10 Greatest Ships of the Royal Navy
By John Ballard
(Amberley, 160 pages, £15.99) This is a bit of a strange one. Of the hundreds of ships that have been built for or requisitioned into the Royal Navy, how on earth do you choose just 10?1 If you asked a dozen maritime writers you would get a dozen different answers to that question. It is a brave author who attempts this feat so I was intrigued to see what the result was. Picked for the contribution they have made to various conflicts, for the way they changed naval history or for the way they revolutionised shipbuilding, some of the authors choices are obvious – some much less so.
Gracing the cover of this book is John Ballard’s first choice and indeed a ship that would make most people’s list – HMS Victory. The book then covers Royal Navy ships that served in most of the conflicts at sea right up to HMS Invincible whose sale to Australia was cancelled so she could be deployed for the Falklands conflict.
HMS Warrior makes the cut for her unique and history-changing iron-clad design, HMS Dreadnought – the ship that changed the face of naval warfare – is also included. Less obvious choices include HMS Amethyst who found herself caught up in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and played herself in the 1957 film version of events – The Yangtze Incident.
The book is actually well researched and illustrated and extremely readable. If you had ancestors who served on these ships – or indeed did so yourself – then this book will almost certainly be of interest.
It is probably not one for the maritime scholar due to its subjectivity, but as a general history of the Royal Navy told via the story of its ships it is informative, readable and well put together.
Janet Dempsey is a Records Specialist at
The National Archives, concentrating on
maritime and transport records
HMS is John Ballard’s first choice in his Top 10 greatest Royal Navy ships