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L. E. May "Lester May" (Camden Town, London, England)
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Ship Stewards Handbook
Ship Stewards Handbook
by J. J. Trayner
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dine at sea during the post-war Golden Age of the British Merchant Navy, 5 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Ship Stewards Handbook (Hardcover)
A facsimile of a Handbook produced in the mid-1950s for Merchant Navy ships' stewards, those who served at table in ships for both passengers and ships' officers, this book gives a glimpse of life at sea during the Golden Age of the post-war British Merchant Navy - the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, although showing modest growth in recent years, the number of merchant ships flying the Red Ensign or Blue Ensign is a fraction of the number at sea in the 1950s; the largest British-flagged shipping 'company' today is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. In 1957, for example, the UK Merchant Navy comprised some 322 passenger vessels (including those cargo liners carrying up to twelve passengers), 1,145 general cargo vessels of all types and 575 tankers - a total of over 2,000 vessels. The ships plied the seven seas and were owned by famous shipping lines such as the Ben Line, Blue Funnel Line, British India Steam Navigation Company, BP Tankers, Clan Line, Coast Line, Cunard Line, Donaldson Line, Elder Dempster Line, Ellerman Lines, Furness Withy, Fyffes Line, Geest Line, Harrison Line, Lamport & Holt and Manchester Liners - and that's just a few of those in the first half of the alphabet! Sea travel was prime and air travel was only beginning to eclipse travel by ship in the late 1950s, and even then only for the very wealthy and the 'jet set'.

However, few could anticipate the sea change that would take place by the 1970s. The National Union of Seamen (NUS) was particularly active and, even before the NUS national strike of 1966, there were unofficial strikes in 1947, 1955 and 1960. Labour relations were poor and, increasingly, it became obvious that employing foreign seamen, albeit with British officers, was more cost effective. The advent of containerisation - 'the box' - was, of course, the main cause of the end of the Golden Age post-war. It was a very different world for British merchant ships and merchant seamen come the 1970s. It's a pity that one-time ship's steward John Prescott, in his interesting short introduction to this facsimile volume, does not touch on the bigger picture, although he makes clear that he was considered one of the 'barrack room lawyers' of the time!

So, this facsimile handbook offers a glimpse into an important aspect of life at sea during the heyday for British merchant ships in the 1950s and 1960s. The book's chapters cover recruitment, pay and prospects and personal appearance and behaviour (and even here, in these two chapters, there are hints of the frustration for owners of staff not following best working practice), and the more prosaic aspects of a steward's (waiter's) business at table - care of equipment, laying the table, waiting at table, wines and bedroom stewards; there are three appendices: shipboard terms, French glossary and extracts from Ministry of Transport Notices. As ever in such books, whether original or facsimile, the advertisements are fascinating: at the front and back of the handbook are adverts for food and wines and of ships' chandlers and suppliers.

The first paragraph of the first chapter, on pay and recruitment, advises that the annual intake of catering staff into the National Sea Training Schools at Gravesend and Sharpness was about 2,000 boys (in 1955), mostly aged 16 to 17, and it points out that there was usually a waiting list. How times change.

This little book is important in a number of ways. It affords a look at an important aspect of the success of the United Kingdom in the twenty years after the Second World War; it is important in terms of the history of the hospitality industry (and still useful to anyone entering the hospitality profession today, ashore or afloat) and it affords a glimpse of the more leisurely lifestyle that sea travel afforded both passengers and ships' officers before the age of air travel was affordable to most people in Britain.

This facsimile handbook is very reasonably priced and will be of interest to those teaching hospitality students for today's hotels both at sea and on land. It will, of course, be of particular interest to the boys and cadets who went to sea in the 1950s and 1960s now, like Lord Prescott, men in their 70s and 80s, and to the families of those seamen and sea officers, as well as to the then passengers and officers and anyone interested in ships and the British Merchant Navy. The handbook should be in the library of maritime historians and family historians alike.

The punctuation error in the title of the book, as written on the Amazon website, is not my doing but, unfortunately, I have no idea how to correct Steward"s to Steward's!


Churchill: the Treasures of Winston Churchill, the Greatest Briton
Churchill: the Treasures of Winston Churchill, the Greatest Briton
by Christopher Catherwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Briton, 2 Dec. 2013
This book, presented in a slipcase, contains four envelopes that each contain facsimiles of letters and documents related to the life of one of the most interesting people to have lived in modern times.

My two heroes - Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson - had much in common. Saviours of the British Nation both, critical to their time in history and both very aware of themselves and their greatness while alive, yet both out of favour at times with the establishment and both flawed in a different but still the most human way. Each has stood the test of time and history and each remains a figure revered by Britons, to be sure, but by many overseas too, and not just those in the Anglophone world or Anglosphere. It's a nice link that Churchill's favourite film was "That Hamilton Woman" (1941).

This book begins with Winston Churchill's ancestors and covers his life from 1874 to 1965. It is profusely illustrated, some well known and some not, and each chapter covers an aspect of his long life, his character, that illuminates the great man. And what a life there is to throw light on, with chapters such as The Adventurer, Prisoner of the Boers, First Lord of the Admiralty, Frontline Soldier, Churchill the Artist, Churchill the Innovator, Winston's Folly, Churchill and the Great Republic, Finest Hour, Churchill's Cigars, Iron Curtain, The Great Orator and Churchill and History.

The facsimiles include love letters in his own hand, a note to the First Sea Lord, messages to the White House and a note from Lester Piggott (after whom I was named!).

This is altogether an excellent book and perfect for those who want to know Churchill even better. One cannot but finish this book and feel inspired, feel proud and feel the great humanity, warmth and energy that this oh-so-human character brought to everything he did. How lucky the United Kingdom and the Allied Nations were that he lived so long.


The British at War (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts)
The British at War (Amazing and Extraordinary Facts)
by Jonathan Bastable
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Extraordinary Number of Mistakes, 1 Dec. 2013
The dust jacket claims that "David & Charles publish high quality books on a wide range of subjects" but I regret to report that this is not one of them.

A look at the index gives a clue that the author has made his selections very poorly indeed. The Royal Navy has the world record for success as an armed force, insofar as Britain's Senior Service has been on the winning side of wars consistently for well over three hundred years and its foundation goes back, arguably, to the time of King Arthur, if not before. The Royal Marines, without question one of the world's elite forces, dates from 1664 and its 350th anniversary is marked in 2014. The British Army is hundreds of years old and the Royal Air Force dates from 1918. Yet the Royal Navy features in the index on just thirteen of the book's gross of pages and the Royal Marines just once (for 1 Special Service Brigade). The RAF features on fifteen pages and the British Army overwhelmingly fills the book. Like so many Britons, Jonathan Bastable is sea blind. It is perhaps no wonder that this book is to be found remaindered in book shops.

Indeed, in his introduction, the author writes of Britain that "... none has an army that has fought in more far-flung and fearsome corners of the globe than the British Army". That may be so, but I'd wager it's truer still of the Royal Navy. Nelson does feature on two pages but he writes about the great admiral as vain and silly, quoting a first impression of Wellington; it's true enough but gives a wholly biased impression. Indeed, the introduction gives a certain clue as to the author's ineptitude with matters maritime for he writes "... anecdotes about Britain's outstanding military heroes - medal winners and generals such as Nelson, Wellington and Wolfe." There were no campaign medals in the time of Wolfe!

Bastable is not much cop with modern wars either. In a section entitles "The Doomed Belgrano" (the ship's name was ARA General Belgrano), about the sinking of the cruiser in the Falklands War of 1982, he is way out of his depth. The cruiser was not, as he claims, sunk by a volley of torpedoes but by just two of the three fired by the submarine HMS Conqueror. He goes on to claim "... The question of whether it was proper to sink the ship has never been entirely resolved ...". While it was controversial at the time, owing to half-witted Labour politicians, one in particular (Tam Dalyell), and other Britons too, who seemed to prefer that British ships should continue in danger during war rather than sink the enemy's ships as the opportunity arose, the matter was never controversial to the cognoscenti. The Argentine cruiser's captain, Hector Bonzo, admitted, in recent decades, that his ship was a valid target and that she could easily have changed course to head towards the British Task Force.

He writes of the "humiliation of the Royal Navy" after what he calls the Four-Day Fight (but what all naval historians, and others, call the Four Days' Battle) in 1666. It was after the three Anglo-Dutch Wars that the Royal Navy never again was to be on the losing side in a war, thus developing a 'habit of victory' unbroken to this day. The author was too idle to bother to find any 'amazing and extraordinary' facts about the Royal Navy, or its predecessors, in its history of over 1,000 years. It's as if he preferred to downplay the international reputation of the Royal Navy (and indeed the Royal Marines, virtually airbrushed out of the picture).

It gets worse, if that's possible. In a section entitled "Top Brass - Rank and seniority in the British armed forces", he claims that the ranks of the RAF are based on those of the British Army. This is nonsense, of course, given that the stripes used by the RAF are those of the Royal Navy and the ranks of Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander and Flight Lieutenant are directly comparable to the naval ranks of Commodore, Captain, Commander and Lieutenant - nought at all in common with the Army! Pathetically, he spells the ranks of Marshal for RAF Air Officers as Marshall (a common mistake, but wholly unacceptable in a book of this nature). Worse still, he claims that a General in the Army is equivalent to Admiral of the Fleet and Marshall [sic] of the RAF! He does not even list the ranks of Field Marshal (no doubt Field Marshall to this hapless author), Admiral or Air Chief Marshal. He refers to the whole list as 'ranks' when those on the lower deck of the Royal Navy are 'ratings' whereas, in the other services, those non-commissioned are called 'other ranks'. The naval rating of Ordinary Seaman has long gone and those yet to reach Able Seaman are now just called Seaman. Frankly, this whole section is so inaccurate that it makes a mockery of the author's credibility and says little for David & Charles (in particular their claim on the dust jacket!).

Another section is called "False Craters - How Argentinian troops fooled the RAF". The author seems to delight in highlighting the enemy's besting the British yet history records that, in general, the British military was rather better than the enemy although certainly not always. I would have no quibble with this were there a sense of balance but there is not. The book has the scent of anti-British yet one cannot sense that the author is some left-wing CND-card carrying softy.

The publisher claims that one can "Discover the answers to ... questions and many other fascinating aspects of the British at war in this absorbing collection of stories and trivia." I think the intelligent reader needs to question much of the content and the unintelligent reader would be best advised to ignore the book entirely.

Some of the entries are, of course, perfectly fine or so they seem. However, I am not an army historian or a historian of military aviation, so I have to trust the author for accuracy on these matters. He has not earned that trust, in truth. Caveat emptor.


First World War Posters (Masterpieces of Art)
First World War Posters (Masterpieces of Art)
by Rosalind Ormiston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great words, great art, great propaganda of the Great War, 18 Nov. 2013
A timely publication less than a year before the centenary, First World War Posters is an ideal gift for those interested in history, naval and military history, family history, propaganda and art.

The First World War saw the first real use of posters for propaganda purposes on a large scale. From glorious patriotism to emotional blackmail, these posters provided governments a means for mass communication and no one was left out - appeals were made to men, women and children to do their bit for the war.

That the Great War, called the First World War from about 1940, was the first 'total war' becomes clear as these posters help make one aware of the scale of the war effort, both at the front and at home.

In the first quarter of the book, the author provides a helpful illustrated introduction to the posters, their purpose and their artists. The following three chapters cover the Call to Arms ("Britain Needs You at Once"), Raising Funds ("Joan of Arc Saved France - Women of America: Save Your Country ... Buy War Saving Stamps") and Society at Home ("Don't Waste Bread - Save two thick slices every day and Defeat the 'U' Boat").

Over one hundred full-page full-colour posters comprise three-quarters of this excellent book. Included among the Recruitment Posters are the famous "Your Country Needs You" (not the actual poster words, though) and "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" posters as well as well as very specific posters such as "Remember Scarborough! Enlist Now" and those aimed at Irish Canadians, Boy Scouts, the Irish, the Jews ("Britain Expects Every Son of Israel to do his Duty"), Australians, British Athletes, Canadian Bushmen and Sawmill Hands, Americans ("Wake Up, America! Civilisation calls ...") and Poles.

Home Front Posters include those by Oxo, and calls such as seeking fresh vegetables for the Fleet, encouraging fewer hot baths, sales of war bonds, thrift stamps and war savings stamps ("Boys and Girls! You can help your Uncle Sam Win the War ..."), contributions to Save Serbia, "Learn to Make Munitions" and "Farm to Win 'Over There'". The last page shows a poster from 1919 and is entitled "Peace - The practical Thank Offering - Buy Victory Loan and Savings Certificates".

Sad to think that artists would again be employed in much the same work just twenty years later.

This book gives an excellent overview of how the governments of the allied nations in 1914-1918 sought to encourage enlistment and recruitment, fund raising and economy. It's a glimpse at the spirit of the age, the style of the time and a magnificent attempt to get everyone to "do their bit". Perhaps one of these posters encouraged a grandparent or great grandparent to answer their country's call. Certainly the book provides a colourful overview of the war effort; I recommend reading this before you read one of the many books about the First World War as August 1914 approaches.


Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy
Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy
by Ben Warlow
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An established part of any good naval history library, 6 Nov. 2013
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A comprehensive summary of all the named shore establishments and static ships of the Royal Navy from the beginning of the 19th Century. The aim of the book is to fill a significant gap that existed in reference works and that is certainly does. A huge amount of research has led to this very detailed volume that will be of interest and use to naval historians, local historians and family historians alike.

The first Royal Navy 'stone frigate' was HMS Diamond Rock, an island off Martinique commissioned as HM Sloop on 18 Jan 1804 (passing RN ships still fire an 11-gun salute!). Another island, commissioned in 1811, was HMS Anholt off Denmark. Each of these ship names - and there are some 3,000 entries and each is a 'ship' name with its own history, illuminating the annals of the history of both the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom.

Prior to the end of the Victorian era naval shore establishments were rare, bar of course the Admiralty in London and HM Dockyards. Old ships from the Age of Sail, mostly Ships of the Line, were reduced to hulks at the end of their days and many were used as training ships, accommodation ships and store ships in their 'retirement', in the backwaters of naval ports, sometimes keeping the same names, sometimes given a completely new name. It is thus that the Fifth Rate HMS Trincomalee (1817) was later HMS Foudroyant, a common sight as a hulk in Portsmouth Harbour for much of the Twentieth Century, was saved for the nation and now preserved at Hartlepool.

During the Second World War the Admiralty requisitioned a large number of establishments as manpower increased to not far short of a million. Many of these were given a Roman numeral suffix, such as HMS President V, which was Highgate School, London N6, the training school for accountant branch ratings from 1941-44.

RN Air Stations are also commissioned with HM Ship names, usually those of birds, such as HMS Peregrine, the name of RNAS Ford, in Sussex, now an open prison. Also included are the intended names, where known, so as to complete the record, such as HMS Chough for RNAS Culdrose, commissioned as HMS Seahawk in 1947.

Ben Warlow has done a great service with this book. Behind the names in its pages are thousands of stories and each enriches the fascinating story of the Royal Navy which is, in essence, the story of the British people and, to a considerable extent, the English-speaking world.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Life, 5 Nov. 2013
Paul Johnson writes a masterful short biography of Churchill, one that should be read by all those who claim they have not enough time to read longer works. This book also contains some unusual features which make it very useful as a book about leadership, about living and how to live a life, about work and, above all, about getting things done.

The title of the book is not as described on this page, as can be seen clearly from the book's cover - the book is just plain Churchill by Paul Johnson. There are a number of other reviews on the page for the paperback edition of this excellent book.

Paul Johnson clearly likes his subject and he makes clear, too, that Winston Churchill was a rather likeable man. Soldier, parliamentarian, First Lord of the Admiralty, prime minister, orator, painter, writer, husband and leader - and a notable smoker and drinker, too!

Having read other, more detailed, certainly longer, accounts of WSC's life, Paul Johnson does the reader a real favour with his final chapter entitled 'Glorious Twilight' in which he covers the post-war world of Churchill, time he spent in Parliament and in a second term as Premier, but time in which he wrote and wrote and spoke and spoke while he could. It is good to learn from Paul Johnson how Churchill wrote his War Memoirs and makes one want to read them too.

His Epilogue is especially good and he writes "So Winston Churchill led a full life ... But all can learn from it, especially in five ways." First - aim high; second - there is no substitute for hard work; third - don't allow mistakes, criticism, disaster to get one down; fourth - don't waste time and emotional energy on the meannesses of life; fifth - this absence of hatred allowed plenty of time for joy.

Those who have read much of Churchill will still gain something from this enjoyable, well written, short work. The book is worth reading for the learning that one gains about living a good life and how not to harbour hatred - there really is something for everyone to learn from Churchill. How marvellous that this great man lived a good life, did his country and the world a great service and, after his death nearly fifty years ago, continues to be a figure of immense power and interest and one, moreover, who can inspire better things from those of us alive today.


Shipping Company Losses of the Second World War
Shipping Company Losses of the Second World War
by Ian M. Malcolm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helping to set the record straight for the Merchant Navy, 22 Aug. 2013
This is a very useful book in many ways and it certainly goes some way to record, in one volume, many of the losses sustained by the ships and men of the British Merchant Navy in the Second World War.

Well over 2,000 British merchant ships were lost in the war and I estimate that some 1,500 of the larger vessels, belonging to 53 British shipping companies, are included in this book (the list of companies, by itself, reads like a memorial to famous shipping firms and lines mostly now long gone). About five ships are listed on each page and there is a wealth of information about them, most naming the Captain at the time of loss, the circumstances and location of the loss, the numbers of seamen killed and other interesting facts relating to the ship on her last voyage. This will be of interest to those researching their family history or maritime or war history.

The title of the book is "Shipping Company Losses ..." but the scope of the book will not be clear to many from the title. While the contents list of those 53 companies makes it clear what companies are included, it is not obviously clear (other than to maritime history experts) that coastal ships and smaller craft, such as trawlers, are not included.

It is surprising that neither the foreword or all-too-short introduction makes clear the scope of the book for it is important to state what is not included as much as what is included. I feel that the book needed to state the facts of British shipping in the Second World War, perhaps with a graph to show the numbers of ships and men lost month by month or, at least, year by year. The total number of ships and men, the expansion during the war, the losses and the numbers come August 1945 would help to give an overview of the British Merchant Marine in those fateful war years. It would have been helpful to mention something of slow and fast convoys, of cargo ships, liners, tramp steamers and tankers and their average tonnage. There are a some interesting photographs but there's no attempt to let the reader know what the average British cargo ship looked like. Indeed, a line drawing showing the general arrangement of a cargo ship and a tanker would have been really helpful.

I would like to have seen a short introduction, perhaps just a few lines, to each shipping company: its foundation and when, if the case, it stopped trading and its main purpose as a business and its main trading routes in peacetime, with a short report on how it fared in the war. What cargo did, for example, the "Tuscan Star", the "Jevington Court" or the "Tribesman" usually carry and what was the ship's manifest on her last, fateful voyage detailed here? No details of the date of construction, the tonnage or the usual ship's complement are given. British-India's "Gairsoppa" is listed but no mention of her cargo of silver ingots, recently brought to the surface and well covered in the news, let alone the subject of a TV documentary. A code letter could have been used for those ships that carried up to 12 passengers, those that carried more and those that carried others such as PoWs or troops.

It would have been helpful had the author differentiated between the different Captains listed - Merchant Navy, Royal Navy and Royal Navy Reserve - and the different Commodores too. Did a merchant ship taken over by the Royal Navy always retain her merchant captain? For completeness those ships that became Armed Merchant Cruisers, such as HMS Jervis Bay and HMS Rawalpindi, and those in other roles, should have been included. It would have been good to have mentioned those merchant seaman decorated for their bravery, too.

A book like this is something of a memorial to the Merchant Navy and it would have been good to have mention of the memorials to the brave seamen whose numbers lost are recorded here. Not only mention but a photograph of the Merchant Navy Memorial by Tower Hill tube station, London, would have been appropriate perhaps with a photograph of part of the memorial listing names of those lost in one of the ships listed in this book.

The index of ship names is essential but a list of abbreviations, also essential, is not included.

Nevertheless, the author deserves congratulation for the detailed research that has brought together a mass of information. As a whole, it is a sombre reminder of the dangerous business of war at sea, particularly for the Merchant Navy's officers and men. I can certainly recommend this book but do be aware of the limitations in its scope which the publisher and author should have made clear. Do also, when in London, take the tube to the Merchant Navy Memorial in Trinity Square Gardens where an annual service is held, usually from noon on the first Sunday in September or the Sunday nearest Merchant Navy Day in the UK - 3 September. This year, 2013, the service is on Sunday 8 September.


Laugh with the Airforce
Laugh with the Airforce

5.0 out of 5 stars A laugh with the Riff Raff, 3 Aug. 2013
The new edition of this book, the fourth re-print since 1987, carries on the tradition in the British armed forces that it is quite in order for the Army and Navy to make fun of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, have a long tradition, the Navy going back over a thousand years. The Royal Air Force, born in 1918 out of early aviation in the Army and Navy that began over a century ago, seems to have a chip on its shoulder and, unlike the two older services, secure in their tradition, ability and usefulness, is insecure on all those counts. As a result, the RAF (the 'Riff Raff') worries too much about itself and tries too hard to be like the other services.

It's one great success was the Battle of Britain in 1940 (even then, of the near 3,000 aviators involved, 2% were naval aviators and over 500 were from foreign and Empire nations) and, thus, it bangs on about the Few because ... well, there really isn't much else to bang on about!

Unlike the British Army and Royal Navy, the RAF spends most of its time in the UK and, generally, fewer than 5% of its personnel are serving overseas at any one time - the successors to 'The Few' are indeed few these days, for they spend few months, in their careers, away from home. Thus, the attitude of RAF personnel is very different to that of Tommy Atkins and Jolly Jack, the ordinary soldiers and sailors - the latter feel that 'the Crabs' (as they call the RAF) have it soft. Often, the only thing service personnel really know about the RAF is their encounter with air trooping and this 'service' has a poor reputation. So, the jokes abound.

This book of blank pages was borne of frustration with the RAF's poor management of air trooping, about which stories are legion in the army and navy - and over many decades, too, all the way back to the end of troopships some fifty years ago.

So, have a laugh at the RAF's expense and at almost no expense to yourself. Send a copy to your mates to bring back those happy days delayed at RAF Nonsuch, with flight sergeants and squadron leaders caring not a jot for Tommy or Jack or Royal.

I hope the new Chief of the Air Staff has a copy for, as the first head of the RAF who is a rotary wing pilot, he can surely be absolved from any responsibility for air trooping - until July 2013, that is, when 'Crab Air' is all his, his own personal flying club!


Destroyer
Destroyer
by Ewart Brookes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Destoyer Men - a breed apart, 29 April 2013
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This review is from: Destroyer (Mass Market Paperback)
My father served in some eight destroyers in his career as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, from 1923 to 1947. He served in HMS Sturdy and HMS Saladin in 1926, HMS Tyrian and HMS Tara in 1927, all running out of Portsmouth. HMS Tyrian was the safety escort for the aircraft carrier HMS Furious and the order to my father, when on the wheel, was "Follow the Furious" - it sounds like a Hollywood movie. On the China Station, from 1932-33, AB Walter May served in yet another destroyer borne of the Great War, one of the famous "V & Ws", HMS Wild Swan, and he served in another, HMS Westminster, with Home Fleet from 1936-37.

His service in the Second World War began in a destroyer serving with the Home Fleet, his having joined the prototype HMS Amazon (1926) in August 1939. After two hard years' service in this handsome vessel, with service on Atlantic Convoys in the Battle of the Atlantic, service during the Norway Campaign of 1940 and a short period on Arctic Convoy duty, he left her after exactly two years on board, in 1941. His last destroyer was his last ship in his career, the brand new HMS Wager (1943), which he joined while on trials in Scottish waters; he served in her for all her commissioned life in the Royal Navy, in home waters briefly, then with the Eastern Fleet in 1944 and with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945. HMS Wager returned to Portsmouth from the Far East in January 1946 and paid off into reserve - the war was won and her work was done. She was sold to Yugoslavia in 1956.

I have always loved the majesty of British warship names and all eight of these destroyers have the most marvellous names. They were marvellous ships and most British destroyers were good looking, fitting their role, with hard times rewarded by hard lying money but also by companionship, excitement and, often, a neat tot of Navy rum (rather than the usual "two and one"). My service in the Royal Navy saw me in one so-called guided missile destroyer, the County Class DLG HMS Hampshire in 1969; she was more the size of a cruiser than destroyer.

Ewart Brookes's racy book takes the reader through the history of the destroyer from its earliest days at the end of the Nineteenth Century through to the 1970s when newer and larger so-called destroyers were the order of the day. His main focus is the famous destroyers and their actions and the panache of their commanding officers. There is not much about destroyer lifestyle or conditions of service but one certainly puts this book down with a general overview of the type and of their role, their development and their utility.

The classic British destroyer, nearly always a handsome vessel (especially those from 1926-46), carried out important duties in the Fleet in the days of battleships, battlecruisers and no helicopters, when the Royal Navy was the world's largest and its ships were in all oceans and seas. Royal Navy destroyers today - all six of the Daring Class - are much larger and their main role is anti-aircraft; the anti-submarine and general-purpose role in the modern Fleet is now that given to the smaller frigate. These brand new Type 45 destroyers are huge but they have one thing in common with the destroyers that are the subject of this book, their great names: HMS Daring (2006), HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Dragon, HMS Defender and HMS Duncan (2010).

I can recommend this title to anyone seeking an overview of the development of the destroyer. The paperback is illustrated and indexed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2015 1:34 PM GMT


Striggio Mass in 40 Parts
Striggio Mass in 40 Parts
Price: £9.99

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous music - daft discs, 31 Jan. 2013
The music is marvellous and plenty of other people have written review so I'll not review the music but I will review the product as a whole.

Like some others who have purchased this product, my elderly neighbour and I have found that the first disc does not play in a standard CD player. I am therefore only able to play the first disc on my lap top, with the resultant relatively poor sound quality. Not everyone has a computer and not everyone will be interested in the film or surround sound.

The second disc does appear to be a normal CD and does play on ordinary CD players.

It is daft of Decca to place the 'bonus' disc first in the package. Had they placed it second and, indeed, made clear in the notes, which disc plays where and how, they would not annoy some customers and would not waste supplers' time with unnecessary returns. As it is, Decca deserves the disapprobation of those who were displeased. Decca should provide discs with music lovers first in mind and other considerations second; they should also be aware that some people are not up with all modern technology!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2013 5:48 PM GMT


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