The Story of HMS Revenge, Alexander Stilwell.

The Story of HMS Revenge, Alexander Stilwell.

This book looks at the series of British warships that have borne the name Revenge, starting with Drake's ship during the Spanish Armada and ending with a Polaris nuclear submarine. In the intervening centuries the name was given to a series of increasingly powerful sailing ships, then to a 91-gun steam-powered second-rate ship of the line and one of the most power pre-dreadnaught battleships, and one of the last First World War super-dreadnaughts.

The focus of the book is more on the campaigns that the ships took part in, and the men who sailed on them than the ships themselves (not that this topic is neglected), so the two Victorian Revenges, neither of which took part in a major war, only merit a small chapter between them. In contrast the Elizabethan Revenge, which took part in the fight against the Spanish Armada, before being lost after one of the most famous defeats in British naval history, when Sir Richard Grenville look on a Spanish fleet, gets three chapters, and the super-dreadnaught HMS Revenge, which fought at Jutland and during the Second World War gets three and a half.

The HMS Revenge of the Napoleonic Wars is also well covered, as are the ships of the Anglo-Dutch Wars. The book would have benefited from a list of the ships involved which would have been especially useful for the seventeenth century, a period that saw many ships change names, and in which at one point Stilwell is following the careers of two different ships at the same time.

This is a largely successful approach that avoids giving too much space to ships that didn't have particularly interesting careers, while allowing Stilwell to give a wider view of events than if he had focused too tightly on the individual Revenges. A significant amount of space is given to the evolution of the warship, looking at why Drake's Revenge and her sister ships were so effective, and what made the super-dreadnaughts first so powerful and then so vulnerable to air attack.

1 Scene - A Ship at Sea: an Island
2 The Spanish Tragedy
3 At Flores, in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville Lay
4 Prince Rupert
5 The Navy of Pepys
6 Guarding the Channel
7 Keeping the French at Bay
8 Interlude
9 Trafalgar
10 Basque Roads
11 From Portugal to the Adriatic
12 Dawn of a New Age
13 Jutland
14 Between the Wars
15 The Second World War
16 Nuclear Option

Author: Alexander Stilwell
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 218
Publisher: Pen & Sword Marine
Year: 2009

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