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

Pen & Sword Books & DVD's Reviewed in 2014

Deep Sea Hunters (Hardback)
RAF Coastal Command and the War Against the U-Boats and the German Navy 1939 -1945
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Martin Bowman
ISBN: 9781783831968
Publishers: Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Price: RRP £25
Publication Date: 11th September 2014

Publisher's Title Information

This enthralling new release from Martin Bowman details all the varied and dynamic operations at sea carried out by RAF Coastal Command against the U-boats and the German Navy during the Second World War. Beginning with the disastrous Norwegian Campaign, it takes in the numerous attacks on the bustling German submarine base at Lorient, the attack on Brest, as well as many other pivotal and memorable events to enliven the history of the sea-lanes during the Second World War. Battles with the U-boats are brought to the fore, with details and experiences not only of the RAF pilots of Catalinas, Whitleys, Hudsons and Sunderlands, but also those of the targeted U-boat crews. In scenes reminiscent of 'Das Boot' German (and Italian) U-boat crews tell of their fears and experiences while under depth-charge attack and fire from above by Liberators, Fortresses, Halifaxes, Sunderlands and Mosquitoes.
 
The 'big-game sport' of 'hunting U-boats', as it was termed, is relayed in full and gripping detail, with first-hand accounts from U-boat attackers punctuating Bowman's dramatic prose and resting alongside those of the German submariners. This two-sided history is sure to appeal to all enthusiasts interested in gaining a balanced insight into Second World War naval history.

The Author

Martin Bowman is one of Britain's foremost aviation historians and has written many books and articles. He lives in Norwich
From the Introduction

Coastal Command is an air force in miniature. Its Sunderlands and Catalinas range the ocean to protect our ships; so likewise do its Beauforts and Blenheims, its Whitleys and Wellingtons, its Hudsons and Liberators, but they are also a bombing force capable of instant use against a wide choice of targets; its Beaufighters and Blenheim fighters join combat with the Luftwaffe at ranges beyond those within the compass of Fighter Command. It is an amphibious force in the sense that, though its element is the air, it makes us of both land and sea to provide it with bases from which to set out against the enemy. Its aircraft fly over the restless waters of the Atlantic, the Channel and the North Sea, over the pack-ice about the shores of Greenland, over the desert scrub and palms of West Africa, over the stern mountains of Norway and Iceland, ever the wide fields of France, over the iron and concrete buildings of Reykjavik, the wooden houses of Trondheim, the brick-built mansions of Rotterdam, the lighted windows of Nantes. Their Spirit is Serene; Coastal Command; The Air Ministry Account of the Part Played by Coastal Command in the Battle of the Seas 1939- 1942.

At the outbreak of war Coastal Command Order of Battle (ORBAT) was eleven GR (General Reconnaissance) squadrons, ten of which were equipped with Avro Ansons; and of the six flying boat units only two had Sunderlands - 204 Squadron at Mount Batten, near Plymouth in Devonshire and 210 Squadron at Pembroke Dock - always known as 'PD'. On 3 September 1939 Coastal Command was equipped with six main types comprising 487 aircraft, the most numerous being the Avro Anson with 301 aircraft. The Anson or 'Faithful Annie' to give it its Service nickname was a military development of the Avro 652 six-passenger commercial aircraft, two of which were ordered by Imperial Airways in April 1934. In May 1934 the Avro Company was invited by the Air Ministry to consider the design of a twin-engined landplane for coastal reconnaissance duties. The design which later became known as the Anson was accepted by the Air Ministry in September 1934 and the prototype first flew on 24 March 1935. In July 1935 Avro's received an initial contract for 174 Ansons and on 6 March 1936.


Flying Start : September 1939. FROM ' Coastal Command' The Air Ministry Account of the part played by Coastal Command in the Battle of the Seas 1939-1942 HMSO

" Anson is as Anson does." These aircraft were Coastal Command's main standby in the earliest days of the war. Reliability and powers of manoeuvre particularly adapted them for convoy protection.

COASTAL COMMAND began this war with one advantage. It had been fully mobilised a fortnight before the outbreak of hostilities. This was due to a fortunate circumstance. The authorities had decided to carry out an extensive exercise during the last fortnight of August 1939. For this purpose a large number of officers on the Reserve had been recalled and they were all at their posts when war broke out. Many patrols were in the air over the North Sea, the Channel and the Western Approaches when they received a wireless signal notifying them that Great Britain was once again at war with Germany. The old warfare between sea and land power had broken out again ; but now a third element, air power, was to be added. It had made its debut in the war of 1914-1918.

On the outbreak of war the oceans of the world were being traversed by many hundreds of ships laden with goods for this country. They were not sailing in convoys, for they had left port while there was still peace. Profiting from the experiences of the war of 1914-1918, the Admiralty decided to institute the convoy system immediately. There was, however, an inevitable time lag between the moment when the decision was taken that all vessels below a certain speed sailing to and from these shores should proceed in convoy, and the moment when they actually began to do so. They had to be collected before they could be protected.


Moreover, many of them belonged to European States at that time neutral, and very eager to remain so. Such ships were in immediate peril, for Germany lost no time in putting into practice the plan which had so nearly brought her victory in the spring of 1917, and began to sink at sight any ship, whatever its nationality, which ventured to carry a cargo to Great Britain. Vessels belonging to the United States of America were at once forbidden by their Government to enter the combat zones. Such States, however, as Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway hesitated to incur the financial loss entailed by the adoption of such a policy, and continued to allow their ships to sail the North Sea. As the autumn of 1939 faded into winter they began to accept the protection of the convoy system, deeming the actions of the German Admiralty to be a greater peril than the threats of the German Foreign Office.
As the merchant ships drew nearer to these shores they came under the protection of the spider-web patrols of Coastal Command which were flown over the approaches to Great Britain, especially those of the South-West. They were carried out by aircraft of limited range and endurance, the principal among them being the Anson.

Review

A full account of a Service that has not been given as much coverage. The HMSO account 'Coastal Command' was intended as wartime propaganda. In his Introduction to 'The Cinderella Service, RAF Coastal Command 1939-1945' Andrew Hendrie says 'Coastal Command' was written by Hilary St. G. Saunders. 'Cinderella Service' is also available from Pen & Sword.

Rob Jerrard

British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II (Hardback)
Destroyers, Frigates, Sloops, Escorts, Minesweepers, Submarines, Coastal Forces and Auxiliaries
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Malcolm George Wright
ISBN: : 9781848322059
Publishers:
Pen & Sword
Price: RRP £30
Publication Date: 15th September 2014

Publisher's Title Information

During the Second World War navies developed low visibility camouflage for their ships, on both the vertical and horizontal surfaces, in order reduce visibility by blending in with the sea, or confuse the identity of a ship by applying more obtrusive patters. In this new book by maritime artist Mal Wright both the official and unofficial paint schemes that adorned ships of the Royal Navy and Commonwealth are depicted in detail, along with discussion on changes of armament and electronics that effected the outward appearance of each ship.
 
Starting with destroyers from WW1 still in service during WW2, the book progressively covers ships below cruisers, class by class, to provide a detailed and easy-to-use guide to paint schemes in use. In some cases individual ships are shown in the several schemes they wore thus providing a source that covers various periods of service. With 740 full colour illustrations, all of named vessels, this book concentrates information into a single volume to provide a one-stop reference source, and, for the first time in a single volume, it covers not just the well-known ships, but also escort vessels, minesweepers, trawlers, coastal craft and auxiliaries in sequential format.
 
Many schemes would be difficult for the reader to have found other than with the most intensive research so that historians, collectors, model makers and war gamers will find this unique reference source absolutely invaluable.

The Author

MAL WRIGHT is an Australian maritime artist who is also an internationally-known war games designer and writer and lecturer. He has spent five decades researching this volume, making notes while interviewing veterans, as well as consulting official sources, photographs and the work of artists of the era. He lives in Adelaide and is currently working on a second volume covering capital ships.


Scapegoat - The Death of Prince of Wales and Repulse
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardback
Author: Dr Martin Stephen
ISBN: 9781783831784
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £19.99
Publication Date: 30th August 2014
 
Publisher's Title Information
 
Scapegoat: The Death of Prince of Wales and Repulse' is a radical new account of one of Britain's greatest naval disasters. Making full use of modern research and unrivalled access to privazte family papers, it suggests that Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, the commander of the so-called 'Force Z', was made the scapegoat for a battle in which he was blameless, and that Winston Churchill, the Admiralty and chronic failures in ship design and Intelligence were what sank the ships. The book also shows what a very close run thing the sinkings were, and how Japanese success depended on them having luck on their side. 'Scapegoat' is a convincing attempt to right a wrong that has been allowed to stand for over 70 years, as well as a prime illustration of the way in which the Establishment always protects itself first.

Introduction

On 10 December 1941 two Royal Navy warships, the newly constructed King George V class battleship Prince of Wales and the First World War battle cruiser Repulse, were sunk by land based Japanese bombers and torpedo bombers while attempting to disrupt Japanese landings on British held territories, the length of what was then Malaya and is now Sri Lanka. Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, the commander of the ill-fated Force Z, was criticized by many post-war authorities for the disaster, which, along with the raids on Taranto and Pearl Harbor, is deemed to have marked the end of the battleship as the dominant force in naval warfare. The loss of these two great ships is associated with more than the end of the battleship era. A few weeks later Singapore, from whence the ships had set sail on their last voyage, was to fall to the Japanese, an event that to many people marked the effective end of the British Empire. Prince of Wales and Repulse had embarked on their mission with no accompanying aircraft carrier. When spotted by a Japanese aircraft, Phillips failed to call up air cover from RAF air bases on the Malaysian Peninsular. As someone with no combat experience, and a man who had professed his faith in the ability of a well-handled surface ship to survive air attack, Phillips was held responsible in greater or lesser measure for the sinking of the two ships. In some quarters the image was cultivated of a man who combined some of the worst features of martinet and dinosaur. Phillips, who lost his life in the engagement, as did the captain of Prince of Wales, was therefore not able to defend himself and had no friends among the remaining senior Admirals such as A.B. Cunningham or James Somerville to fight on his behalf. Phillips had fallen out with Churchill, having once been a favourite, and in the aftermath of the debacle of the fall of Singapore and a mass stampede by some of those involved to cover their own backs, Phillips's reputation was never even a starter in the race for rehabilitation.

My own interest in Admiral Sir Tom Phillips was kindled when I was commissioned to write a book, Sea Battles in Close Up, looking at ten of the major naval engagements of the Second World War. I dutifully wrote a chapter on the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse that took what was then something of a middle ground, not totally condemning Phillips but at the same time finding little reason to exonerate him. I was left feeling edgy about what I had written for reasons of intuition I still do not clearly understand. The edge persisted to the extent of my badgering the long-suffering Leo Cooper to commission a book titled The Fighting Admirals. :British Admirals of the Second World War. He thought it was about British Admirals of the Second World War. I thought it had given me a good cover story for writing a book about Admiral Sir Tom Phillips. I needed the cover story because I believed no one would commission a book on Phillips alone.

Then things started to go wrong. Try as I might, I could find no trace of the private or family papers of Tom Phillips. Admirals always leave these and they are an invaluable insight for any proper historian who wishes to work from primary sources. With two naval history books under my belt by then I knew the various archives where any such papers ought to be. Yet despite everything I found Tom Phillips might as well not have existed. After six months of increasingly frantic letters and 'phone calls, I had resigned myself to the fact that The Fighting Admirals: British Admirals of the First World War would more or less have to omit the one Admiral who had caused me to want to write it in the first place. Then one evening I came home to find my wife chatting in our drawing room to Sheila, a woman she had met earlier and invited round for a drink. Her surname bore not even the remotest connection to anyone or anything in the Royal Navy. Sheila commented on how the walls were lined with quite a lot of naval history books. I told her this was a hobby and that I was working on what was meant to be a book about a man she would never have heard of, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, but that I would have to take another direction because I had failed to track down any of the man's private papers. A funny expression crossed Sheila's face, and she said: 'I do know who he was, actually; he was my grandfather. And I can- tell you why you can't find the papers. It transpired that Tom Phillips's son, who tended to be known as 'Tom' after he left the Navy but prior to that was known as 'Gerry' to his father and `Gerald' to the world in general, had inherited all the family papers on the death of Lady Phillips, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips's widow, in the 1970s. Lady Phillips had been responsible for the creation of an extremely interesting archive containing not only letters but also other contemporary material. Gerald Phillips had trusted the brilliant naval historian Arthur Marder to look inside the huge, old suitcase containing the papers but Marder had died before he could make full use of them. Following an invitation to Sunday lunch with the family, I was allowed access to the material in one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. There were unpublished letters from Churchill, a string of tributes to Admiral Sir Tom Phillips and personal letters that gave a very different impression of the man from that found in most available books. Reading through this material I gained the sense of a man radically different from that generally portrayed, and infinitely more attractive. There were also some crucial corrections to the standard historical version of what happened, some of which I was able to include in The Fighting Admirals.

There is always a danger that historian in contact with the family of his subject can be influenced emotionally to be kinder than purely intellectual considerations might allow for. When writing an earlier book I had an extremely cordial relationship with the son of a Second World War Admiral I previously believed to be a charlatan. And I have written extremely warmly about another whose family I regret to say I did not like at all. I believe my view of Admiral Sir Torn Phillips is as objective as it is unfashionable and is formed from a straightforward analysis of the facts.

Much more has emerged in the past years to merit a new book on both the loss of the two ships and the Admiral in overall command. Much more has been released or become known about the fall of Singapore, some of which has a direct bearing on the sinkings. The wrecks of both vessels have been thoroughly examined and battle damage assessed, and there is considerably more information available about the design of Prince of Wales in particular, which has a crucial bearing on the ship's loss. So too does an increasing store of knowledge about material on both the British and the Japanese side, new intelligence material in general, the increasing information available on Churchill's role in the incident and the fall of Singapore itself. As stated above, the private Phillips papers give a completely different picture of his character and personality to the stereotype presented in many books and allow for a revisionary book on the loss of the two ships and the reputation of their commander.

It is frequently said that history is written by the victors. So it is for around a hundred years after the events. Beyond that time the stranglehold on history exerted by those who won and survived to write the tale lessens and the truth will out. It is time the truth was revealed about Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, the man who was probably least responsible of any for the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse. To this day those most responsible for what happened on 10 December 1941 have not been called to account.

There is another factor behind my interest in Admiral Sir Tom Phillips. As with many people before and after him whose reputations have been traduced by history, there is a strong possibility that he was a scapegoat, a convenient figure to absorb the blame that should more properly have been placed on the shoulders of others. When I have not been writing books I have been privileged to be Head of three of England's leading independent schools. The Head of such schools has the rather strange experience of sitting at tables for which he does not qualify in terms of wealth, birth or social status. I imagine being something like the country vicar asked to make up the numbers for dinner at the big house in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I have listened to, and even been treated as a confidante of, some leading figures in the Church, politics, the military, commerce and industry. It has made me extremely cynical and left me convinced that vast power is exercised by those who are neither elected nor accountable. It has also suggested strongly that many people elected to positions of real power do not use that power in the first instance to promulgate the Gospel, win the election or war or sell more widgets. Instead, their first and overriding priority is to use that power to guard their own backs. They exist in any organization I have known, but there is also a separate group of people who actually do the job and keep the business afloat (or who are simply naive) and are far too busy to guard their backs. These are the most vulnerable when the fur starts to fly and are prime candidates to be made scapegoats for whatever has gone wrong. The more I read about Admiral Sir Tom Phillips the more I came to believe that of all the people who could be blamed for the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse he was the least liable and a classic example of the scapegoat the person blamed for the faults of others.

A further factor that has helped to damn him was neither his own fault nor of his own making. Writers and journalists face a terrible pressure not to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. What makes a good story Shakespeare's Richard III or the final moments of the First World War in the Blackadder television series is often bad history. An antediluvian Admiral who did not believe in air power and had his two battleships sunk under him by aircraft is a classic good story, a headline from Heaven, and so good a story that it ought to be true. It wasn't of course, but that wasn't the point.

Phillips made a crucial mistake in getting himself killed. It meant the coast was clear for his detractors, those in power in the hierarchy of the Royal Navy who disliked or were jealous of him and those who might otherwise have shared the blame. The Royal Navy, as is common in any institution, had its own internal wars and jealousies in 1941 and tragedy can bring the best and the worst out of an institution. Being zealous of one's own reputation in the eyes of some senior naval officers became confused with being rather less zealous for the reputation of others. And, of course, just as everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, so does everyone want to jump off when it threatens to crash.

In the battle to rescue the reputation of Admiral Sir Tom Phillips a number of forces have gathered in recent years and scouting missions been sent out. Perhaps now is the time for those forces to be gathered together for a major offensive, which I hope is what this book represents.