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 Remember The Hood

Joined: 16 Apr 2010
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Post subject: War At Sea - Book Database  Reply with quote   (Liked by:1)  Like this post
The books section seems to be neglected these days so I though I'd post some info on books I've read/reading of the WAS. I'm sure a lot will already be well known but hopefully someone will discover something that might be of interest. I'll keep adding as I go but it might be a slow process, lots to get through.

I'm presuming this is the best place for it. I'll use spoiler's to cut down on the space as this seems best?  

Unlucky Lady: Life & Death Of HMCS Athabaskan - Len Burrow

Very detailed account of its short career including bay of Biscay sweeps and actions, loss and POW experiences.

Verdict: Large quality book fantastically illustrated with many rare pictures. 9/10

A Gift Of Observation - Peter Miles

A fantastic offering of the authors own watercolours depicting his service through the war. Starting with eventful early war escorting in HMS Newcastle followed by the battle of Spartivento and escort duties to Ark Royal. Other assignments include HMS Volatile, HMS Clyde and command of the new sub Sanguine.

Verdict: Worth picking up just for the artwork plates, which are also described in detail. Very funny in parts. 10/10

Alarm Starboard! - Geoffrey Brooke

Action packed account of a midshipman at war. Mined in Nelson, transferred to  the destroyer Douglas then drafted to the Prince Of Wales. In action against Bismarck, at the Atlantic charter meeting and ultimately sunk by the Japanese along with Repulse. After dramatically escaping from Singapore via a long boat trip a return service aboard Bermuda follows, then Indomitable & Formidable. Survived two kamikaze strikes.

Verdict: Great detailed read. Good cover artwork. 9/10

Turns Of Fate: The Drama Of HMS Cornwall 1939-42 - Ken Dimbleby

Author describes his experiences mainly from a lower deck point of view with recollections from other shipmates. Includes the sinking.

Verdict: Solid account of the loss of two ships that didn't stand a chance. Good cover artwork.

Battleship Sailors: HMS Warspite's Career Recalled By Her Men - Harry Plevy

Richly detailed with personal recollections. From Jutland To escaping the breakers yard.

Verdict: Very good book with both humour and drama. Good pics. Best on the subject. 9/10

Wings At Sea: A Fleet Air Arm Observer's War 1940-45 - Gerard Woods

Stirling service aboard Ark Royal, Victorious & Formidable. Actions include the Bismarck action, arctic convoys, Mediterranean strikes(including service with the US air force), eastern fleet & far east. Flying mainly swordfish but also Barracudas.

Verdict: Full of stories and written with humour. The best account of the fleet air arm I've read. 9/10

The Floating Inferno: The Loss Of The Empress Of Britain - Robert Seamer

Pressed into troop carrying duties, the Canadian liner was attacked near Ireland by long range focke wolf condors. Set alight, a complicated escape ensued.

Verdict: Some great personal recollections to be had although sometimes difficult to follow due to the writing/editing style. 7/10

Goodnight, Sorry For Sinking You: The Story Of SS City Of Cairo - Ralph Barker

Sunk in mid south atlantic by U68(Karl Friedrich Merten) with nearly 300 people on board. Covers the epic lifeboat journeys.

Verdict: Great read of a pretty much unknown incident 10/10.

The Sinking Of The Laconia: A Tragedy In The Battle Of The Atlantic - Frederick Grossmith

Sunk by U-156 with over 2,700 people on board including 1,800 Italian POW's, this is the story of a tragedy that ultimately changed the wider conduct of the battle of the Atlantic.

Including many nationalities - British/Commonwealth, German, American, Italian, French, Polish - a humanitarian rescue attempt was made by three U-boats, one Italian submarine and Vichy French warships, ending in disaster for the allies. From communication failure to an incomprehensible friendly fire incident. Many survivors were shipwrecked two, three even four times. Those that survived did so mainly because of the axis submarine help. Two lifeboats ultimately missed the round up and spent many more weeks at sea with huge loss of life.

Verdict: Although some of the terminology is a little heavy going at times, this is the ideal read for a complete understanding of events and is well illustrated. Some personal accounts have emerged since though, that were not available at the time. 7/10

One Common Enemy: The Laconia Incident - A Survivor's Memoir - Jim McLoughlin

Includes accounts of the Norwegian & Mediterranean campaigns whilst serving aboard HMS Valiant. Drafted back to UK aboard Laconia, he survives the initial sinking, is picked up by a U-boat, shipwrecked again then ends up in one of the two lifeboats to be missed. Finally beaching in Liberia many weeks later with large loss of life.

Verdict: Funny in parts and reads like a dream. The best account to emerge about the sinking. 10/10

In Deep & Troubled Waters: The South African Who Survived The Sinking's Of HMS Cornwall & Laconia - Tony Large

Sunk in his first ship. Gives an informative account of the Cornwall sinking. Shipwrecked again in Laconia, rescued by U-156, blown up by a liberator, left for days in a waterlogged lifeboat, picked up by Capellini, set adrift again and given up for lost. The only account of the second lifeboat to be missed. Shipwrecked well over a month, one of ony four to survive.

Verdict: Detailed account, well illustrated. 8/10

SS Ceramic: The Untold Story - Clare Hardy

Detailed covering of WW1 troop convoying and peace time cruising. Converted again to troop carrying during WW2, completing successful trips before being sunk by U 515 in mid Atlantic with tragic consequences. Full to capacity, many managed to escape the initial sinking but were caught in severe storms and simply vanished. On the back of the recently stated 'Laconia Order' the u boat was not permitted to offer assistance except to save one to confirm the ships identity. This was Sapper Eric Munday and his story is the backbone of the book, including POW experiences. Only one of 655 to survive from all services, civilians & nurses. One of the greatest losses of life during the merchant war at sea.  

Verdict: Hell of a lot of reading which can be slow going, the sinking accounts being the highlights. Well illustrated. 8/10

Hunt & Kill: U 505 & The U Boat War - Theodore Savas

Details the unusual career of a u boat considered cursed within the service. Average in terms of operational career and better known for its memorial status, which is detailed here well. Captured by the USN.

Verdict: Each chapter is the work of a specific expert on that particular field. Loads of pictures. Probably the definitive work on the subject. 8/10

Iron Coffins: A U-boat Commander's War 139-45 - Herbert Werner

One of the best known books on the subject. Survived the war. Served aboard U-230 among others.

Verdict: Lives up to it's reputation 9/10.

Teddy Suhren 'Ace Of Aces' - Memoirs Of A U Boat Rebel

Regarded as the best shot in the service and scored the most successful hits during the war. Started the war in U 48 and gained fame even before becoming an ace in his own boat. Eventually pulled out the front line with Eric Topp and given training duties. Experienced meetings with Hitler, Eva Braun & Bormann. Finished the war as commander of u boats Norway. Rebellious to the regime but highly decorated.

Verdict: Wide detail of experiences in the u boat arm from beginning to end of war. High quality book & pictures. 9/10

The Boat: One Of The Most Terrifying True Stories Of The Sea Ever Told - Walter Gibson

An unbelievable account. From holding the line and frantic retreat down the Malayan peninsular as part of the Argyll & Sutherland highlanders, to eventual escape from the immediate area. Torpedoed aboard the packed Rooseboom by a jap sub in mid indian ocean, only one lifeboat being launched. Packed with 80 men, women & children aboard, what followed was a journey of nearly 1000 miles containing bravery, heroism, murder & cannibalism.

Verdict: Not a large book but its unputdownable. Probably the best lifeboat story I've read 10/10

AHS Centaur: Myth Of Immunity - C Milligan & J Foley

Details the inhumane sinking of the hospital ship, probably by I-177. Australia's biggest tragedy after the loss of Sydney with 268 lost including nurses and many non combatants. Covers the ships life, the delayed rescue and the investigation to try track down the culprit.

Verdict: Very well researched with plenty of pictures. 8/10

War Fish - George Grider

Detailed account of service with the aces of Wahoo written with humour and honesty. Daring exploits include the infamous Wewak harbour raid. Transferred to Pollack before Wahoo was lost.

Verdict: Some specific details are missing simply because of when it was written but it stands up very well. 8/10

The Luck Of The Draw: From Savo Island To The Silent Service - Kenneth Ruiz

Managed to survive the sinking of Vincennes off Savo by a quirk of fate. Served with Grider on Pollack.

Verdict: Best read with War Fish as it shows some of the same events from a different point of view and without any detail omissions. Good description of the Savo battle too. 9/10

Pawns Of War: The Loss Of USS Langley & Pecos - Dwight Messimer

The dramatic loss of the two ships and ordeal of the survivors with those from Langley shipwrecked twice. Detailed information given on the decision to commit Langley with its token air complement, the movements of the Japanese forces, the general collapse of the east indies and eventual rescue.

Verdict: Some fantastic personal recollections. Very good to read. One of the best books around on the period in question and the war at sea in general. Brilliant. 10/10

A Blue Sea Of Blood: The Mysterious Fate Of USS Edsall - Donald Kehn

No trace was found of Edsall after leaving the USS Pecos group. Interesting sections regarding the action and the fate of survivors but a lot of the book deals with Edsall pre war and is slow going.

Verdict: Does not read smoothly at all and sections of the book are totally wasted including a chapter devoted to irrelevant oil tycoons/companies in the US. A good picture section and the actual account of the loss keep it at a 5/10.

Guadalcanal: WW2's Fiercest Naval Campaign - Adrian Stewart

Recounts the naval battles round the island in good detail.

Verdict: Very Good. Nice cover artwork. 9/10.

The Battle Of Leyte Gulf - Thomas Cutler

Describes well the battles and personalities involved. Minute by minute account including personal recollections.

Verdict: Well researched and reads well. 9/10

"We went out, got our arses kicked, then came back again"

Last edited by gaz01 on Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:06 pm; edited 2 times in total
PostSat Dec 27, 2014 11:59 pm
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Joined: 23 Dec 2007
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Nah, it has not been neglected, its just no one has been putting in new books.  Will put these into the data cache we have later on today.  Thank you for your input, now I finally get to do my job here a little more... Very Happy
GTL + 32 (Old boards)
GTL + 32 (New Boards)
Winner of the First AAM land Olympics representing the U.K.
PostMon Dec 29, 2014 8:09 am
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 Remember The Hood

Joined: 16 Apr 2010
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Posts: 657

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Right ok, thanks!

I was just looking at the book sticky at the top of the page and it seems it was being kept up to date by angryhydralisk but that was a while ago and I've not seem him post for a while.

Is this was you mean by the book cache section?

As for the books, I wanted to put a little info with each one to give people a bit more rather than just the book title. I know some of the more well known titles have good reviews on amazon etc. but plenty of others either don't or it's something daft like "received well packed" Mad.

Hopefully others can do the same and we will have a fantastic source.

I've got a large backlog of titles to get through but I'm always on the look out for more!

"We went out, got our arses kicked, then came back again"
PostMon Dec 29, 2014 3:25 pm
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