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Freeing the Baltic 1918 - 1920 (Hardback)

Maritime > Naval WWI

By Geoffrey Bennett
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781473893078
Published: 8th May 2017



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In 1919, the new governments of the besieged Baltic states appealed desperately to the Allies for assistance. A small British flotilla of light cruisers and destroyers were sent to help, under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Walter Cowan. They were given no clear instructions as to what their objective was to be and so Cowan decided that he had to make his own policy.

Despite facing a much greater force, Cowan improvised one of the most daring raids ever staged by the British Navy. He succeeded with devastating effect; outmanoeuvring his enemies, sinking two Russian Battleships and eventually freeing the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

As featured by

Warships IFR , May 2019

As featured by

The Northern Mariner, Winter 2018

A super account of a gripping adventure.

Military Vehicle Trust

Cowan was an amazing man, whose career continued well into World War 2. Readers will be delighted to rediscover this exciting well-researched book, which once again proves that truth is stranger than fiction. I hope Pen & Sword reprint more classic books on the Russian Civil War as this is a subject that will catch the reading public’s imagination as its centenary arises.

Read the complete review here.

Hellbound - Steve Earles

The role of the Royal Navy in the Baltic after the Armistice of November 1918 features rarely in the naval literature and consequently, this expanded and updated imprint of the author's original work published in 1964 is a welcome addition to the bookshelf.

Marine News

Bennett's study is a great introduction to the topic and should be of interest to maritime historians due to the quality of the accounts of naval engagements, while it also provides a great introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the Baltic wars of independence.

Mariner's Mirror

An interesting and unexpected book about an often overlooked conflict in the Baltic states during the confusion following the 1918 armistice.

Read the complete review here.

Clash of Steel

This book, complete with maps and two dozen photographs provides a good read and is recommended.

Scuttlebutt Edition 55

This book, complete with maps and two dozen photographs provides a good read and is recommended.

Scuttlebutt Edition 55

Should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in 20th Century Naval history and maritime strategy.

Navy News, October 2017 – reviewed by Prof. Eric Grove

I loved this book when I was a teenager and I love it now and really appreciate the excuse to read it a second time. The additions by Bennett’s son enhance the book rather than detracting at all from his father’s work. Thoroughly recommended.

Read the complete review here.

Thomo's Hole - reviewed by Ian Thompson

This book is more than just a history. With a career that included being Naval Attache in Moscow, the author expertly guides you through a confusing scenario of rival armies, conflicting political aims, social unrest, and all in a region still essentially at war – sounds all too familiar! Whilst Cowan’s military success did not meet with universal acclaim from the Cabinet, vacillating on its foreign policy aims, he was created Baronet of the Baltic and Finland and the Baltic States owed their independence to the Royal Navy. Well written, this is an absorbing book and highly recommended.


First published as “Cowan’sWar” in 1964, then as “Freeing the Baltic” in 2002, this new edition includes new material from the author’s son. – The author’s son has edited the original text and added new material to a book that covers very important, if sadly neglected, recent history – Much Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


About Geoffrey Bennett

Captain Geoffrey Bennett RN (1909-1983) served in the Royal Navy from 1923 until 1958. during which time he was Naval Attaché in Moscow, Warsaw and Helsinki between 1953 and 1955. He was a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and much-acclaimed author of Coronel and the Falklands, The Battle of Jutland, Naval Battles of the First World War, Nelson the Commander, The Battle of the River Plate and The Battle of Trafalgar and Naval Battles of World War Two (both Pen & Sword Military Classics ).

Perfect Partner

The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945 (Hardback)

From the shelling of the fort at Westerplatte, on the Polish coast, on 1 September 1939, to the loss of thousands of German refugees at sea in May 1945, the Baltic witnessed continuous and ferocious fighting throughout the Second World War. In this new book, the author chronicles the naval warfare and merges such major events as the Siege of Leningrad, the Soviet campaign against Sweden in 1942, the three wars in Finland 1939-44, the Soviet liberation of the Baltic states, the German evacuation of two million people from the East, and the Soviet race westwards in 1945. There are also included…

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