During the Second World War Australia, Canada and New Zealand each operated their own navies (Canada actually ended the war with the third largest navy in the war, partly because of the near-total destruction of the Japanese fleet). Most of their ships were the smaller vessels needed for the U-boat war, but all three operated a small number of cruisers (although not until quite late in the war in the case of Canada). Australia was the only one of the three to start the war with its own navy and cruisers, but the first to become famous was HMS Achilles, part of the New Zealand contingent within the Royal Navy, and a key participant in the Battle of the River Plate.
The focus of this book is on the navies and ships themselves rather than on their wartime exploits. The book is split into four parts. Part one looks at the history of the three navies, including their formation in the build-up to the First World War, their interwar developments and the acquisition of the various cruisers. Part two looks at the individual ships, and is split first by country and then by ship's class. These are the largest parts of the book. Part three covers the Commonwealth Navy's at War, and only includes four pages of text. Part three contains tables of date for each of the ships, again organised by country and then by class, and includes a brief summary of each ship's wartime career. As a result if you are interested in events such as the battle of the River Plate or the loss of HMAS Sydneythen you should look elsewhere.
The book is well illustrated, with a wide selection of wartime photos, good colour side plans and a useful cut-away plan of HMAS Australia.
At first glance this book might seem a bit unnecessary, as each of these ships was part of an existing Royal Navy cruiser class, so the two volumes on Heavy and Light cruisers should cover the same material, but each of the Dominion ships was modified in quite specific ways, making them different from their RN equivalents. The material on the navies themselves is also of value, making this a useful book if you are interested in the military history of Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
Royal Australian Navy Cruisers
Royal New Zealand Navy Cruisers
Royal Canadian Navy Cruisers
The Dominion Fleets at War
Author: Angus Konstam