I have read a book. As the interested reader might have guessed by now, it is “Great Naval Blunders” by Geoffrey Regan, a book about “history’s worst sea battle decisions from ancient times to the present day”.
This thing got on my list when our favourite gnomish overlord, The Mighty Jingles, read, or rather retold, the books opener “The Voyage of the Damned” on Mingles with Jingles Ep. 143, starting at 16:10 – which is the story of the Imperial Baltic Fleet, sent to the pacific to fight the Japanese. The amount of hilarity ensuing from geography alone gives a tiny glimpse into what is about to happen, and it only gets better from there.
So, expecting more like that, I went along and bought it.
It is… something different. More true to the title. It usually holds less absurd hilarity and way more tragedy, born from anything from faulty equipment, gross misinterpretations of the situation, administrative meddling, Admiralty unable or unwilling to understand technical or operational situations and, of course, sheer incompetence.
For those with any interest in naval history or history of warfare, or looking for a wide array of cautionary tales: this might be a book you want to look at.
However, it feels like a quite britain-centric book. One reason for that might be the long tradition of Her Majesty’s Navy, the traditions of Her Majesty’s Navy and with that the expectations weighting in on Her Majesty’s naval personnel and the organisational structure of Her Majesty’s Navy.
Next on the popularity list are the Germans, with some stints by the France, the Spanish, the Americans and the Turks. This list is not exhaustive, but those are the major players staying in mind.
Also, tales told end with the Second World War. Given the fact that it was written in 1993, this is a bit sad – on the other hand, I would totally accept the excuse that Regan didn’t want to cross commanders still alive enough to complain about their place in the book.
The book comes with two times eight high-gloss photo pages, illustrating some of the stories and giving faces (or ships) to the mentioned names. The print quality is good, but nothing extraordinary, and with the hardcover well worth the price of 15,99€.