Review: Fighting Flotilla

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Review: Fighting Flotilla

Post by Andy H » 28 Dec 2012 17:11

Fighting Flotilla-RN Laforey Class Destroyers in World War 2 by Peter C Smith
Published by Pen & Sword (2012) ISBN1848842731


This book is about what in their final incarnation were to become the most powerful British Destroyers to see action in WW2. Though they were to be armed with 6 4.7” the problems in supply saw 4 of the first 6 ships armed with the reliable yet unremarkable 4” guns. The 8 ships of the Laforey were worked hard during the war, mainly seeing service in the Mediterranean where there powerful armament against aircraft came in for heavy usage. Equally in the later years of the war, especially along the coast of Italy, saw many instances of the ships engaging and being engaged by Axis ground artillery and armour.

The book is split into 8 chapters, dealing with the ships concept/origins, through to its planning and building, before finally moving on to the actions the ships were involved in. These first two chapters are by far the most interesting and detailed. Both in a narrative and technical sense. Anything you could ever want to know about these ships workings etc is encompassed in these two first chapters. They are worth the price of admission as it were themselves. Sadly its then followed by two chapters that could or should have been excluded in my opinion, without any detriment to the book overall. Chapter 3 deals with the broader history of the ships that bore the names of the Laforey class before them. This information has no real bearing on the thrust of the book. Equally Chapter 4, though only 10pages covers the personnel careers of the Flotilla commanders.
The final 4 chapters traces and records the service history of the ships with vigour and passion, that draws the reader in and leaves you with a true sense of what these ships and their crews went through in WW2.

The 4 Appendices are very interesting in their own right, with the first one on the Weapon Systems dovetailing nicely with Chapter 2’s contents. The book is well catered for in terms of photographs and line drawings, though some of the line drawings are poorly reproduced making them near impossible to read.

Overall this is a very good book and but for the rather poor second & third chapters I would have given this book 5 out of 5, but alas only 4 because of them.
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