After all of the books about WWII, published over some 70 years, it is surprising that there are still important figures and events that have either not been covered, or have received brief mention. Sir Dudley Pound is one such figure. This book goes a long way to correcting the omission in respect of Sir Dudley, and also sheds fresh light on key events. It is an easy read and includes some good photo plates in support. Essential reading and strongly recommended.
NAME: Churchill’s Anchor, the Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound OM, GCB, GCVO
AUTHOR: Robin Brodhurst
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, Second World War, World War Two, Churchill, political, military, command, Cabinet, influence, advisors
DESCRIPTION: After all of the books about WWII, published over some 70 years, it is surprising that there are still important figures and events that have either not been covered, or have received brief mention. Sir Dudley Pound is one such figure. This book goes a long way to correcting the omission in respect of Sir Dudley, and also sheds fresh light on key events. It is an easy read and includes some good photo plates in support. Essential reading and strongly recommended.
Sir Dudley Pound was an important figure as head of the Royal Navy and his naval service merits a reliable biography. However, it was his support and influence with Sir Winston Churchill that demands a good biography. It is amazing that he has received virtually no coverage in the seventy years since the end of WWII.
As a naval officer, he spend many years in command, including command of HMS Colossus at the Battle of Jutland in WWI. He was Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet, before becoming First Sea Lord, from July 1939 until shortly before his death in October 1943. His influence of the critical stages of WWII, that led on into the fight back and victory, was immense. He was directing the naval war and he was also directly influencing Churchill from his appointment to the Admiralty and on into his formative years as Prime Minister and war leader.
In 1939 the Royal Navy was already on a war footing before the declaration of war between Britain and Germany. Early in the year, the Royal Navy had prepared and executed major naval exercises that involved bringing back from reserve older warships, speeding refits, and mobilizing the RNR. Fuel and supplies were distributed to key points around the world, ready to support warships on active service. At the end of the exercises, the reserve sailors were kept at mobilization and warships were steamed to their active duty stations, Sir Dudley was closely involved in these preparations and it is impossible to over-commend these preparations. Without them, it is likely that the Germans would have established an early superiority at sea which would have been difficult and costly to wrest back from them. As it was, politicians had lavishly overspent the ‘peace dividend’ after 1918. and the Royal Navy had been badly neglected. Sir Dudley was therefore forced to fight at a disadvantage in the early years. The Battle of the River Plate was a very welcome early moral booster and demonstrated the effective use of what naval assets were available. It meant that HMS Exeter was able to limp to the Falklands, to be patched up sufficiently to return her home port for major repairs. Without that restocking of the Falklands ahead of the declaration of war, HMS Exeter might have been lost and would certainly have been out of action for a very long period.
The Norwegian Campaign and the evacuation of the BEF from the beaches of Dunkirk have been written down by many historians as major disasters and, in military terms, they were defeats but, due to the work put in prior to war, and continued from there by Sir Dudley and his senior officers, they were limited defeats. That most of the BEF and many French troops were lifted from Dunkirk was a major naval success and went a long way towards ensuring that the Germans were not given the opportunity to land on undefended British beaches. Although Norway was a costly campaign, the Royal Navy again was able to recover personnel and equipment. Following on in a similar way, the decision to sink the French Fleet in their North African ports was a painful but unavoidable necessity and Sir Dudley did not shrink from being closely associated with this decision.
Sir Dudley was unfortunate to have had to preside over naval activities though the period of survival and reconstruction, but then dying before the victory that he had contributed so much to the success of. However, he achievements were all the more impressive, fighting against odds and laying the foundations for the fight back and eventual victory. Through this period he worked closely with Churchill and provided the support the great war leader needed.
This is an excellent review and biography that throws new light on a period of British history that was magnificent. The Empire may have been in ruins and Britain on the edge of bankruptcy after 1945 but the most extraordinary Empire in history went out with a roar, standing alone in Europe against another attempt by a dictator to create a union of Europe by force and destroy democracy. Sir Dudley was one of a handful of people who made that stand possible and encouraged others to rally to Britain’s side. The performance of the Commonwealth was equally magnificent, with volunteers crossing great distances to join the fight. Although the US waited until after the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbour American volunteers came to fight alongside Britain and the Commonwealth. All made possible by the work of Sir Dudley and others to support Churchill through the darkest hours and keep the flame of democracy alight in Europe.