Jan K. Herman, The Lucky Few: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2013, 134pp. Review by CDRE Jack McCaffrie of the Seapower Centre, Australia. THE Lucky Few is a slim easily read account of the chaotic evacuation from South Vietnam in April and May 1975, as the North Vietnamese Army approached Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). It focuses on the convoy of mostly South Vietnamese Navy vessels carrying about 30,000 refugees from Saigon to Subic Bay, before their onward passage to the USA. But it is also the story of the USS Kirk, a Knox class frigate commanded by Commander Paul Jacobs, which played a key role in the successful operation.
By Tony Bentley-Buckle Edited by Captain Peter Hore RN Whittles Publishing, Caithness, 2013 www.whittlespublishing.com Hardback; 143 pages with 44 b/w illustrations and end notes. ISBN 978-184995-066-4 Reviewed by David Hobbs THIS IS the second in a series of autobiographical books, edited by Peter Hore, that focus on people connected with naval warfare and the sea. Tony Bentley-Buckle led a particularly adventurous life; he was the son of a rubber planter in Ceylon, born in Belgium while his parents were on holiday and subsequently raised in England by aunts before joining the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1938. In the early war years he served in the cruisers Dunedin and Edinburgh before joining the battleship Revenge in the Eastern Fleet during 1941.
By Iain Ballantyne Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley, 2004, pp.256; ISBN 1-84415-059-3. Reviewed by Dr Saul Kelly, King’s College, London. THE AUTHOR wrote this book within a year of the toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq by an Allied Coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom. It has been reissued by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, presumably to coincide with the tenth anniversary of that significant event, which can now be seen as sounding the death knell of the old nationalist dictatorships in the Middle East and the emergence of their old enemies, the Islamists, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, the Yemen, and Syria.
Steel Cat: the story of HMAS Brisbane, Vietnam and Gulf War Veteran by Ken Doolan: Grinkle Press, 2009. ISBN 9780980282115. 208PP. RRP $22 +$10 postage Reviewed by Ian Pfennigwerth, Proud veteran of DDGs Brisbane and Perth WHY review a four-year-old book? Because I think that it is worth consideration, even more so now as international events have demonstrated ever more clearly the value to Australia of ships like our lost guided missile destroyers. Ken Doolan was one of 25 fortunate men to have commanded Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Brisbane, last of three guided missile destroyers (DDG) commissioned into the RAN in the 1960s, and the story he tells is not of the ‘Boys’ Own’ variety, although the ships themselves inspired that kind of reaction.
Lost: The stories of all ships lost by the Royal Australian Navy by Allen Lyne, Moana Heights SA, Self-published, 2013. ISBN: 9780646903750. RRP $32 + $3 postage within Australia Reviewed by Ian Pfennigwerth WHO KNEW that the RAN had lost 45 ships in its hundred years of existence? Probably nobody, until Allen Lyne spent five years researching the issue. His book describes the background, circumstances and the events leading to these losses, some of them well known, others far from so. Those not overly familiar with the history and circumstances in which the RAN has operated and fought will be grateful for the author’s thorough explanations. Lyne has also used his researcher’s prerogative to pass judgment on who or what was to blame for the losses.
Land Based Air Power or Aircraft Carriers? A Case Study of the British Debate about Maritime Air Power in the 1960s by Gjert Lage Dyndal ISBN 978-1-4094-3335-4 Ashgate Publishing both in the UK and USA www.ashgate.com 180 pages, 5 maps, 4 photographs Reviewed by David Hobbs THIS IS the sixth in a series of studies by the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies. The author is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Norwegian Air Force and Dean of Academics at the Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy who was awarded his PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2009. He has written three earlier books on military subjects.
British Cruisers of the Victorian Era By Norman Friedman ISBN 978-1-84832-099-4 Seaforth Publishing www.seaforthpublishing.com 352 pages including Bibliography, Notes, Appendices and ship Data. Extensively illustrated with photographs and drawings. Reviewed by David Hobbs THE TERM “cruiser” came into general use in the 1880s to describe ships capable of both long endurance for the protection of Britain's Imperial trade routes and, in the case of some of the larger examples, acting as a fast wing of the battle fleet. The new description replaced the terms frigate, sloop and corvette which gradually fell out of use with the result that ships described as cruisers covered a very wide range from under 1,000 to over 10,000 tons.
Force Z Shipwrecks of the South China Sea By Rod McDonald Whittles; softback, 156 pages Reviewed by Jack Aubrey THE SHIPWRECKS of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse lie in relatively shallow water compared with the wrecks of HMAS Sydney and its opponent Kormoran. For many in Britain in WWII, the loss of the two British ships resonated throughout the community much as the loss of our own 645 brave sailors did with Australia’s sinking in 1941.
British Destroyers - J-C and Battle Classes By Les Brown Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley www.seaforthpublishing.com ISBN 978-1-84832-180-9 Reviewed by David Hobbs NUNMBER 21 in Seaforth's Ship Craft series, this book follows logically on from number 11 which described the 'A' to 'I' and 'Tribal' classes. Although aimed primarily at ship model-makers, the book is well illustrated with black and white photographs of the actual ships; colour photographs of models and accurate coloured profile drawings showing representative wartime camouflage schemes.
The Battleship Builders - Constructing and Arming British capital Ships by Ian Johnston & Ian Buxton Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley www.seaforthpublishing.com ISBN 978-1-84832-093-2 £30.00 in the UK Reviewed by David Hobbs THE BRITISH built more battleships than any other nation and this fascinating book contains a wealth of detail about the shipyards, dockyards, ordnance works, steel works, foundries and other sites where the hulls and their systems were built as well as the design and functioning of the ships themselves. There are maps of the various yards with explanatory notes about the processes that went on in their buildings; descriptions of how gun barrels, working chambers, turrets, boilers and turbines were assembled ashore and then dismantled to be taken to the ships for installation and a wealth of other detail, including the manpower in the factories.