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Hello all,

 

New to Maritime, but I do love a good old Navy book.

 

I’ve read a few including Sinking of the Bismark (Ludovic Kennedy), The Cruel Sea (Montserrat) and quite a few U-Boat memoirs. I was just wondering if you’ve got any favourite/ classic wartime books that I may have missed?

 

More of the memoirs/ stories than technical books. Basically, a rip-roaring read! 
 

Any suggestions welcome!

 

 

Many thanks,

 

Guy

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The one I'm reading currently, "Alarm Starboard" by Geoffery Brookes, is a darn good read. An older one but still available ex Amazon is "The Navy's Here" by Frischauer & Jackson, Battle of the River Plate & the Altmarck Affair that was its aftermath. If you don't mind some Naval fiction, books by Douglas Reeman are well written if a bit formulaic. His naval nuts & bolts are pretty sound though & touch on many aspects of naval warfare. "The Battle of the Java Sea" is another, telling the story of the debacle after the Japanese attack on S E Asia up to the defeat of the Allied fleet in the Battle of the same name. Also showing at Amazon, Abebooks would be another to try. Incredible Victory, by Walter Lord (The battle of Midway) is another I've enjoyed. I'll let others chip in.

Steve.

Edited by stevehnz
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Thank you both, 

 

Yes, I’ve read Douglas Reeman (listening to an audiobook of him at the moment). I’ll check those out..

 

Guy

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If you want fiction try some of the ones by Larry Jeram-Croft.  Larry was a Lynx pilot/Air Engineering officer who retired about 15 years ago and took up writing.  Not all of his stuff is Navy oriented but a lot is with a mixture of Napoleonic and modern.

 

For non-fiction anything by David Hobbs or David Wragg is worth reading.  Collision Course by Sir Raymond Lygo is excellent (started off as a Naval Airman 2nd class, retired as an Admiral), as is Sink the Belgrano (Mike Rossiter), Down South (Chris Parry) and Age of Invincible (Nick Childs).

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Gidday, Philistines, all of you! No-one's mentioned "The Enemy Below", by Denys Rayner. 😁 A good film too. If you like sailing ships try the "Bolitho" series by Alexander Kent. His style of writing is very much like Douglas Reeman. Not surprising really, they're the same bloke. And don't forget the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brien, the first being "Master and Commander".

     If you like U-boat stories, try "Iron Coffins" by Herbert Werner I think. A true story.

 

Fiction - My favorite is still "HMS Ulysses" by Alistair MacLean.                 HTH. Regards, Jeff.

 

PS, If you want to read about the Japanese perspective "A Glorious Way To Die" about the sinking of the Yamato.

Edited by ArnoldAmbrose
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Chooser's of the Slain by James Cobb is a good 'un

as I mentioned in another thread Proud Waters by Ewart Brookes.

I've found on Kindle the author Alaric Bond a Napoleonic era writer.

Tom

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Some great suggestions there, thanks. 
 

I do lean towards non fiction, I’ve read Iron Coffins and, yes, that’s right up my alley.

 

Keep ‘em coming!

 

Guy

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Ps   @ArnoldAmbrose oddly enough, I’ve got the DVD of Enemy Below and I’m planning on watching it tomorrow. But I’ll check out the book version too.

 

Feel free to pitch in with films too. Sink the Bismarck is a real favourite as is The Cruel Sea...

 

Guy

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Gidday Guy, since we're adding films, I agree with your two above. I was disappointed with 'The Battle of the River Plate', but only because the wrong ships were used eg an American Des Moine class cruiser for the Graf Spee. "Master and Commander" is very good I think. It follows the tenth book in the series (Far side of the World) but has anecdotes from other books (eg the weevils). As for "Pearl Harbour", it didn't appeal to me at all. I much prefer "Tora Tora Tora". Much more factually correct I believe, and that suits my personal taste in movies. But that's just me. 

     And, of course, "Das Boot" and "The Hunt For Red October". Another obscure movie and book, "The Bedford Incident", about a cold war stand-off between a Russian submarine and American destroyer. "The Gold Crew" (book) filmed as "The Fifth Missile" (I think). Memory's a bit vague here.

   This should keep you entertained for the evening. Regards, Jeff.

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19 hours ago, Gisbod said:

I’ve read a few including Sinking of the Bismark (Ludovic Kennedy), The Cruel Sea (Montserrat) and quite a few U-Boat memoirs. I was just wondering if you’ve got any favourite/ classic wartime books that I may have missed?

Montserrat's nonfiction memoir of his time in the RNVR, Three Corvettes, is excellent, and often howlingly funny. Dudley Pope's 73 North is an excellent book on the Battle of the Barents Sea. John Winton's Death of the Scharnhorst is also quite good.

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A few on my shelf that haven't been mentioned:  "Emden" by Prince Franz Josef of Hohenzollern - a terrific account of the famous WW1 raider if you can get past the slightly chilly Teutonic snobbishness of the writer...

"Under Cunningham's Command" by Cdr George Stitt is a very accessible contemporary account of WW2 in the Med.

I'd also hold up the peerless "Castles of Steel" by Robert K Massie - 860 pages of WW1 at sea and one of my all time favourite history books :)

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15 hours ago, ArnoldAmbrose said:

Gidday Guy, since we're adding films, I agree with your two above. I was disappointed with 'The Battle of the River Plate', but only because the wrong ships were used eg an American Des Moine class cruiser for the Graf Spee.

 

 

I think you're being a little harsh there Jeff.  Whilst I would agree that it would be nice to have used something closer to the actual ships used, in 1956 the producers would have struggled to find a pocket battleship anywhere!  At least ACHILLES played herself (albeit in her later INS DELHI guise).  It's not as if they had access to the sort of CGI that we're used to these days.

 

Now if you want a film that winds me up from the ship used and which should have used some CGI its Dunkirk.  I would commend them for the way in which they used as many of the "Little Ships" as possible but they didn't have to resort to a French cold war destroyer complete with a very obvious variable depth sonar on the quarterdeck to represent 2 WW1 era V class destroyers! These days, CGI is more than good enough to have made a half decent rendering of them. 

 

14 hours ago, ArnoldAmbrose said:

As for "Pearl Harbour", it didn't appeal to me at all. I much prefer "Tora Tora Tora". Much more factually correct I believe, and that suits my personal taste in movies. But that's just me. 

There was a recent debate on the LinkedIn Military History group to which i subscribe about inaccurate war films.  Pearl Harbour was almost unanimously voted as the worst of all time!

 

The other great film not mentioned is of course In Which We Serve.

Edited by Chewbacca
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40 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

The other great film not mentioned is of course In Which We Serve.

I'll certainly second that one. And in fiction, virtually anything by Brian Callison. The Dawn Attack is especially well written and reads like fact.

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8 hours ago, Chewbacca said:

It's not as if they had access to the sort of CGI that we're used to these days.

Gidday, I guess that's a fair comment, and I think by the time the film was made pocket battleships were no longer in production. 😀 When watching naval films I tend to take more notice of the ships, rather than the actors, hence my disappointment in the movie. Didn't 'HMS Sheffield play HMS Ajax? Again, triple turrets instead of twins. But I acknowledge that film makers would have had to use what was available. Maybe I am a bit too harsh.

     One funny line I remember in the movie. After HMS Exeter had been hammered and was ordered by Commodore Harwood (Anthony Quayle) to retire, Captain Bell of the Exeter sent Harwood a signal - "Request permission to revise list of spares required" 😀

9 hours ago, Chewbacca said:

The other great film not mentioned is of course In Which We Serve.

I think I saw that, many decades ago. If it's the film I'm thinking of, yeah, a good movie. And Brian Callison's books. Dawn Attack mentioned above, and Trapp's War - not authentic but hilarious to my warped and twisted sense of humour. Regards, Jeff.

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15 hours ago, Chewbacca said:

There was a recent debate on the LinkedIn Military History group to which i subscribe about inaccurate war films.  Pearl Harbour was almost unanimously voted as the worst of all time!

I hope U-571 was a close second. 

 

On the US side, I'd recommend James Hornfischer's Neptune's Inferno which is a pop history account of the US Navy's first headlong clashes with the IJN at Guadalcanal in 1942-43.

 

Thinking of fictional accounts and the Pacific War, there's also the excellent Jonah by Carl Rackman available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon 😉

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several books I would add , the best ones being

HMS Electra - by TJ Cain 

Escort by  DA Rayner 

Pursuit - Sinking of Bismarck by Ludovci Kennedy

Warspite by Roskill

Battle of Java Sea by  Thomas

Narvik by Donald Macintyre  etc 

 

all in paperback - so easy to aquire and not too expensive

 

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One that I enjoy dipping into is "The Guinness Book of Naval Blunders."

 

Does what it says on the cover.

 

IanJ 

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On 05/04/2020 at 09:39, Alan P said:

I hope U-571 was a close second. 

It was in there but I don't remember where it came.  Bear in mind that it was all war films not just maritime, I seem to recall that Patton was runner up and A Bridge Too Far close behind that.

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6 minutes ago, Chewbacca said:

It was in there but I don't remember where it came.  Bear in mind that it was all war films not just maritime, I seem to recall that Patton was runner up and A Bridge Too Far close behind that.

Wow, tough crowd. I thought A Bridge Too Far was about as good as war films got for its time. 

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Gift Horse, I'd never seen it until a couple of months ago. Stars Trevor Howard and is about a British Lend Lease destroyer.

It's on YouTube, or at least was when I watched it.

IMO its worth a watch, I wont give the end away but it portrays a well known heroic event.

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Corvette-K225 with Randolph Scott is a great little film too.

 

Dave

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