Pen & Sword

Pen & Sword Publications (& Frontline Books)

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Written by two enthusiasts this book tells of exploits on land and at sea, of the good flights and the not so good flights.

Larry Jeram-Croft spent thirty years in the RN first as an Aircraft Engineer then as a helicopter pilot, flew in the Falklands war and received the Queens Commendation for Search and Rescue duties.

Terry Martin studied medicine and learnt to fly at the University Air Squadron. Qualifying as a doctor and a pilot within two months of each other he spent ten years on active service with the RAF followed by 17 years as a reservist. He has owned several Wasps since 2000.

A very interesting read especially for all aircraft enthusiasts. My only criticism is that there are several references to controls and equipment that are unknown to the layman so a better description of their function etc would have been beneficial.







While this book is predominantly about the war in the Mediterranean and specifically with regard to the French Fleet after Frances capitulation the author has also thrown light on the interference made by officials in the war office and associated politicians some of whom had no experience of war at sea. Meticulously researched and including items from the papers of those who served this is a read that takes you to the scene of events.


This is a big book in more ways than one. 841 pages of fairly small font that tells of the fight against the U-Boat in two World Wars. But the book isn’t just names facts and figures as the more I read the more I felt that the author was speaking to me. The amount of research that must of gone into producing this epic tale is mind blowing. I recommend it to all but especially to ex Submariners.

isbn 1848841 35-3


Churchill’s Thin Grey Line

The first British casualties of the Second World War were not members of either the Royal Navy, the Army or the Royal Air Force but British merchant seamen on the liner Athenia, torpedoed by U-30 on 3 September 1939. For the duration of the War Britain’s merchant fleet performed a vital role, carrying the essential supplies that kept the country running during the darkest days and then made victory possible. Their achievements came at a terrible cost with 2,535 British ocean-going merchant ships being sunk and, of the 185,000 men and women serving in the British Merchant Navy at the time, 36,749 sacrificed their lives. A further 4,707 were wounded and 5,720 ended up in prisoner of war camps. Their casualty rate of 25 percent was second only to RAF Bomber Command’s. Using casebook examples, this well researched book tells the inspiring story of those brave civilian volunteers who fought so gallantly to defend their ships and the cargoes.

About Bernard Edwards

Bernard Edwards pursued a sea-going career commanding ships trading worldwide. After nearly forty years afloat. Captain Edwards settled in a tiny village in rural South Wales, to pursue his second career as a writer. His extensive knowledge of the sea and ships has enabled him to produce many authentic and eminently readable books which have received international recognition. Beware Raiders!, Attack and Sink!, The Cruel Sea Retold, The Quiet Heroes, Twilight of the U-Boats, Death in the Doldrums, The Road to Russia, The Wolf Packs Gather, The Decoys and U-boats Beyond Biscay have been published by Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 9781526711663


Otto Kretschmer

Otto Kretschmer was only in combat from September 1939 until March 1941 but was Germany’s highest-scoring U-boat commander sinking 47 ships totalling 274,333 tons. This definitive work details his personal story and the political backdrop from his earliest days. Aged 17 he spent 8 months studying literature at Exeter University where he learned to speak English fluently. The following year, on 1 April 1930, he enlisted as an officer candidate in the Weimar Republic’s small navy.
After completing his officer training and time on the training ship Niobe he served aboard the light cruiser Emden. In December 1934 he was transferred to the light cruiser Köln, then in January 1936 made the move to the fledgling U-boat service. His first operational posting was to the 2nd U-Flotilla’s Type VII U35 where he almost being drowned during training in the Baltic Sea! During the Spanish Civil War, he was involved in several patrols as part of the international non-intervention force.

He was finally given command of U23, a post which he held until April 1940. He had already sunk 8 ships including the destroyer HMS Daring east of Pentland Firth on 18 February 1940. He demonstrated a cool approach to combat: his mantra ‘one torpedo for one ship’ proved that the best way for his boat to succeed against a convoy was to remain surfaced as much as possible, penetrating the convoy and using the boat’s high speed and small silhouette to avoid retaliation.

His nickname ‘Silent Otto’ referred to his ability to remain undetected and his reluctance to provide the regular radio reports required by Dönitz: he had guessed that the Allies had broken German codes. Alongside his military skill was a character that remained rooted in the traditions of the Prussian military. While other U-boat commanders and crew returned from patrol with beards and a relaxed demeanour, U99 always returned with all men clean-shaven and paraded on deck.

In the Bowmanville POW camp he organised a 2-way radio link to the German Naval High Command and planned a mass breakout with a U-boat rendezvous arranged. He was also instrumental in the ‘Battle of Bowmanville’ that lasted for 3 days in October 1942. His antics behind the wire became the inspiration for the 1970 film ‘The McKenzie Break’.
Postwar he answered the call for volunteers upon the establishment of the Bundesmarine. He retired from the rank of Flotillenadmiral in 1970. He suffered a fall celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary aboard a boat and died two days later at the age of 86. ISBN 9781784381929


I have really enjoyed reading this book written by Brian Cooper. He must have had to carry out a huge amount of research to enable him to go into so much detail. The description of some of the engagements carried out by the RN & USN makes you feel as though you are witnessing the event. The book covers all areas of engagement carried out by these small ships and their brave crews, the North Sea, English Channel, Mediterranean, the Far East and in Japanese held waters. I recommend this book. ISBN 184884018-7


In my opinion this is a superb read. As stated above it is the story of HMS GLOUCESTER from construction to sinking. A harrowing story of endless days fighting, of having to abandon ship, survival, waiting for rescue and appalling treatment as Prisoners Of War as told by survivors. This is a ‘difficult to put down‘ book.

If interested in purchasing a copy contact me as I may be able to obtain a small discount. ISBN 978 1 52670 211 1




I initially said that this publication should be of interest to our many “Communications” members. While this is still true to a degree I have found that this true story is more about the American authors personal relationships while working for the RN and subsequently the USA authorities. Nevertheless it is a good interesting read which I think the ladies will also enjoy.


The Decoys

The Decoys

An Overview

* An overdue study of three disastrous Allied Atlantic convoys.

* Important descriptions of preparations for Operation TORCH -The Allied invasion of North Africa  at the time the largest and most ambitious invasion in history.

* Examines the evidence whether Allied High Command sacrificed the merchant convoys to save the all-important invasion force.

* Studies Admiral Donitz’s U-boat operations.

* Controversial with serialisation potential.


In November 1942, Britain and America launched Operation TORCH, the ambitious invasion of French North African colonies of Morocco and Algeria.

To convey 70,000 troops and their equipment required 350 merchant ships crossing the U-boat infested North Atlantic from the USA and 250 more sailing south from British ports. The need for a high level of protection for these meant withdrawing large numbers of escorts from the routine trade convoys. Amongst those left without adequate defence were RB 1 and SC 107, both eastbound from America, and SL 125, northbound from Freetown. All three were at sea at the same time as the TORCH convoys.

Predictably, Admiral Donitz threw the full weight of his 140 Atlantic U-boat fleet  against the now vulnerable trade convoys, which between them lost thirty-one ships and 792 men. While this unprecedented massacre was in progress, the troop-carrying convoys slipped miraculously through entirely without incident.

There is nothing on record to say that RB 1, SC 107 and SL 125 were sacrificed to ensure the safe passage of the TORCH convoys but this superbly researched book sets out to examine the truth behind the rumours.

Were they sacrificed, were they set up? I think the jury is still out on this but all the events leading up to these convoys are very suspect. The amount of research that must have been carried out to enable the author to put together such a detailed account is impressive. One gets a sense of the stress and fear that the crews of these old slow merchant ships had to endure and the bravery of many. A very exciting and informative read.





Battle of The River Plate

The Battle Of The River Plate – Review

I very much enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons not least of all as I am in contact with the grandson of Commodore Harwood who commanded the Royal Navy Squadron involved.

I found the book to be an excellent read which covered the sequence of events before, during and after the battle in short but concise individual chapters.

Other books on this subject have concentrated on the battle whereas the author, Gordon Landsborough, sets the scene where Commodore Harwood plots the most likely area where the Graf Spee is to be found and why. He then turns to the battle giving enough detail to follow the chase and conflict then concluding with the triumphant return of the ships and crews to their home ports.

I recommend this book.

The Battle of The River Plate

The First Naval Battle of the Second World War

Gordon Landsborough

Frontline Books

ISBN: 978-1-47387-895-2


Churchill's Greatest Fear ISBN 1473834007

Many books have been written about The Battle Of The Atlantic which has been described as the pivotal campaign of WWII. However I feel that this publication ranks among the best. Yes it gives numbers of ships sunk and tonnage lost, U-Boats destroyed and crews killed but all through the book there are other snippets of information that I haven’t seen before. Superb research by the author makes for a very interesting and enjoyable read in my opinion. I can recommend this publication.


U-Boat War Patrol

U-Boat War Patrol
The Hidden Photographic Diary of U 564
Lawrence Paterson ISBN 978-1-84832-784-9
This is, in my opinion, a remarkable book. A photographic collection detailing the life on board U564 of its crew under the leadership of its commanding officer Reinhard ‘Teddy’ Suhren, a charismatic officer who was outspoken and obviously anti-Nazi.
Teddy Suhren was a top U Boat commander along with the likes of Kretschmer and Prien during the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. I find it difficult to find the right words to say about this true story without upsetting those who lost relatives to U Boat activities during WWII but the author has managed to show the human side of a crew going about their task without glorifying the dreadful events they took part in. I recommend this book published by Frontline-Books.


Escape from the Japanese
Lt Cdr Ralph Burton Goodwin OBE RNZNVR
Publishers Front Line-Books ISBN 1848329296 9 781848 329294

Lt Cdr Goodwin was capture by the Japanese at the fall of Hong Kong during WWII and imprisoned in the Shamsuipo PoW Camp. After recovery from an injury Cdr Goodwin was determined to escape even though he knew that by every normal standard an escape would be almost impossible and knowing what would happen should he be caught. However he was no ordinary person, he made plans and collected a small escape collection of food and equipment then, when the time seemed right, he went over the wire.

What followed is a tale of human endurance and ingenuity plus a vivid description of the countries he travelled through until reunited with his family in New Zealand.
I recommend this book.


Total Germany

ISBN 1473844649 9 781473844643

Total Germany is a very concise but comprehensive account of the RN’s part in the war at sea. Not only does it cover every major event during WWII the author brings up some other less well know actions. My only small criticism would be that there are quite a few repetitions about some facts that I feel could have been omitted. A thoroughly enjoyable read.


The Watery Grave

The author, Richard Osborne, has delved deeply into the records so as to cover every aspect of this WWII event. He paints a vivid picture of the torpedoing of HMS MANCHESTER and the subsequent Court Marshal of the ships captain.

A ‘Frontline publication available from Pen & Sword isbn 978-1-47384-585-5

The Watery Grave text


German U-Boat Losses During World War II: Details of Destruction

Axel Niestlé

German U-Boat Losses
No other publication on this subject comes even close to including the amount of detail provided in this book on individual German submarines lost in World War II. In this fully update edition of this unique work, the results of sixteen years’ further research, including the results of dives on U-boat wrecks, have been incorporated to fill in many gaps and correct mistaken wartime reports. The fates of sixty-five U-boats have either been finally determined or corrected from the previous edition.
Information given includes the hull number of each U-boat, its date of commissioning, commanding officer and the date and port of departure for its last patrol. It also gives the date, position, and cause of loss of each submarine, with complete details on Allied units involved in the sinking, the names and ranks of their commanding officers and pilots, and the number of crew killed or rescued.
Such a detailed compilation of up-to-date information on the whereabouts of every German U-boat contracted or impressed by the German Kriegsmarine between 1939-1945 will prove invaluable to scholars and enthusiasts alike.

ISBN 978-1-84832-210-3


Capital Ships at war 39-45

Capital Ships at War: 1939-1945 and The War at Sea in the Mediterranean 1940-44John Grehan & Martin Mace
The two latest titles from our ‘Despatches from the Front’ series. Capital Ships at War (ISBN 9781783462049) includes official reports on the Battles of the River Plate and Denmark Straight; the despatch from Admiral Tovey on the loss of HMS Hood; the reports on the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse from the senior surviving officer; full despatches on the midget submarine attack upon the Tirpitz, as well as a full account of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945.
The War at Sea in the Mediterranean (ISBN 9781783462223) comprises of a detailed summary of the Malta convoys, the official account of the Taranto raid; reports of the Battles of Matapan, Sirte, Calabria and Cape Spartivento and despatches on Coastal Forces and actions in the Agean.
Altogether, both titles provide some of the most exciting stories of the Second World War.


Beware Raiders

Beware Raiders!: German Surface Raiders in the Second World WarBernard Edwards ISBN 9781473822832

The story of two German surface raiders & the havoc they caused amongst Allied shipping in WWII. One was the 8″ gun cruiser Admiral Hipper & the other a converted merchantman Kandelfels armed with a few old 5.9 guns manned largely by reservists. The author emphasises the striking contrast between the conduct of the respective captains.


Killing The Bismarck – Destroying the Pride of Hitler’s Fleet

ISBN 1783462655

The Royal navy’s pursuit & destruction of the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941 was an epic of naval warfare. This book radically alters our perception of this legendary episode, by focusing on the first-hand accounts of British sailors, marines & carrier aviators. Controversially the author presents testimony that appears to indicate the stricken Bismarck was trying to surrender. We experience the British battlecruiser Hood’s destruction; we fly in Swordfish torpedo-bombers during the desperate bids to cripple Bismarck. The final showdown sees battleships Rodney & King George V supported by cruisers destroy the pride of Hitler’s fleet.

Killing the Bismarck is delivered with the verve of a novel, taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride across stormy seas.


Images Of War book

World War Two at Sea: The Last BattleshipsPhilip Kaplan ISBN 1783036389
The big-gun battleship served as a symbol of ultimate power of the world’s greatest navies, beginning late in the nineteenth century and continuing into the Second World War. In this book, veteran battleship crew members describe their unforgettable experiences, including those of a young officer in a British battleship at Jutland; tales of the loss of the German warship Scharnhorst in the Arctic off the North Cape; the combat experience inside a sixteen-inch gun turret aboard an Iowa-class battleship bombarding Iraq during the Gulf War, and the adventures of HMS Warspite in World War One, in the Mediterranean and on her way to the breaker’s yard in 1947. Included too is the story of the great German battleship Bismarck, which sank the pride of the British fleet, the story of HMS Hood, and that of the USS Missouri on whose deck the final surrender document of the Second World War was signed.
The text is combined with a compelling selection of historic images representing the era of the great battleships from the early years through the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the preservation of a handful of these vessels as museum pieces today.


Warships of the Kriegsmarine: Battleships of the Bismarck Class and Pocket Battleships of the Deutschland ClassKoop & Schmolke
The warships of the World War II era German Navy are among the most popular subject in naval history with an almost uncountable number of books devoted to them. However, for a concise but authoritative summary of the design history and careers of the major surface ships it is difficult to beat this series of six volumes written by Gerhard Koop and illustrated by Klaus-Peter Schmolke. Each contains an account of the development of a particular class, a detailed description of the ships, with full technical details, and an outline of their service, heavily illustrated with plans, battle maps and a substantial collection of photographs. Out of print for ten years or more and much sought after by enthusiasts and collectors, this new edition of the series will be widely welcomed.
The first volume is devoted to the Kriegsmarine’s largest and most powerful units, the battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz, whose careers stand in stark contrast to each other – one with a glorious but short life, while the other was to spend a hunted existence in Norwegian fjords, posing a threat to Allied sea communications and being attacked by everything from midget submarines to heavy bombers. While the second volume covers the three ships of a design so revolutionary that it defied conventional categories. Deutschland (later renamed Lützow), Admiral Scheer and Admiral Graf Spee were simply termed panzerschiffe (armoured ships) by the Germans, but they were known to their opponents by the far more evocative term; Pocket Battleships.

Limbang Rebellion

Limbang Rebellion: Seven Days in December 1962 Eileen Chanin ISBN 1783461918

Early December 1962 saw a surprise rebel uprising in northern Borneo. The leader of the anti-colonialist North Kalimantan National Army, Sheikh Azahari, had mounted the insurrection that became known as the Brunei Revolt. It aimed to thwart Britain and Malaya’s plan to combine the British territories of Borneo into a new Federation of Malaysia. The river town of Limbang, an administrative centre in the British colony of Sarawak, played a pivotal role in the rebellion, one that would lead to the military and diplomatic conflict known as ‘Konfrontasi’.

Combining eyewitness accounts with thorough research, Eileen Chanin reveals what it was like to be thrown into this intense and unexpected conflict, where hostages were taken and threatened with execution. She describes the involvement of the Royal Marines under Captain Jeremy Moore MC, and the daring rescue mission he led under challenging circumstances, which included being vastly outnumbered by the rebel forces. The result is a gripping account of seven dramatic days when a small town in northern Borneo suddenly seized the world’s attention. This is a must read for all who served on Tons during the ‘Konfrontasi’ 1962 & especially the crews of the FISKERTON & CHAWTON. Our Hon Sec, Peter Down, is mentioned in this publication having supplied some information to the author due to him being involved in the operation. In my humble opinion this is a well written book which places the reader in the heart of the location & subsequent events.


Arctic Warriors

Arctic Warriors is a rare & graphic account that captures the atmosphere of the famously costly convoy PQ18 & others like it. If any doubts remain of the terrible conditions & dangers that merchant seamen faced in the hostile waters of the North Atlantic & Barents Sea this superb record will surely put them to rest. By Alfred Grossmith Mason, edited by his daughter Julie Grossmith Deltrice. ISBN 978-78303-037-8. I finished reading this book just after the screening of a programme on TV about Arctic Convoy PQ17. The description of PQ18 in this book emphasised to me the dreadful conditions everyone who sailed on these voyages suffered. A good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.


War of Motor Gun Boats

The author of The War of the Motor Gun Boats, Tony Chapman, joined the RN after witnessing the bombing of Southampton during November 1940. Within hours of being posted to his first MGB Telegraphist Tony was involved in an epic Coastal Forces engagement when his flotilla took on 30 German E-Boats. Written from the perspective of one of the ‘other ranks’ the book fills an important gap in the literature of WWII. ISBN 978 1 78346 224 7. I have just finished reading this book. Not only was it most enjoyable but any ‘Ton’ man, especially those who served on Inshore Sweepers, will relate to the description of living on board small ships & the camaraderie that lives to this day.


Donitz, U-Boats, Convoys

This book gives a unique combined account of the Battle of the Atlantic from both the German & British viewpoints. The author, Jak P. Mallmann Showell combines the memoirs of Admiral Karl Donitz & the Admiralty Monthly Anti-Submarine Reports which together gives possibly the most complete contemporary account of the desperate struggle in the North Atlantic during WWII. ISBN 978-1-84832-701-6 As stated above the author has used extracts from two sources, one of which has only relatively recently been released, the Anti-Submarine Reports. He states, or implies, that the contents of some previous publications on the U-Boat war may be incorrect due to new information he has gleaned from these documents.

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