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Viewing Topic "NVG 226 - Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45"
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Posted by: KenA
Posted on: 20/10/2015 04:58:32

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Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 117
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I have just received my copy of NVG title “Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45” by Angus Konstam and have had a quick skim though it and already I am rather grumpy.  I get the impression that this book is simply a regurgitation of the obvious, with very little on operational history.  In fact, I don't think it's going to tell me anything that I don't already know.

What I was looking for (apart from coverage of the obvious Canadian, Australian and New Zealand navy cruisers of WWII that would make up the bulk of the book) was coverage of those cruisers which had high proportions of Commonwealth personal on board or which were to be allocated to Dominion/Commonwealth navies but which for one reason or another were withheld.

One ship in this latter category that I know of was the Leander-class light cruiser, HMS Neptune.  The New Zealand Government had responded to a British Admiralty request for more sailors to man the increasing number of ships being brought into service.  The intention was to form a New Zealand crew for an additional cruiser and the Neptune had been approved for this purpose.  She had been expected to leave the UK for New Zealand in late May or early June 1941 but was instead attached to the 7th Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean because of heavy losses of cruisers incurred during the Crete campaign.  The Neptune became part of Force K, based on Malta, and later in the early hours of 19 December 1941 it was sunk by mines in heavy seas and strong winds 20 miles north of Tripoli, Libya.  There was only one survivor from the ship’s company; 757 officers and ratings were lost, of whom 150 were New Zealanders.  The loss of the Neptune remains the greatest single tragedy New Zealand Naval Forces have experienced.

Needless to say, the Neptune does not get a mention by Angus Konstam in his book.  Goodness, didn’t he know about it?  The bibliography is interesting also in as much as there is no reference to “The Royal New Zealand Navy” by S. D. Waters (part of The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-1945), which makes me wonder if the author ever referred to it (the link to the section dealing with the Neptune is below).  Just how much research did Angus do for this book?

I can’t help feeling that I’ve been short-changed with “Commonwealth Cruisers” and that I’m going to get even grumpier as I read it in depth.  And NVGs are going up in price from the start of next year!  The quality is going to have to get a lot better than this or there are going to be a lot of unsold copies around.

For those who would like to read a bit more about HMS Neptune, here are some links:

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Navy-c13.html

http://www.navy.mil.nz/np/naval-reserve/naval-reserve-history/neptune-reserve-hero.htm

http://www.hmsneptune.com/history1.htm

Posted on: 20/10/2015 04:58:33
Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 347
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

This all makes rather depressing reading, KenA. I've long thought that all the Naval New Vanguards are of limited use and the price rise in the New Year does not help matters. I had been thinking of getting this title, but I'm having serious second thoughts now. I do hope Mr. Konstam will not diappoint with his book on Taranto next month.

Posted on: 20/10/2015 14:06:46
Posted by: Kazuaki Shimazaki
Total Posts: 24
Joined Date: Saturday, 29 November 2014

I think we have to go in with reasonable expectations. The book is 48 pages, there are lots of cruisers and Commonwealth Cruisers are not the most popular topic (thus they are all crammed into one book). This almost predetermines the fate of the book as being survey and would be on a basic level not too suitable for one who already knows something about them or insists on having a particular ship included.

I agree, however, that many naval New vanguards are not very strong, with the IJN destroyer duo being the weakest I've seen yet. Navies don't seem to be a core interest of Osprey readership and so there are few books covering a single class like how many land Vanguard books only cover one vehicle. Detail obviously suffers.

Posted on: 20/10/2015 18:05:51
Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 117
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Well Kazuaki, you certainly have a valid point that many NVG titles are only 48 pages long, which cuts down the scope for provision of information and detail, and that many of the naval NVGs are not very strong.  I will take issue with you on one point though and that is that the popularity of a topic should not be a determinant of how well a book should be researched and written.

And yes you are correct that many naval NVG titles attempt to cover too many ships within the one book so that the end result is but a quick survey.

However, the NVG title “Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45” is somewhat more specialised than the run-of-the-mill naval NVG title.  There were but a limited number of such cruisers.  Indeed, there were only twelve; I repeat, twelve.  To cover those in a 48 page book hardly requires cramming.

Perhaps I didn’t make it clear in my initial post that I wasn’t expecting the same coverage for cruisers, such as the Neptune (and those in a similar position to her), as for the RCN, RAN and RNZN WWII cruisers.  I did, however, expect them to get some sort of mention.  When cruisers such as the Chatham, Dunedin, Diomede, Melbourne, Aurora and a variety of other WWI cruisers that had no involvement in WWII are mentioned in the opening sections it does make you wonder a bit.  The coverage and balance in this book does not gel for me.

What I didn’t say in my earlier post was that there are some good tables at the back of the book that provide a handy ready reference.  What it comes down to is that I think the text could have been improved to complement the tables and provide more information to the reader on the subject.

Posted on: 20/10/2015 20:45:31
Posted by: PAUL W
Total Posts: 272
Joined Date: Sunday, 4 January 2015

I have just read all of the book and found it very interesting, I came into it with a very limited knowledge of the subject, so found it very useful. By and large I prefer the naval nvg to the land ones, which for me tend to concentrate too much on the actual mechanics of the vehicle and not enough on their deployment (each to their own though). I'm also really looking forward to Mr Konstam's Taranto book this month as have been waiting for it since it was pulled several years back. Same to for thr River Plate book next year.

Posted on: 09/11/2015 18:17:09
Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 347
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

In the introduction the author states: "Britain was responsible for the defense of the Empire as a whole...Dominions were an exception...The Balfour declaration of 1926...included India, Canada etc..."

No, India (and Pakistan) only became dominions in 1947. This is schoolboy stuff.

Posted on: 23/12/2015 14:18:03

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