Imperial War Museum Book of The War at Sea 1914-18by Julian Thompson, Thompson Julian
For the British navy, the First World War was a massive learning curve as, for the first time, she went into battle with an untried weapons system, mines, submarines, aircraft, and airships. In spite of this, the navy never failed to provide the shield which enabled the British Army to play a key part in the Western Front. Based on eyewitness accounts of the action
For the British navy, the First World War was a massive learning curve as, for the first time, she went into battle with an untried weapons system, mines, submarines, aircraft, and airships. In spite of this, the navy never failed to provide the shield which enabled the British Army to play a key part in the Western Front. Based on eyewitness accounts of the action, General Julian Thompson has written a gripping history that recreates the war at sea through the experiences of those who fought, and sometimes died.
- Macmillan Publishers Limited
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.25(d)
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During the four years of WWI while battles raged across the European continent, the Royal Navy quietly transformed itself from a largely amateurish, unskilled, and unimaginatively led force into a highly professional, increasingly technical, and totally dominant juggernaut. Very quickly political appointees ran aground in the wartime environment and were replaced by confident, daring commanders. These changes became immediately apparent to the officers and men serving aboard RN ships, whose fascinating letters we read throughout the book. The book starts by describing the life of prospective officers attending naval cadet school and later their (typical) traumas serving as midshipmen - basically one hazing after another until they became sub-lieutenants. However difficult midshipmen had it generally paled in comparison to the subservient, demeaning, and physically demanding life many common sailors led. The captain unquestionably remained God aboard ship with dire consequences for those who fell foul of him. Fisher's navy was extraordinarily class-conscious and overly centralized (with commanders often awaiting orders from distant superiors in the midst of desperate battle). Julian Thompson, the author, summarizes all the Royal Navy's main actions in the book - Heligoland, Coronel, the Falklands, Gallipoli, Jutland, Zeebrugge/Ostend - using both narration and eyewitness sources. But beyond these well-known actions, Thompson takes us aboard tin cans shipping hurricane-strength seas during U-boat patrols, flying recon & bombing runs over the North Sea & Germany, and audaciously torpedoing enemy warships in their home waters. These accounts are absolutely fascinating - especially the zeppelin hunting expeditions over the North Sea and the trials (and failures) of early naval aviation. Ever heard of launching a plane off of a lighter (barge) pulled by a destroyer? They did it! For landlubbers, the book also has a naval glossary, a list of naval rankings & ratings, and a few general area maps. Also included are some rarely seen photos and an extensive bibliography with notes. Having read lots about WWI, I was happily surprised that I found much fresh material in this book. It was a pleasure to read, too. I highly recommend it!