Customer Review

19 June 2019
The author's name jumped out at me as worthy of a look for this one - grandson of Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe. The family connection to WW1, Jutland and so on definitely lends some weight! This is a very detailed account of the last months of the German High Seas Fleet from the mutinies of 1918 to the internment and scuttling of the Fleet at Scapa Flow and the events afterwards.

The story of the mutinies - you could hardly call it a single mutiny - is, unfortunately, pretty confusing to follow (as I imagine the real situation was though), and scatterings of German in the text don't really add to it. I felt I was missing some vital part of the story, though I couldn't say just what. Once events move to the internment of the greater portion of Germany's navy in Scapa Flow, the book comes more into its stride and gives you a real feel for the poor conditions under which the sailors lived and worked for their long months of tedium. I was surprised to read just how ungentlemanly the British were towards their 'guests' - though the Royal Navy's thousands of casualties at Jutland no doubt played a major part in that attitude.

The process of planning and carrying out the mass scuttle is described in impressive detail, but there are just a couple of very small photographic sections, which is a shame given what an impressive scene it must have presented. The author does his best to paint that scene in words but without a map of Scapa Flow to refer to within the book, it becomes a little jumbled in the mind and unclear. That 8 sailors were shot and killed, and another murdered a couple of days later, was a surprise - and - I think - a bit of a stain on an otherwise honourable Royal Navy.

The book concludes with post-war events, covering the Washington Treaty limiting navy sizes and compositions, and the build-up to the inevitable WW2. Normally I'd say this was a 4 star review, due to the occasionally confusing narrative and lack of maps and illustrations. Also, oddly, in the last third of the book, we suddenly get insets within the text, sometimes relevant, sometimes not - sometimes easy to read and sometimes in black text on a grey background. It's almost as if two designers with different ideas did different parts. However, the book is backed by an excellent website (Amazon won't let me link to it in this review - search for 'the big scuttle' and you should find it) which expands upon the book's content and gives plenty of links and other resources to further your reading. Also the book itself includes a truly impressive list of appendices, sources and references, so for that reason my 4 stars sneak up to 5!
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