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Pen & Sword Book Reviews
This is the fifth review of the best books focusing on WW2 naval history. I hope you find it of value, and many thanks to Pen & Sword.
|Price £13.50 (sale price)|
In August 1944 the British Pacific Fleet did not exist. Six months later it was strong enough to launch air attacks on Japanese territory, and by the end of the war it constituted the most powerful force in the history of the Royal Navy, fighting as professional equals alongside the US Navy in the thick of the action. How this was achieved by a nation nearing exhaustion after five years of conflict is a story of epic proportions in which ingenuity, diplomacy and dogged persistence all played a part. As much a political as a technical triumph, the BPF was uniquely complex in its make-up: its C-in-C was responsible to the Admiralty for the general direction of his Fleet; took operational orders from the American Admiral Nimitz; answered to the Government of Australia for the construction and maintenance of a vast base infrastructure, and to other Commonwealth Governments for the ships and men that formed his fully-integrated multi-national fleet.
This ground-breaking work by David Hobbs describes the background, creation and expansion of the BPF from its first tentative strikes, through operations off the coast of Japan to its impact on the immediate postwar period, including the opinions of USN liaison officers attached to the British flagships. The book is the first to demonstrate the real scope and scale of the BPF's impressive achievement and this new affordable edition will be welcomed by all those who missed this major work first time around.
This was not intended to be the subject of my next review. When it arrived from the publisher I scanned it, looked at the photos, then settled down to read a chapter. I found I couldn't put it down. The subject is one I knew very little about and has not been covered well up until now. David Hobbs served in the RN for 30 years from the sixties, mainly flying from carriers. In the Ministry of Defence he was responsible for carrier operating techniques on the Invincible class. He is well qualified to write this book.
The story is fascinating covering the creation of the Pacific Fleet out of nothing. He covers the complex logistics, the politics, the many varieties of problems that had to be overcome, and the operations. It is a lengthy and detailed book, superbly written. It has many interesting photos. Putting it down becomes a problem in itself.
If you want to know how the RN created a fleet to fight alongside the US in the Pacific, the other side of the world from its supply bases, read this. Speaking about the Fleet train Hobbs says, "the most striking feature is not that it had shortcomings, but that it had been created at all in such a short time, arguably one of the Admiralty's greatest wartime achievements and one that has never been given the credit it deserves." It is an appropriate tribute to those involved in the fighting, and behind the scenes. I recommend it, and it is on sale at the moment.
Next Month's Book Review
For some years contributors to the site have been preparing drawings of WW2 ships. The principal difficulty has been the availability of accurate plans. This book publishes the official plans from the collections of the National Maritime Museum. So is it problem solved?