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The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945

Its Organization, Defence, and Operation

Hague, Arnold

2000, United States Naval Inst.
ISBN 1557500193
Hardcover, 200 pages

Type. Reference
Pros. In-depth statistical analysis. Wonderful statistical resource.
Cons. Dry reading. Meant for reference, not reading.

Hague, a retired Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander, author of The Towns: Destroyers for Great Britain, Sloops 1926-1946, co-author of Convoys to Russia, and a former sub-editor of Jane's Fighting Ships has here produced nothing new. He has, instead, published a work intended originally, at the request of the Naval Historical Branch in London, for reference use to assist in replying to convoy enquiries. His work on the Allied convoy system is the result of six years of study and reflects his thirty years of naval service, beginning in 1949 as a National Service rating, specializing in ship movements, naval operations and communications, and ending in 1979 after having commanded two Royal Navy Reserve communications centres and the West Midlands Sea Cadet Corps.

It is a technical reference source, not lending itself to an easy Sunday afternoon read, but very useful for specific details rather than eloquent narrative. Included are definitions of the multi-various acronyms found in navalspeak, punctuated definitions, codes, and a short history of the strategic and tactical development of the convoy system, from Julius Caesar's expeditionary fleet through the years leading up to the Second World War. In addition, chapters one and three also cover convoy composition, command and control both in home waters, at sea and abroad. Several chapters are devoted to specific types of ships vital to convoy security and safety, naval intelligence, and enemy dangers such as submarines and aircraft. Throughout are scattered photographs of ships, aircraft and their weapons, captioned by extensive and informative narrative, as well as comprehensive lists of convoys, primarily in the European Theatre, including departure dates, arrival dates, cross-indexed casualties, origins and destinations. Chapter seventeen is devoted exclusively to personnel losses.

This text is the kind of summary which might be submitted to the Admiralty by a staff intelligence officer completing an after-action report for several campaigns simultaneously. For the serious student of naval history, this is a must-have.

Review written by S. Chris Kelly.

Published on 2 Jul 2001.

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