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The ships that defi ne us
THE Age of Invincible:
The Ship That Defi ned the
The Grove
Modern Royal Navy.
So BBC World Service Political
Correspondent Nick Childs
entitled his new study of not just
Invincible and her sisters but a sides of this bitter dispute.
crucial period of change in Naval The Falklands altered the
The art ofTh f
policy that set the service on CVS calculus greatly and it was
its current course with ‘carrier decided to keep three ‘Invincibles’,
strike’ as a key, indeed defi ning, although perhaps the author might
operational capability, writes Prof have made it more clear that this
Eric Grove of the University of did not mean three air groups and
MUCH as the Navy News team
Salford. three ‘running’ carriers.
like their comfy civilian lifestyles,
Not least of the good things One cannot help but speculate
some people apparently enjoy
about this truly excellent work what the shape of current RAN
living on the edge.
(Pen & Sword, £19.99 ISBN 978- plans would be if Invincible had
Former SAS man and RN
1-84415-8577) is the way that the become HMAS Australia and,
chief survival instructor Colin
author has skilfully used the CVS if the sale had gone through,
Towell is one. He shares more
– anti-submarine warfare carrier – how much of the time spent
than 30 years’ experience on
story to unlock a key and diffi cult by Invincible in reserve under
how to remain fit and healthy
era in the Royal Navy’s history. Royal Navy control would have
– or even alive – in the world’s
He traces the carrier controversy been contributed actively to the
most demanding environments
from the 1950s through the common Commonwealth.
in Survival Handbook, officially
traumas of the cancellation of Nevertheless the maintenance
endorsed by the Royal Marines
CVA 01 in 1966 to the diffi cult of a three-ship CVS force did
(who use a good few of the skills
birth of the ‘through deck cruiser’ allow substantial modifi cations
continued within).
of which the fi rst was Invincible (it to be made to all three ships in
As with all volumes from the
might have been HMS Lion, which substantial refi ts that would have
DK stable (£17.99 ISBN 978-
would have pleased the shades of been more problematical if only
1405322362), this 300-page book
Lords Beatty and Chatfi eld). two hulls had been available to
is crammed with illustrations.
He covers the development of meet commitments.
Some of the tips are pretty
this ‘new genus’ of ship with its The author demonstrates how
basic – map reading, putting up a
STOVL – Short Take-Off, Vertical the carriers both allowed the
tent, hill walking. But you ignore
Landing – aircraft (the author Royal Navy to play (quite literally)
● Two out of three ain’t bad... HMS Invincible (nearest the camera) breaks away from HMS Illustrious in
the basics at your peril...
prefers V/STOL) and its ski-jump a leading role in the Western
the Western Approaches during a rare at-sea encounter for the two sisters in 2005
There are no handy hints on
launching system. ‘Forward Maritime Strategy’ of
Picture: PO(Phot) Mick Storey
infi ltrating enemy territory or
Childs contrasts the brief the 1980s and to transform itself during a visit how the presence of creating it. In his introduction to instinct for interventions abroad
blow ing things up (boo – Ed).
“certain stability”, as Lord Lewin into the power projection force of a totally independent national air the book, Admiral Band shows how – in which the existing carriers
But Towell has advice for pretty
put it, in the Naval programme of the 1990s and beyond. support capability was effectively the Joint Force came to the rescue played vital roles.
much every eventuality, from
the 1970s, when two sisters with He uses my co-authored a precondition for the continued of an RAF Harrier capability that Inevitably the author had
stomping around in your shoes
‘real carrier’ names were ordered account of the Teamwork 1988 present of a major Brj itish had lost its prp imary role in the to fi nish in 2008 on a slightly
in dewy grass to collect water, to
to supplement Invincible, with the exercise to lead him into exploiting contribution to UNPRNPROFOR in wake of the Cold ake of the ake of th War. equivocal note as regards the
making a shower using a bucket/
uncertainties of the early Thatcher the testimony of Admiral Ian Bosnia. Childs also quotes the Childsl future carrier programme but
tin, leaves and a branch, and
years when the Nott review Forbes (then a most effi cient and Important lessons on the nns on the same source to argue samme more recent reports on the
catching birds and fish for tea.
promised to reduce the CVS impressive Staff Operations Offi cer utility of British carcarriers that JFH was extent to which it is gathering
Of course, sometimes you’re
force to two units and Invincible to Admiral Hugo White) in support were also learned in the in the also meant to a momentum give one confi dence
the prey rather than predator.
herself was earmarked for sale to of the viability of a forward NATO Gulf where the ability of iity of safeguard a fisa xed once more that the two ships will
Run into a brown or black bear?
Australia. strategy that always seemed more a CVS to operate up uup wing capability w indeed provide a powerful core for
Stand tall and make yourself as
The author has read the much- credible afl oat than ashore. threat of American n that t was no the future fl eet.
big as the creature to intimidate
maligned John Nott’s revealing The author also shows how carriers showed longer sustainable long Nick Childs clearly has made it
it, or slink away carefully. Do not
memoirs and explains well how the carriers were ‘born again’ in how signifi cant by a smaller RNby a . his business to make contact with
run. But if you come across a
it was diffi cult for the hapless support of British forces ashore a British It wIt waas not suras prising every fi gure of signifi cance in this
crocodile or alligator, make like
Secretary of State to make sense of in former Bosnia. He correctly contribution to thereftherefore thaore o t Admiral story. As someone associated with
Usain Bolt...
the different advice he was being argues that even in an environment an air campaign nn Band rBand reacted so strongly eace the Service over this period it was
Yes, all the perils and pitfalls of
offered on what the Navy was supposedly dominated by land- that had not the benefinnefi t to recentto recent unsuccessful RAF un a delight for me to be reminded
every environment you’re likely to
precisely for. based air power “a carrier and its of host nation supporsuupport attempts ttempts to go back on the too g of so many historically-signifi cant
come across are included here: on
Perhaps he might have task force were that much more could be. inter-service devicvice deal.e people I have had the privilege of
land or sea, on snow or sand, in a
emphasised even more how Nott fl exible, and available, closer In these operations the use ions the use TheThe author concludes by author knowing and their vital roles in the
canoe, on foot or in a 4x4.
was determined to keep the two to hand and able to react more of RAF Harrier GR7s alongside showing how the demonstrated development of the service over
■ THANKS to those nice folks
remaining CVSs and was only quickly if things turned nasty on the Sea Harriers presaged the utility of Invincible and her sisters the last four decades.
at DK, we have ten copies of
forced to press the Australian the ground.” creation of Joint Force Harrier, set the stage for the acquisition of There are end notes for important
Survival Handbook to give away
sale to make further savings It was even more than that. the necessary precondition for the two much larger aircraft carriers sources and it is a real pleasure to
– or if you don’t fancy your
forced on him over protests to the Writing a book on and in Ark current carrier programme. as the centrepiece of the Strategic congratulate the publishers on this
chances, you can buy a copy with
Prime Minister that were highly Royal as she was ‘poised to Childs provides useful detail Defence Review of 1997. fi ne and signifi cant addition to
a 20 per cent discount.
damaging to Nott’s future career. protect’ in the Adriatic in 1994, on the origins of this force and An expeditionary capability contemporary naval historiography.
For a crack at winning, tell us
Nevertheless his account is fair I found that Prime Minister John the vital roles played by Admirals fi tted the mindset of Prime I cannot recommend it more
the name of the Devon village
and balanced in its analysis of both Major had emphasised on board Slater, Blackham and Band in Minister Tony Blair and his highly.
which is home to the Commando
Training Centre.
Send you entry to Survival
‘I think we have got a runner...’
Handbook Competition, c/o Sue
Sullivan, Navy News, Leviathan
Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth
PO1 3HH or email your answer
with your full contact details
AROUND mid-day on Tuesday
to determine that John Moffat dealt the personal items – photos, letters – to return to Gibraltar. The cooks served ‘Swordfish
May 27 1941, Winston Churchill
mortal blow to the pride of the Kriegsmarine to his family. The pilot had headed out on surprise’ in the wardroom, the band of
Closing date is mid-day on
stood up in the House of Commons
– a quiet, unassuming man, Moffat was not patrol and never returned. the Black Watch played and the officers
Friday August 14 2009; due to
one to make wild boasts or claims. In the And what also stands out from these celebrated long into the night – “there was
– temporarily displaced to Church
shipping costs, UK entries only.
immediate aftermath of the fading light of memoirs is the variety and scope of the strikes an almost carnival atmosphere”.
To buy a discounted copy, visit
House following Luftwaffe raids
May 26 1941, he had little idea of whether launched by the Fleet d b Air Arm, particularly His description of the attack on the and enter the code
on the capital.
his torpedo among the many brayyvely around the Mediteraround ranean, many of Bismarck is as understated – “decidedly
VIPbonus in the coupon box at
The war was not going well for the
launched at the battleship had had anhad had ananyy which hawhichh have been overshadowed by unhealthy”, “not pleasant” – as it is eye-
checkout. The offer runs until the
premier; Crete was about to fall, Britain was
effect, let alone a decisive other historothher h ical feats. opening: the Swordfish closing in on the ship
end of the year while stocks last.
being pummelled almost nightly by enemy
More than six decades,s, h he has been ee has been There’T s the blueprint for as it threw machine-gun, cannon and shellfire
bombers, HMS Hood had been sunk with
persuaded to put pen to paper to o paaper to the Dambt usters’ raid – a at the attackers.
terrible loss of life, and Hitler’s flagship was
recount not merely an episode episode rather less successful and Jock Moffat aimed for Bismarck’s bow while
still on the loose in the Atlantic.
which ranks among the vvveerryy less-publicised strl ike at the his observer told him to wait for the decisive
In the midst of his address to Parliament,
finest moments of Fleet Air AAir TirTiT so Dam in Sardinia, using moment to launch the torpedo, then shouted :
the prime minister was handed a slip of
Arm and Royal Navy history.y. Swordfish,o not Lancasters, and “Let her go.” The pilot did, then manoeuvred
paper: Bismarck had been sunk. MPs
I Sank the Bismarck – a torpedpedoes,d not bouncing bombs. the Swordfish out of the maelstrom. “I think,”
roared with delight, shaking their order
title not of the author’s FFoour ur ‘fish’ hit home despite his observer Dusty Miller said, “we have got a
papers furiously.
choosing given his modest ferocious flak and bad wferocious fl eather, but
runner.” And how...
Such is the hutzpah of politicians –
character – co-written ffaailed to briled to brrining the dam down. It was
The ‘Bismarck chase’ came to define
and the media. For while the MPs and
with documentary maker and ndd
all a all a “a pretty ad hoc aff“a prettty air”, says Jock. John Moffat’s life – but by no means in a
newspapers tubthumped, the mood of the
author Mike Rossiter (Bantamantaam,
“We had floe had wn in with wwn eapons that had triumphalist sense. Perhaps it was his torpedo
men who sank the Bismarck was rather
£16.99 ISBN 978-0-593-06352-1) 063552-1)
been designed to to sink wbeen designed t arships, not blow which crippled Bismarck, perhaps not. It was
more melancholy.
is much more than a description of thaptionn onoofthatt
apart concrete wt concrete walls, using a high level of a team effort. They struck not out of desire for
“None of us felt any joy or elation,”
legendary torpedo run.
guesswork.” Had something like Barnes recognition, for medals, nor even to avenge
recalled John Moffat. “We sat in the
Indeed, it is a window on a bygone world
Wallis’ invention been to hand “we would the Hood.
wardroom, not talking, a stiff drink in our
of bravery, fear, comradeship, monotony, of
have blown that dam to pieces.” “We did it because we were at war and it
hands, thinking our own thoughts.”
stirring deeds and near misses in war. Of
Tirso wasn’t the only frustration in the was our job.” The battleship posed a threat to
‘Jock’ Moffat had reason to celebrate
his countless hours in the skies, most, says
winter of 1940-41 – there were fruitless the British war effort and had to be stopped.
more than most that Tuesday. On rare
the Scotsman, were “not the heart-stopping
hunts for the cruiser Admiral Hipper Jock Moffat, like most naval aviators,
occasions, the individual shapes events with
drama of a dive-bombing attack, or the
and battle-cruiser Scharnhorst. Success displayed quiet skill and fortitude. Above
truly global ramifications. Moffat’s actions
stomach-churning tension of a torpedo run,
or failure, elation or disappointment, the all, he possessed the British sailor’s defining
24 hours before did just that
but long uneventful patrols over mile after
fliers let off steam with concert parties quality: humanity after victory.
A torpedo from the junior officer’s aircraft
mile of flat, featureless ocean.”
where anyone from overly officious officers “I feel no personal pleasure,” he writes 68 HP BOOKFINDERS: Established
struck Bismarck’s stern. The resulting
In an age of GPS, Sat Navs, and a panoply
to Hitler were the butt of many a joke, years after that legendary encounter. “No
professional service locating out
explosion jammed the Nazi battleship’s
of computer aids, it’s worth remembering
while Jock Moffat would provide musical matter how pleased I might be to remove a
of print titles on all
rudder and crippled her. The following
just how primitive navigation was – and
accompaniment, sometimes on the banjo,
threat to Britain, I cannot take any satisfaction
subjects. No obligation or SAE
morning the guns of the Home Fleet
how daunting it was to set off on a three-
sometimes on the violin, sometimes on the
from the deaths of nearly 2,000 sailors.
wrought terrible revenge for the destruction
hour patrol over the ocean. A relatively
“There has not been a single day of my life
required. Contact: Mosslaird,
of the Hood, sending Hitler’s flagship to the inexperienced junior officer shared John For all the pilot’s melancholy in the wake when the image of these poor men struggling
Brig O’ Turk, Callander, FK17 8HT
bed of the Atlantic. Moffat’s cabin in Ark Royal. After a few of the Bismarck’s demise, there was one hell in the freezing oily water has not entered my
Telephone/Fax: (01877) 376377
It took a good six decades for historians days, the author was parcelling up his of a party for Ark Royal when she returned mind.”
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