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Some of you (certainly readers of 990 and other diving mags) will be aware of the photo-journalist and author, Ned Middleton. It is Ned's living to travel the world and dive, take pictures of what he sees and then write about it - not something on offer at your local 'Careers Office' !

I've had the good fortune to be a sometime correspondent with Ned over the last couple of years and he is kind enough to allow me to use/reproduce certain of his pieces once he has had them published and been paid for them.

So, with the above in mind, please see here book reviews of a number of books which you may have already seen or bought. You will note that a number of them cover books by our very own Ron Young.

Enjoy.

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A Selection of Book Reviews By
Ned Middleton





The Comprehensive Guide to
Shipwrecks of the East Coast
Vol. One (1766-1917)
ISBN:  0-7524-2764-4
Ron Young
Tempus Publishing Ltd
RRP:  £17:99

Once again Ron Young is onto a winner.

Many people will know that Ron Young is an acknowledged expert on shipwrecks in addition to being a scuba diver of many years experience.  His one outstanding ability, however, is to produce book after book containing exactly the sort of information which scuba divers and others with an interest in shipwrecks are keen to learn.

Following the already well-established format of previous books in this series, Mr Young sets out to provide a catalogue of all known ships stranded or lost along the east coast of England from Scarborough to Skegness between the years 1766-1917.  I can only suggest that every Scuba Diver who frequents this stretch of coastline - either frequently or occasionally, will want to buy this book and they will be very sorry they did not do so once it becomes out of print.

Commencing with an introduction, we then find the Author’s customary (and very useful!) “how to use this book.” The stretch of coastline in question is then divided into 6 consecutive chapters, a fascinating insight into the German Medal - the “Blue Max” and details of 50 German Submarines from the period in question.

“Shipwrecks of the East Coast (Vol. 1)” is a paperback book measuring 9½ in x 6½ in and contains a good number of historic images of various ships.  Whilst one would always like to see more, the book covers that period in time when cameras were not as widely available as they are today.  More importantly, as far as scuba divers are concerned, the information given by the author is exactly what we need to know in order to (a) locate the subject vessel and (b) understand exactly what we are likely to find as he moves from shipwreck to shipwreck along the coast.

In short, this book is all you require before embarking on any serious project involving those shipwrecks detailed within it’s pages.

NM

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The Diver’s Comprehensive Guide to
The Farnes & Holy Island
ISBN: 0-95412-380-8
Ron Young
RRP:  £15:00

This author knows his stuff.

Ron Young is an acknowledged expert on shipwrecks in addition to being a scuba diver of many years experience.  His one outstanding ability, however, is to expertly combine these two attributes in book after book containing exactly the sort of information which scuba divers and others with similar interests are keen to know.

Following his well-established customary format, Mr Young sets out to provide a catalogue of the better known dive sites of the Farnes and Holy Island with more than adequate detail. The result is a book which is a must for every Scuba Diver who visits this stretch of coastline - either frequently or occasionally, and they will be very sorry they did not buy a copy once it is out of print.

“The Diver’s Comprehensive Guide to The Farnes and Holy Island” is a paperback book measuring 8¼” x 5¾” containing plenty of maps and B&W photographs - including several of historic ships. Four sections within the book are devoted to colour photography and a fifth is devoted to colour artwork. Commencing with a personal introduction, we are then treated to a very useful section about the coastal villages of Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell - containing exactly the sort of information any visitor would want to know.  Next up is the story of the MV “Yewglen” and already we are down to cases.  What follows is a more than adequate description of the diving on offer plus something about local bird-life and even a few local recipes.

Most importantly, as far as scuba divers are concerned, the information given by the author is exactly what we need to know in order to plan and execute any trip to this area successfully.

Signed copies of this book may be obtained direct from the Author at <<[email protected]>>.

NM

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Historic Shipwrecks -
Discovered, Protected and Investigated
Valerie Fenwick & Alison Gale
ISBN: 0-7524-1473-9
Tempus Publishing
RRP:  £14:99

A very "readable" account of an important topic.

Valerie Fenwick comes to this work as an archaeologist and editor of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. Alison Gale is described as specialising in maritime heritage management and an author.  My first impression, therefore was that these two co-authors had the right background to produce a book about those vessels which they describe as Britain’s most important shipwrecks.  As always, when tackling any work produced by academics, I was worried whether or not the ordinary layman would understand the content.  Those fears, however, were soon proved groundless and I found much of the content to be an excellent “read.”

Historic Shipwrecks - is a paper-back book measuring 9½” x 6¾” in which the authors detail the history and subsequent fate of 47 designated and protected shipwrecks.  The book has been skilfully put together in a very easy-to-follow manner. Commencing with a map of the British Isles showing the approximate location of each site, preface and list of illustrations, we then find that most useful item of “How to use this book” followed by an informative introduction.  Having sets the scene with vitally important background information, it is time to get down to cases.

The main body of the book is thoughtfully divided into various chapters which link certain shipwrecks together.  The first of these, for example, is called “Untold Voyages” - so named because the four oldest wreck sites in the UK have no story because the vessels themselves have no name.  In this way, we are able to compare like with like as we read the history and fate of the Amsterdam in one section and the story of the Resurgam in another.

Well illustrated throughout, there is something on almost every page ranging from historic photographs, drawings, maps, artefacts and a number of underwater photographs.  Perhaps this is a book which every diver should own - because they will only wish they had purchased a copy once it is out of print.

NM

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Shipwrecks of Kent
Anthony Lane
ISBN: 0-7524-1720-7
Tempus Publishing
RRP:  £9:99

A Photographic Journey through Time at Sea.

Ever wondered about the wreck of the Umbria off the coast of Port Sudan still carrying over 360,000 bombs of WW2 vintage?  Well, you will not find any reference to that ship in this book - but you find a very rare photograph of a ship with a very similar cargo which resides at the entrance to the River Medway.  

From modern-day Cruise Liners and Super-tankers to historic sailing ships such as the magnificent Preussen - with her incredible 5 square-rigged masts all fitted with 6 sails, this book is a collection of photographs of the most outstanding ships to have been lost off the coast of Kent.

Shipwrecks of Kent is a paperback book measuring 9¼” x 6½.”   Commencing with a chart detailing the Thames Estuary from as far north as Harwich to as far south as Dungerness, we are then treated to an introduction in which the author sets out his philosophy for writing the book.  These are followed by an excellent collection of historic photographs divided into 4 broad areas of interest; North Kent Coast, Goodwin Sands, East Kent Coast and Kent Lifeboats.

This is not a book from which the reader will learn much about any vessel - but it is an excellent source of photographs which has been skilfully compiled.  I would suggest this book is a “must” for anyone with an interest in the shipwrecks of Kent and will provide many a starting point for those intent on further investigation.  After all, in many cases all the photographic research is already done!

A very competent piece of work.

NM

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Shipwrecks of Ireland
Edward J Bourke
ISBN: 0-7524-1764-9
Tempus Publishing
RRP:  £10:99

Another photographic journey through time at sea.

Once again we are treated to a photographic collection of ships - both ancient and modern and the only thing that binds them together is that, in this instance, they were all wrecked off the coast of Ireland.

From classic ships of yesteryear, the warships of two world wars and modern-day freighters this book is a collection of photographs of the most outstanding vessels to have been lost off the coast of Ireland.  In one instance we see an aerial photograph of over 40 captured U-Boats - later to be deliberately sunk offshore, in another we are looking at the proud lines of a four-masted schooner and in yet another we find the very modern wrecking of a very modern ship.

Shipwrecks of Ireland is a paperback book measuring 9¼” x 6½.”   Commencing with a wreck chart of the whole island, the book is neatly laid out with chapters in which the excellent collection of historic photographs are divided into the broad areas of; North East, East, South East, Cork, West, Wartime, Gallant Rescues, Salvage and finally an impressive display of fascinating artefacts from just about everywhere.

As with similar titles from these Publishers covering other coastlines, this is not a book from which the reader will learn much about any vessel.  It is, however, an excellent source of photographs which has been skilfully compiled and, for that reason alone, is a “must” for anyone with an interest in the shipwrecks of Ireland and will provide many a starting point for those engaged in further investigation.  After all, much of the photographic research is already completed!

A very competent piece of work.

NM

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Into the Maelstrom:
The Wreck of HMHS Rohilla
Colin Brittain
ISBN:  0-7524-2384-3
Tempus Publishing
£12:99

Another excellent publication from Tempus

His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Rohilla is Whitby’s most famous shipwreck and this is her story.  In October 1914, the Rohilla sailed from Leith on a mercy mission to Dunkirk for a rendezvous with wounded and dying soldiers. That particular appointment with death, however, was soon changed for another when, at 0400 hrs on 29 October 1914 the Rohilla ran hard aground on Saltwick Nab and was lost.  This tragic accident happened in the midst of a fierce gale which lasted for several days during which time 85 people lost their lives.  It says much for the gallant RNLI that 6 Lifeboats were used in these most treacherous circumstances and between them rescued 146 people. This is especially so when one learns that the Lifeboat John Fielden was damaged each time she set out and was eventually abandoned in an irreparable condition. No fewer that 3 RNLI Gold Medals and 4 Silver Medals were subsequently awarded.

“Into the Maelstrom - The Wreck of HMHS Rohilla” contains all, the information anyone with an interest in this ship would wish to know.  The book measures a little over 9” x 6” and is well thought out with chapters on Allied Hospital Ships of WW1, the Barnoldswick connection, the loss of the ship itself, the Lifeboat Henry Vernon, inquest proceedings, funerals, an epilogue, memoriam and finally exploring the wreck.  The book is then neatly finished off with Appendices listing the names of all survivors, those who cared for them, the Lifeboats involved, and a final section under the general subject of Hospital Ships containing no fewer than 21 historic photographs of good and great ships from yesterday.

Altogether a very competent piece of work and one which is of immense interest to everyone with a knowledge of this particular vessel - especially those who are able to visit the wreck today.

NM

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The Bull & The Barriers - The Wrecks of Scapa Flow
Lawson Wood
ISBN: 0-7524-1753-3
Tempus Publishing
RRP:  £15:99


Something “very” different on a well known subject

Lawson Wood is a man after my own Heart - always looking to provide those of us with an interest in Scuba Diving and Shipwrecks with yet more information.

The Bull and the Barriers - The Wrecks of Scapa Flow is paperback, measuring 9¾ in x 6¾ in and contains over 120 pages of information and dialogue presented in an easy-to-read style. The real “treasure,” however, is found in the numerous previously unpublished postcards and photographs showing British and German ships throughout that period before during and after the internment of the German High Sea Fleet, right up to 1939 when the Royal Oak was lost.  These pictures alone provide an amazing insight into what life was like in what was - according to one sailor’s poem reproduced in the book, a little loved posting.

As with the rest if the book, a great deal of thought went into the title - which is derived from two elements of Scapa’s past that are forever enshrined in the Naval History of our nation.  The U-Boat that sank the Royal Oak was U-47 and her motif was that of a snorting Bull.  Of course, the Barriers designed to prevent any repeat occurrence are legendary in themselves.

Many readers will be surprised that Lawson Wood has produced a book that is not aimed primarily at the Scuba Diver and may even criticise this work for lacking in diving detail - but diving detail was never the purpose.  This book will be of immense interest to anyone studying the historical aspects of Scapa Flow as well as anyone contemplating a dive in these northern climes.  For me, personally,  this book has added considerably to the factual information on my own bookshelf and I see myself returning to it’s pages time and again in the years to come.

In short, this is the sort of book that everyone will wish they had bought - when it’s out of print!

NM

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The Comprehensive Guide to
Shipwrecks of the North East Coast
Vol. One (1740-1917)
ISBN:  0-7524-1749-5
Ron Young
Tempus Publishing Ltd
RRP:  £15:99

This is a book which achieves everything it sets out to achieve.

Ron Young is an acknowledged expert on shipwrecks and a scuba diver of many years experience.  In this book he has set out to provide a catalogue of all those ships known be have been stranded or lost along the north east coast of England from Whitby to Berwick-upon-Tweed between the years 1740-1917.  For any historian, shipwreck enthusiast or scuba diver with an interest in any (or all!) of these ships then Mr Young has provided a collection of excellent “start-points” for each of these wrecks.  

Commencing with an introduction in which he includes an item on “how to use this book,” we are then treated to a brief history of the U-Boat up to 1918.   Having thus set the scene, the coastline is then divided into 8 consecutive chapters followed by a list of all 164 shipwrecks covered by the book.

“Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (Vol. 1)” is a paperback book measuring 9½ in x 6½ in.  The book containing a good number of historic images of various ships and, although one would always like to see more, the book covers that period in time when cameras were not as widely available as they are today.  More importantly, as far as scuba divers are concerned, the information given by the author is exactly what we need to know in order to  (a) locate the subject vessel and (b) understand exactly what we are likely to find as he moves from shipwreck to shipwreck along the coast.

In short, this book is all you require before embarking on any serious project involving those shipwrecks detailed within it’s pages.

NM

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The Comprehensive Guide to
Shipwrecks of the North East Coast
Vol. Two (1918 -2000)
ISBN:  0-7524-1750-9
Ron Young
Tempus Publishing Ltd
RRP:  £15:99

And now the task is complete.

Ron Young is an acknowledged expert on shipwrecks and a scuba diver of many years experience.  In Vol. 1 of this book he set out to provide a catalogue of all those ships known be have been stranded or lost along the north east coast of England from Whitby to Berwick-upon-Tweed between the years 1740-1917.  Now he concludes the project with a similar work covering the years 1918-2000.  Finally, therefore, we have all the information we require for this stretch of coastline.

For any historian, shipwreck enthusiast or scuba diver with an interest in any (or all!) of these ships then Mr Young has provided a collection of excellent “start-points” for each subject shipwreck.  

Commencing with an introduction in which he includes that very useful item on “how to use this book,” we are then treated to a brief history of the U-Boat from 1918.   Having thus set the scene, the coastline is once again divided into 8 consecutive chapters followed by a list of the over 200 shipwrecks covered by the book.

“Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (Vol. 2)” is a paperback book measuring 9½ in x 6½ in.  Not as many photographs as I might have preferred - but this is a book about information - and that information is all there.  More importantly, as far as scuba divers are concerned, the author tells us exactly what we need to know in order to  (a) locate the subject vessel and (b) understand exactly what we are likely to find as he moves from shipwreck to shipwreck along the coast.

In short, this book is all you require before embarking on any serious project involving those shipwrecks detailed within it’s pages.

NM
 

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The Bismarck
Robert Jackson
ISBN: 1-86227-173-9 Not listed Amazon.com
Spellmount Publishing To Amazon.co.uk 160303
RRP:  £14:99             For Scuba World


All you ever needed to know about this great ship.

Such is the legacy of this great ship that, even now - over 60 years after she was sunk, the very mention of the word “Bismarck” conjures up powerful images of Battleships and war at sea - the like of which will never be seen again.  How curious that nobody ever seems to recall Otto von Bismarck - the former German Chancellor after whom the ship was named.

In their “Weapons of War” series, Spellmount Publishing have produced the full works on this, one of the world’s greatest ever Battleships. The Bismarck and her only sister ship Tirpitz were the very best that Germany could produce and, on a one-to-one basis, were easily a match for any ship afloat.  The Bismarck was lost because she was simply overwhelmed and her discovery in recent years by Dr Bob Ballard has only served to renew an interest that was hardly fading in any event.

“The Bismarck” is a hard-back book measuring 11½” x 8¾” containing almost 100 pages of carefully researched and well- explained information with either historic mages or informative illustrations on every page. Not only was the Bismarck a classic ship, she will remain one of the most famous ships of all time and this is her story from concept to grave.  The book is well illustrated throughout with excellent colour profiles of this and other important ships - all of which form an excellent basis for comparisons.

Commencing with the German navy post WW1 and the three pre-dreadnought Battleships she was permitted to retain under the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler's plans for rearmament and the subsequent re-growth of his navy are fully explained with a detailed analysis of existing ships and the lessons learned from Jutland. In this way, the book skilfully examines every aspect of the Bismarck's development and construction with detailed information relating to that historical fact before coming on to her design, machinery, crew, armour and armament. At various points the author digresses from the main theme in order to give a full explanation of that small number of ships which played an important role in the short life of the Bismarck.  Commencing with the Graf Spee and Gneisenau from which we are able to make important technical comparisons, we later find the same level of information relating to the Prinz Eugen and Hood as we move - chapter-by-chapter, through the life of this magnificent vessel. Towards the end is a fascinating account of the Life and death of the Tirpitz before the book concludes with a visit to the wreck of the Bismarck.

The colour profiles of each of the main ships are quite excellent and the historic photography includes several images I have never seen before.  I was especially pleased to see a selection of underwater images also included.

I congratulate the author and publishers on a job well done.

NM


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Hitler’s Secret Pirate Fleet
James P. Duffy
ISBN: 1-275-96685-2 To Amazon.com 160303
Praeger Publishers             To Amazon.co.uk 160303
RRP:  US$29:95             For Scuba World


These ships were never glorious - but they were very effective!

They were nine ordinary freighters armed with torpedo tubes, 5.9in guns and anti-aircraft guns - all of which were concealed from view. With the ability to change their own ship’s profile and, therefore, their own apparent identity, these nine were Germany’s secret commerce raiders of the high seas during WW2.  They were pirates in the true and historic sense of the word and were even more successful than Germany’s best U-Boats. Imagine a disguised freighter with guns hidden behind false panels able to sink an Australian Cruiser with far greater fire power - using nothing more than sheer guile, surprise, and expert gunnery.  To this day, the remains of HMAS Sydney has not been found.

“Hitler’s Secret Pirate Fleet” is a hard back book measuring 9½” x 6¼” containing 200 pages of fascinating information about those nine ships - all of which have a compelling story to tell.  Commencing with the “Atlantis” - the secret name given to the Goldenfels upon her conversion for such war duties, the author commences the story of this ship at the end - with an exciting and very readable account of her loss at the hands of HMS Devonshire.  In so doing he has skilfully hooked the reader into wanting to know more and, just as soon as the Atlantis disappears beneath the waves, we are treated to her story - right from her launch. It really is fascinating stuff.

Covering the; Atlantis, Orion, Widder, Thor, Pinguin, Komet, Kormoran, Michel and Stier - in that order, the author reveals the war time exploits of these vessels in great detail and retains his readable style of writing throughout.  A few map outlines dotted throughout the book help to convey a feeling of where the relevant actions took place.  There is a small selection of photographs in the middle of the book and whilst I would have liked to see more, I do appreciate that 7 of the vessels in question were eventually sunk in action and that, coupled with the very nature of their business, meant that few photographs were ever likely to be available in any event.

Altogether, a most competent piece of work and an excellent book for any long journey.

NM

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Shipwrecks
ISBN: 0-19-910630-4
Jan Mark
Oxford Press
RRP:  £5:99



From a Scuba Diver’s perspective.

If the recommended minimum age for learning to Dive is not actually getting lower every year - the debate does seem to continue as though it were.  So I decided to add a little something for the youngsters.  

“Shipwrecks” is a hardback book measuring 8 x 5¼ in. containing 30 pages of brief, easy to read snapshots of information aimed at the 5-6 year old age group.  The book sets out to list a number of exciting facts about ships with brief coverage of a the following topics; The Titanic, Wasa, Mary Rose, Flying Enterprise, sail power, oil tankers, lighthouses, rescue, war and peace and finally a brief glossary right at the end.

Extremely well illustrated throughout by Roger Stewart, one of his best items is an excellent cut-away drawing of a “typical” freighter with all parts labelled. This book will prove to be a great present for that small member of the family who wants to become involved in what his (or her!) diving parents are up to.  Of course, that applies to any youngster with an interest in Ships!

NM

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The World’s Worst Warships
Antony Preston
ISBN: 0-85177-754-6 Not yet released - Amazon.com
Conway Maritime Press To Amazon.co.uk 120303
RRP:  £19:99             For Scuba World


A fascinating selection of ships.

Before settling down to read this book, I began by glancing through the pages to see what sort of warship might be regarded as the world’s worst.  The inclusion of the “K” class submarine did not surprise me but the Yamato, Graf Spee and Hood - I thought these were the outstanding Battleships of their day.  Then, having read the narrative for each vessel, it became quite clear why they are included.

“The World’s Worst Warships” is a hard-back book measuring 10” x 8” containing almost 200 pages of detailed information on a carefully chosen selection of warship types.  Commencing with the Monitors of the American Civil War, the Author brings us through his book - chapter-by-chapter and development by development, as this particular type of war machine evolves and “improves.”  Each chapter becomes a fascinating read and the book is well illustrated with a generous selection of line drawings and historic photographs.  Incidentally, all illustrations are “courtesy of Chrysalis Images.” Chrysalis Books is the parent publishing company and I suspect many readers will find some of the images to be new and previously unseen.

At the beginning of the book, it is very easy for the reader to mock the early efforts of those building the very first iron-clads - the benefits of hindsight and all that.  Later on, however, we can only stand in awe as we learn of the political thinking and sheer dogmatism that surrounded the design of this and the building of that.  To think that the one country which truly recognised the value of the Aircraft Carrier right at the outbreak of WW2 would also insist on building 2 Yamato class Battleships - the construction of which almost bankrupted the Japanese nation and also even deprived the country’s fishermen of their nets.  It’s all in there.

This is a work of reference to interest ship’s historians the world over.  I also suspect it will be much sought after by Scuba Divers who look for the reasons why this wreck or that wreck is where it is today.

NM

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Verschollen - World War 1 U-Boat Losses
Dwight R. Messimer
ISBN: 1-55750-475-X
Naval Institute Press (USA)
Distributed world-wide by Chatham Publishing
RRP:  £25:00


An excellent starting point for those engaged in research.

As a scuba diver of almost 30 years experience and something of an expert on “shipwrecks,” I have visited a small number of submarine wrecks over the years.  There is something very different about a wrecked submarine and I found the content of this book to be most informative and in some cases fascinating.

“Verschollen” is the German word used to describe a U-Boat which was lost without trace and, in this book, the author sets out to inform the reader of all available information about 375 such boats.  By the very nature of such losses, in some cases, this amount to very little information - after all, U-Boats mysteriously lost at sea at a time of War were not prone to sending back a report explaining what had happened and where!  The book itself is hard-back and measures 9¼” x 6¼” containing 330 pages of information.  After an informative and very readable, introduction, the lost U-Boats are listed by type; U, UB and UC under which headings the lost vessels appear in numerical order.

Each boat is covered in the same way.  The main headings comprise; Boat No, Date Lost, Commander, Location, Position and Disposition followed by a short narrative regarding that final journey.  This may be anything from a half page to 2 pages depending on the information available   I was particularly impressed by the way in which the account of each separate U-Boat is finished off with mention of the various sources of reference used by the author to determine each fate - as far as anyone can make such a determination.  Anything between 2 and 5 separate reference sources from America, Britain and Germany are quoted for each lost boat and alone betray a thorough job of work from this author.

I  would have liked to have seen more photographs - but the book is no less important for that. This book is an invaluable “starting point” for those with an interest in lost U-Boats in addition to being a vital addition to any Scuba Diver’s book-shelf.

NM

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Destroyers of World War Two
An International Encyclopaedia
M. J. Whitley
ISBN: 0-304-35675-1
Cassell Publishing
RRP:  £20:00


The only reference work on this subject you will need.

As a scuba diver of almost 30 years experience and something of an expert on “shipwrecks,” I have visited a small number of Destroyer wrecks over the years.  Just as soon as this book arrived on my desk, therefore, I went straight to one very specific ship that is well known to me.  I found she was portrayed by a photograph I had not seen before and my first reaction was to say to myself “so that’s what I was looking at!”

“Destroyers of World War Two - An International Encyclopaedia” is a large soft-back book measuring 9½” x 9½” containing over 300 pages packed with solid information about each type of ship laid out country-by-country.  If you want to know anything about a Destroyer from WW2 - then that information is right here.

Commencing with an informative introduction in which the author explains the origins of the Destroyer and it’s brief history up to the end of WW2, we then find the navies from that period laid out alphabetically from Argentina to Yugoslavia.  Within each of these countries, their Destroyer fleets are then listed by type of vessel with full specifications and an illustration. Each country is then neatly finished off with the details of any ships which were either captured or transferred from elsewhere.

This is a work of reference will which stand the test of time.  It is a scholarly work and extremely well illustrated throughout - with at least one image on every page.  Though previously published in 1988, I am sure there will be plenty of people who missed this book first time around and who are now only too pleased of the opportunity to purchase once again. I know I was.

I congratulate the author on such a thorough job of work.

NM

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The Nelson Encyclopaedia
People, Places, Battles, Ships, Myths, Mistresses, Memorials & Memorabilia
Colin White
ISBN: 1-86176-185-6 To Amazon.co.uk 110303
Chatham Publishing             Not listed Amazon.com
RRP:  £30:00             For Scuba World


The words on the front cover say it all.

Many years ago, I became a Nelson fan after reading an historical account of the Battle of Aboukir Bay - an overwhelming victory by such a master tactician of naval warfare.  Now, as we approach the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, it is only natural to suppose we shall become inundated with anything and everything “Nelsonian.” If, however, they are all of the standard set by Colin White - we are indeed in for a real treat.

Colin White is widely acknowledged as a leading expert on Nelson.  He is the former Deputy Director of the Royal Naval Museum and is now the Director of “Trafalgar 200” at the National Maritime Museum. His list of credits are, therefore, impressive by any standards.

The Nelson Encyclopaedia is a hardback book measuring 10½” x 8” containing 288 pages packed with solid information in an easy-to-follow format and all written by a man with the right credentials for the job. As the words below the  title on the book’s cover suggest, this is an encyclopaedia of all those facts and figures relating to the People, Places, Battles, Ships, Myths, Mistresses, Memorials & Memorabilia that were Nelson.  In short, this ultimate reference source is the book with which to start for those with little or no knowledge of the greatest naval genius of all time and, at the same time, this is the also the book to answer those niggling questions which trouble the experts.

This is a work of reference will which stand the test of time.  It is a scholarly work, an excellent read, well illustrated throughout and contains plenty of new material. It is very fitting that the Publisher’s should be called “Chatham” and I congratulate them on a job well done.

NM

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Wolfpack -
The U-Boat War and the Allied Counter-Attack 1939-1945
David Jordan
ISBN: 1-86227-158-5
Spellmount Publishing
RRP:  £20:00


An excellent place to start.

This is a well-illustrated book packed with information which is very easy to follow and for those with an interest in U-Boat Warfare of WW2, I would suggest this book is an excellent starting point.

“Wolfpack - The U-Boat War and the Allied Counter-Attack 1939-1945” is a large format, hard-backed book measuring 12½” x 9¼” and containing 176 pages of text and illustrations of one form or another.  The book has been carefully laid out so as to portray those events of WW2 featuring the U-Boat in chronological order. With a minimum of one image on every page, we commence with an introductory chapter on the story of U-Boats in WW1.  From here, the author brings us through WW2 - chapter by chapter and event by event, to the final reckoning in 1945.

As each new development of this aspect of warfare unfolds within the narrative, we are treated to a boxed “snapshot” of either a type of submarine, aircraft, ship or weapons system relevant to the text. Each of these comprises an example of the excellent artwork of Tony Gibbons/Aerospace Publishing to which is added the salient technical information.  In addition, the impressive collection of historic photographs cover every conceivable aspect of the subject in question.

Altogether this book is an excellent read and I was particularly impressed by the images of Gunther Prien’s U47.

NM

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SS Yongala - Townsville’s Titanic
ISBN:  0-646-37781-7
Max Gleeson

This is a book which achieves everything it sets out to achieve.  

Max Gleeson is an Australian with a passion for Wreck Diving.  His previous works include “The Vanished Fleet of the Sydney Coastline” “Shipwrecks Storms and Seamen” and “SS Yongala - Dive to the Past.”  My only criticism is that you have to contact the Author in Australia in order to obtain a copy:  51 Northcote Ave, Caringbah, NSW 2229.

Whenever I read any account of somebody having “Dived the Great Barrier Reef” they always seem to mention whether or not they were able to visit the Yongala and she is the only shipwreck mentioned in a number of books about that particular reef.  The Yongala was built in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1903. Technically described as a “single screw steamer - passenger vessel,” she displaced 3,663 gross registered tons, had a compliment of 70 and accommodation for 140 passengers.  She was owned by the Adelaide Steamship Company and employed on the east coast of Australia between Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns and Townsville.  During a cyclone in 1911, the Yongala sank with the loss of 137 lives. Today, the wreck is a national historic site which lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“SS Yongala - Townsville’s Titanic” contains all, the information anyone with an interest in this ship would wish to know.  The book measures a little over 9” x 6” and is neatly laid out with chapters on the town of Yongala, the ship’s final voyage, a selection of underwater colour images, the Adelaide Steamship Company, the discovery of the wreck itself, the ship today and passenger and crew lists. The book is liberally sprinkled with historic images throughout and clearly sets out to provide all the information one would wish to find on this specific shipwreck.

This book is a very competent piece of work.

NM

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Ned’s Navy
ISBN:  1-85310-904-5
Frank Urban
Airlife Publishing
RRP:  £24:95


How could I resist reviewing a book with such a title!

In January 1878, 12 year old Edward (Ned) Charlton joined the training ship HMS Britannia and in 1924 Admiral Sir Edward Charlton KCB. KCMG. retired.  During the intervening 46 years, Ned Charlton had witnessed a lifetime of historic events, met some very interesting people and served on a wide variety of ships in an equally wide variety of situations, conflicts and, of course, throughout WW1, as he worked his way through the ranks of the Royal Navy.  Throughout those invigorating years, Ned’s private letters home were kept by the various members of his family.  To these were added his own collection of private papers and historic photographs when he finally died in 1937.  

For more than 50 years this unique collection of ephemera lay almost forgotten until Frank Urban - grandson of Ned Charlton, began a study of the content.  With help and advice from other members of the Charlton clan - now found all over the world, Frank Urban has pieced together a most fascinating insight into one man’s career and experiences which spanned a most historic period.

Ned’s Navy is a hardback book measuring 10¾in x 8½in and is packed with over 170 pages of details and photographs - all of which are bound together by the single thread “Ned Charlton was there.”  This is a collection of anecdotes and photographs previously unseen and, in many cases, previously not known to exist.  From historic warships alongside the south mole of Gibraltar Harbour in 1883, HMS Orlando and the Boxer Rebellion of 1901, service onboard HMS Hood (later sunk in Portland Harbour) in 1893, duties in the Far East in 1905, a tale of Scandal and Intrigue from 1912 and, of course WW1, this provides considerable insight into life in and around the Royal Navy during a period of 46 years. A truly first-rate book  - and an excellent read, I would think it may also provide some missing links for those historians who are researching certain specifics.


NM
 

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John Kean’s SS Thistlegorm (4* Star Rating)
John Kean
ISBN: 977-17-0753-1
Self Publication
RRP:  £21:95


Everything you ever wanted to know about this important ship.

As a diving instructor who lives and works in Sharm el Sheikh, John Kean will know the Thistlegorm as well as any diver and is, therefore, as qualified as any to write a book about this fabulous shipwreck.  Just as soon as I started to read his book it became quite clear that he has gone to a great deal of trouble to provide his fellow Scuba Divers with a complete guide to what he describes as “The Red Sea’s Greatest Shipwreck” and others would describe as the greatest shipwreck in the world.  The end result is very good and everything you ever wanted to know appears to have been included.  

“John Kean’s SS Thistlegorm” is a hard-back book measuring 9¾” x 7” containing 153 pages of information on every aspect of the ship - before, during and after she was lost, and all supported by a good selection of colour and B&W images throughout. In an easy-to-read style of writing, the author commences with an account of a day in the life of a diving instructor before getting down to specifics. Those specifics comprise no fewer than 31 chapters.  Whilst some of these amount to only a couple of pages, they all form an integral part of a complicated jigsaw which would be incomplete if any were missing. Each chapter is also written as though it were a short story in it’s own right and remains individually entertaining as a result.

Having included photographs of the ship’s Captain (and a foreword from his son) plus interviews and photographs from more of those who survived, it was interesting to note that the Author was only able to find two photographs of the ships itself.  The first of these is that well known image of the yet-to-be-completed Thistlegorm being launched. The second, however, is a portrait of a crew member leaning on the starboard rail and reveals very little of the ship itself. In short, and as I suspected, there are no photographs of the Thistlegorm as a completed ship.  Elsewhere, I was particularly pleased to see the inclusion other “Thistle” ships which were very similar to the Thistlegorm - and which other so-called authors have actually described as “rare photographs of the Thistlegorm” when they are not!  This book sets the record straight on this and other important topics.

Relying heavily on material produced in the BBC Documentary “Thistlegorm’s Last Voyage” and the interviews and experiences from four notable survivors contained therein, the book is no poorer for such an approach and the BBC and those involved with that particular film are all duly acknowledged.

Overall, I have two specific criticisms which are; Whilst there is a block of general acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, I prefer to see individual photographs acknowledged so that the reader is aware of the source of each image.

Secondly, the book does suffer from the problems associated with self-publishing.  For example, the opening words on the inside of the book’s front dust cover read “Sunk by German bomber planes in World War Two, SS Thistlegorm has lay at the bottom of the sea for over sixty years.”  Thankfully, this appalling use of the English language is not indicative of that which is found inside the book - so might I suggest it is re-written and new dust covers ordered.  Otherwise, such an awful opening sentence might easily steer many a prospective buyer away from purchasing this product.

Criticisms aside, this is a fascinating book, a very good read and the answer to an awful lot of questions about this most-talked-about shipwreck.  

NM
 

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Thecomprehensive Guide To Shipwrecks Of The East Coast

Can You Tell Me How To Go About Buying The Comprehensive Guide To Sipwreacks Of The East Coast
Vol One (1766 - 1917)
By Ron Young
Isbn: 0-7524-2764-4
Tempus Publishing Ltd
Priced @ £17.99
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ANDY BANNISTER said:
Can You Tell Me How To Go About Buying The Comprehensive Guide To Sipwreacks Of The East Coast
Vol One (1766 - 1917)
By Ron Young
Isbn: 0-7524-2764-4
Tempus Publishing Ltd
Priced @ £17.99
Yes, PM Ron - he's a member here and offers (if memory serves) a small discount to YD members :)

You can find him in the Members' List.

Cheers,
 
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