Battleship Ramillies, The Final Salvo

B2000

This book starts and ends well with a pair of coloured side views of Ramillies in the fore and aft end papers. It is also graced with a foreword by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who not only writes some very good forewords, but had Ramillies as his first ship at the beginning of a distinguished naval career. From that great start, the book benefits enormously from the Ramillies Association. The editors have collected together the material from these sources and produced an absorbing and enjoyable account of a capital ship that survived two great wars. The illustration is first rate through the body of the book which forms an appropriate tribute to the vessel and those who served on her.

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NAME: Battleship Ramillies, The Final Salvo
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R2000
AUTHOR: Edited by Ian Johnstone, with Mick French
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: har back
PAGES: 256
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, battleships, capital ships, naval big guns, line of battle, Fleet actions, naval technology,Pacific, Japanese, HRH Duke of Edinburgh. WWI, Grand Fleet, Scapa Flow
ISBN: 1-78337-606-6
IMAGE: B2000.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/lbem5v2
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This book starts and ends well with a pair of coloured side views of Ramillies in the fore and aft end papers. It is also graced with a foreword by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who not only writes some very good forewords, but had Ramillies as his first ship at the beginning of a distinguished naval career. From that great start, the book benefits enormously from the Ramillies Association. The editors have collected together the material from these sources and produced an absorbing and enjoyable account of a capital ship that survived two great wars. The illustration is first rate through the body of the book which forms an appropriate tribute to the vessel and those who served on her.

The Royal Navy went into WWII with few new capital ships. Most were designed before the end of WWI, or like Ramillies been laid down and completed during that war, to join the Grand Fleet. She was a 15 inch gun battleship, completed before the threat of aircraft was fully understood. For WWII, her secondary armament had to be updated to provide a more realistic air defence. There were two reasons for so many large warships in the Royal Navy being WWI survivors. In 1918, Britain was exhausted by WWI, her Exchequer was empty, and politicians were keen to spend the imagined peace dividend. As a result, the Admiralty was reluctant to scrap obsolescent warships and replace them with new builds, because it was plain to see the politicians would welcome the scrapping of vessels and then be reluctant to provide funding for replacements. When the between wars naval treaties were negotiated, Britain needed to live within tight tonnage limits and that could only allow imaginative design of a small number of new vessels and the retention of warships that the Royal Navy would have liked to replace.

Some of the innovation was successful, the new carrier Ark Royal was a design triumph that kept within the very limited tonnage available for new builds. The battleships Nelson and Rodney introduced 16 inch guns in a very creative design where all three triple turrets were mounted ahead of the superstructure that became known as Queen Anne’s Mansions as a very neat tower structure. In the event the only new built battleships at the beginning of WWII were the KGV Class including the ill-fated Prince of Wales. Effort was already directed to building aircraft carriers. The exception was HMS Vanguard, perhaps she would have been more appropriately named HMS Rearguard, built as an economy battleship against possible losses. She was a fine sea ship that proved much more capable in bad weather than the US Missouri Class during post-war exercises. However she was built to be as economical as possible and used main guns landed when Glorious and Courageous were converted to aircraft carriers.

The book feels as though it was written for former Ramillies crew and that makes it a very warm and personal account. It may be a matter of taste, but this reviewer is always happiest with this style because it provides a much better level of readable detail than many ship histories written by historians. Children and Grand Children of crew will find this particularly valuable because it talks in familiar language and provides the information that we are poor at passing to our families when it includes war experiences.

This really is a fitting tribute to ship and crew. The only warning is that those beyond the ship’s family will find it an involving story and raise expectations that may not be met by other authors of naval history. They will also have their eyes opened to the rich and sometimes eccentric features of Royal Navy life, such as the Ramillies Captain who went into battle wearing his Maori grass skirt. It is an engaging look at Royal Navy life in peace and war in a ship that was a survivor.

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