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On Four Fronts with the Royal Naval Division During the First World War 1914-1918 [Hardcover]

Geoffrey Sparrow , J. N. Macbean Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Aug 2011
The Blue Jackets who fought on land

The time of Nelson was not only notable because of the success in nautical warfare of the man himself, but also because it was the zenith of the 'age of sail' that left British sea power so dominant that Britannia really did 'rule the waves.' No navy could stand against the might of the Royal Navy, and so until Jutland during the Great War it would not fight another major battle at sea. Queen Victoria's ever expanding empire meant that British forces were perpetually set against often underdeveloped powers and the navy took its part, but most of the hard work of empire building would inevitably fall upon the British army. Of course, the Royal Navy had its own 'soldiers'-the Royal Marines. The particular talents and skills of sailors were often required, particularly whilst manning 'the guns,' so the 19th century saw the 'blue jackets' in action in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the Zulu War, the Boer War and several other conflicts. The early years of the 20th century brought a period of instability that inexorably dragged the great powers of Europe towards the cataclysm of blood which was to be the Great War of 1914-18. The entire British Empire mobilised and the industrial efficiency of modern methods of war and the global nature of the conflict drew more and more men into the services. The Royal Naval Division was formed around a cadre of Royal Marines and sailors and was expanded as a unit of the New Army by volunteers. The Division saw action in the defence of Antwerp in 1914, on Helles and Anzac during the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and on the Western Front where it took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. This book was written by one of the their number and is an often light-hearted account of the wartime record of the division, full of incident and anecdote and scattered with occasionally humorous line drawings. There is little in print about the Royal Naval Division in the First World War so this will make a welcome addition to any naval library.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket; our hardbacks are cloth bound and feature gold foil lettering on their spines and fabric head and tail bands.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: LEONAUR (22 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085706715X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857067159
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,837,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting account 11 April 2012
Format:Paperback
This is an account of the Royal Naval Division - the 'bluejackets' - in the Great War. The Division was formed by Churchill in August 1914 with the specific purpose of bolstering the Belgian army in the defence of Antwerp, a crucial port. The army was short of regular and reservist soldiers who couldn't be spared away from their own front line, so the Division was formed out of Royal Marines Light Infantry and officers/sailors of the RNVR and Royal Fleet Reserve.

This book, written as far as I can ascertain by two naval surgeons (= medical officers), tells the story from their perspective of the Division's activities at Antwerp, Gallipoli, the Somme (Le Ancre, Gavrelle etc) and Passchendaele. There are occasional passages describing matters at a basic level, but mostly it is on a more strategic level. By their account, the senior officers (including up to GOC level) appear to have been very popular, which is probably a comment on the circles in which the surgeons moved, and on the social attitudes of the time.

For more personalized accounts from the sailors/marines who were having to put up with the flies, disease, dreadful rations (bully beef which slides from the tin because the fat had melted in the heat isn't all that appetising when you're dying of thirst) and all the rest of it, there are one or two other books, and quite a lot of websites on the internet giving the personal accounts of sailors and marines. They would supplement this book well.

I have given the book 4 stars because it is an interesting and useful book (170 pages) charting the campaigns of the RND, but it needs to be supplemented by other reading for a fuller picture of what the chaps went through.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review 25 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by two Medical Officers who served in the RND primarily in Gallipolli the book gives their perspective on the early days of the Division but not much on its time in France.
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