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Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author)
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The Air Battle for Malta: The Diaries of a Spitfire Pilot
The Air Battle for Malta: The Diaries of a Spitfire Pilot
Prix : CDN$ 7.21

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Much more than just the publication of one man’s diaries., Oct. 28 2014
My current studies include all aspects of Malta’s history as part of a lengthy research project. I am, therefore, studying a great deal of material - especially in connection with both world wars. Malta gained strategic imnportance because of her unique position of being isolated in the central Mediterranean. During WW2 her aircraft were able to inflict great damage on Rommel’s maritime supply lines - a situation which would have drastically changed had she fell into enemy hands. In simplistic terms, whoever held Malta would ultimately win the war in North Africa. Consequently, the country was under continuous attack for a period of almost 2 years (11 June 1940 - 20 November 1942). At one point Valletta was subjected to a most concentrated onslaught - known as the Malta Blitz, which lasted for 157 days. By comparison, the London Blitz lasted for 57 days and was directed over a much larger area. The various roles of those who became a vital component of either that defence or resupply have, in some instances, passed in history - occasionally into legend. What is, however, so often overlooked are the many unsung heroes who served at this crucial time plus the role played by Britain’s US Allies - especially in the form of USS Wasp.

Based on the diaries of his uncle - Lord David Douglas-Hamilton, author James Douglas-Hamilton provides the most realistic account of what life was really like for an RAF Squadron Leader at a time when over 14,000 tons of bombs were dropped onto such a relatively small area. Carefully and painstakingly researched, this is the private and not-so-private account of one pilot who flew alongside such famous names as ‘Screwball’ Beurling and ‘Laddie’ Lucas who, with others, combined to provide one of the greatest defensive and strategic campaigns of all time. Only through such personal accounts (i.e. those diaries) do we learn the truth of the ups and downs of such grim times when even the most optimistic of heroic figures must have occasionally harboured personal doubts about ultimate success…

The book opens with an illuminating introduction by ‘Laddie’ Lucas CBE, DSO, DFC which commences with; The Battle for Malta in the Second World War…, will rank in history as one of the greatest defensive and strategic operations of all time. Yet, even now, little is known about it.” How true that is!

The main text is then divided into 13 chapters which, as the reader will quickly appreciate, provide a full and detailed background and history to support the diaries in question. In short, this account is much more than just the publication of one man’s diaries and that makes it more worth reading. Chapter; (1) The Struggle for Survival, (2) Hitler, Operation Hercules and Churchill, (3) The Squadron Commander and his Diary, (4) The first USS Wasp Malta Relief Force, (5) The Fighter Pilot’s Paradise, (6) The Victory of 10 May, (7) Ferocious Encounters, (8) The June Convoy - Invasion postponed, (9) July Battles, (10) The Convoy Life line, (11) The Breaking of the Luftwaffe - October 1942, (12) The Raising of the Siege and the Call of Duty and (13) The Fighter Pilots and the Victory of Malta. The book then concludes with; Sources, Select Bibliography and Index.

In many instances I found this work was able to provide a fresh outlook on established events - something which is not only always welcome but for which the author deserves great credit. On the down side, the book suffers from the way in which the historic b&w images are reproduced. Many of these - including the general setting an example on his bike!, should have been produced on better quality (i.e. glossy) paper and perhaps placed together in the middle of the work instead of appearing in a less-than-ideal manner.

Nevertheless, the book is still thoroughly recommended.

NM

Voices in Flight: The Royal Naval Air Services During Wwi
Voices in Flight: The Royal Naval Air Services During Wwi
by Malcolm Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 55.83
2 used & new from CDN$ 52.00

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Worth every single minute., Oct. 19 2014
Today, it might appear that no sooner had the aircraft been invented, it was used as a weapon of war - especially as all air, sea and land forces employ aircraft of some description. The role of the aircraft in naval warfare is, of course, as interesting as any - especially when one encounters a carefully researched book which provides personal accounts from a war which started 100 years ago.

Author Malcolm Smith served for 30 years as an Engineer Officer in the Fleet Air Arm with a variety of home appointments and sea duties on aircraft carriers. Towards the end of that service he was employed at the Ministry of Defence with particular responsibility for engineering standards and practises on board ships with aircraft capabilities. In short, this man knows his subject. His previous book ‘Voices in Flight - The Fleet Air Arm; Recollections from Formation to the Cold War,’ recounted personal stories from those who were involved throughout that time. Continuing with that same theme, this is a collection of personal accounts and anecdotes from the Great War. Personally, I have enjoyed this book so much I am now looking for a copy of that aforementioned title - it really is that readable.

The work includes the personal reminisces of naval aircrew and flight maintenance staff from a period when flight itself was still relatively new - and even more so when undertaken by sailors. Amongst the first-hand testimonies, for example, we learn of F. J. Rutland (who became known as ‘Rutland of Jutland’) who took off in a Sopwith Pup from a makeshift platform erected above one of the gun turrets on HMS Yarmouth - a feat which caused Rudyard Kipling to commemorate the event in a short story.

That, however, is only one of the many worthy anecdotes collected over time from the extensive archives held by the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, Somerset. All manner of personal reports, spoken accounts, diaries, transcripts, log books official and hand-written documents are brought to life. Elsewhere we find the day-to-day personal routine of one individual whose own story does much to allow the modern reader to glimpse at the reality of the life these men led.

In a book which screams ‘fascinating reading’ from every page, I know and recognise the hand of detailed research and, having thoroughly enjoyed the book, can report how those many lonely hours of searching out these many tales was worth every single minute.

NM

RHNS Averof: Thunder in the Aegean
RHNS Averof: Thunder in the Aegean
by John C. Carr
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 45.08
16 used & new from CDN$ 20.72

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fabulous account of a little-known ship with a big heart., Sept. 25 2014
It is easy to become confused by naval prefixes - e.g.; HMS, HMNZS and HNMS. ‘HMS’ is, of course Her (or His) Majesty’s Ship with ‘NZ’ identifying a naval vessel from New Zealand. HNMS, however, is ‘His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship.’ I add this snippet of digression because I had not previously encountered RHNS (Royal Hellenic Navy Ship). The Greek Royal Family reigned from 1863-1924 and again from 1935-1973 and that prefix will, therefore, have been in use during both world wars and at other times. Today the prefix for Greece is HNS - none of which had previously crossed my desk.

RHNS Averof was built in Livorno and completed in 1910. At 10,200 tons she was the largest vessel in the Greek navy and, therefore, the flagship. Curiously, she remained their largest vessel until 1951 - six years after she had been laid up. Soon after being purchased, she saw action in the Balkan Wars and the Battle of Cape Helles (1912) - where she inflicted heavy casualties on the Turkish fleet. In January 1913, she was instrumental in bringing about victory at the Battle of Limnos. After a major refit and modernisation in 1920, the vessel enjoyed a period of peace. When the Germans overran Greece, she made a remarkable escape to Alexandria whilst under constant aerial attack. After he commander had ignored orders to scuttle the ship, she then escorted convoys into the Indian Ocean and continued in that role for the remainder of the war. In 1945 the Averof was laid up and neglected for almost 40 years. Then, after years of refitting and preservation, she was moored at Phaleron, Athens as a floating naval museum. She is one of only three armoured cruisers still in existence.

Author John Carr was previously unknown to me but, having studied this work carefully, I look forward to more on a similar theme. I note he has previously written ‘A History of the Royal Hellenic Air Force in WWII’ and something similar for their navy would be most welcome.

In the meantime, he has produced a most interesting history of a specific ship which, being so rare, has already got me contemplating a trip to Athens just to visit this important piece of naval history. The work is well laid out revealing great attention to detail. Similarly, between pages 76 and 77 we find a collection of 55 glossy b&w images which have been given the same degree of careful thought. In addition to the historic photographs one might expect to find we also have a wide variety of images from the preserved vessel - including one which shows shrapnel damage to one of the guns, original nameplate, capstan, bridge, captain’s cabin, admiral’s quarters, chapel, powder bucket, uniforms, smokestack hammocks, engine room and so forth.

Altogether, I would describe this as a fabulous account of a little-known ship with a big heart and one which is well worth reading.

NM

The Buccaneer King: The Story of Captain Henry Morgan
The Buccaneer King: The Story of Captain Henry Morgan
by Graham A. Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 21.26

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A complex character and a fascinating subject., Sept. 25 2014
According to one dictionary definition, ‘Piracy’ is the act of robbery and theft at sea - although it has come into use for similar acts on land.’ The definition of a Privateer (also Corsair), was pretty much the same - except that they conducted their business on behalf of a government at times of war. Only by being a Privateer could Henry Morgan continue to amass great wealth by attacking foreign ships and settlements without having the Royal Navy at his heels. Similarly had he been ‘just another pirate’ (successful or not) he would not have been Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica on three separate occasions and would not have been knighted in 1674.

In this new biography, the first thing to strike me was the incredible depth of research undertaken. In so doing, author and historian Graham Thomas turns a complex character into the most fascinating subject. We learn how Morgan was an exceptional leader of men motivated by sheer greed. It is, therefore right and proper that this author should pose the questions: Was his prime motivation to attack the King’s enemies at every opportunity and keep whatever spoils of war came to hand? Or did he do so ‘only’ if the pickings were rich enough?

There is no doubt Morgan sacked and plundered ships, towns and even cities all along the Spanish Main as he amassed his great personal fortune. Whether this was from pure greed or overwhelming patriotism - or a combination of both is something for the reader to decide, having read the book.

I know I bang on about research - but how else do we learn the truth about any historical event no matter how old or recent. In this instance, first-hand accounts and official documents from the National Archives are compared alongside the controversial history of Morgan written by Alexander Esquemeling (who sailed with Morgan as his barber-surgeon and confidante) for about 5 years to 1674. It really is fascinating…

To this end, we find a complete work laid in 26 chapters which chart Morgan firstly, as the Buccaneer and, secondly, as the politician. It is a captivating tale worthy of a whole new film - set more as an moving biography than a swash-buckling heroic adventure movie from yesterday, though no less exhilarating and bloody in places…

Altogether, a great job of work.

NM

US Heavy Cruisers 1943-75: Wartime and Post-war Classes
US Heavy Cruisers 1943-75: Wartime and Post-war Classes
by Mark Stille
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 13.68
33 used & new from CDN$ 7.51

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Provides far more than a basic grounding, Sept. 23 2014
For those who are new to this series of books, a considerable amount of detail and relevant information is packed into a relatively small space (48 pages in this instance). Nevertheless, a fully informative text is entirely supported with first-rate artwork alongside a good selection of historic photographs. It is a format which has proved to be an excellent introduction to each subject and this particular work is no exception.

The subject of US Heavy Cruisers is tackled by producing two books which compliment each other perfectly. The first of these “US Heavy Cruisers 1941-45; Pre-war Classes” (also by Mark Stille) was published in April 2014 and, as the name suggests, covered earlier types. This work completes the subject and a quick glance at the ‘Contents’ page reveals what the reader can expect to find; Introduction, Changing Role of the Heavy Cruiser, US Navy Wartime Heavy Cruiser Design, Heavy Cruiser Weapons (Including main and secondary guns, antiaircraft guns, radar and post-war radars), Heavy Cruiser Classes (Baltimore, Alaska & Boston, Oregon City and Des Moines classes), Analysis and Conclusion, Bibliography and Index.

Established author Mark Stille commences by expertly introducing the subject at a time when much was changing in warship design as a result of the many lessons learned from WW2. He then gets down to specifics with weapons and radar systems. In a most readable style of writing even the technical specifications are provided in a manner which is easy to understand.

As already mentioned, this series of books is fully supported by either high quality images or outstanding artwork on almost every page with the latter falling into three broad categories. Firstly, on pages 15, 31, 35 and 39 we find port and starboard profiles plus deck details of each of the classes of ship mentioned above. Secondly, on pages 23 and 43 we find artistic impressions of ships under fire. Finally, across pages 18/19 we find an incredibly detailed image of USS Baltimore with cutaway sections revealing the innermost secrets of (a) main battery of triple 8 in. guns, (b) secondary battery of six twin 5 in. guns and (c) the boiler and engine rooms.

For those who insist that all new books on the subject of WW2 ‘MUST’ contain previously unknown information, I doubt the work contains any such earth-shattering revelations. For those who either, like me myself, have an abiding interest in ships of the period or who are entirely new to the subject, this is a book you can enjoy at a most reasonable price and is one which provides far more than a basic grounding in the subject.

In conclusion, this book will prove to be extremely useful and is, therefore, fully recommended!

NM

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British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War & After
British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War & After
Prix : CDN$ 34.99

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Completely indispensible., Sept. 21 2014
This is another work from acclaimed American naval historian Norman Friedman who is described as being "as much at home with warship technology as he is with contemporary defence issues." It is the fourth book from this author to have crossed my desk this year and, as someone who studies ships and shipwrecks for a living (it's what I do!), I have found his name to be one I can trust for accuracy of detail. In this instance, however, I was also delighted to find a complete work about a particular genre of British warships which fills the very large gap which had previously existed in my own private library. That void was only filled because of the wealth of detail Friedman provides in a most interesting and readable style - and all students learn more when they are enjoying the teaching experience.

As part of my own ongoing research, I was particularly pleased to find significant entries relating to Australian, Canadian, Dutch, New Zealand and United States variants of some of the ships included here. Quite often, those that were built abroad and then used by the Royal Navy or (vice versa), later transferred to other navies, are completely overlooked beyond their RN service. Here we can follow the complete story.

No sooner had I started the work, I found myself cross-referencing specific details with those of other notable experts alongside information already known to me. Nothing written by Friedman was lacking in any way. In short, this is a work of supreme technical excellence presented in a readable style. Alongside that text, we also find a series of b&w images of the highest calibre. It just so happens I am particularly familiar with both Malta and Gibraltar and, therefore, able to compare historic images from this book with some of my own more recent photography. Whereas little appears to have changed on the Malta harbour coastline, it really is remarkable to discover how much of Gibraltar's famous harbour is now land-fill - but I digress.

The final element of the work which will be of huge interest to all enthusiasts - including model-makers are the large number of line drawings (side profiles and deck plans) which are, again, of the highest possible quality.

The work itself is divided into 15 self-explanatory chapters as follows: (1) Introduction, (2) Beginning the Slide Towards War, (3) What Sort of Destroyer?, (4) Defending Trade, (5) The War Emergency Destroyers, (6) New Destroyer Classes, (7) Wartime Ocean Escorts, (8) The Post-war Destroyer, (9) The Missile Destroyer, (10) The 1945 Frigate and her Successors, (11) The Search for Numbers, (12) The General Purpose Frigate, (13) The Second Post-war Generation, (14) The Post Carrier Generation and (15) The Future. The work then concludes with; Bibliography, Data Tables, List of Ships and an Index.

Those who regularly read my reviews will know that I do not tolerate works which are lacking in any way. Similarly, I dislike those who criticise works for all the wrong reasons. This work is an impressive product by any standards and must be recognised as such. The depth of research in terms of technical information is equally matched by the similar attention to detail given to both the selection of historic images and the provision of those line drawings. Altogether, therefore, it is hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with such an outstanding work - unless, of course, they were looking for some aspect which is beyond the scope of the book.

Personally, I already regard this book as completely indispensible.

NM

The Sinking of the Lusitania: Unravelling the Mysteries
The Sinking of the Lusitania: Unravelling the Mysteries
by Patrick O'Sullivan
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 27.06
10 used & new from CDN$ 10.43

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Poignant and thought-provoking., Sept. 14 2014
The Lusitania was a ship which was loved by a nation. State-of-the-art when launched and the very first passenger liner to be equipped with steam turbines, she immediately became the fastest liner on the North Atlantic. She was popular with passengers and a resounding commercial success. This was a ship that had everything.

Suddenly, all that came to an abrupt end on 7 May 1915 when she was torpedoed and sunk. The reaction - both at home and abroad, was one of complete outrage. Although the loss of the Titanic - just 3 years earlier, was still very fresh in peoples minds, this was different. That earlier disaster had been an accident and those bodies had been buried in far-away Canada. This time they were buried in Ireland and the photographs of the day said it all. It was viewed as one of the most diabolical and savage acts of aggression of all time - and eventually helped bring America into the First World War.

The Lusitania; Unravelling the Mysteries is packed full of solid information, facts, maps, paintings, photographs and even cartoons - all relevant to the time in question. In addition, the author’s background reveals someone well-qualified to write a book such as this. It is a skilfully planned work in which he provides all the relevant information including various descriptions of this and other similar vessels in both their peacetime and wartime roles. Having ‘set the scene’ he then moves on to the German submarine menace, British Intelligence and the code-breaking of the day as he carefully and deliberately produces a fully detailed prelude to the sinking. It is here that we learn of other U Boat incidents off Ireland - which were never relayed to the Lusitania.

Then we arrive at the tragedy itself and, of course, the aftermath. There are distressing photographs of dead children and heartbreaking stories of those who survived - often having lost all other members of their family. There is the grief that overwhelmed Ireland and photographs of both the memorial in Cobh and one or two of the more dramatic headstones - “Foully Murdered by Germany” and “Victim of the Lusitania Crime.” Even the sham tribunals and the way in which blame was wrongly laid at the feet of the ship’s master - Captain Bill Turner, in a bid to deflect public opinion away from government ineptitude are covered in fascinating detail. For those who were previously unaware, the fact that the ship was carrying munitions (as was common practise) is revealed - thus making the ship a justified target.

Throughout the entire work, the author brings a semblance of sense to what happened almost 100 years ago and, therefore, fully justifies the book’s title.

This is a poignant and thought-provoking account and one that has been expertly crafted into a first-rate book. How sad the wreck itself has never been designated a “War Grave.”

NM

British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After
British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After
by Norman Friedman
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 66.61
14 used & new from CDN$ 66.61

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Quite exceptional., Sept. 11 2014
Norman Friedman is an acclaimed American naval historian of the highest calibre with three of his works having crossed my desk since March of this year. Whereas the first of these (Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery) quickly became indispensible and is in continuous use, I found the second (Naval Firepower; Battleship Guns & Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era) rather turgid and hard-going.

In this instance, I am happy to review a book which appears to have everything one might hope to find. Firstly the information is not only ‘there’ but it is also presented in a most readable style - and that is always welcome. Secondly, the historic B&W images are of the highest calibre. Each of these is accompanied by a fully descriptive caption - many of which point out some little additional snippet which adds to the overall enjoyment and interest. In addition, throughout the work we also find a large number of line drawings (side profiles and deck plans) of the highest possible quality.

The work commences with: Glossary & Abbreviations and Acknowledgements - both of which are worth a moment of study. The chapters, which are mostly self-explanatory, are as follows: (1) Introduction, (2) Protecting Trade, (3) Destroyer-Killers, (4) War Experience, (5) Treaties and Heavy Cruisers, (6) The 1930 London Treaty and its Cruisers, (7) The Slide toward War, (8) War, (9) Wartime Cruiser Design, (10) Post-War Cruisers and (11) The Missiles Age. The book then concludes with; an Appendix on Fast Minelayers, Notes, Bibliography, Data List (specifications), List of Ships and an Index.

As a shipwreck historian (it’s what I do!), the full value of this work will only become apparent when I am looking for some awkward detail at some time in the future. Naturally, I will be delighted if the information is there and ‘not’ if it cannot be found. After having read the book, however, I can honestly say I am deeply impressed. There are 432 pages of tightly packed information with (as already mentioned) a liberal supply of historic images and line drawings. Personally, I never tire of looking at photographs of ships that are long gone - and, with the exception of HMS Belfast now moored on the Thames in London, none of these ships remain in existence.

Halfway through the book, I paused to see how many other books about British Cruisers were also available and was surprised to discover how few there are. Those that do exist are, generally, for a specific type or design with none being as comprehensive as this work. A small point perhaps, but any work designed to fill such a large hole in the market would have to be of exceptional quality and that is exactly what you get. Furthermore, each of those aforementioned qualities and feature combine to provide a product which caters equally for those with a casual interest to others with a more professional expertise. Or, to put it another way, this is possibly the only work you will need on the subject - and that applies to expert and amateur alike.

All things considered, I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with this quite exceptional work.

NM

British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After
British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After
by Norman Friedman
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 111.07
12 used & new from CDN$ 56.25

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Quite exceptional., Sept. 11 2014
Norman Friedman is an acclaimed American naval historian of the highest calibre with three of his works having crossed my desk since March of this year. Whereas the first of these (Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery) quickly became indispensible and is in continuous use, I found the second (Naval Firepower; Battleship Guns & Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era) rather turgid and hard-going.

In this instance, I am happy to review a book which appears to have everything one might hope to find. Firstly the information is not only ‘there’ but it is also presented in a most readable style - and that is always welcome. Secondly, the historic B&W images are of the highest calibre. Each of these is accompanied by a fully descriptive caption - many of which point out some little additional snippet which adds to the overall enjoyment and interest. In addition, throughout the work we also find a large number of line drawings (side profiles and deck plans) of the highest possible quality.

The work commences with: Glossary & Abbreviations and Acknowledgements - both of which are worth a moment of study. The chapters, which are mostly self-explanatory, are as follows: (1) Introduction, (2) Protecting Trade, (3) Destroyer-Killers, (4) War Experience, (5) Treaties and Heavy Cruisers, (6) The 1930 London Treaty and its Cruisers, (7) The Slide toward War, (8) War, (9) Wartime Cruiser Design, (10) Post-War Cruisers and (11) The Missiles Age. The book then concludes with; an Appendix on Fast Minelayers, Notes, Bibliography, Data List (specifications), List of Ships and an Index.

As a shipwreck historian (it’s what I do!), the full value of this work will only become apparent when I am looking for some awkward detail at some time in the future. Naturally, I will be delighted if the information is there and ‘not’ if it cannot be found. After having read the book, however, I can honestly say I am deeply impressed. There are 432 pages of tightly packed information with (as already mentioned) a liberal supply of historic images and line drawings. Personally, I never tire of looking at photographs of ships that are long gone - and, with the exception of HMS Belfast now moored on the Thames in London, none of these ships remain in existence.

Halfway through the book, I paused to see how many other books about British Cruisers were also available and was surprised to discover how few there are. Those that do exist are, generally, for a specific type or design with none being as comprehensive as this work. A small point perhaps, but any work designed to fill such a large hole in the market would have to be of exceptional quality and that is exactly what you get. Furthermore, each of those aforementioned qualities and feature combine to provide a product which caters equally for those with a casual interest to others with a more professional expertise. Or, to put it another way, this is possibly the only work you will need on the subject - and that applies to expert and amateur alike.

All things considered, I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed with this quite exceptional work.

NM

From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume III: Jutland and After, May to December 1916
From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume III: Jutland and After, May to December 1916
by Arthur J Marder
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 23.51
28 used & new from CDN$ 17.78

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 With no bias beyond the wish to provide an accurate account!, Sept. 9 2014
This is Vol. 3 in a series of 5 excellent books which fully explain the Royal Navy from 1904-1909. When launched in 1906, HMS Dreadnought was so revolutionary it rendered all other warships obsolete. From that point onwards all battleships were designated as either Dreadnought or pre-Dreadnought - almost in the same way as aircraft went on to become known as either propeller or jet-driven many years later. This new breed of ship, however, meant that any nation with the requisite capabilities could now build themselves an entire fleet at the same speed as any other and the Royal Navy’s supremacy in terms of numbers of afloat ships was ended. In 1918, after four years of bloody conflict, Germany was defeated and her naval fleet interned at Scapa Flow. On 21 June 1919, under the very noses of the British, Admiral von Reuter successfully scuttled that fleet - thus denying so many valuable vessels to his former enemies. That entire period is the subject of those 5 volumes with this (Volume 3) dealing with the Battle of Jutland and its aftermath.

Renowned author and historian Arthur J. Marder (1910-1980) was Emeritus Professor of History at the University of California who concentrated on British naval history. His was one of the most distinguished careers with many established British sources expressing astonishment at the calibre and excellence of his work! As one who spends most of his waking hours immersed in shipwreck research, I can only add that, with so much information spread over 5 volumes, it is astounding how he also manages to maintain an extraordinarily good read throughout.

Once again we have a very thick book (1 inches or 32 mm) with over 370 tightly packed pages. Illustrations are few and comprise; 16 historic photographs (4 ships and 12 personalities), a line drawing of a Handling Room on a British ship and a chart showing alternative routes for the German Fleet. The final 19 pages contain 15 charts showing the evolving phases of the Battle of Jutland plus one of the North Sea area of operations. The remainder of this book consists of the most meticulously researched, fully detailed and carefully presented description of the time and events in question.

By commencing with an Introduction followed by Prefaces to the first and second editions - we are brought fully up to date in readiness for what follows. The Chapters are; (1) Jellicoe’s Tactics; Motivating factors, Employment of light forces, Night fighting and Critique, (2) Jutland - the Battle-Cruiser Phase; Preliminaries, Contact, the Run to the South and the Run to the North, (3) The Battle Fleets in Action; Deployment, First encounter, Second Encounter and Last daylight action, (4) Jutland - the Night Action; Dispositions, Night Actions & Scheer’s escape and Dawn and the morning after, (5) Jutland - Comparisons and Reflections; Matériel (i.e. equipment and supplies used), Non-matériel factors and Tactics, (6) Jutland - Evaluation; Reactions and Results, (7) Post-Jutland Reformation; Sweeping changes, New tactics and Problems in strategy, (8) The Grand Fleet after Jutland; Blind man’s buff and Results, (9) End of the Balfour-Jackson Regime; Admiralty under fire, U-Boat offensive and Shake-up of the navy high command. The work then concludes with Appendices on the organisation of both the Grand Fleet and German Fleet.

The Battle of Jutland was many things. It was the last major naval encounter between two opposing fleets of battleships and, of course, the tactics had barely changed since the days of Nelson over 100 years earlier. Those who favour one side over the other will say ‘we sank more of your ships’ and their opponents will respond with ‘but we damaged or destroyed a larger tonnage of yours.’ All of which underlines the fact that Jutland was indecisive with neither side winning or losing.

It is not, therefore, the task of a humble book review to provide any definitive answers or explanations - where none exist. Similarly, it would be pointless to paraphrase Marder’s valuable clarification of events for fear of misrepresenting what is said. What I can do, however, is explain what this book is all about and offer a personal recommendation for this series of 5 works because they were written by an American who held no bias beyond the wish to provide an accurate account.

NM
British army major (retired)

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