There are regular releases of new naval non-fiction works, particularly about the ships and men of the Second World War, and new paperback/ebook versions of older works. Some recent titles include:
The memoirs of Admiral Karl Donitz, Ten Years and Twenty Days, are a fascinating first-hand account of the Battle of the Atlantic as seen from the headquarters of the U-boat fleet. Now, for the first time noted naval historian Jak P. Mallmann Showell has combined Donitz's memoirs in a parallel text with the British Admiralty's secret Monthly Anti-Submarine Reports to produce a unique view of the U-boat war as it was perceived at the time by both sides. The British Monthly Anti-Submarine Reports were classified documents issued only to senior officers hunting U-boats, and were supposed to have been returned to the Admiralty and destroyed at the end of the War, but by chance a set survived in the archives of the Royal Navy's Submarine Museum in Gosport, allowing the reader a hitherto unavailable insight into the British view of the Battle of the Atlantic as it was being fought. Together with the author's commentary adding information that was either unknown or too secret to reveal at the time, this book gives possibly the most complete contemporary account of the desperate struggle in the North Atlantic in the Second World War.
Diving Stations: The Story of Captain George Hunt and the Ultor by Peter Dornan
Diving Stations is the inspiring story of Captain George Hunt's career. Born in Uganda and then educated in Glasgow he was determined to join the Navy and at 13 years old he entered HMS Conway. His pre-war years saw him serving worldwide. In 1939, on the outbreak of war he was already serving in submarines. Over the next six years he was rammed twice, sunk once and had hundreds of depth charges dropped around him. He gave more than he got! While in command of the Unity Class Submarine Ultor, mainly in the Mediterranean he and his crew accounted for an astonishing 20 enemy vessels sunk by torpedo and 8 by gunfire as well as damaging another 4 ships. His fifteenth mission was described by the Admiralty as unsurpassed in the Annals of the Mediterranean Submarine Flotilla . After the War George continued his distinguished naval career becoming Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI). He emigrated to Australia where he lives today.
Grey Wolves: The U-Boat War 1939-1945 by Philip Kaplan
In the early years of the Second World War, the elite force of German submariners known as the Ubootwaffe came perilously close to perfecting the underwater tactics of the First World War and successfully cutting Britain's transatlantic lifeline. To the Allies, these enemy sailors were embarking on a mission that was unequivocally evil. It was popularly believed that the U-boat men were all volunteers; this was not the case. However, once committed to the Ubootwaffe, each man soon understood that he must take pride in being part of a unique brotherhood. He had to do so because he was setting out, in claustrophobic, unsanitary, stench-filled and ultimately hellish conditions, on a journey that would test his mental and physical endurance to the very limits, and one that he had little chance of surviving.
Those that did return soon ceased to take comfort in friends or family, dwelling only on the knowledge that another patrol awaited them. The men of the Ubootwaffe were bound together by an intense camaraderie forged in an environment of ever-present danger, and a unity of purpose more powerful than any known to other sailors. As the U-boat memorial near Kiel records, by the end of the war, of the 39,000 men who went to sea in the U-boats, 27,491 died in action and a further 5,000 were made prisoners of war. Of the 863 U-boats that sailed on operational patrols, 754 were lost. Grey Wolves captures life on board a U-boat, in text, letters, diaries, journals, memoirs, prose and poetry, relaying tales of the mundane and the routine, dramatic and heroic; the fear and resilience of every crew member, from Kapitainleutnant to Mechaniker. It is a vivid, brutally realistic portrait of the men who fought and died beneath the surface of the Atlantic in what was, perhaps, the most critical battle of the war.
Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era by Norman Friedman
For more than half a century the big gun was the arbiter of naval power, but it was useless if it could not hit the target fast and hard enough to prevent the enemy doing the same. Because the naval gun platform was itself in motion, finding a 'firing solution' was a significant problem made all the more difficult when gun sizes increased and fighting ranges lengthened and seemingly minor issues like wind velocity had to be factored in. To speed up the process and eliminate human error, navies sought a reliable mechanical calculation. This heavily illustrated book outlines for the first time in layman's terms the complex subject of fire-control, as it dominated battleship and cruiser design from before World War I to the end of the dreadnought era. Covering the directors, range-finders, and electro-mechanical computers invented to solve the problems, America's leading naval analyst explains not only how the technology shaped (and was shaped by) the tactics involved, but analyses their effectiveness in battle. His examination of the controversy surrounding Jutland and the relative merits of competing fire-control systems draws conclusions that will surprise many readers. He also reassesses many other major gun actions, such as the battles between the Royal Navy and the Bismarck and the US Navy actions in the Solomons and at Surigao Strait. All major navies are covered, and the story concludes at the end of World War II with the impact of radar. This is a book that everyone with a more than passing interest in twentieth-century warships will want to read, and nobody professionally involved with naval history can afford to miss.
Fight for the Sea: Naval Adventures from the Second World War by John Frayn Turner
This collection of popular naval stories covers the entire span of World War II, beginning when the British Royal Navy faced fascist forces on its own until the final Allied victory over the Japanese in 1945. Fight for the Sea offers a rich mixture of accounts about such large and well-known battles and operations as the Battle of the Coral Sea, as well as lesser-known actions such as the submarine attack on Corfu harbour, the loss of the USS Leedsdown, and the saga of the USS Rich to characterize the breadth and variety of the war at sea. Also included are memories of John F Kennedy's heroic actions with PT 109 and George H W Bush's near-death experience with an aircraft known as the 'flying casket'.
A sailor's eye view of the war at sea, this compelling compilation has broad appeal. John Frayn Turner's prose crackles with action and tension to keep the reader's attention, and even those who know little about the war will find the stories to be a welcome introduction to the subject. Among the book's special attractions are the little-known contributions of rescue ships and merchant seamen and the adventures of civilians, including Johnnie Ferguson, who spent three weeks adrift in an open boat when her ship was torpedoed. Readers will come away with not only a clear understanding of the giant scope of World War II but of the individual grit and determination that produced victory.
Hunter Killers by Iain Ballantyne
Official Royal Navy definition: Hunter Killer: a submarine designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes.
Hunter Killers follows the careers of four daring British submarine captains who risked their lives to keep the rest of us safe, their exploits consigned to the shadows until now. Their experiences encompass the span of the Cold War, from voyages in WW2-era submarines under Arctic ice to nuclear-powered espionage missions in Soviet-dominated seas. There are dangerous encounters with Russian spy ships in UK waters and, finally as the communist facade begins to crack, they hold the line against the Kremlin's oceanic might, playing a leading role in bringing down the Berlin Wall. It is the first time they have spoken out about their covert lives in the submarine service.
This is the dramatic untold story of Britain's most secret service.