Tribals, Battles and Darings

...the Genesis of the Modern Destroyer, from Seaforth Publications

Title: Tribals, Battles and Darings
Author: Alexander Clarke
Publisher: Seaforth Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-5267-7290-9

Sub-titled 'The Genesis of the Modern Destroyer' this tells us the stories of 3 famous classes of Royal Navy destroyers from WW2 and beyond. A 176-page hardback, which is also available in both E-pub and Kindle formats. Illustrated throughout with plenty of archive photos of vessels of all 3 classes, along with 3D diagrams of the ship layouts and tables listing the individual ships of all three classes, with their names, when and where they were built and so on.
For many who like to study the history of WW2, especially the Naval side of things, then some of the battles that took place during the war will be very familiar. The pursuit of the Bismarck, the capture of the Graf Spee supply ship, the Altmark, the battles of Matapan and Narvik as well as convoy escort as well. So much more in here than just the accounts of particular battles, but the context in which the Tribal destroyers were designed and built, starting in the 1930s, a larger, general purpose destroyer intended to be more than just a small, fast deliverer of torpedoes against larger warships. Influenced by the Naval treaties that put restrictions on warship building after WW1, and with a view to carrying out some of the diplomatic roles of a cruiser, when there were not enough cruisers to go round. They were larger, had a varied armament which included twin 4.5in gun turrets, torpedoes and anti-aircraft weapons plus the space for entertaining dignitaries. It was a time when supporting the British colonies around the world they proved invaluable. When war came, they proved their value and were able to fulfil their general purpose role, they were considered a 'back-pocket cruiser'. The book explains the background to their designs, the equipment they used such as ASDIC, Radar and gunnery control systems, along with the people and commanders who used them to great success. The wartime experience led to the Battle class, and also explains the slight changes made in these designs as they were adapted for wartime advances in equipment and operational experience. The Battles were built in 2 batches, in 1942 and 1943, while as the end of the war approached, the next class, Daring, was designed although these didn't enter service until the war was over. Incorporated within the text are tables listing the individual ships of each class, including details of the launch & commissioning dates, along with the names of the yards that built them.
I found this a really interesting read, with not just the stories of the actions they were involved in, but the context of the period they were designed in, balancing capability with cost. Sound familiar? These were good looking ships that gave excellent service to the Royal Navy and I learnt a lot from reading this book.
Thanks to Seaforth Publishing, part of Pen & Sword, for the review copy.

Robin