Home' Afloat : October 2013 Contents 60 AFLOAT.com.au October 2013
Books reviewed by Ken Broadhead
BOOKS OF THE
Boat Books Tel: 1300 262 826
Old Sea Dogs of Tasmania Wilson 6028
Talented Tasmanian photographer and author Andrew
Wilson brings stories and photographs of colourful old
sailors, and fshermen and shipwrights from our beautiful
and rugged island state, along with scenic shots of
Tasmania's world-famous coastline. Includes stories on:
Bern Cuthbertson re-enacted Bass and Flinders' famous
circumnavigation of Tasmania; a Strahan family who
has harvested the Huon Pine for 3 generations; and the
Wilson Bros of Port Cygnet, who are currently restoring
the stunning 8 meter classic Va r g . All together there are
14 Old Sea Dogs profled in the book and many more stories relating to boatbuilding
and fshing. HB 240 pages $49.95
Expert Sailing Skills Cunliffe 2783
Popular sailing author Tom Cunliffe teaches sailors how to
improve a vast range of sailing skills, from dropping anchor
to fxing an engine or using onboard electronics. Each
chapter deals with a specifc skill and is highly illustrated
with step-by-step photos, including: perfect your spinnaker
technique, learn how to dry out your yacht and pick up some
tips for successful single-handed sailing. There's advice on
everything from passage planning to boat handling and all
delivered with easy to follow photographs and diagrams. Tom
cuts through the theory to explain what really works – often setting sail with normal
yachtsmen and women to solve their cruising conundrums. HB 180 pages $45.00
They sang like Kangaroos:
Australia's Tinpot Navy
in the Great War
by Dr Anthony Delano
published by Arcadia, Australian Scholarly
Publishing Pty Ltd, North Melbourne
RRP $34.95 (paperback; 247pp)
Dr Delano outlines the fledging RAN's contribution to the
Great War when its ships, men and deployments were under
control of the Royal Navy (RN). In this respect it complements
well the 'Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume
IX The Royal Australian Navy', by Arthur Jose (1928). The book is
timely given that the International Fleet Review to mark the
centenary of the first entry by RAN vessels to Sydney Harbour
in 1913 takes place this month.
It tells how attempts by the Australian government to develop
a fleet that would support Australia's regional interests were
inhibited by the Admiralty and how RN-trained officers ran the
RAN until the start of WW2. It could almost be published as
a Supplement to the Official Volume. Jose was subject to an
Admiralty policy, overseen by a RN officer appointed to 'edit'
his work whereby 'criticisms
or discussions of the policy
pursued when building up
the (Australian) Fleet are
not required ... criticisms
or discussions of ... actual
operations should be omitted ...
the Admiralty alone can judge
what should be disclosed and
what should be hidden'.
The Official Histories of
the AIF and the Australian
Flying Corps in the Great
War were not subject to
such explicit constraints.
Anthony Delano is well qualified to address this subject
and in doing so has done a fine service to the RAN. He was a
member of the RAN after WW2 and instructed by those who
had served between the wars and were professionally shaped
by their RN commanders. He had a lengthy career as a foreign
correspondent for British national newspapers and is a visiting
Professor at the London College of Communication. His writings
include major studies of the hunt for Ronnie Biggs, and the life
of Robert Maxwell. There is a comprehensive Bibliography, many
excellent photos and helpful copies of documents.
The author clearly knows the cultures involved and is
sympathetic to the Australian experience and the contributions
of Australian sailors. By 1918, they had shown the flag in every
ocean, plus the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The first
land campaign of the Great War was conducted successfully in
September 1914, in German New Guinea by the Australian Naval
and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) comprising RANR
members and military volunteers. Ironically, HMAS Australia
missed the Battle of Jutland in mid 1916 as she was undergoing
substantial repair following a collision on 22 April 1916 with
HMS New Zealand, the vessel that country had paid for but ceded
back to Britain.
The April 1918 raid on Zeebrugge (a Belgian port) that Delano
describes at 'the most daring and bloody naval action of the War'
was spearheaded by a team from the flagship HMAS Australia; for
which some Australian sailors were nominated for the Victoria
Cross. In the event, 'the (HMAS) Australia awards ... were the most
collected by any ship of the Grand Fleet'.
As with Graham Freudenberg's superb volume Churchill and
Australia (2008), this work is critical of Churchill's condescending
attitude to the Dominions while Dominions Secretary and First
Lord of the Admiralty.
But putting sensitivities about command, control and awards
aside, it must be acknowledged that 'Australia's Tinpot Navy'
through the Royal Navy was given ready access to centuries
of experience against formidable maritime opponents and the
unforgiving oceans, and world class training and technology.
These represented priceless benefits which still positively
influence our maritime security.
This book provides rich insights and is a wonderful addition
to the pantheon of Australian naval history. Delano acknowledges
a particular debt to the wise counsel of local historian Captain
Ian Pfenningwerth RAN (Ret'd).
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