Best viewed in full screen mode, press F11 to switch modes ~ to magnify a page in IE or Firefox hold down CTRL and press + or - key . See Accessibility

 


BOOK REVIEWS


 

 

 

Warships of the Tyne: 1763 to Date

An illustrated chronological history of warships built on the Tyne

 by Frank Burn

 

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017

 

ISBN-10: 1542670519

 ISBN-13: 978-1542670517

Buy form Amazon

 

This 526 page book provides a record of the warships built on the Tyne over a period of 228 years. From the first Tyne built warship, the Mermaid-class sixth-rate frigate HMS Solebay in 1763, to the last, the Type 23 "Duke"-class frigate HMS Westminster in 1991. Ships as small as a 178 ton Gun Brig up to a massive 27,500 ton Dreadnought, some very famous ships were born on the Tyne, including 14 aircraft carriers.

Each of the 452 vessels built during that time are featured in alphabetical order with basic information for all, and an image provided for the majority. Details given include; Pennant umber, Launch date, Builder, Type, Class, Displacement, Length, Beam, speed, crew compliment, Armament, and significant dates in the ship’s history and her fate.

It was not the author’s intention to give a complete history of each ship, but rather to put each ship in its chronological place in history as an aid for one who wishes to take up further research.

 


 

 

 

 

 

A VOYAGE TO WAR

An Englishman's Account of Hong Kong from 1930 - 41

By Hugh Dulley

 

 

Available in hardback & E-book versions

 

Publisher: Unicorn 2016

 

ISBN-13: 9781910500552 (hardback)

ASIN:  B072MJBQY9 (Kindle)

 

Buy it form

 Amazon

 

 

 

Lieutenant Commander Hugh William MacPherson Dulley, Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, known to everyone as ‘Peter’ was a member of the small RN contingent who died in the defence of Hong Kong in December 1941. This extensively researched and illustrated book has been compiled by his son Hugh, and it tells the story of Peter and his family in Hong Kong. Beginning with his arrival in the colony in 1930, to take a position with Jardine Matheson & Co. Ltd., it tells their story up until his death in December 1941. The story is told using letters written between Peter and his wife Therese, and their friends and family over a period of six years. It gives great insight into the political and social history of the colony and the lives of its residents, drawing on historical narratives to explain the various situations befalling Peter and his wife.

Peter was a ‘weekend sailor’ called into active service when war broke out, mustering with his fellow RNVR officers in the small and poorly equipped force; they were employed primarily on harbour patrols. In July 1940 Therese, then 8 months pregnant, was evacuated along with the women and children of the colony to the Philippines, when it was believed the Japanese would invade; Hugh (the author) was born later that month. He met his father in December 1940 when his mother returned to Hong Kong when the threat was seen to be diminished; Peter saw his son for only three months before Therese and their son were again evacuated, this time to Australia in March 1941.

Peter was on a steep learning curve in the wartime RNVR, with little experience of naval life and rudimentary seamanship skills he found himself aboard the tug HMPS PERLA operating as a r patrol boat, conducting patrols around the islands; later promoted to Lt Cdr and in command of the rescue tug HMAPV ST. AUBIN in which he undertook a 6,500 mile voyage departing from Hong Kong in May 1941 to deliver her to Aden. He arrived back at Hong Kong in September 1941 and was appointed as First Lieutenant aboard the sloop HMS CORNFLOWER. The Japanese invaded Hong Kong on December 8th 1941, Peter was killed while leading a shore party on the island on the 9th. He was posthumously awarded a mention in despatches for his actions.

 


 

 

 

 

THE PUSSERS COOK BOOK

Traditional Royal Naval Recipes

Compiled by Paul White

 

Publisher: Toad Publishing. UK. 2017

 

 

Buy direct form the printer

peecho.com

 

or the author's web site

 

This 90 page book explains 22 recipes covering both food and beverages regularly found on the ships menus during the 1960s 70s &80s. The essential glossary explains the ‘Jack-speak’ (naval slang terms and names) which, often colourfully, describes the food and drink as well as items and practices found in the naval galley.

For authenticity the author has retained the original names, jargon and slang, even though they can be politically incorrect and to some possibly offensive. This work fills a gap in the recording of Royal Naval history, and to have sanitised these recipes and practices would have seriously diminished its value as a reference work.

This book is both serious and comical, with a smattering of colour images and a sprinkling of cartoons it brings to life things that many may remember, such as tucking into an egg banjo, Babies heads, pot mess or Duff, and raise a smile; these much loved dishes and many others are now captured for us to recreate.

 


 

 

 

H.M.S. TIGER

'Chronicles of the last big cat'

Compiled & edited by Paul White

 

 

Publisher: Toad Publishing. UK. 2016

 

 

Buy direct form the printer

peecho.com

 

or the author's web site

 

She was the name ship of the Tiger-Class of light cruisers but she was eighteen years in the making, a ship laid down during war-time but unfinished at the end of hostilities she had an uncertain future.

This 56 page, fully illustrated book tells her story from the laying of her keel in 1941 through the decisions about her future in a changing navy where Light Cruisers were not a high priority. Launched just after the end of the Second World War it was not until the Cold-War years that she, and her sister ships, BLAKE & LION were revived and redesigned to become the modern Light Cruisers. TIGER finally commissioned into RN service in 1959. TIGER & BLAKE were later converted in "helicopter and command cruisers" and TIGER was in dockyard hands from 1968 to 1972, emerging with a flight deck capable of operating four Wessex or Sea King helicopters.

The many illustrations and photographs help to bring the story to life, showing the places, people and events that the ship visited and participated in. It is a lasting record of the ship’s history and achievements over her nineteen years in RN service.

This excellent volume is produced as a large landscape (29.7 x 21.0 cm) format hard cover book in full colour, illustrated throughout with diagrams and photographs on glossy 200gsm paper. Copies are printed on demand and delivery is usually around 14 working days from date of ordering.

 


 

 

 

'THE TATTIE LADS'

The untold story of the Rescue Tug Service 1917-45

and its battle to save cargo, ships and lives

Author:  Ian Dear

 

Reviewed by Robin Knight

 

 

Available in hardback & E-book versions

Publisher: Conway 2016

 

ISBN-13: 978-1844864010 (hardback)

ASIN: B01FA851HS (Kindle)

 

Buy it form

 Amazon

Presented with an open goal, the prolific military and yachting historian Ian Dear (49-52) knows how to score. The Tattie Lads is a page-turning account of the activities of the Royal Navy’s Rescue Tug Service (RTS) in the two world wars of the 20th century. It is an engrossing read, full of incident and colour yet, for some bizarre reason, it has never been told before. Both the official histories of the RN and the Merchant Navy ignore the Service. Dear met several veterans of the RTS at an event in Brixham in 2013 and subsequently was invited to write a history of the Service and handed a huge amount of material on which this book is based.

The RTS’s origins go back to 1915 and it played a growing role in the First World War as the German submarine threat grew. But in 1919 the service was disbanded. When war broke out again 20 years later only five commercial tugs in British ownership were powerful enough to be used as rescue tugs on active service. The RTS was soon reformed and by 1944 consisted of 85 tugs, 604 RNR officers and 1,602 ratings, mostly from the Merchant Navy. Estimates vary, but Dear reckons that between 1939-45 the RTS saved nearly three million tons of merchant shipping, 254 British and Allied warships and thousands of lives for the loss of 20 tugs.

Such a stellar achievement should have won widespread recognition both at the time and subsequently but for one factor – each rescued vessel in all probability represented an Allied setback of one kind or another. A torpedo sinking, a collision in a convoy, poor seamanship or errant navigation. So the largely volunteer Tattie Lads (so-called because they were recruited under the T.124T Agreement) never got the credit they deserved, until now.

The book is chock-full of extraordinary feats of bravery and seamanship and ingenuity. No naval action or landing operation, particularly in the Mediterranean, was attempted without an RTS presence. No convoy sailed the Atlantic without a rescue tug escort. D-Day and the invasion of continental Europe by the Allies in 1944 would not have been possible without the contribution of 30 rescue tugs which towed three million tons of steel and concrete across the Channel to allow the construction of two prefabricated harbours known as Mulberries off the beaches of Normandy.

 

 


 

 

 

PANGBOURNE COLLEGE:

SPIRIT IN CHANGING TIMES

Author:  Robin Knight

 

 

 

 

Publisher: Third Millennium Publishing 2016

 

ISBN 978-1-908900-07-5

 

Buy it form

Pangbourne College shop

email shop@pangbourne.com

Commissioned to celebrate the College's Centenary in 2017 this book details the history of Pangbourne College, its achievements and evolution over the last century. Founded as “The Nautical College” during the First World War in 1917 by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt., its aim was to train boys for a career as Merchant Navy officers. The Admiralty took a keen interest in the new establishment and students were issued naval uniform together with the status of cadet in the Royal Naval Reserve. As the book recounts the many achievements of the school it records that in addition to Merchant Marine officers Pangbourne produced many officers for the RN – about 550 by one count. It became "Pangbourne College" in 1969 and become a co-educational boarding school in 1996; it retains a distinctly nautical flavour, the pupils still wear naval uniform.

The History is wonderfully illustrated throughout; by sharply drawn pen portraits of some formidable Pangbourne characters, and a wealth of photographs and other illustrations. Sprinkled throughout the narrative many of the College’s traditions, like the origins of the Chief’s Chair (made with wood from HMS Victory) presented to the college in 1930, and running the 100 present (the college’s own twist on the cross-country race) are covered in feature boxes; together with short biographies of notable staff and former cadets these are eye catching and easy to find for those who wish to browse through the pages.
 

You can get a flavour of the book for free and read 13 pages from chapter 3: Navigating the Thirties here.

 

 


 

'THE OLD PANGBOURNIAN RECORD'

OP Obituaries and Death Notices, 1917 – 2016

Collected and Edited by Robin Knight

 

 

 

 

Publisher: The OP Society 2016

 ISBN 978-0-9568770-2-4

 

Download free in PDF format

click icon

 

As part of Pangbourne College's Centenary celebrations an ambitious project was undertaken to record the details of as many deceased Old Pangbournians as possible in one document; it is estimated that 1,500–2,000 Old Pangbournians have died in the one hundred years since 1917, but no comprehensive record of their careers and lives has existed in one place until now.

In this work Robin Knight has collected and compiled somewhere in the region of 1,250 obituaries, of varying lengths and detail, taken from a large variety of sources to tell their stories Of these 177 Old Pangbournians were killed on active service in World War II.

The result is a book of some 150,000 words containing about 1,250 long and short OP obituaries and death notices – basically, all the ones unearthed up to April, 2016. Fifteen copies have been printed and will be held at the College against need. In addition, a pdf of the book is available on the OP website.

Some Old Pangbournians have led extraordinary lives, others made few waves. Among the more unusual activities, OPs have rescued Lord Louis Mountbatten, fired a test missile at Cape
Canaveral, surveyed an unknown bay in Antarctica, become the finest ship model maker in the U.K., piloted a spy flight over the USSR, been a television film cameraman in the Vietnam war, arrested rebellious insurgents in colonial territories, flown The Queen, run a turkey farm, become leading watchmakers and olive oil producers, designed nuclear power stations, invented a ship’s ladder, earned a living as a blacksmith, started a hot air balloon society, grown avocado fruit in Spain and helped to reform the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra after World War II.

 

 


 

 

 

 

'ABOVE & BEYOND'

The story of one man's journey to God during WW2

Author:  Mark A. Biggs

 

 

 

Available in paperback & E-book versions

Publisher: MBK Consulting

 

ISBN-9780992429300 (paperback)

ASIN:-B00I8Z4H9E (Kindle)

 

Buy it form

 Amazon

Above and Beyond, is a story of one man's a journey to God; Laurence Walter Biggs' story tells of his journeys in World War Two as a Seaman Gunner on the Russian convoys to Murmansk, to officer training school as a CW candidate and an unexpected turn of events when he has to leave the course. Laurence finds himself promoted t0 Leading Seaman and doing three jobs on his return to 'normal' duty; by day a Gunnery instructor at HMS GOSLING teaching new entrants, by night teaching weapons and commando skills to civilians going behind emery lines, and when called for, he operated as the Coxswain of a vessel in the top secret world of covert operations with one of the RNs Special Operation Groups.

After completing 10 missions with the Special Operations Group it really was back to 'normal' duties, this time with Coastal Forces employed on minesweepers and patrol work. In December 1944, after several near brushes with death, Laurence finds himself floating in the freezing waters of the North Sea after MTB 243 has struck a mine and been abandoned, he makes a promise to serve God.

The book takes its title from the citation for the award of Mentioned in Despatches ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’ which Laurence received for his actions that night aboard MTB 243, a night which would mark the start of his journey to God and a promise to keep. Laurence Biggs lived to fulfil his promise and became an ordained a Priest in the Anglican Church in England on Sunday 21st May 1967 and later emigrated to Australia in 1970. He died in 2005 in Drouin, Victoria, his last Parish.

A very interesting and informative book, it sheds light on the activities of some of the men whose shadowy wartime exploits still remain secret today


 

 

 


 

'BEING SILENT THEY SPEAK'

The story of a WW2 submarine - UNBEATEN

Author:  David J.B. Smith

 

Available in paperback or E-book versions

Publisher:

Stand-Easy Publishing

 

ISBN-10: 0957392508

 

Buy it form

 Amazon - Waterstones

Exactly 70 years on, David J. B. Smith's compelling and revealing book tells the story of one of His Majesty's Submarines, HMS/M Unbeaten, the loss of which was to remain a mystery for many years. This in depth work encompasses her build at the Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, her adoption by the Borough of Hove and all of her two years of war patrols. Ultimately it reveals the details of her final clandestine tasking in November 1942 and subsequent loss. HMS/M Unbeaten was last heard from via a signal sent to Flag Officer Submarines on 1 November 1942. The signal simply stated: ‘Operation Bluestone completed’; she was on passage to the Mediterranean via Gibraltar after undergoing a refit in Britain. On 11 November 1942 she was attacked and sunk in error by an RAF Wellington of No. 172 Squadron, Coastal Command while in the Bay of Biscay. She was lost with all hands.

 

Having learned that a distant family member went down with the submarine David began investigating the circumstances of the loss. Drawing extensively on records held at the National Archives and by naval museums, combined with letters and photographs from former crew members and the families of those who were lost, he has compiled a compelling insight into the life of both the boat and her crew. The families of those who perished received vague explanations for the loss of Unbeaten at the war's end, it was to be 30 years before the truth was revealed with the unsealing of the official papers; now the full story has finally been told.

 

David J.B. Smith Joined the Senior Service himself as a RADAR Operator at the age of 17, he went on to enjoy a full and varied 23-year Royal Navy career. David retired from Service life as a Chief Petty Officer (Seaman). He now lives in a quiet quayside village in sunny Devon, England.

 

 

 


 

 

E-BOAT ATTACK 6 JANUARY 1944

The sinking of the MV Wallasea, MV Solstad, MV Polperro and MV Underwood

Author:  David F. Betts

 

 

Publisher:

 Bettsbooks

 

Buy it form Bettsbooks.com

On 6th January 1944 E-boats of the 5th Flotilla Schellbootwaffe, commanded by Leutenant-Kommander Karl Muller, slipped across the English Channel and lay in wait for the unsuspecting ships and their escorts of convoy WP457.

 

In this exciting new account, using primary historical sources previously unpublished and previously untold personal stories, author David F Betts unfolds the dramatic story of daring, bravery and heroism of those who took part in the naval battle at Mounts Bay, Cornwall as Germany tried to prevent the build-up to D-Day and the invasion of Europe. Convoy WP457 consisted of 12 merchant ships and their armed escorts. Amongst the ships were those carrying LST Landing Craft to the southern ports in preparation for D-Day. Read how the attack on convoy WP457 preceded the fatal attacks on US Landing Ships at Slapton Sands in Lyme Bay in April 1944. The attack on convoy WP457resulted in four merchant vessels being sunk; out of 90 crewmen 65 died and 13 were injured.

 

David's grandfather, Leading Seaman (DEMS), D/JX 179383 Fredrick Walter William Betts, joined the MV Underwood at Milford Haven as a DEMS gunner on Christmas Eve and he was to loose his life in the attack. 1943. An account of his service in the RN is included in the book.

 

David F Betts is a professional archivist & records manager, he has extensive knowledge of modern and historical records and research methods.

 

 


 

 

 

 

THE ANIMALS' V.C .

'FOR GALLANTRY OR DEVOTION'

The PDSA Dickin Medal -  Inspiring Stories of Bravery and Courage

Author:  David Long

 

 

Publisher:

Preface Publishing

 

ISBN-10: 1848093764

 

Buy it form the PDSA Shop on-line

or from

 Amazon - Waterstones - AbeBooks

This new book recognises the most extraordinary achievements of animals in war - including pigeons flying through enemy lines, a life-saving cat on a Royal Navy destroyer, and Army dogs sniffing out IEDs in Afghanistan. For these heroic animals The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal remains the most prestigious award of its type anywhere in the world, with just 64 awarded in its near 70 year history.

 

Now for the first time a new history, authorised by the PDSAA, details every one of their remarkable stories. Describing with moving testimony the individuals and their exploits, it explores the remarkable bonds which develop between animals and the men and women they serve alongside and covers the period from the Blitz to the present day.

 

In so many theatres of battle animals have shown truly indomitable spirit, as well as courage, loyalty and fortitude. Of course there will always be those who question the concept of heroism or gallantry when it is applied to a dog or a cat or a horse or a bird; but more of us find ourselves genuinely moved by the animals’ stories, and perhaps all one can really say to the doubters is this: read their stories, listen to the people who knew them, and then decide.  From the Blitz through Ground Zero to Helmand Province, these animals are remarkable, and so too are their stories.

 

Produced with the full cooperation of the PDSA, and written by established author David Long, a royalty from every sale will go to save sick animals.

 

 

 


 

 

The History of HMS Queen:

A World War II Lend Lease Escort Aircraft Carrier

Author:  David Weaver

 

 

Publisher: David Weaver

ISBN-10: 9889727218

Copies can be purchased directly from Mr. Weaver - please e-mail for details.

This extraordinary book tells the story of one of the Lend-Lease American built escort aircraft carriers supplied to the Royal Navy during World War Two.  A self published work released in December 2004, this is more than a just book; it is presented as a boxed set of materials about HMS Queen. The Set comprises of a 260 glossy page hard back B4 size landscape format book, a DVD film of 853 Royal Naval Air Squadron operating onboard the ship in early 1945 and a CD-Rom which contains an Adobe Acrobat version of the book. The box also contains a set of large-scale deck-by-deck plans of a Ruler class escort carrier.

 

In addition to telling the story of the ship drawing on official documents and the reminiscences of the crew David delves into the building and modification process which saw HMS Queen, and all but four of her class, transformed from merchant hulls into warships. Unprecedented levels of detail and a wealth of photographs and maps make this a work the definitive account of HMS Queen and her squadrons.

 

 


 

 

BOMB ALLEY, FALKLAND ISLANDS 1982:

Aboard HMS Antrim at War

Author:  David Yates

 

Publisher:

Pen & Sword Books

ISBN-10: 1844154173

In his book David Yates recalls his experiences in the Royal Navy as a Leading Catering Accountant aboard HMS Antrim despatched to the South Georgia at the start of the Falklands War. David conveys the humour, spirit and traditions of life in the Royal Navy, vividly describing the daily routines of life aboard ship and what matelots expect when in port.

 

The author successfully conveys to the reader how the normality of his peacetime navy was thrown into turmoil on Friday April 2nd 1982, as Antrim prepared for war. In particular the description of the traditional ‘crossing the line’ ceremony is well described. You can almost taste the pill that is thrust down each initiates throat, and imagine the terror at being roughly, and repeatedly dunked by the ‘bears’.

 

The book is easy to read and. while well researched, is not top heavy with facts and figures, this semi-autobiographical work makes for fascinating reading offering a peek at life below decks and off duty as well as in the uncertain days that were the Falklands conflict. The book is well illustrated with a 38 images and has two comprehensive glossaries, one of naval terms and a second devoted to terms specific to naval ‘cooks’, a must for those not familiar with the naval catering branches.

 

Order direct from the author using this form

 

 

 


 

 

 

MOVING BASES: ROYAL NAVY

MAINTENANCE CARRIERS AND MONABS

Author:  DavidHobbs

 

Publisher:

Maritime Books

 

ISBN-10: 1904459307

This is another in David Hobbs list of detailed history books covering aspects of the Royal Navy, this time he focuses on Maintenance Carriers and Mobile Air Bases which were planned and constructed both during the Second World War and since.

 

Many previous works on the subject of the Fleet Air Arm tend to focus on the fighting ships and overlooked the important role played by RN aviation support elements. This book covers the development and implementation of the specialist maintenance carrier and the land based equivalents that were the MONABs; much of the material and many of the black & white photos appear in print for the first time.

Also covered are is the role of the smaller Escort Carriers which were pressed into service as stop-gap repair ships during the war in the Pacific, working with the MONABs to maintain a supply of serviceable aircraft to the British Pacific Fleet.

 

Note :Some of the material on MONABS and escort carriers is drawn from websites that form part of the RN Research Archive, and are credited as www.faahistoryweb

 

 

 

 


 

 

Lieutenant R.M.Pratchett M.B.E. and His Experiences During World War II: Member of the 30th Assault Unit Under Ian Fleming

Author:  Geraldine Hultkrantz

 

Publisher: ELSP, St Helier

ISBN-10: 1906641099

Geraldine Hultkrantz has produced a small volume about her father, Lieutenant Richard Maurice Pratchett RNVR MBE, and his experiences during World War 2. It tells of her father’s pre-war career in the chemical industry and his determination to gain academic qualifications in his own time, to his enlisting as an ordinary Seaman in 1940. In 1942 while serving on the destroyer HMS Sikh he was selected for officer training under the Commissions and Warrants (CW) scheme and emerged from HMS King Alfred with a commission as an Tempy. Sub Lieutenant RNVR in August 1942.

 

He chose to work in the dangerous world of mine disposal and worked as a bomb disposal officer with the Land Incident Section of the Torpedoes and Mining Department of the Admiralty, travelling around the UK defusing unexploded mines. In the run=up to D-Day he was employed in preparations for the deployment of the Mulberry harbours before being recruited by the Naval Intelligence Division for duties with the new 30 (Commando) Assault Unit. During his time with 30AU he travelled to liberated territories to recover captured enemy technology for return to the UK, initially in Europe and later in the Far East. The book is easy to read and is well researched providing background information on the units, ships, and operations with which Lt. Pratchett was involved.

Availability: Check Amazon.co.uk

Contact the author:

hultkrantz2@hotmail.com

 

 


 

 

From School to Landing Craft

A young mans war in letter

 

Author:  C.M. Wiles

 

Publisher: Upfront Publishing

ISBN: 9781780350219

‘From School to Landing Craft' follows the naval career of Lt. Richard Charles Wiles RNVR DSC from his entry into the Royal Navy as a Seaman at HMS Royal Arthur in October 1941 to his selection for training as an RNVR officer at HMS King Alfred in August 1942. On receiving his commission he served in Combined Operations Landing Craft, initially with the 126 LC(A) flotilla, participating in the landings at Sicily and later 552 LC(A) Flotilla and landed troops on Utah Beach during the Normandy landings. This flotilla later saw action in NW Europe on the River Waal at Nijmegen in the Netherlands, working with the Royal Engineers.

 

The book tells his story in two ways, first a factual account of his time in the Royal Navy drawn from his service records, and secondly, an account based on extracts from letters between him, his family and friends. While the content of the letters offers insights into the daily lives or those involved, their hopes, fears and expectations, the work of the censor is also very apparent, especially in letters home; the official record helps fill in these ‘censored’ gaps in the narrative.

 

The book has 170 pages and many photographs, maps and diagrams, some in colour, and helpful appendices explaining about landing craft operations and procedures. The extensive use of letters make this book a pleasant change from standard biographical works.

Availability: Check

Direct from publisher

Amazon.co.uk

waterstones.com


 

Many thanks to the authors of the above books for kindly donating a copy  of their work to the Royal Navy Research Archive. If you have written a book on an aspect to Royal Navy history we would be pleased to review it and add it to the archive - please contact the editor for more information.

 

Last revised 17 July 2017

 

 go to the top

 

Copyright  The Royal Navy Research Archive 2005 -2017