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British Naval Trawlers and Drifters in Two World Wars (ePub)

From The John Lambert Collection

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing WWI WWII

Edited by Steve R. Dunn
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 59.3 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 100 line drawings & 50 b/w photos
ISBN: 9781526794871
Published: 30th October 2021


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John Lambert was a renowned naval draughtsman, whose plans were highly valued for their accuracy and detail by modelmakers and enthusiasts. By the time of his death in 2016 he had produced over 850 sheets of drawings, many of which have never been published. These were acquired by Seaforth and this title is the fourth of a planned series of albums on selected themes, reproducing complete sheets at a large page size, with expert commentary and captioning.

Trawlers and drifters served in both world wars in their thousands; and, in their tens of thousands, so did their fishermen crews. Indeed, these humble craft were the most numerous vessel type used by the Royal Navy in both wars, and were the answer to the strategic or tactical conundrums posed by new technology of mines and submarines. In his accompanying text, Steve Dunn examines the ships themselves, their design, construction, arming, operations and development; and he also relates how the trawlermen and skippers, from the age-old fishing ports of Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft ad Great Yarmouth, Aberdeen and Fleetwood, came to be part of the Royal Navy, and describes the roles they played, the conditions they served under and the bravery they showed.

The book takes some 30 large sheets of drawings which John Lambert completed of these vessels and divides into two sections. The first part tells how the fishing fleet came to be an integral part of the Royal Navy’s pre-1914 plans and details some of the activities and actions of trawlers and drifters at war in 1914-18. And the second investigates the armed fishing fleet in the struggle of 1939-45.

These wonderfully detailed drawings, which are backed by a selection of photographs and a detailed complementary text, offer a superb technical archive for enthusiasts and ship modellers, but the book also tells a fascinating story of the extraordinary contribution the vessels and their crews made to the defeat of Germany in two world wars.

"Across narrative segments the reader is treated to almost ninety photographs that have been printed in very high quality...Seaforth has made a series of great decisions in British Trawlers and Drifters, creating a book of coffee-table quality that is also of significant utility for researchers."

Nautical Research Journal Volume 68 (2023)

"British Naval Trawlers and Drifters is a high-quality book that benefits from a strong design ethos. The editor’s introduction provides an invaluable complement to the drawings, being further reinforced by the selection of photographs. The overall result suggests a publisher that has made a significant effort to honour the legacy of a recognised expert with whom it will have enjoyed a lengthy collaboration. Accordingly, this book represents a fitting epitaph to one of the most significant naval illustrators of his generation."

Warship Annual - 2023

"A highly readable account of these magnificent craft and their tough dedicated crews. They were very much the unsung heroes of the Royal Navy and their story deserves to be told."

Read the review here

The Naval Review

You get the history of the roles of the merchant fleet in the wars, accompanied by some excellent photographs. The large format pays off and the result is not the stuffy, academic exercise you might have expected. Well worth a read.

The Armourer March 2022

"Pick this large-format book up and skim the pages, and immediately you get the feel of something comprehensive. There are many superb black and white photographs in this book, equally superbly reproduced, which really bring these vessels to life."

Fishing News - June 2022

"These wonderfully detailed drawings, which are backed by a selection of photographs and a detailed complementary text, offers a superb technical archive for enthusiasts and ship modellers, but the book also tells a fascinating story of the extraordinary contribution the vessels and their crews made to the defeat of Germany in Two World Wars."

Alistair Graham Kerr, Journal for the Pillbox Study Group Number 83

"Steve Dunn has edited and produced an excellent volume which is a valuable resource of maritime and naval history. It is also a superb tribute to Great Britain’s fishing fleet and its crews."

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

"For those who relish detailed technical drawings and scrupulous accuracy the 50-odd pages of carefully reproduced plans of different classes of fishing vessels and the guns with which they were equipped, will be a treat."

Read the review here

Yachting Monthly - February 2022

As featured in

Britain at War

"I can’t recommend this book highly enough."

Cher Ami, GWSIG Newsletter – International Plastic Modellers Society (UK) – March 2021

Steve Dunn an author of ten works on naval history and member of the Society for Nautical Research and the Britannia Research Association was an excellent choice by the publishers to provide a clear and engaging text. The high-quality photographs, excellent line drawings and plans of the ships and weaponry along with informative appendices and a fulsome index make this work a fitting commemorative to these vessels and the crews that manned them as well as a great addition to the library of anyone with an interest in naval technology and history.

Martin Willoughby, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

Finally, there are numerous short appendices, a full list of references and bibliography. The great feature of the book of course is the exquisitely detailed double-page spread line drawings of trawlers, drifters, equipment and armaments which comprise 58 pages towards the latter end of the book and were John Lambert's life work. Given this focus it would be very easy for the book to be satisfied with being a fairly dry illustrated catalogue, but Steve Dunn avoids this by providing an excellent, readable survey of the subject alongside the plan detail, the one complementing the other... Highly recommended. 4 stars.

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

Anyone familiar with John Lambert’s drawings will not be disappointed by those assembled here; quality and quantity almost sufficient to build a boat and certainly great for any ship modeller.
The quality of the publication is such that if the content had been limited to the many photographs and drawings with simple annotations it would have been a very interesting book but with Steve Dunn’s supporting narrative it is raised to a higher level.
We highly recommend it.

Read the full review here

Clash of Steel

Trawlers and drifters….not of interest …don’t you believe it! Read this book and be fascinated by the massive contribution they and their crews-predominantly fisherman- made to keeping the sea lanes to the country open as well as sterling service abroad.

This book is in two parts, the firstly the history of these ships, then the wonderful drawings, 30 sheets of them by John Lambert.

The story begins with the realisation that special ships would be needed to defend against the newly developed mines and submarines of the early 20th century. It tells how a small group of far sighted officers pushed through the adoption of the fishing fleets into these roles and how they set up the organisation of them for the Great War, at fairly short notice. The chapters dealing with the work of these ships offer deep insight into the workload and working conditions of the crews, and importantly their bravery. The numbers serving, and the sadly losses make a big impact on the reader. The process is repeated for the next war, and the reader is again left in a sense of awe for these men and their ships.

The book is lavishly illustrated with over 90 beautiful and carefully chosen photographs. The quality of reproduction is superb, with the book being printed on gloss paper and large pages. The detail is astounding.

Whether a modeller, or simply a naval enthusiast, this book will be an excellent addition to your library.


As featured in

The Armourer

If like me you know little or nothing of the work of these small ships in both World Wars, I heartily recommend reading this one. There are also a lot of archive photos which illustrate the first two parts of the book. The plans are a marvellous resource for those interested in small ships and especially for modellers who will enjoy this as a detailed reference to work with. I think Seaforth have done a great job in sharing the John Lambert collection with these books, and author Steve R Dunn has done well in giving us a context to broaden our understanding of them all.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene

‘it’s a wonderful book…..a really cool book’.

Watch the review here

Dr Alexander Clarke in his YouTube broadcast, December 2021

As my family were driftermen, this book was a must-read.
The photos and war history was a very good read indeed.
Recommend it.
Ron Taylor (FEPOW Family)

Ronnie Taylor

About Steve R. Dunn

STEVE R DUNN is an author with a special interest in the Royal Navy of the late nineteenth century and the First World War. He has written biographies and narrative histories including Blockade, Securing the Narrow SeaBayly's WarSouthern ThunderThe Battle of the BalticThe Power and the GloryBritish Naval Trawlers and Drifters in Two World Wars, The Harwich Striking Force and most recently Petrol Navy, all published by Seaforth. Steve lives in Worcestershire.

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