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Freeing the Baltic 1918 - 1920 (Hardback)

Maritime WWI Naval

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.

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 ).

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