- Nicholson, Ian
- History - WW2, Book reviews
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Title: For Those in Peril Author: Vic Cassells
An evocative title. On the title page, the author says “A comprehensive listing of the ships and men of the Royal Australian Navy who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the wars of the twentieth century”. The contents in no way belie the title.
But the way he has laid out the book makes this reviewer, and I’m sure I will not be alone, wish he had extended his listings to embrace all ships of the RAN up to the date of publication, because as it stands one’s appetite is whetted for the information not included, e.g. losses in HMAS ALBATROSS.
Forty four ships are listed under “The ships that died” and seventy three under the heading “The ones that got away…at a cost”, and I wonder how much more time he would have needed to include those ships near-missed by bombs, torpedoes, shells and collisions? e.g. HMAS KATOOMBA rammed by a USN tanker west of Darwin.
It would have been a most impressive and important record of the RAN in WWII and supplemented the Official History perfectly.
The book also shows the contribution made to the RAN’s efforts by our Reserve Forces, who so ardently identified themselves with the navy, and having done their job departed for “civvy street”. Then some years later realised they had” something” along with a number of other such people whom they had not seen for a long time and so the many ship associations came into being and are still there and give support to the RAN.
The information contained in the book will be of particular interest to those who served in WWll. There are a few casualties in WWI and only very few survivors today. Close examination of his details of ships will reveal some misinformation for which one must not blame the author. In the introduction he states inter alia,” information….from official Navy Office and Dockyard records…”. Regrettably Navy Office records are by no means sacrosanct. Thus the armament details of some of the ships are as designed but not “as fitted” on commissioning, and in the Navy Office records, over the years, the mistakes have become enshrined and the mists of time have swallowed the truth.
Indeed, perhaps someday the “corvettes” will evoke the question as to why they were fitted for mineswseeping?
Despite this, by virtue of its listing of casualties and commanding officers and the inclusion of some “incidents” not generally known by the navy of that day and even less by that of today, the book must take its place as a very valuable addition to the history of the Royal Australian Navy. As I said when reviewing “By Skill and Valour”, it should be on the shelves of the libraries of all ships and establishments. So should this book.