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Review for British Cruiser Warfare. Lessons of the Early War 1939-1941

Author/Director : Alan Raven

Format : Book

In the hundreds of book reviews I have written I don’t believe I have ever used the accolade excellent. Unreservedly this book is excellent.
The first one hundred and fifty pages are a ‘daily diary’ listing all the cruiser actions which took place from September 1939 until December 1941. Because the information given covers nearly all engagements, instead of just the successful ones, the reader comes to understand just how many unsuccessful attacks were made by German submarines, the large number of German torpedoes which exploded prematurely, how many depth charges were dropped without result, how many bombing attacks by aircraft failed and how much ammunition was fired at aircraft with very few hits. E.g. H.M.S. Coventry was subjected to daily multiple air attacks from the 14th May until 29th May. Thousands of 4” rounds were expended, requiring re-ammunitioning twice, no aircraft were hit and Coventry had no more than a little splinter damage from near misses among the large number of bombs dropped.
The second half of the book is a series of twenty eight of what the author calls summaries. Each is a few pages of analysis of such topics as Surface Gunnery, Weather, The Human Condition and Intelligence effects. Open the book at any one of these and be drawn in.
The book spotlights a short section of the Second World war but is intensively researched and beautifully written up. There are photographs of the cruisers on nearly every page plus some useful maps. Towards the end of the book there are pull-out double A4 plans of four classes of cruiser. The bibliography is of original research among Admiralty and American files.
To anyone with a slight interest or a lot of knowledge I cannot commend this book too highly.

Published by : Seaforth Publishing, 2019
ISBN : 978-1-5267-4763-1

Review last updated : 2019-04-16 10:51:51

See also : other "World War 2" reviews