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NAVY NEWS, MARCH 2009 49
Pepys’s show
From Actium
to Zeebrugge
IF THERE was an award for
‘most illustrations in a naval
book’, R G Grant’s enormous
Battle at Sea (Dorling
TWENTY years ago
battle from the ‘fi gure of eight’ and and the ‘Tarpaulins’, professional
Kindersley, £25 ISBN 978-1-
Brian Lavery published a
The Grove
‘charging’ tactics used previously. seamen of comparatively low social
4053-3094-7) would win hands
landmark book – Nelson’s
This is followed by accounts standing. One long-standing result
down.
of an engagement from each of of this is the qualifying examination
Navy – which examined
Review
In its 350-plus pages, the
the Dutch Wars, Scheveningen of for lieutenant introduced in
book breezes through three
the ships, the men and
1653 – “one of the most crushing 1677 that has ensured a more or
millennia of naval warfare from
the organisation of the
victories in British naval history”; less common level of expertise
galleys to gunboats, Salamis to
Crime and no
The fact that an Admiralty civil the battle of Lowestoft in 1663 whatever the social class of the
Royal Navy during the
San Carlos, triremes to Trident.
servant is the most representative – “one of the most blue blooded offi cer taking it.
French Revolutionary
Battle at Sea has been
fi gure of the period also refl ects an battles of the age of sail” with the Out of all this, Dr Davies
produced in conjunction with
punishment
and Napoleonic Wars
important point that the author Duke of York and heir to the throne argues, emerged a recognisably
comprehensively.
rightly stresses. This was a in command; and the Battle of the professional offi cer corps kept in
the Royal Navy (and Naval
key period in British naish nash navavalal l TTlexel of 1673,el of 1673 which ended being by half pay when not posted
Historical Branch), but it is not
Last year I had the pleasure of
history when “the nae navvy y in bitter recrin bittter iminations to a ship and promoted on the
British-centric.
MENTION ‘war crimes trials’
reviewing in these pages its sequel,
became a permamanent anent betwb een the principle of seniority.
Far from it. In fact, it’s
and one name immediately
Churchill’s Navy which gave
national institution,uttion, uneasily allied u As a Welshman the author can
encyclopaedic. To be sure,
springs to mind: Nuremberg.
similar treatment to the Navy of
equipped with larger rgger English and E take a dispassionate look at what
all the naval battles you’d
Yet the trial of leading German
World War 2. Both were produced
warships, fi ghting ng French flF eets to call the nationality of the navy of
expect to find from 3,000 years
figures in 1945-46 was not the
by Conway Maritime Press, writes
with new and more e and which an this period: ‘English’ or ‘British’.
of conflict are here: Actium,
first time Germans had faced a
Prof Eric Grove of the University of
effective tactics, contrco ibuted I have always tended to take
Lepanto, the Armada, Trafalgar,
court on war crimes charges on Salford.
commanded by to “popular to t the union of the parliaments of
the Nile, Tsushima, Bismarck
their native soil. Now Conway’s up-and-coming
an increasingly Francophobia”FraF England and Scotland in 1707 as
chase, Midway.
A generation before, German rival Seaforth of Barnsley has
professional thaatt “accelera ted the dividing line but Dr Davies
But it is the more obscure
servicemen faced judges in published a similar work on the
offi cer corps, the transition from the tr makes a cogent case that the
clashes – more obscure to
Leipzig – except the judges were Navy of the mid to late 17th
and administered perceiving the Dutch perceivine term British is not inappropriate
Britons at any rate – which
their kinfolk. Century – Pepys’s Navy: Ships,
by a comparatively elly as the main naas the h tional to his earlier period given the
might be of greater interest
Critics of Nuremberg – with Men and Warfare 1649-1689
committed set of men f men enemy to casting the y to Cromwellian union and the
and leave the reader wanting
some cause – have branded it (£40, ISBN 978-1-84832-014-7)
and a relatively effectivective set of e set of French in thaFrench in tFrench t role.” connections between the Stuarts’
to explore in greater depth one
‘victors’ justice’. Its author – one of the two
institutions.” This maThis mayy have been a two kingdoms. His Majesty’s
day: the Japanese invasion of
Leipzig was ‘losers’ whitewash’, leading experts on the 17th-
The book’s layout and structure little less than fair as the Texel ships did fl y ‘the Union Jack’ as
Korea in the late 16th Century,
no more evident than the case of Century Navy – J David Davies
is based on the Lavery Nelson’s was the fi rst time the newly rising King Charles II called it in 1674
the bitter battles for supremacy
the men of U86. has chosen Samuel Pepys, the
Navy volume, which allows direct French Navy had fought a line and less well known, Scots were
of the Baltic in the 17th and
In June 1918, with the scales of increasingly important civil naval
comparisons easily to be made battle at sea. conscripted to serve in them.
18th Centuries, the Second
war on the Western Front in the administrator of the period, as the
between the periods. Not least of the interesting Every aspect of ‘Pepys’s Navy’,
Schleswig War (1864, if you
balance, the Canadian hospital name on which to hang his work.
The sailing navy evolved perhaps aspects of the book are the both ashore and afl oat is covered
were wondering).
ship HMHS Llandovery Castle As Dr Davies says, Pepys’s
more than some might think and chapters on foreign navies that in this magnifi cent and superbly-
As you’d expect from a DK
was heading for Liverpool to
writings are key sources for the it is fascinating to see how much provide one of the few easily- illustrated volume. book, it’s not in depth. It is,
collect yet more casualties of the
period but he has also used a changed between 1689 and 1789. accessible guides to comparative At £40 it might be deemed however, a book you can ‘dip
fighting in France.
wide variety of other material to Because the reader is likely to be naval organisation in this period of a little expensive but its in’ and ‘dip out’ of – particularly
Brightly illuminated, large red
provide a wider perspective for less well informed on the naval the establishment of recognisably comprehensive coverage makes it if you’re the younger
crosses on her bridge and hull,
his comprehensive guide. Indeed, history of this earlier time, Dr modern permanent national a mini library in itself. Perhaps, generation.
the ship was 115 miles south-west
there was really no alternative to Davies has devoted more attention maritime fi ghting forces. like the Lavery books, it will soon And it is copiously, copiously
of Fastnet when she was rocked
Pepys; the two obvious alternatives to strategy and tactics. Dr Davies has already written on appear in paperback but if you do illustrated – photographs,
by an explosion – torpedoed by
Cromwell and James Stuart, Duke There is an excellent and up- the social history of the navy of this have the money and any interest in paintings, diagrams, charts,
U86.
of York (later James II) only cover to-date chapter on the evolution period and the confl ict between naval history do not wait, you will maps, posters, newspaper
Llandovery Castle sank in less
parts of the period under review. and development of the line of the ‘Gentlemen’ of high birth not be disappointed. cuttings.
than ten minutes. Those who
Most work, although the
survived the sinking clung to
3D maps of some naval
lifeboats amid the wreckage.
Oberleutnant zur See Helmut
Patzig, U86’s captain, ordered
the lifeboats run down, and even Amphibious revolution
clashes seem to bear little
resemblance to more traditional
two-dimensional counterparts
(the charts of Jutland are
turned his guns on the survivors.
particularly baffling...).
Just 24 people survived the loss
That very minor gripe aside,
of Llandovery Castle; more than
AN AERIAL bombardment
willingly surrendered, delighted
this is a beautifully-produced
200 went down with her.
to neutralise coastal
that the war was over.
book with some truly fabulous
A few days later an armed
batteries.
“The camp fires burned, the
illustrations – the Japanese
merchant cruiser passed the site
balalaikas spoke and the dances
Naval guns pounding positions
Nihonga paintings are a
where she went down. The sea
began,” one senior German officer
inshore.
particular treat – and a worthy
was littered with the corpses of
wrote after observing a group of
A defender who knew one day
addition to any nautical buff’s
nurses which were now being
carried across the sea by their
the foe would come.
Russian prisoners.
library.
billowing aprons and skirts which
Ships crippled by mines.
“If the Russian battle spirit was
had dried in the summer sun to
Defeated troops streaming away
of old, then how long could they
form sails.
from the front.
have prevented the opening of the
The Allied press demanded
If you’re thinking ‘Normandy’
straits! This was the result of the
justice. “An affair like the sinking
and ‘Overlord’, you’d be wrong.
revolution.”
of the hospital ship Llandovery
If you’re thinking ‘Ösel’ and
By the time German troops
Castle was so unspeakable as
‘Albion’ you’d be spot on.
had swarmed on to the last of the
still to bring a gasp of surprise
The German invasion of the
island chain, Moon Island, on
from all around the world,” the
Baltic islands in the Gulf of Riga
the sixth day of battle, Russian
South African Nursing Record
in the autumn of 1917 was the
discipline had collapsed.
fumed. “Surely, there is nothing
one truly successful amphibious
“Officers seemed to fear the
to do with a beast like that but
assault of the Great War.
soldiers,” one Russian lieutenant
annihilate him completely.”
Unlike its brutal successor a
complained. The mob plundered
It would be three years before
generation later, the Eastern Front
the stores, stole flour, butter and
the survivors of the Llandovery
between 1914 and 1917 remains
sugar “by the cart full”.
● The Russian pre-dreadnought Slava (‘glory’) scuttled after her
Castle had their day in court.
a fairly unknown war (even mauling at the hands of SMS König during the battle for the Baltic
Staff covers both the land
Patzig had fled, so two junior
Germans call it die vergessene Front islands in October 1917
and naval sides of the battle
officers faced trial.
– the forgotten front).
comprehensively – and gives equal
The court blamed the absent
And some battles in the East Bakhirev – who was executed by After several hours of battle,
space to attacker and defender in
Patzig (who, oddly, could
remain more forgotten than others the Bolsheviks in 1920 – found the one junior Russian officer was
an account peppered with first-
be found by Hitler’s Navy
– such as the Baltic operation. defenders of the Riga islands more summoned [sic!] by his men. hand experiences (the Russians
and served the U-Bootwaffe
Now, however, historians have willing to hold political meetings “Mister Leitnant, we can fight generally recorded their memories
throughout WW2) and sentenced
begun to cast light where it is than fight. no more. It is necessary to of the battle more vividly).
his two accessories to just four
dark. Bad weather gave Bakhirev surrenderrender. To resist further For Germany it was a cheap HP BOOKFINDERS: Established
years in prison (they served
Last year saw Michael Barrett’s a few weeks’ grace, but by is useless,is useleu ” their leader victory – a little over 200 dead and professional service locating out
just four months, mysteriously
impressive Operation Albion the beginning of October, pleaded.pleadl a dozen-plus small craft lost.
of print titles on all
escaping from jail...). (reviewed in our August 2008 it was clear the Germans The officer For the Russians, it was another
subjects. No obligation or SAE
The bitter fate of Llandovery edition). were coming. recalled:r “Peering nail in the coffin of their war
2009 sees Gary Staff’s Battle
required. Contact: Mosslaird,
Castle (and the even more bitter They began into the croin wd machine. Within three weeks,
aftermath) is recounted by for the Baltic Islands 1917 (Pen bombing Russian I could seeI the Bolsheviks had seized power.
Brig O’ Turk, Callander, FK17 8HT
Stephen McGreal in The War on & Sword, £19.99 ISBN 1844- batteries, torpedo only senselessonl Within six weeks, they were suing
Telephone/Fax: (01877) 376377
Hospital Ships 1914-1918 (Pen 15787-3). bombers were phhyysiognomies gsi rown for peace.
martin@hp-bookfinders.co.uk
& Sword, £19.99 ISBN 978-1- Staff, a former airline pilot, has dispatched to completely dull fromcomplem
www.hp-bookfinders.co.uk
84415-8584) spent three decades researching strike at Russian fearfear. There wTherT ere about 30
It is an unremittingly his subject (including interviewing warships, and people.people. TToo per suade them
compelling – and depressing – veterans such as Friedrich Ruge Zeppelins released and even to tren to y to influence
story of hospital ship after – ironically Rommel’s naval several thousand them wthem was uselessas uselesas us .”
hospital ship running aground, adviser when it came to defending kilogrammes of bombs on As the Germans thrm ust on
striking mines, being torpedoed. Normandy in 1944...), drawing targets towards Arensburg, Ösel’s capital,
By day or night, the sign of the upon German and Russian As Britain learned at Gallipoli, Russian officer Yakov Popov
Red Cross offered little, if any sources. however, bombardments do not witnessed scenes which would be
protection. Ösel (today Saaremaa) and the force an enemy to surrender. A repeated in the Normandy bocage
The Germans invariably adjacent island of Dagö (today barrage must be followed by an three decades later.
refused to accept that hospital Hiiumaa) were lynchpins of the assault. “A mass of carts and horses
ships were hospital ships, Russian defences on the Baltic On October 12 1917, was being dragged along the road.
convinced they doubled Front, guarding the gateway to the minesweepers were sent to clear To their sides wandered others,
as troopships. The British Gulf of Finland and ultimately St the approaches to Ösel ahead of exhausted to the last degree, with
complained of a succession of Petersburg. the main landings. hung heads as they retreated,” he
‘Hun outrages’. By the summer of 1917 with Some succeeded, some did wrote.
Suitably outraged, in the spring the Tsar toppled and the Russian not. The battleships Bayern and It was all, Popov observed, “a
of 1917 the British government military increasingly showing Grosser Kurfürst were both mined sad and oppressing sight, painful
dispatched bombers to terrorise signs of dissolution, Vice Admiral and took on water – but still and offensive, and would bring
the inhabitants of the university Mikhail Bakhirev was dispatched pounded Russian positions. you to tears.”
city of Freiburg. There were few to the Gulf of Riga to oversee the To be on the end of the German Some Russian troops fought
signs of humanity in WW1. islands’ defence. barrage was a bitter experience. with utter determination but many
048-049_NN_Mar.indd 2 13/2/09 12:28:16
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