There are regular releases of naval non-fiction works particularly about the ships and men of the Second World War. Some recent titles include:
A Home on the Rolling Main by A G F Ditcham
From first joining the Royal Navy in 1940 until the end of the campaign against Japan, Tony Ditcham was in the front line of the naval war. After brief service in the battlecruiser Renown off Norway and against the Italians, he went into destroyers and saw action in most European theatres against S-boats and aircraft in bomb alley off Britain's East Coast, on Arctic convoys to Russia, and eventually in a flotilla screening the Home Fleet. During the dramatic Battle of the North Cape in December 1943 he was probably the first man to actually see the Scharnhorst and from his position in the gun director of HMS Scorpion enjoyed a grandstand view of the sinking of the great German battleship (his account was so vivid that it formed the basis of the description in the official history). Later his ship operated off the American beaches during D-Day, where two of her sister ships were sunk with heavy loss of life, and he ended the war en route for the British Pacific Fleet and the invasion of Japan. This incident-packed career is recounted with restraint, plenty of humour and colourful descriptive power his account of broaching and almost capsizing in an Arctic winter storm is as good as anything in the literature of the sea. The result makes enthralling reading, and as the surviving veterans rapidly decline in numbers, this may turn out to be one of the last great eyewitness narratives of the naval war.
HMS Belfast: Cruiser 1939 by Richard Johnstone-Bryden
HMS Belfast, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser, is now permanently moored on the Thames in London. One of ten Town-class cruisers she saw service on the icy Arctic convoys during the Second World War and was also present for the bombardment of the D-Day beaches in 1944. Later, she saw service during the Korean War. As is the case for many historic ships, however, there is a surprising shortage of informative and well illustrated guides, for reference during a visit or for research by enthusiasts - ship modellers, naval buffs, historians or students.
This new series redresses the gap. Written by experts and containing more than 200 specially commissioned photographs, each title takes the reader on a superbly illustrated tour of the ship, from bow to stern and deck by deck. Significant parts of the vessel - for example, the gun turrets and engine rooms - are given detailed coverage both in words and pictures, so that the reader has at hand the most complete visual record and explanation of the ship that exists. In addition, the importance of the ship, both in her own time and now as a museum vessel, is explained, while her design and build, and her career prior to exhibition are all described. No other books offer such superb visual impact and detailed information as the Seaforth Historic Ship Series - a truly groundbreaking concept bringing the ships of our past vividly to life.
The Battleship Builders: Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships by Ian Johnston & Ian Buxton
The launch in 1906 of HMS Dreadnought, the world's first all-big-gun battleship, rendered all existing battle fleets obsolete, but at the same time it wiped out the Royal Navy's numerical advantage, so expensively maintained for decades. Already locked in an arms race with Germany, Britain urgently needed to build an entirely new battle fleet of these larger, more complex and more costly vessels. In this she succeeded spectacularly: in little over a decade fifty such ships were completed, almost exactly double what Germany achieved. It was only made possible by the country's vast industrial nexus of shipbuilders, engine manufacturers, armament firms and specialist armour producers, whose contribution to the creation of the Grand Fleet is too often ignored. This heroic achievement, and how it was done, is the subject of this book. It charts the rise of the large industrial conglomerates that were key to this success, looks at their reaction to fast-moving technical changes, and analyses the politics of funding this vast national effort, both before and during the Great War. It also attempts to assess the true cost - and value - of the Grand Fleet in terms of the resources consumed. And finally, by way of contrast, it decribes the effects of the post-war recession, industrial contraction, and the very different responses to rearmament in the run up to the Second World War.
Featured books published by Pen & Sword Books