With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O’er the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield

With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O’er the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield

Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield served in the Royal Navy in both World Wars, spending three years with the Harwich Force in the First World War and serving in a wide range of rolls during the Second World War.

Schofield was present at many of the most significant events of the Second World War. He was the assistant naval attaché in Paris in 1939, and was posted to the Hague over the winter of 1939-40, so saw at first hand the Dutch belief that neutrality would save them from invasion (although had been given command of HMS Galatea before the invasion itself). After the Galatea he held an important post in the Trade Department, which played a major role in the battle of the Atlantic, and saw him take part in of the key conferences of the period, most notably the meeting between Churchil and Roosevelt at Placentia Bay. He was posted to the United States to help planning the shipping element of the D-Day invasions, and shared the same HQ as Eisenhower in the key period before the actual invasion. In between he briefly commanded the Duke of York, and afterwards he was given command of the King George V during the final stages of the war against Japan, so had experience of commanding two of Britain’s last battleships.

I found the sections when Schofield was based on land more informative than the periods at sea. The sections on his two periods in command of battleships feel quite shallow – we don’t really learn much about what it was like to command one of these massive ships, and to a certain extend these sections feel more like a narrative than an autobiography. To give one example, his ship was present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender ceremony, but we are told nothing about it, but we then get a detailed account of their expedition into the ruins of Tokyo and return to the British Embassy.

The sections at sea are still of interest, simply because of the events Schofield took part in, but the shore-bound sections are rather more valuable, giving us more insight into his opinions. 

Chapters
1 – Disciplina, Fide, Labore
2 – Pare Bellum
3 – The Harwich Force
4 – HMS Renown
5 – ‘A most reliable Navigator’
6 – Of languages
7 – East of Suez in the Enterprise
8 – ‘The good ship Malaya
9 – ‘The bands of Orion’
10 – Staff Officer on board the Nelson
11 – Diplomacy before War
12 – ‘The race is not to the swift’
13 – HMS Galatea
14 – ‘Sail on O ship of State!’
15 – ‘The peril of the waters’
16 – From Duke of York to Dryad
17 – The KGV and the Pacific
18 – Glad Waters

Author: Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime
Year: 2018


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