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

Routledge

Routledge, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group Books Reviewed in 2009

Seapower
A Guide for the Twenty-First Century
Edition: 2nd Edition
Format: Paperback
Author: Geoffrey Till
ISBN: 978-0-415-48089-5
Publishers: Routledge
Price: £25.99
Publication Date: 03/05/2009
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
The sea has always been central to human development as a source of resources, and as a means of transportation, information-exchange and strategic dominion. It has been the basis for our prosperity and security. This is even more the case, now, in the early 21st century, with the emergence of an increasingly globalized world trading system.
 
Navies have always provided a way of policing, and sometimes exploiting, the system. In contemporary conditions, navies - and other forms of maritime power - are having to adapt, in order to exert the maximum power ashore in the company of others and to expand the range of their interests, activities and responsibilities. Their traditional tasks still apply but new ones are developing fast.
 
This updated and expanded new edition of Geoffrey Till's acclaimed book is an essential guide for students of naval history and maritime strategy, and anyone interested in the changing and crucial role of seapower in the 21st century.
 

Table of Contents
 
Foreword by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band KCB ADC 1. Seapower in a Globalised World - Two Tendencies 2. Defining Seapower 3. Who Said What and Why It Matters 4. The Constituents of Maritime Power 5. Navies and Technology 6. Command of the Sea and Sea Control 7. Securing Command of the Sea 8. Exploiting Command of the Sea 9. Expeditionary Operations 10. Naval Diplomacy 11. Good Order at Sea 12. Theory and Practice: The Asia-Pacific Region: A Case Study 13. Conclusions?
 

The Author
 
Geoffrey Till is a recognised authority on maritime strategy past and present. Formerly Dean of Academic Studies at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College, he is currently Professor of Maritime Studies in the Defence Studies Department and Director of the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy, King's College London at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College. He is author of a number of books including Air Power and the Royal Navy, Maritime Strategy and the Nuclear Age and, most recently, The Development of British Naval Thinking (also published by Routledge).
 

Reviews
 
' This is simply the most comprehensive and impressive contemporary analysis of sea power and maritime strategy currently available…Anyone with any interest in navies should get a copy of this vital book and read it. It is already a classic of its kind.' - Eric Grove, Navy News
"A powerful combination of plain English and an innate ability to break down the component parts of a complex subject into a readily digestible form before leading the reader gently through the ensuing maze." - The Naval Review
 
"An extensive array of information collated with skilful insight and incisive scholarship." "An definitive study of the role of seapower, past, present and future" - Parliamentary Maritime Review
 
'A landmark work ... Till's excellent book will dominate maritime reading lists for years to come." - Colin S. Gray, RUSI Journal
 
"A tour de force, a milestone work and essential professional reading." - Ship's Telegraph (Ministry of Defence)
 
"In all, Seapower is very probably the best single work on sea power and maritime strategy to have been published for many years." - Journal of the Australian Naval Institute
 
"If you happen to be teaching a course on sea power, it would be the perfect basic text." - USNI Proceedings
 
"A comprehensive look at the political and military significance of the oceans in the new century…has much to offer students and the general public as well." - The Mariner's Mirror


Secret Flotillas
Vol. I: Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany, 1940-1944
Edition: 2004
Format: Hardback
Author: Brooks Richards
ISBN: 978-0-7146-5316-7
Publishers: Routledge
Price: £80
Publication Date: 03/04/2004
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
With the fall of France almost the entire coastline of Western Europe was in German hands. Clandestine sea transport operations provided lines of vital intelligence for wartime Britain. These 'secret flotillas' landed and picked up agents in and from France, and ferried Allied evaders and escapees. This activity was crucial to the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) and the SOE (Special Operations Executive).
 
This authoritative publication by the official historian, the late Sir Brooks Richards, vividly describes and analyses the clandestine naval operations that took place during World War II. The account has been made possible through Sir Brooks' access to closed government archives, combined with his own wartime experiences and the recollections of many of those involved.
 
First published in 1996, the original version included descriptions of naval operations off French North Africa. The history has been amended and expanded by Sir Brooks and is now published in two volumes. This first volume now concentrates on the sea lines to Brittany. Operations from French North Africa now form part of the second volume, which also includes operations in the Adriatic around Italy.
 

Table of Contents
 
Contents
 
Introduction. Acknowledgements. Preface. Foreword Part 1: Clandestine Sea Lines to Brittany - 1940-1944 1. May-June 1940: The Lost Battle for France 2. The British Clandestine Services in the New Strategic Context 3. Slocum's Section and the First Operations to Northern France 4. First Contacts with the West Coast of France 5. August-October 1940 6. November 1940 - March 1941 7. Did the Abwehr Allow L'Emigrant to Escape? 8. SOE's Aspirations and Operations: August 1940 - June 1941 9. SOE's Endeavours to Set up Independent Sea Transport to Brittany, 1941 10. April - November 1941 11. October 1941 - February 1942 12. November 1941 - June 1942 13. January 1942 - March 1943 14. West Coast: November 1942 - October 1943 15. North Coast: Winter 1943-44 16. The Aber-Benoit Saga: November-December 1943 17. North Coast and the 'Var' Line: August 1943 - April 1944 18. The 'Shelburne' Escape Line: January-March and July-August 1944 19. July-August 1944 20. Operations for SIS: January-August 1944 21. Escapes by Sea from Brittany: 1940-44. Footnotes. Appendix A: Clandestine Sea Transport Operations to North and West Coasts of France, 1940-44. Appendix B: Clandestine Escapes and Contacts at Sea by Vessels from Breton Ports, 1940-44. Appendix C: Recommendations by Captain Slocum for awards to members of the 15th MGB Flotilla and Inshore Patrol Flotilla. Appendix D: Comments on MARIE-LOUISE Rendez-Vous
 

The Author
 
Sir Brooks Richards was born in 1918 and died aged 84 in 2002. He was educated at Stowe School and Magdalene College, Cambridge. On the outbreak of war, Sir Brooks joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and won a DSC while serving in minesweepers. His second boat, Sena, exploded under him off the south coast. While recovering in hospital, he and Bill Luard wrote a paper on the potential of using fishing boats to carry arms to the French Resistance. This led to Sir Brooks' spending the rest of the war with the Special Operations Executive (SOE). He operated out of Penzance in Cornwall, landing agents and stores in France and bringing out men and intelligence. In 1942, he sailed to Gibraltar and earned a bar to his DSC by leading a detail of Free French troops to defend a Tunisian lighthouse. Thereafter he took over as the head of SOE's French section in Algiers. He had two postings to the embassy in Paris, one following the liberation of France and the second in 1959. He was appointed HM Ambassador to Saigon in 1972 and his final posting was as HM Ambassador to Athens in 1974. After his retirement, he was recalled to serve as security and intelligence co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office and then in the Northern Ireland Office. In his final retirement, Sir Brooks was chairman of the Friends of the Imperial War Museum. He was also chairman and then President of the Special Forces Club. In 1996 he published Secret Flotillas: The Clandestine Sea Lines to France and French North Africa, which was translated into French in 2000. In 1999, he undertook the revision of the book to cover naval operations around Italy and in the Adriatic. This he finished shortly before he died in September 2002.
 

Preface to the Second Edition
 
This second edition of Secret Flotillas differs from its predecessor in two respects:
 
1. Whereas the 1996 book covered only the clandestine sea lines to France and what was in 1940-44 French North Africa, the present one includes operations to and from Italy in 1943-45.
 
2. Though written in two parts, covering missions from United Kingdom ports and those from Gibraltar and other bases in the Western Mediterranean, respectively, these were published as a single volume. This has now been divided into two.
 
The reasons for these changes are that the ships and crews operating to the south of France in 1943 and 1944 from Corsica were working at the same time to the west coast of Italy and the adjacent islands, and that the same flotillas operated in the Adriatic and the Tyrrhanean.
 
To have included all this in a single volume would have made an already large and expensive book unmanageable and too costly. The division will also provide visitors to the coasts of the West Country and Brittany with a conveniently sized account of the part of this epic likely to be of the most interest to them.
 
A further consideration which weighed heavily with the author in deciding to include Italy in this edition is that more than half of the 390 operations in Italian and adjacent waters were carried out by Italian vessels with Italian crews. It was a contribution to the Allied war effort that, like the shelter and the succour of the contadini to Allied ex-prisoners after the Armistice of 1943, ought not to be forgotten.
 
 

Foreword
 
Sir Brooks Richards wrote most of this book in the early 1990s - that is, half a century or so after the events described in it took place; but he had the enormous advantage of having been present in person at many of the crucial occasions he discussed. In an age when not many military historians have had a chance to hear shots fired in anger, it is an extra delight to find a participant who thinks so clearly and writes so well.
 
He took part in running agents to and fro across the Channel between Cornwall and Brittany, and earned the first of his two DSCs for gallantry under fire while doing so. The second of them was awarded for operations behind the German right flank in the Tunisian campaign. He could still, when he wrote this book, recall precisely the difficulties that in the pre-satellite age attended on navigation close to shore, when Breton rocks and tidal streams, or Moroccan surf and indistinguishable dunes, not to speak of enemy land, sea and air patrols, presented incessant dangers. Every sortie had to be most precisely timed, to fit in with the known perils; for the unexpected, one could do nothing but improvise and hope.
 
He moved on in 1943 from his seaborne career to land-based work for SOE, running agents into southern France from Algiers, and next year began a long and distinguished diplomatic career, which culminated in his own embassy in Athens from 1974 to 1978. Retirement from the diplomatic service, on reaching the age of sixty, did not mean for him retiring from public life: he had held several responsible posts in Whitehall already, and became the Crown's adviser on security in Northern Ireland.
 
Sir Brooks Richards never forgot those who had served with him in the war. He was long one of the pillars of the Special Forces Club. In this book, he recaptures with wonderful vividness the minute details of secret sea operations; and in this second edition, which alas he did not live to see in print, he expands it beyond the Tunisian campaign to cover small boat work on to the coasts of Italy, both before and after the Italian change of sides. Some of this was conducted by his friend Andrew Croft, from bases in Corsica, with exceptional daring. Over and over again, he uses his knowledge of the personalities involved to illuminate what went on.
 
This is one of the books that brings out the horror, the exultation and the chanciness of war, by one who knew what he wrote about from inside, and used the most secret surviving archives, sealed off from me forty years ago. This is not a piece of history that will need writing again: it is conclusive.
 
M. R. D. Foot
 

Introduction
 
The fall of France in June 1940, coming hard on the heels of Hitler's seizure of Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries, left the whole coastline of Western Europe from the North Cape to the Spanish frontier in hostile hands. It was as great a strategic threat to the British Isles as any since the Spanish Armada. Even the Channel Islands, whose seamen had so often over the previous two-and-a-half centuries kept watch for any concentration of enemy shipping in neighbouring French ports and far down into the Bay of Biscay, had been abandoned as indefensible in the face of air power.

The British clandestine services, hastily reorganised to meet the emergency, came under great pressure: there were urgent requirements for intelligence, of which timely warning of any attempt to mount a cross-Channel invasion was the most pressing. Agents needed to be landed and picked up. Commander F.A. Slocum, the officer charged with the task of establishing physical communications with enemy-occupied territory for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), could find no relevant official records to help him.
 
What he was probably hoping to find was some form of report by Lt Augustus Agar VC, DSO, RN, who had between June and August 1919 used two of the then new 40-foot Thornycroft coastal motor boats (CMBs) to make nine trips from the small Finnish port of Terrioki into Bolshevik-held Petrograd, successfully landing or picking up couriers on six of these occasions. In doing so, he had re-established contact with Sir Paul Dukes, SIS's agent ST25, who had been sent into the field 18 months previously to obtain political intelligence. Dukes had been living in Petrograd disguised as a workman, a soldier or a member of the Cheka (secret police). His reports had originally been sent out by couriers across the Finnish border. But Bolshevik counter-espionage had captured many of those working for him and nothing had been heard from him for some time before Agar's arrival.
 
London's plan had been that Agar should transport agents across the Gulf of Finland and land them on the coast of Estonia. Once he had taken stock of the situation, Agar decided on a much more daring course of action to run agents directly into Petrograd through the chain of forts guarding the approaches. The forts mounted batteries of searchlights and guns, while between them ran a boom in the form of a chain, whose maximum immersion of three feet could be crossed even by a shallow-draught CMB with only a few inches to spare. There was also an ever-present danger from floating mines, but Agar succeeded in the hazardous enterprise he had set himself. On his last expedition, CMB 7 came under fire and crashed into the boom, losing both rudder and propeller shaft. He got back to base only after 12 hours at sea, with an improvised mast and sail and a cable streamed astern to steer the boat.
 
As though these risks were not enough, from an early stage Agar involved himself in offensive action when opportunity offered. It was for sinking the 6,000-ton cruiser Oleg on his second mission that he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). In August 1919, he was joined by a small flotilla of seven 55-foot CMBs. In a combined operation, they destroyed the whole of the Bolshevik battle fleet lying in the Kronstadt naval basin - an action for which Commander C.C. Dobson, RN, senior officer of the flotilla, and Lt G.C. Steele, his second in command, were each awarded the VC while Agar received the DSO (Distinguished Service Order).
 
It is hardly surprising that soon after this, Agar's operations for SIS came to an end. In the Second World War motor gun boats carrying out operations for the clandestine services were strictly discouraged from indulging in heroics.
 
If anyone in 1940 had had leisure to look for even earlier precedents in the age when sail and oar were master, they would have found that when war broke out with Revolutionary France in 1793, Jersey became a main base for collecting intelligence about the situation on the mainland. Its importance was enhanced when Royalist revolts occurred in the Vendee, Brittany and Normandy. The central personage in what became known as 'the Channel Islands correspondence' was a Jersey-born Royal Navy post-captain named Phillippe d'Auvergne, Prince de Bouillon, who had French emigre connections. From a hut below the ramparts of Gorey Castle d'Auvergne commanded a small flotilla of fast-sailing local craft, some manned by Royalist Frenchmen. These vessels carried secret agents to and from the French coast. Intelligence collection was their primary task and they were allowed to engage in offensive action and join in the defence of the islands only when this responsibility had been discharged. D'Auvergne had a dispatch vessel standing by to carry his reports to England. He addressed them directly to William Wyndham, Secretary at War, rather than to any naval authority. In addition to the intelligence that his own flotilla brought him, a procession of Royalist small craft arrived from French ports with information and collected arms and ammunition from stocks held by him.
 
By the time counter-revolutionary resistance had collapsed, in 1797, fear of a French invasion of the Channel Islands, Ireland or England lent fresh importance to Jersey as a base for intelligence collection. D'Auvergne, a key figure as spymaster and local naval commander, was promoted to Commodore in 1801 and Rear-Admiral in 1805. He retired from the Navy only in 1812.
 
For nearly 20 years, d'Auvergne provided a centralised control, which had been lacking earlier in what has been well called the Second Hundred Years' War with France. At that period a swarm of small privateers, mostly based on Guernsey, preyed on French coastal shipping, ranging deep down into the Bay of Biscay and, posing as local craft, ventured far enough into French harbours to look for strategically threatening concentrations of vessels. Though this combination of free enterprise and self-defence had previously been effective in detecting any build-up of French forces in the neighbouring harbours of Granville, Saint-Malo, Treguier or Morlaix, it failed spectacularly to prevent a French invasion of Jersey in the winter of 1781. The Governor was surprised in his bed and forced to order all British forces in the island to surrender. The situation was redressed only by the action of one regular officer of the garrison, Major Pierson, who refused to obey the Governor's order and attacked the French. In a short, sharp action both Pierson and de Rullecourt, the French commander, were killed, but the French were defeated and the island was saved. This episode may have had something to do with the institution of more systematic intelligence arrangements in Jersey under d'Auvergne when France and Great Britain were next at war.
 
Notwithstanding the advent of the internal combustion engine, aircraft and radar, fishing vessels and craft which could pass as such played an important part in clandestine sea transport in the Second World War. One big difference from previous occasions when a line of war separated England and France was that parachuting from aircraft and the clandestine landing of aircraft by moonlight now provided alternatives to infiltration and exfiltration by sea. Air landing and pick up of agents had been pioneered by the French intelligence services in the First World War, but the Royal Air Force (RAF) was not ready for a first such operation to France until October 1940. Only five took place in 1941. The build-up of the RAF's Special Duties squadrons was swift thereafter, but, as weather not infrequently bedevilled flying, clandestine operations to France by sea retained their importance until the Liberation.
 
When the French edition of Hugh Verity's We Landed by Moonlight was published in 1982, Jacques Maillet, one of General de Gaulle's Compagnons de la Liberation, wrote in a preface that it was surprising and regrettable that the subject of clandestine air landings in France during the Occupation had before then been treated only incidentally in accounts of the clandestine struggle. Group Captain Verity's record of these operations was an extraordinary adventure story, but the author had also striven to achieve meticulous historical accuracy. He had drawn on official RAF records and a great deal of evidence from British and French participants: his book was therefore a valid contribution to historiography. Moreover, these operations had exercised a profound influence on the course of French history. The flights were few in number: no more than a few dozen pilots had been involved and passengers amounted to a few hundred at the most. But their historical importance was immense.
 
They were significant, firstly, for military reasons. It was essential that those responsible for radio communications and for intelligence and those designated to take charge of the secret army should be able to report back to London. In the fighting that led to the Liberation, the excellent cooperation between the French Forces of the Interior and the armies that had landed owed much to the contacts thus established.
 
But, above all, Maillet pointed out, one must not forget that these were the links that made it possible to unite French internal Resistance and General de Gaulle's Free France in a single combat force. Without them the Jean Moulins, the Brossolettes and the Morandats could not have built the structures by which the French Resistance movement organised itself under General de Gaulle's command. If France was able, notwithstanding the armistice of 1940 and the Vichy regime, to reclaim its status as a great power, it was because de Gaulle was, and had in the end to be recognised as, the man who spoke for all of France. That was possible only because men who had come out of France had been able to unite around him.
 
Without clandestine air operations, the Free French would have remained a group unquestionably a heroic and admirable group of combatants, but one isolated from evolving attitudes in France. The air operations, however, enabled men and ideas to be exchanged between London and Algiers on the one hand and the French Resistance on the other. He might well have added that France was thereby spared the fragmentation and confrontation of internal and external resistance that embittered the liberation of, for example, Greece and Yugoslavia.
 
It was, Maillet concluded, no exaggeration to say that clandestine air operations had modified the course of French history. Those associated with the Special Duties squadrons were equally deserving of Sir Winston Churchill's tribute to the airmen of the Battle of Britain: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'
 
As head of SOE's (Special Operations Executive) North African French country section in 1943 and 1944, I was a customer of the RAF's Special Duties squadrons and my admiration of them is as great as that of Maillet. But from two years' earlier service in SOE's Naval Section, I know that their seagoing counterparts, the Secret Flotillas, made a far from insignificant contribution to the historic process he describes. It is high time that their story be recorded, not as a series of incidental episodes, but as a subject in its own right.
 
Brooks Richards
21 March 1995
Blandford Forum, Dorset


Secret Flotillas
Vol. II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic, 1940-1944
Edition: 2004 Edition
Format: Hardback
Author: Brooks Richards
ISBN: 978-0-7146-5314-3
illustrations: 16 b+w photos
Publishers: Routledge
Price: £80
Publication Date: 03/04/2004
 

Publisher's Title Information
 
This authoritative publication by the official historian, the late Sir Brooks Richards, vividly describes and analyses the clandestine naval operations that took place during World War II. The account has been made possible through Sir Brooks' access to closed government archives, combined with his own wartime experiences and the recollections of many of those involved.
 
In addition to operations off French North Africa this second volume also includes descriptions of operations in the Adriatic around Italy. More than half of the 390 operations in Italian and adjacent waters were carried out by Italian vessels with Italian crews. It was a contribution to the Allied war effort which ought not to be forgotten.
 

Table of Contents
 
The Polish Predicament 2. Mass Evacuation from the Marseilles Area and the FIDELITY Tragedy 3. Operations from Gibraltar to Morocco: July-October 194 4. Krajewski's Operations to Western Algeria: October 1941-January 1942 5. Krajewski's Further Plans for Operations to North Africa and Southern France: December 1941-March 1942 6. Operations from Gibraltar to Southern France: April-June 1942 7. The Coast Watching Flotilla and the Polish Special Operations Group 8. Problems and Methods of Operating from Gibraltar to the South of France 9. Operations by Seawolf, Seadog and Tarana: July-September 1942 10. Last of the Polish Evacuation Missions 11. The Changing Strategic Context in the Western Mediterranean 12. Renewed Priority for Operations to French North Africa 13. SOE and OSS Prepare for TORCH 14. The Last Phase of the CWF's Operations: October-November 1942 15. Final Preparations for TORCH 16. Unsuccessful Attempts to Revive Felucca Operations 17. Operations by Sea for SIS and SOE in Tunisia 18. Clandestine Sea Transport Operations in the Western Mediterranean after TORCH 19. Missions to Sardinia and Corsica: January-March 1942 20. Last Missions to Corsica before the Italian Armistice and its Liberation 21. Operations from Bastia 22. Early Operations in the Adriatic and Southern Italy 23. (i) African Coastal Flotilla (Adriatic) (ii) The Ferry Service 24. SOSO(A) Taranto 25. A Pyrrhic Victory 26. Leghorn 1944: The ACF's Last Phase 27. Clandestine Sea Operations to and from Nice
 

The Author
 
The late Sir Brooks Richards served with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the Second World War. After his retirement he was recalled to serve as security and intelligence co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office and then in the Northern Ireland Office.


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