainous seas.
 
During the final showdown battleships Rodney and King George V, supported by cruisers, destroy the pride of Hitler's fleet in a close-quarters battle, the terrible reality of which has never been fully depicted in print before. We also experience Winston Churchill's anxious vigil and learn of the key role the victory played in establishing the 'Special Relationship' between the USA and UK. The author analyses the myths surrounding Bismarck and her destruction, considering whether they have any substance. Included are portraits of the short fighting lives of legendary British warships, such as the battleship Prince of Wales and destroyer Cossack as well as men who sailed to death or glory in them.
 
Providing a harrowing insight into the unremitting cruelty of war at sea, as well as the courage and compassion of frail humans pitted against savage weather and plunged into brutal combat, Killing the Bismarck is delivered with the verve of a novel, taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride in which each twist and turn yields new shocks.
 

The Author
 
In addition to being the author of several naval history books, Iain Ballantyne is the award-winning editor of the globally renowned monthly naval affairs magazine WARSHIPS International Fleet Review, which is deeply respected as an essential forum for the world's navies. A one-time Defence Reporter for a regional evening newspaper and former Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent for a London-based national news agency, Iain's experiences covering front line naval operations around the world, from the Arctic to the Middle East, over the past two decades keenly inform his books. He is also a scriptwriter and has recently ventured into video production with a DVD on the mysterious loss of the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney during the Second World War - Sydney, Cipher and Search: The Inside Story.

Forward
The sinking of the Bismarck was one of the defining moments of war at sea in the European Theatre and has generated considerable historical study and comment. One might therefore question the value of another book on the subject. My judgement is that this book adds new material and provides us with additional and different reflections on issues that this action has previously raised.
I am particularly struck by the well-researched accounts from a good cross-section of personnel. They, together with the narrative, bring out so much that is enduring about navies and their operations as well as the specifics of this particular operation. The enduring importance of range, damage control and logistics come through strongly in this book, which also shows us the decisive use of naval air power for both reconnaissance and attack.
No commander plans or executes an operation without an eye on the weather. It can be both an enemy and a friend at the same time and this was the case in May 1941. The same weather that made carrier flying so challenging also frustrated the U-boats.
The sheer professionalism of the ships' companies so evident in this action, as is related on the following pages, was the bedrock of the successes that the Royal Navy ground out in the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean and finally in the Pacific over the next four years. It is, of course, part of the legacy that today's sailors and marines aspire to match.
The eyewitness accounts quoted in this book confirm vividly the ferocious pounding the Home Fleet gave the Bismarck to ensure her sinking. Additionally, they give support to the view that there was something very personal as well as operational and strategic about the need to destroy Bismarck. The loss of the Hood, although technically not surprising she was never given the required modernization -was a huge shock to the Nation as well as the Royal Navy.
Between wars it is always a challenge to continue to afford modernization. This was certainly the case for the Royal Navy and Hood was a prime example of that. In the 1940s the Royal Navy had to rely on too many ships of First World War vintage, including battlecruisers, which were known to be susceptible to plunging shellfire due to inadequate levels of protection.
In considering the strategic context of the story that unfolds here, we must remember that Britain stood very much alone in May 1941. Major reverses had been suffered on the ground. While the threat of invasion had been removed by the successes of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, the German bombing campaign against the cities was in full swing.
The Royal Navy was stretched across the Atlantic and Mediterranean and paying the price for insufficient investment in the 1920s and the late decision to m in the 1930s, Add to this the consequences of Arms Control agreements the Admiralty and Fleet Commanders were at times looking down the el of defeat. To have lost the Hood and let Bismarck avoid retribution would e had a devastating effect on morale and reputation, the latter being particularly important in the perception of the United States and Soviet Union. The operational, potentially strategic, leverage the German Navy would have able to exert with the Bismarck joining Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the tic ports, while undertaking the U-boat campaign, might well have put the royal Navy past the tipping point. This well written and absorbing book ds us how this situation was avoided while clearly illustrating the home s about war at sea. I commend it to you.
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB
Former First Sea Lord & Chief of Naval Staff

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Review

There have been very many books on the life and death of the German Battleship Bismarck, but none we are told that focus on first-hand accounts of British Sailors, Marines and Carrier Aviators. The object is to radically alter our perception of one of the claims that Bismarck was trying to surrender. I must say that this is not the first time I have heard such a claim and along with this goes the claim that the Germans scuttled their own ship.

Appendix 1 of the book is called 'Busting the Myth' and it would be worth reading first and perhaps after summing up all the evidence, you will have to decide who's torpedoes finished her off after she took such a colossal battering from gunnery. Was it Rodney, Dorsetshire, Cossack, Zulu or a Swordfish torpedo?

What will the German survivors have you believe? Why believe them, after all they sank their own ship didn't they? But does it matter? On page 261 we read:-

'Bert Gollop, the Dorsetshire sailor who helped save some of Bismarck's men in the aftermath of battle, had this to say about the debate on what exactly sank the German vessel: 'At one of our reunions some Germans told us they had opened the sea cocks, while others said it was impossible to do so. Either way it made no difference to the end.' Bert was right, in that Bismarck was destroyed as a fighting unit, ninety-five per cent of her ship's company either killed in the slaughterhouse that she became during combat, or drowned later.

North Dalrymple-Hamilton, who had a private conversation with one of the Bismarck's surviving officers after the Second World War, reflected: 'We always said she was sunk. The Germans, I think, sometimes for the honour of Germany, said they scuttled her...When we {King George V and Rodney] left, I mean she was an absolute hulk, so I would say almost certainly she was sunk. I think the scuttle story was just something that the Germans thought sounded better.'

There is a discussion in Appendix 1, along these lines, 'Government neglect of the Royal Navy killed Hood'. Here Lord Chatfield's letter to The Times is discussed. He wrote to make it clear that Hood was not, as the public thought, the largest and most powerful warship afloat.

There is a myth but also reality as Page 265 explains:-

'In May 1941 she was the ship that went in to do the point-blank dirty work with Bismarck. Churchill would have noted Tovey's notorious signal declaring that he could not sink Bismarck with guns alone. He would have been dismayed that his faith in the 16-inch gun power of Rodney appeared to be ill-founded, while fears for the 14-inch power of the new battleships were apparently proven. Better not to draw attention to that, then. But let us not imagine British gunnery was a failure. DK Brown pointed out in Nelson to Vanguard that between 300 and 400 British shells, out of 2,871 fired at her, actually hit Bismarck, which proved no more resistant to damage than Royal Navy ships. Furthermore, Brown described Bismarck's armour arrangement to be 'old fashioned', which did 'as well as could be expected' but that it was 'not magical'. British gunfire may not have sunk Bismarck - at least not as quickly as Tovey needed, with fuel manning low and enemy air and submarine attacks anticipated - but it did destroy the German battleship as a fighting unit. Utterly. Plenty of 14-inch, 16-inch and flinch shells did their worst inside Bismarck. The German ship, by contrast, scored not a single hit on any of the British battleships or cruisers with either her primary or secondary armament. Likewise, Bismarck's anti-aircraft weapons failed to shoot down a single Swordfish. No amount of spin - British, German or any other - no myth-making, then or now, can cover up those incontestable facts.'

Rob Jerrard


Beneath the Waves
A History of HM Submarine Losses 1904-1971
Edition: 2010, 1st Published 1986
Format: Hardback
Author: A S Evans
ISBN: 9781848842922
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 26 July 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

Since the beginning of the Royal Navy Submarine Service in 1901, 173 submarines have been lost and in many circumstances with their entire crew. War inevitably takes a heavy toll: in World War Two alone - 341 officer and 2,801 ratings failed to return to harbour. The loss of personnel was roughly equivalent to the strength of the Submarine Arm at the outbreak of war.
 
Between the first loss, A1 in 1904, and the last, Artemis in 1971, lie many stories in which cool nerve was very much in evidence and one can marvel at the escape of the only survivor of Perseus; and of the sinking of Olympus from which the few survivors had to swim seven miles before receiving help; and of Surgeon-Lieutenant Charles Rhodes who died that others may live. These and many other accounts of submarine escape are described within this history - and whenever possible in the words of survivors or witnesses.

FROM “The Early Years”
The Early Years

News that the Royal Navy was about to form a Submarine Service was made known to Parliament in March 1901 when Lord Selborne, the First Lord of the Admiralty, in his introductory statement to the Naval Estimates for 1901-2 expounded:

Five submarine vessels of the type invented by Mr Holland have been ordered, the first of which should be delivered next autumn. What the future value of these boats may be in naval warfare can only be a matter of conjecture. The experiments with these boats will assist the Admiralty in assessing their true value.

The John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Company had been formed as far back as 1883. In July 1898 Holland, then fifty-seven, had cause to meet the businessman Isaac L. Rice. The wealthy Rice, whose storage battery company was the largest in the United States, had supplied Holland's latest submarine with batteries, Isaac Rice was taken for a run in the Holland, as the submarine was called, and was so impressed by the experience that he later formed his own submarine construction company. In February 1899 Rice's new firm (Electric Boat Company) took over all of Holland's patents. Rice was a well-known figure in the business world and had many influential contacts. Armed with a letter of introduction from the New York banker Augustus Belmont (a director of Electric Boat) to Lord Rothschild in England, Rice sailed for Europe in July 1900. Ten weeks later the Admiralty had agreed to the purchase of the five Hollands.

An agreement between Electric Boat and the giant ship-building and armaments firm of Messrs Vickers, Sons, & Maxim, Ltd, was reached which allowed for the five Hollands to be built under licence at Barrow-in-Furness. The launching, with a minimum of ceremony, of HM Submarine No 1 took place on Wednesday 2 October 1901. The second of the Hollands was launched a few months later (21 February 1902), with a further two launchings following in May. The fifth and final boat took to the waters in june. By the beginning of 1903 the builders had delivered all five boats.

Having entered the Navy in 1877 as a youngster of thirteen, Captain (later Admiral Sir) R.H.S. Bacon was already an old hand when at the age of thirty-eight he was appointed on 20 August 1901, as the first Inspecting Captain of Submarine Boats and installed in an office in the Controller's Department at the Admiralty. A determined and forceful officer, his qualities and technical ability made him an ideal choice to command the new Submarine Service.
As few wanted anything to do with submarines they were very much the poor relation of the Navy Captain Bacon found that he had the field more or less to himself, a situation which suited Bacon down to the ground as it enabled him and Vickers between them to get on with the job of building the Submarine Service with a minimum of official interference.

By September 1901 Bacon had recruited the first ten submariners. The officer selected to command Holland 1 was a slim 26-year-old lieutenant of unquestionable ability: Forster D. Arnold-Forster. (* Rear Admiral Arnold-Forster died at his daughter's home at Iwerne Minster in April 1958.)
When in 1890 Lieutenant Arnold- Forster entered Britannia he could hardly have foreseen that he would one day command the. Navy's first submarine. His first practical move towards submarine duty occurred in March 1901 when he volunteered his services because `Somebody will be wanted to do preliminary experiments and it might be a useful experience'. Five months later he was on his way to Barrow-in-Furness to take command of Holland 1, which at that time was still under construction.

In the early years of the Submarine Service everything to do with boats (submarines are always called boats by submariners) appears to have involved risk and hardship to some degree. With the Hollands having a very small conning tower, even normal surface running in a choppy sea was not to be taken too lightly. And the use in such a confined space of a petrol engine for surface propulsion was an accepted hazard that was considered sheer madness by most non-submariners. Not only was the risk of fire or an explosion a very real danger, but petrol vapour had a tendency to make eyes water and to cause the most fearsome headaches. The small, dank and foul-smelling interior, crammed with noisy and temperamental machinery, was no place for the faint-hearted; it took first-class men to withstand the
unsavoury conditions and to perform skilled work with efficiency and with at least a modicum of cheerfulness. So, from the very beginning submariners had to be 'submarine types'.

At first the new boats which came into service were prone to breakdown; but as their crews gained in experience the pitfalls and snags were gradually overcome and by 1904 the Hollands and their seven-men crews had reached a standard of efficiency which enabled them to participate in the annual Naval Manoeuvres for the first time....

Review

As a reference book this collection of facts is outstanding and will be of interest to naval historians of all ages. There will be few who can actually personally remember any of the losses because very few have occurred since 1945. In 1950 we had the loss of Truculent, the first peace-time loss since Thetis in 1939. Then in 1951 came the loss of Affray, which as a ten-year- old living in Portsmouth, I can just about remember. In 1955 it was Sidon at Portland with a long gap until Artemis at Gosport in 1971, when thankfully all three trapped men escaped.

That previous paragraph sums up a very small percentage of the losses recorded in this excellent book, which begins with A1 in 1904. Between then and now the list is very long because of two world wars. Many of the losses have books of their own, or figure largely in books, eg Thunderbolt that had been the re-named Thetis (HMS THETIS-Secrets & Scandal) was lost in March 1943 and the Upholder commanded by Lt Cdr M D Wanklyn, (Hero of the Upholder: The Story of Lieutenant Commander M.D. Wanklyn VC, DSO** ) lost 14 April 1943 and Splendid commanded by Lt I L M McGeoch, 21 April 1943 (An Affair of Chances A Submariners Odyssey 1939-1944.) and Seal commanded by Lt Cdr R P Lonsdale, (Will not we fear : the story of His Majesty's submarine "Seal") lost in May 1939 are just four that come to mind. Seal was actually taken and eventually commissioned into the German Navy.

There are many good photographs and a very full Index with a list of all losses by date.

A welcome addition to any naval enthusiast's library.

Rob Jerrard
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Frontline and Experimental Flying with the Fleet Air Arm
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Geoffrey Higgs
ISBN: 9781848842625
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 5th July 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

The spectacle of Alan Cobham's Flying Circus and the Fleet at anchor in Weymouth inspired the author's lifelong passion for aeroplanes, flying and the Royal Navy. World War Two provided the opportunity to fulfil his ambition and at eighteen he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. Training in Canada began a Naval flying career that spanned thirty-years. Front line squadron service, embarked on aircraft carriers was followed by qualification as a flying instructor. Selection for the Empire Test Pilots School at Farnborough and qualification as an experimental Test Pilot changed the direction of his naval career. In all he flew nearly one hundred types of aircraft and carried out close to a thousand deck landings. Initial flight testing of a number of new naval aircraft, as well as research flying in support of the development of aircraft such as the English Electric Lightning and Concorde added to a unique career.
 
Such a long and varied period of flying was not without the inevitable mishaps. A near catastrophic catapult launch of a new naval aircraft, the jamming of the power control system in a research aircraft and hazardous flying through tropical storms at supersonic speeds to determine safety factors for Concorde's intended Far East route were some of the dangers of flying at the cutting edge. As pilot, he flew the first Royal Naval aircraft to cross the Atlantic non-stop without in-flight refuelling or navigational aids. He describes the fascinating ten day flight from Croydon to Rangoon across Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan and India to deliver a Percival Provost trainer to the Burmese Air Force.

Preface

I began writing these memoirs in response to the not too infrequent urgings of my family to put something of my life on record, solely for private use. I never kept a diary and it was therefore something of a challenge.

However, I got down to it, temporarily ceased my primary pastime as an amateur water colourist and spent the next year or so recollecting events of a naval career that had been, 'purely by chance' like many others, the outcome of a world war. This was my original title for my memoirs, but I was persuaded that it did not have marketable value as a title, and my publisher wisely suggested the alternative. But as I picked up the threads it became more of a narrative than just a few reminiscences and in due course I was persuaded to offer it for publication.

In the course of my writing I have not referred to any outside source for information or corroboration, relying solely on personal recollections supported by my logbooks and personal photographs. I realise the shortcomings of this approach, but it arose from first intentions to produce a simple family record, and as time went on I felt disinclined or perhaps too idle to conduct the sort of research a more competent author would undertake. If, therefore, there occur any errors of fact the fault is entirely mine, and while I am not aware of, nor intend, any offence to the various characters who may appear from time to time, I unhesitatingly apologise if I have transgressed.

For the same reasons of initially producing a private family record, I avoided any tendency to become too technical in recording various happenings that I felt would bore the layman Again, this may have been a mistake, since I realise it will be less than complete for the more discerning reader.

As I continued with events of the past I experienced many moments of sadness at the loss of so many good friends who, for one reason or another, did not stay the course. The hazards of flying they accepted willingly, as we an did, but those of us who rose to the challenge and survived can only reflect, 'There but for the Grace of God ...'
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Review

This hefty hardback chronicles the life and times of the author, Geoffrey Higgs, and it is a life crammed with flying all types of aircraft, mostly shipboard, and the inevitable mishaps. There are endless anecdotes. Tied in with the service action, is an account of the peculiar life led by the service families, with many homes, some grand and some not so grand. The social life is good, and the accounts of shipboard life visiting Australia, highlight the test of stamina needed to stay the course. Perversely, it is also shown to be an insular world in many ways, because although it takes in many corners of the globe, it is somewhat removed from the real cut and thrust experienced by those not protected by the mantle of the MOD and military service.

This is still a good read, particularly for those of us who soak up anything to do with ships and aircraft, but for this reason it has a somewhat limited appeal. If you are not in this category, it does suffer from rather pedestrian prose, which robs it of that urge to turn the page.
The title is somewhat cumbersome too, although the book does contain what it says on the cover. The shipboard accounts of catapult trials, amongst other sections, are gripping, and the times in Singapore and the Far East add to the appeal, as do the various accounts of life alongside the Americans, particularly flying the F4B Phantom, and meeting some of the astronauts, which the author calls ' the pioneers of space'.

As with most successful careers, the latter years provided some new and exciting tasks, and deliberately flying through thunderstorms at high speed to record data for the concorde project was one such task.

Geoffrey Higgs flew nearly 100 different types of aircraft in his career, and many of these appear to have been challenging the rules of aerodynamics. Adding the complication of shipboard launches and recovery, made for some hairy moments which are well described as the tale unfolds. His love of flying shines through the pages. Always up for a challenge, the author appears to have prospered from this willingness, and his acceptance of the frequent and seemingly endless relocations. Given that there was always a choice of mouth watering postings at the end of each project, his eagerness is not hard to understand. Recounting his 33 years of meandering through service life, with all the various aircraft and the events, has provided a valuable thread in the fascinating development of the Fleet Air Arm.

In all, some 270 pages with 60 black and white photos, appendices, and a comprehensive index.

Alan Rawlinson.


Admiral Hipper Class Cruisers
ShipCraft 16:
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Steve Backer
ISBN: 9781848320628
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Seaforth Publishing Classic Warships Publishing
Price: £14.99
Publication Date: 23rd June 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

This is the latest in a series that aims to provide modellers with all they need to know about a famous class of warship and associated model kits
Summary of design history and careers
Full 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
The 'ShipCraft' series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeller through a brief history of the subject class, highlighting differences between sister-ships and changes in their appearance over their careers. This includes paint schemes and camouflage, featuring colour profiles and highly detailed line drawings and scale plans. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing of the ships, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit. This is followed by an extensive photographic survey of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and the book concludes with a section on research references - books, monographs, large-scale plans and websites.
 
The subject of this volume is the largest and most sophisticated German cruiser class of WW2. The five ships suffered very different fates. Blucher was sunk during the invasion of Norway in 1940, whereas Admiral Hipper fought right through the war. The most famous, Prinz Eugen, escaped when Bismarck was sunk and survived to be expended in a postwar Atomic bomb test. Seydlitz was intended to be converted to an aircraft carrier, but never finished, while Lutzow was sold to Russia and sunk by her erstwhile owners.
 

The Author

Steve Backer is the editor of steelnavy.com, the best warship modelling site on the web, for which he writes extensively on warship kits and accessories. He is also the author of four previous titles, Japanese Heavy Cruisers, British Battlecruisers, Essex Class Carriers and Bismarck and Tirpitz in this ShipCraft series.

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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Queen Elizabeth Class Battleships
Shipcraft 15
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Les Brown
ISBN: 9781848320611
Publisher's Title Information

Summary of design history and careers
Full 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

This is the latest in a series that aims to provide modellers with all they need to know about a famous class of warship and associated model kits.

The subject of this volume is the British class that set the pattern for the last generation of fast battleships Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Valiant, Barham and Malaya, five ships that fought with distinction in both world wars. Reconstructed and modernised twice during the 1930s, the differences between sister-ships during their long careers offer modelmakers a great range of possible subjects, with kits available for all the major variations.
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 famous battleships.
The 'ShipCraft' series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeller through a brief history of the subject class, highlighting differences between sister-ships and changes in their appearance over their careers. This includes paint schemes and camouflage, featuring colour profiles and highly detailed line drawings and scale plans. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing of the ships, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit. This is followed by an extensive photographic survey of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and the book concludes with a section on research references - books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.
 
This volume covers the five ships of the highly successful Queen Elizabeth class, a design of fast battleship that set the benchmark for the last generation of dreadnoughts. Although they fought with distinction in WW1, all were thought valuable enough to be modernised between the wars - indeed, three were massively reconstructed, providing the modelmaker with a challenging variety of possible subjects.

The Author
 
Les Brown is a leading light in the Small Ships Group of the International Plastic Modellers Society and the editor of their Newsletter. His previous contributions to this series are Flower Class Corvettes and British Destroyers.
For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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Sunk by Stukas, Survived at Salerno
The Memoirs of Captain Tony McCrum RN
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Tony McCrum
ISBN: 9781848842519
Publishers: Pen & sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 17th May 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Tony McCrum was born in Portsmouth in 1919, the second son of a naval lieutenant and a mother who came from a line of naval officers that stretched back to and beyond Trafalgar. He entered the Naval College at Dartmouth in September 1932 and went on to complete his midshipman's time aboard HMS Royal Oak from 1936 to 1939.
 
In January 1939 he 'shipped' his first stripe to become an Acting Sub Lieutenant and joined HMS Skipjack, a fast fleet minesweeper, as navigator. The ship was initially based at Harwich as part of the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla. Having worked-up to operational readiness the flotilla moved to their wartime station at Dover. In May 1940 Skipjack arrived off the Dunkirk beaches, one of the first ships to help the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force. Having made several successful Channel crossings ferrying home troops, the French coast suddenly became even more dangerous as the Luftwaffe presence increased in support of their advancing army which had now reached the area. With a full load of troops aboard, Skipjack was suddenly attacked by ten Stukas and was mortally hit and sunk. Eventually rescue was at hand and McCrum was landed at Ramsgate. 19 of the crew and 294 troops went down with the ship.

In June 1940 he was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Bridlington, a new minesweeper of the same class as Skipjack. In June 1941 he joined HMS Mendip, a Hunt Class destroyer with the task of defending the east coast against e-boat attack. Then came a complete change when he was ordered to HMS Largs to become the Signals Officer in Charge. This was an ex West Indies banana boat that had been converted into a Landing Craft Headquarters Ship. Her task was to carry an admiral and general who would control all the forces in the early days of an assault. In April 1943, Largs arrived in North Africa and began preparations for the Sicily landings. Operation Husky started on 8 July and proved a complete success with a bridgehead being established within hours. The next step was Italy, the Salerno landing. McCrum was again heavily involved with the HQ planning staff and the US Navy and was in charge of the ULTRA operations within the area. Salerno proved to be a much harder battle and was well defended. Having spent eighteen months working in the Mediterranean theatre, and various landings in France, McCrum was ordered home and joined the destroyer HMS Tartar on 15 January 1945 as Staff Signals Officer, 8th Destroyer Flotilla. They were bound for the Far East and the war with Japan and it was there, in Trincomlee harbour that the end of WWII was celebrated.

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The Battle for Norway
April- June 1940
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Geirr H Haarr
ISBN: 9781848320574
Publishers: Seaforth (Pen & Sword)
Price: £30
Publication Date: 10th Mat 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information

This is the second book in a series of two, covering the events at sea during the German invasion of Norway in 1940, the first modern campaign in which sea, air and ground forces interacted decisively.
 
Part one covers the events at sea off southern and western Norway where Norwegian and British forces attempted to halt the German advance out of the invasion ports as well as the stream of supplies and reinforcements across the Skagerrak. The second part focuses on the British landings in Central Norway where the Royal Navy for the first time had its mastery challenged by air superiority from land-based aircraft. Part three covers the events in and around Narvik where Norwegian, British, French and Polish naval, air and land forces were engaged in the first combined amphibious landings of WW II. Part four sums up the events during the evacuation in June, in which the first carrier task force operations of the war, including the loss of the carrier Glorious, figure prominently.
 
As in the first volume, the narration shifts continuously between the strategic and operational issues, and the experiences of the officers and ratings living through the events. Extensive research and use of primary sources reveals the many sides of this war, some of which remain controversial to this day.

The Author

Geirr H Haarr, a Norwegian living in Stavanger, works in environmental project development. Combining his academic training, research skills and a passion for naval history, he has delved into some of the more obscure aspects of the naval history of-WWII in Europe. His first book, The German Invasion of Norway, was published in 2009.

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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On the Deck or in the Drink
A Naval Aviator's Story
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Brian Allen
ISBN: 9781848841895
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 12 April 2010
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Brian Allen first went to sea as a naval aviation officer cadet aboard HMS Indefatigable in 1952 , bound for Gibraltar. In 1954 he was appointed to Lossiemouth for fighter training and flew the Vampire T22. In December 1955 Brian joined 737 Squadron where he was attached to the Anti-Submarine Training Course flying the Fairey Barracuda. On completion he was destined to fly the then new Fairey Gannet twin turbo prop anti-submarine aircraft. July 1955, and now with 825 Squadron, saw his introduction of the new aircraft, a very different machine to the Barracuda.
 
The Squadron joined HMS Albion on 10 January 1956, as she preceded down Channel in the company of her sister ship HMS Centaur, outwards bound for the Far East. After this tour was completed 825 Squadron was disbanded and Brian was transferred to 751 Squadron aboard HMS Warrior, an old WWII carrier with none of the latest facilities of his previous ship and on its final commission. However, his greatest shock was to discover that he would not be flying a Gannet, but the rather elderly Grumman Avenger, a very different aeroplane with a tail wheel and a piston engine. This would require a great change in take-off and landing technique.
 
In February 1957 Warrior sailed west for the Panama Canal and thence into the Pacific where she and her aircraft would assist in Operation Grapple, the tests of Britain's first atomic bombs. During this operation Brian's adventures included dislodging the padre's kidney stone upon a catapult launch, denting the flight deck by a heavy landing and ditching close to the beach after an engine failure. Having converted to helicopters Brian was posted to 815 Squadron aboard HMS Albion in 1960 flying the Whirlwind Mk 7. During this posting he survived another ditching when his helicopter lost power and sunk. Having returned from a long Far Eastern voyage, Brian was now posted into The Helicopter Trials and Development Unit and it was whilst experimenting in a prototype Wasp that an accident, in which his crewman perished, was to injure him so severely that he was unable to fly again. He completed his commission as an Air Traffic Control Officer.
 
Brian is now retired and lives in Cornwall.
 
For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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Pepy's Memoires of the Royal Navy 1690
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Introduction by J D Daies
ISBN: 9781848320659
Publishers: Pen & Sword, Seaforth
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 8th March 2010
 

Although the diary is now Pepys's most famous work, it was unknown until long after his death. In fact, he only published one book in his lifetime - this account of the administration of the Navy from 1679 until his dismissal from office with the regime change in 1688.
 
As his friend Evelyn said of him, 'none in England exceeding him in knowledge of the navy', Pepys is able to provide a fascinating insider's view of the working of the Admiralty, replete with technical detail on shipbuilding and the operations of the dockyards. However, the wealth of fact and figures is misleading, and far from being impartial,
 
The new introduction by David Davies explains the political controversy which formed the background to the book's publication, and shows how Pepys manipulated his mastery of arcane information - indeed, he would have made an ideal spin-doctor to a modern government.
 
The original appendix is a detailed list of the state of the fleet in December 1688, which in this edition is illustrated with contemporary drawings of typical ships.
 

The author
 
SEE http://jddavies.com/biography/4534433217

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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Sunderland Over Far-Eastern Seas
An RAF Flying Boat Navigator's Story
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Derek K Empson
ISBN: 9781848841635
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £25
Publication Date: 6 April 2010
Publisher's Title Information

This is the first book to give a detailed, first-hand account of post-World War II RAF Short Sunderland operations in the Far East. The author was a navigator with 88 Squadron and later 205 Squadron, flying operations during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and many other operations. He was based at Seletar in Singapore, Kaitak in Hong Kong, Iwakuni near Hiroshima and various other operational bases throughout his two and a half year tour.
 
The Sunderland flying boat was a unique aircraft in that each crew was allotted an aircraft which became their floating and airborne home. The author describes the Sunderland's performance and flying boat operating techniques, including taking-off from and landing on the open sea. It includes a tour of the aircraft's interior and the equipment used by the ten-man crew, all well illustrated by photographs. The task of long distance navigation in the Far East during the early 1950s relied on the conventional methods of astro navigation and dead reckoning, a difficult task when crossing hundreds of miles of open ocean and encountering monsoon and tropical storm conditions.
 
Amongst the noteworthy events included is a return flight from Singapore to Hong Kong across 1,400 miles of ocean with a VIP passenger, his first operational flight as a 21 year old Pilot Officer navigator. He then undertakes an operation involving a return trip to Scotland which took three months. On moving to Kaitak the Sunderlands provided air cover for search and rescue operations, taking off and landing amongst the port's many small and erratically steered shipping craft. He flew sixty-one missions in support of the United Nations forces fighting in and around Korea, enduring the threat of Chinese fighters over the Yellow Sea. In one operation an engine fire caused the crew to ditch in the Tsushima Strait with serious structural failure and they were rescued by the USS De Haven, a US destroyer.
 
This is a worthy record of some of the legendary Short Sunderland's final roles in the RAF.
 

The Author
 
Now retired, lives in Knutsford, Cheshire. Contributed to NATO's Sixteen Nations and the Army Quarterly and Defence Journal.

For more Information go to the Pen & Sword Website:

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The Cinderella Service
PaperBack Edition HB Published in 2007 by Pen & Sword
Andrew Hendrie
ISBN 1848842023

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price £14.99

Publication Date: May 2010


Publisher's Title Information

This book reveals the vital contribution that RAF Coastal Command made to the Allies war effort. Although often referred to as the 'Cinderella Service' because by its nature, it did not gain the recognition it deserved and was overshadowed by Fighter and Bomber Commands and considering that it was not given priority in terms of aircraft and equipment, its wartime record was second to none. The two main roles of Coastal Command were anti-submarine work in the Atlantic and anti-shipping operations against enemy warships and merchant vessels. This work looks at every aspect of the command's work, equipment and aircraft and draws upon many first-hand accounts. Lengthy and comprehensive appendices cover Orders of Battle, Commanders, U boats sunk, ships sunk aircraft losses and casualties.

The Author's Preface

In this book I have attempted to show the part played by Coastal Command in the Second World War. I have given emphasis to the two main roles of Coastal Command, namely its work in anti­submarine warfare in the Battle of the Atlantic, and the Command's anti-shipping operations against both warships and merchant vessels. Coastal's other roles, including meteorological flights, air-sea rescue, minelaying and photo-reconnaissance, have also been considered.

By the nature of such work, Coastal Command did not gain the recognition it deserved, and was overshadowed by Fighter and Bomber Commands, which generally were given priority in respect of aircraft and equipment.

As the prime needs of an air force in war were aircraft and armament, I devoted two chapters to those subjects, taking the view that some understanding of such technical aspects are essential for a proper appreciation of Coastal Command's work.

The book is based on the following primary sources: operational records of squadrons, the Command's records, and some Cabinet files. Additionally, I have corresponded with many Coastal Command veterans and interviewed others. The retrospective views of some of those former aircrew have been included.

My 'research' really began on 3 April 1939, when I joined the RAF for training as aircrew, but my wartime operational flying with Coastal Command began in February 1942 and ended in May 1945. I therefore consider that this book, which I can claim was written from the inside, presents the subject by one who was actively involved.

The theme is that although Coastal Command was the 'Cinderella' in respect of aircraft, equipment and publicity, it surmounted those limitations and made a considerable contribution to the Allies' war effort.

Andrew Hendrie



Sea Flight, A Fleet Air Arm Pilot's Story - originally published in 1954
Edition: 2010
Author: Hugh Popham
ISBN: 978 1848320550
Publishers: Pen & Sword First Pub 1954 by William Kimber & Co Ltd
Price £9.99
Publication Date: 2010-02-23
 

Review
 
This book is now republished with a new introduction by David Hobbs.
 
In the 'Afterthoughts' at the conclusion of this book, the author states that Sea Flight purports to be no more than the more or less factual account of what happened to one Fleet Air Arm Pilot between the years 1940-1945, he continues “What happened to one happened to many, but not to all. I was luckier than most in the aeroplanes I flew, in the actions I was involved in, in the stations I served on, and in the crashes I walked away from.There were many who were less lucky. There were pilots who had no crashes, and pilots who had only one-though it is worth remarking that in two years in carriers I never saw a pilot killed or injured deck-landing. There were many who fired far more, and better-aimed shots in anger than I ever did; and not a few who fired even less. There were some who were killed on their first operation, and some who were killed on their last. War is like that, and no virtue accrues to a man by reason of the things that happen to him. Some people, of course, have a talent for war, and acquire merit, quite justly, by employing it: Dickie Cork, who was killed finally-through no fault of his own-in a trivial and utterly unnecessary accident at Trincomalee in 1944, was one of these. And there were others as readers of this book will have gathered, was not one of them I did what then appeared to be my best, and what was probably about two thirds of a best; for war encourages bad habits, limiting one's responsibilities, narrowing one's outlook, and offering frequent opportunities for time-wasting”.
 
This Pilot's story started at HMS St Vincent in the Summer of 1940 when he and two other potential pilots were manning a Lewis gun hoping to defend Gosport, when in fact the bombs fell on Portsmouth. HMS St Vincent, before and after WWII was in fact a Boys' - Juniors' Training Establishment. However, it was taken over during the war for pilot and observer training. Here they spent their first 8 weeks under the watchful eyes of CPO Willmot (one time Chief Gunner's Mate in HMS Nelson) and PO Trim.
According to a chapter of 'The Barracuda Pilots' reproduced in the HMS St Vincent Journal, CPO Willmot was famous for such expressions as “Now you lot, tomorrow at 0655 you get fell in 'ere them wot's keen gets fell in previous”.
 
This book doesn't dally long at St Vincent and by Page 3 has already moved on from rotten sailors right through to learning to fly. By Page 11 the author is issued with an RAF Pilots' Flying Log Book and is starting with 'Maggies' (Magisters). The end is in sight when on 4 December 1940, 1600 hrs Magister R1898 self-navigation 1hr 5 mins - the last entry from EFTS and another purple stamp: Profficiency Ab enitio pilot.
Next, the author moves on to fly. Being Ab enitio means at this stage he is still a Naval Rating and they go to Canada. The fact that they went to Canada for pilot training does not surprise me because my father was in the RAF in WWII and I know he was stationed in Canada. In this case it was Colin Bay, Kingston, Ontario and 'Fairey Battles'. Eventually the author arrives back at Lee-on-Solent with others with very tattered uniforms and on Sunday Divisions the Commander asked “are you survivors?” which they felt was an appropriate epitaph for their wanderings about the world for six months.
 
By now back in the UK they had become officers, but training was still not over because it meant ten weeks at Yeovilton for the last lap.
The dangers of the job became obvious when a pilot was killed when three of them were caught out by clouds, 'the first glimpse of the danger that lies always in wait behind the least eventual hours of flying'
 
On Page 61 the author writes, "What's it like, landing on one of those aircraft carriers?" we had been asked by pretty little things, all agog for haircrisping tales of pitching decks and hair-breadth escapes. "I can't imagine how you do it."
"Nor can we," we had murmured, truthfully; and watched the look of adoration fade.
Now we were about to find out; and our one idea when we took off and set course over the Clyde was to get it done with as quickly, and with as little fuss, as possible. …..First deck-landing!
 
By Part 2 of the book the author joins 880 Squadron and his first carrier is HMS Indomitable . He describes it as the newest and largest as opposed to HMS Argus the oldest and smallest. The author describes the experience of landing on a carrier for the first time - a Red Letter Day. By Page 100 of the book the author has completed his 32nd deck landing and Indomitable has reached the Indian Ocean and joined up with Formidable, Warspite and four old large R Class Battleships, two Cruisers and 6 Destroyers - the framework of a new Eastern Fleet.
 
Shortly after this we read of the loss of HM Ships Dorsetshire and Cornwall - 'those dignified symbols of an obsolete Pax Britanica'.
 
We learn on Page 123 that the Captain of Indomitable was TH Trowbridge RN and at this point the ship joins other ships off Gibraltar for Operation Pedestal, about which whole books have been written. The Carriers involved were Indomitable, Victorious, Eagle, Argus and Furious, the latter carrying 32 Hurricanes and Spitfires to be flown off to Malta.
 
Part 3 covers the author's time in HMS Illustrious, Campania and Striker. Of Campania the author says, “Less than a week later I was standing among the puddles on the grey steel deck of Campania, one of the new British escort-carriers, then commissioning in Belfast. She was not bad-looking, of her kind, though I distrusted at once the narrowness of the flight-deck and the poverty of arrester wires, of which there were only five.
 
I will let the author conclude:
 
“ From this fruitless exercise in human perversity, nevertheless, there were certain things worth retrieving: the moments of exhilaration, of tranquillity, of intensified experience. They were the waste-product of violence, part of no pattern, irrelevant to the purpose in hand; but they stay in one's memory after many other things, that seemed of greater weight at the time, have been rubbed out. They are the souvenirs which one brought back out of the ruins”.
 
Rob Jerrard

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Arctic Convoy PQ8
The Story of Capt Robert Bundle and the SS Harmatris
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Michael Wadsworth
ISBN: 9781848840515
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 23 November 2009
Publisher's Title Information

When Robert Brundle took the SS Harmatris to Russia with. Convoy PQ6 he was 47 years of age. Both ship and master were veterans and had already sailed in convoys across the North Atlantic and to South Africa. The 5,395 ton coal fired ship, laden with 8,000 tons of armaments originally set sail on 27 November 1941 to join convoy PQ6 but encountered a fierce storm in which a lorry broke free in the hold and started a blaze below decks. Despite valiant attempts to extinguish the fire the Harmatris was forced to return to Glasgow for repair. Having discharged its cargo, examined and repaired the holds, it restowed and finally put to sea again on 26 December. She was now to join PQ8 and Brundle was elected Convoy Commodore. Two minesweepers, a cruiser and two destroyers escorted the eight merchant vessels. On 8 January the convoy left Reykjavik bound for Murmansk. Harmatris was struck by two torpedoes in No 1 hold which caused flooding. A third torpedo struck her a few hours later and the crew evacuated to HMS Speedwell in attendance. A volunteer crew reboarded and Speedwell took the wounded ship in tow. During the night the same U Boat that had struck Harmatris sunk the destroyer Matabele with the loss of all but two of her crew. A tug eventually replaced Speedwell and the entire crew now returned to their still stricken vessel. On 18 January the ships were twice attacked by low flying Heinkels. The stricken Harmatris finally berthed in Murmansk at 0800 on 20 January.
 
Once unloaded the battered ship entered dry dock on 10 February. The damage was considerable. In a temperature of 40 degrees below zero the crew set about the repairs. It was difficult to locate engine parts and local labour was scarce. During the following months the crew continued to work on the ship, food was scarce and the port was frequently bombed by the Luftwaffe. Several ships close to Harmatris were sunk. It was 21 July when the ship finally left for Archangel. She took aboard a cargo of 3,000 tons of steel pipes and on 13 September she was instructed to join a convoy of 20 ships, QP14 for her return voyage. On 19 September the minesweeper HMS Leda, steaming close by Harmatris, was torpedoed. The convoy was under almost continuous U Boat attack and suffered six losses.
 
As a result of his heroic efforts to preserve his ship and crew Captain Brundle was awarded the OBE and the Lloyds War Medal. He died in 1960 at the age of 66.
 

The Author
 
Michael Wadsworth is Captain Brundle's grandson and he has based this account largely on Brundle's reports, diaries and other inherited material. He has previously published Heroes of Bomber Command Yorkshire and They Led the Way. He is a Canon Emeritus and lives in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

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The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom 2010-2011
Edition: 2010-2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781848840843
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £7.99
Publication Date: 17 September 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information

This comprehensive pocket guide includes full and up-to-date details of all British military organisations and structures. This edition includes detail regarding all of the UK MoD's latest future force proposals.
 
The Armed Forces of the United Kindom 2010-2011 is an invaluable reference tool and essential reading for all those who wish to be informed of the current state of the UK's defence forces.


British Destroyers
From Earliest Days to the Second World War
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Norman Friedman, Plans by A D Baker III
ISBN: 9781848320499
Publishers: Pen & Sword, Seaforth
Price: £45.00
Publication Date: 25 November 2009
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

In the late nineteenth century the advent of the modern torpedo woke the Royal Navy to a potent threat to its domination, not seriously challenged since Trafalgar. For the first time a relatively cheap weapon had the potential to sink the largest, and costliest exponents of sea power. Not surprisingly, Britain's traditional rivals invested heavily in the new technology that promised to overthrow the naval status quo.\\\\\\
\The Royal Navy was also quick to adopt the new weapon, but the British concentrated on developing counters to the essentially offensive tactics associated with torpedo-carrying small craft. From these efforts came 'torpedo catchers', torpedo-gunboats and eventually the torpedo-boat destroyer, a type so successful that it eclipsed and the usurped the torpedo-boat itself. With its title shortened to 'destroyer', the type evolved rapidly and was soon in service in many navies, but in none was the evolution as rapid or as radical as in the Royal Navy\\\\\\book is the first detailed study of their early days, combining technical history with an appreciation of the changing role of destroyers and the tactics of their deployment. Like all of Friedman's books, it reveals the rationale and not just the process of important technological developments.
 

The Author
 
Norman Friedman is one of America's best-known naval analysts and historians 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, and an influential book on network-centric warfare. In the historical field his greatest sustained achievement is probably an eight-volume series on the design and development of different US warship types.
However, he is equally at home with British subjects, having done extensive original research in the archives of the UK over many years. This book completes a two-volume study of Royal Navy surface escorts begun with British Destroyers & Frigates: the Second World War and After first published in 2006, and his future plans include a similarly detailed work on British cruisers.
 

Part of the Introduction
 
The self-propelled torpedo created an earthquake for the Royal Navy. When it was invented, the dominant naval weapon was the gun. It was understood that numerous hits would be required to disable, let alone sink, an armoured warship. A single underwater hit would suffice. This contrast was key to naval thinking through the First World War, when the first effective underwater protection was devised in the form of blisters and multi-layer side protection. Until there was some way to inflict underwater hits at sea, the competition between armour and guns meant that it took a large gun to do effective damage, and a large ship to accommodate not only guns but also protection against them. During the nineteenth century, there were attempts to get around this equation, such as fast capital ships (to exploit the slow firing rate of heavy guns) and quick-firing medium-calibre guns (to destroy parts of ships which could not be protected against the heaviest guns). However, on the whole, it took a very large ship to fight a heavy-gun battle. It made sense to say that only a capital ship could deal with another capital ship. It took heavy investment to build a capital ship navy, which meant that the biggest investor of all, the Royal Navy, could maintain superiority. Thus underwater weapons usable at sea were deeply subversive
 
The torpedo was the most important, but in its early years some naval officers saw the ram as a viable alternative. Both benefited from the limited rate of fire of existing heavy guns: it seemed that an agile ship could get remarkably close to her target. Like a torpedo, a ram could inflict such catastrophic damage that one blow would suffice. By 1865, Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Sartorius was pressing for the construction of armoured rams without guns (so that there should be no temptation to attack in any other way) whose speed would carry them through the danger zone defined by enemy guns. His supporters were heartened when the Austrian Ferdinand Max sank the Italian flagship Re d'Italia at Lissa (1866). By that time, France had built several armoured rams, beginning with the appropriately named Taurean (bull). The ram was like the torpedo, in that it required much less ship than did contemporary monster guns. A few sceptics pointed out that it would be difficult to ram any ship under way (and under control) at speed; at Lissa, the Italian flagship had been dead in the water. As late as 1885, the torpedo was seen as an alternative to the ram. Within a few years, heavy guns were firing fast enough that ramming - but not the torpedo - was obsolete.
 
The torpedo maintained its extraordinary impact because it took so little for a craft to deliver it. In the 1880s, that meant small surface torpedo boats fit mainly to work in and near harbours. Later, it meant seagoing torpedo boats. Torpedoes made submarines lethal, again because it did not take much submarine to deliver a ship-killing blow. Similarly, torpedoes were the first lethal form of air attack, to the extent that in 1918 the Royal Navy built a carrier force to destroy the German fleet in harbour. This book is about how the Royal Navy adapted to the torpedo, both as a threat and as a way of making itself more effective. By the First World War, the Royal Navy probably had the most sophisticated approach to torpedo warfare among the world's navies. Those navies that worked with it during the war seem to have picked up its ideas, developing them further postwar. It seems, for example, that the surface torpedo tactics that the Imperial Japanese Navy used so effectively in the South Pacific in 1942-3 had been invented by the Royal Navy in 1913-14.

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