Seaforth Historic Ships, HMS Cavalier, Destroyer 1944

B2346

Great Britain has made a very poor job of preserving its historic warships. This is all the more amazing in view of the immense contribution made by the Royal Navy to the growth of Great Britain and the establishment of the first truly global Empire, linked by the sea routes, protected by RN warships. This delightful book provides a beautifully illustrated review of the only WWII RN destroyer to be preserved for future generations to visit. The work is lavishly illustrated, in full colour, through the body of the book and could be considered a photo essay, although it contains a great deal of information also in text. Affordable and enjoyable, strongly recommended.

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NAME: Seaforth Historic Ships, HMS Cavalier, Destroyer 1944
FILE: R2346
AUTHOR:  Richard Johnstone-Bryden
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth
BINDING: soft back 
PAGES:  129
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Royal Navy, WWII, Second World War, World War Two, destroyers, 
convoy escorts, battle fleet, steam turbine, Chatham, The Historic 
Dockyard Chatham, preserved warship
ISBN: 978-1-84832-226-4
IMAGE: B2346.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/zxn22ge 
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: Great Britain has made a very poor job of preserving its 
historic warships. This is all the more amazing in view of the immense 
contribution made by the Royal Navy to the growth of Great Britain and 
the establishment of the first truly global Empire, linked by the sea 
routes, protected by RN warships. This delightful book provides a 
beautifully illustrated review of the only WWII RN destroyer to be 
preserved for future generations to visit. The work is lavishly 
illustrated, in full colour, through the body of the book and could be 
considered a photo essay, although it contains a great deal of 
information also in text. Affordable and enjoyable, strongly 
recommended.

The author is one of a small number of professional writers who is 
also a professional photographer. Many professional writers also take 
photographs but depend mainly of the work of others to illustrate 
their books. Many professional photographers also write from time to 
time, most commonly for recreation. Combining the two disciplines is 
rare but it introduces a number of advantages. One very practical 
advantage is that the author is able to plan and execute a series of 
photo-shoots and then select the photographs that the author considers 
appropriate to the content without having to worry about how much some 
copyright holders will demand for reproduction of images from their 
photo libraries. That allows the image content to match the work 
rather than having to be squeezed through a photo budget from the 
publisher that can be soaked up in a handful of images.

The author began with an article published by Motorboat and Yachting. 
At the time he was studying for a Yacht-master Ocean qualification and 
crewing on the restored MTB 102 as a volunteer at a time when the 
vessel was operated by the Scouts as a sea experience service for 
youth groups. The MBY editor particularly liked the combination of 
well-written text with a generous selection of outstanding photographs, 
all produced by the author. Other magazine editors also liked the 
combination and commissioned articles on a range of vessels, commercial, 
naval and leisure. Expanding to writing books was a natural progression, 
although in writing naval heritage books this required images from many 
sources, including some photographs by the author.

Richard's first book was 'Britain's Greatest Warship, HMS Ark Royal (IV)' 
which included many first hand accounts by former officers and crew and 
they were to provide many unique photographs from their personal 
collections, most never having been published before. The next book was 
'HMY Britannia, The Official History' which followed a similar format, 
with first hand accounts by Members of the Royal Family and former 
Royal Yachtsmen. The images included a set by Richard, taken in Leith, 
of HMY Britannia as she is now preserved, and a wonderful selection of 
unique images from Members of the Royal Family and Royal Yachtsmen that 
included again many photographs that were rare and not previously 
published.

The Seaforth Historic Ships series was a natural place for Richard to 
craft beautifully illustrated reviews of preserved historic vessels. 
His first book for Seaforth reviewed HMS Belfast, maintained as a 
floating museum in London by the Imperial War Museum. This latest book 
looks at HMS Cavalier and begins with an account of the first four 
Commissions, followed by the Initial Preservation, the move to the 
historic Chatham Dockyard, and her new life as The National Destroyer 
Memorial. In these opening chapters, the image count is lower and the 
images come from other sources. The book then opens into a set of 
chapters that feature photographs by the author and lead the reader 
through the departments of the ship in a logical manner. These 
photographs are outstanding and have been reproduced with care and 
quality by the publishers. In all, this book contains a huge amount of 
information and will let the ship live for those who cannot make the 
pilgrimage to Chatham Dockyard. For those who do journey to Chatham, 
the book is an excellent primer ahead of their visit.

Chatham also has interesting connections for the author. The Dockyard 
Church has the 'Gunner's Window', just inside the entrance to the left. 
This stained glass window was commissioned to commemorate the funeral 
of King George VI. The officer marching alongside the gun carriage to 
port is the author's grandfather. Marching alongside to starboard is 
Cmdr Pollock who reached the rank of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Michael 
Pollock GCB LVO DSC. Sir Michael was to write the Foreword to 
Richard's 'Ark Royal IV' book and was host at the Fleet Air Arm  
Museum where the book was launched. Few launches are as impressive 
because it effectively became a reunion for former Ark sailors (Sir 
Michael having been one of her Captains). Amongst the ex-Ark crew 
were officers who had invented some of the innovative devices, 
including the angled flight deck and mirror landing system. Although, 
the launch of the 'HMY Britannia' book at St James Palace, with HRH 
the Duke of Edinburgh as host, was equally impressive.

HMS Cavalier was, in her own right, an important vessel, but she is 
all the more important because she is the sole surviving British WWII 
destroyer, acting as memorial for all her lost sisters. The first 
destroyers were torpedo boat destroyers, not much larger than the 
early torpedo boats. From that point, destroyers grew in size and 
armament, becoming highly effective convoy escorts and key elements 
of battle fleets. Cavalier is one of the larger destroyers  of WWII, 
approaching the size of pre-WWII light cruisers. After Cavalier and 
the Battle Class destroyers, the ship type continued to grow in size 
and began mounting missiles in addition to a gun armament. Some of 
the destroyers now in service are larger than typical light cruisers 
and catching up in size with the WWII heavy cruisers. The gun armament 
is retained in a single gun of 4.5 to 5 in and the main armament is 
provided by missiles and/or anti-submarine weapons. In terms of 
firepower, modern missile destroyers are more potent than the largest 
heavy cruiser of WWII

Shortly after entering service, Cavalier started through a series of 
updates. As originally designed, she was intended to provide for the 
role of a destroyer at the start of WWII. During the war there were 
a great many changes as new weapons were introduced and deployed. By 
the time that Cavalier was launched, the aircraft and the submarine 
had become the principle threats to destroyers and also the principle 
targets. Aircraft flew faster, carried a heavier bomb load over 
longer distances, and were equipped with radar and a growing 
selection of sensors. Advances in the design of bombs and rockets 
made a single aircraft a formidable weapon system against destroyers, 
able to travel considerably faster. Similar dramatic advances were 
made in submarine design and tactics. By the end of WWII the first 
genuine submarines had entered service with the Type XXI U-boat. 
This vessel was not only able to remain submerged for most of its 
patrol, but had an underwater speed to equal the surface speed of 
U-boats in 1939. Work had already begun on designing nuclear powered 
submarines and the post-1945 Royal Navy had to plan to counter the 
huge fleet being built by the Soviets and the great gains in weapons, 
speed, endurance and stealth.

Having a genuine surviving WWII destroyer available as a museum 
exhibit is a great advance for British naval heritage preservation. 
It is just such a shame that more was not done to preserve a range 
of vessels. There have been many excuses advanced by politicians, 
but most of these are very lame. Part of the difficulty is that 
generations of British politicians have seen their role as managing 
the decline and dismemberment of Great Britain. Until voters 
delivered a potent slap in the face for the Establishment, through 
the Independence Referendum, plans were already advanced to pass 
control of a greatly reduced British Armed Forces to German control 
and for the British Isles to be dismembered  and attached to parts 
of other neighbouring countries to form new Landes with the new
capitals all outside the British Isles. That political approach did 
not sit well with the servicemen who gave their lives to fight 
Germany in two World Wars and having a reminder in the form of 
military heritage museums and preserved warships was an embarrassing 
reminder of the level of treason being perpetrated without any 
electoral endorsement.

As Great Britain now prepares to re-enter the world and re-engage 
with other nations as a sovereign state, the need for heritage 
preservation will increase. As national pride returns, those few 
artifacts that have escaped disposal will become all the more 
revered. There are of course some practical limits on how many 
ships can be preserved and practical limits on size. Perhaps we 
may see publishers beginning to release books, similar to this 
book on HMS Cavalier, to cover vessels still in service. At the 
very least, there will be a valuable photographic record against 
the possible future scrapping. If the vessel is eventually 
preserved, the in-service record will complement a future book 
on the vessel in preservation.

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