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HMS London (Paperback)

From Fighting Sail to the Arctic Convoys & Beyond

Maritime > Naval Military

By Iain Ballantyne
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781399012867
Published: 10th October 2022



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When the British Prime Minister announced a new warship was to be christened HMS London in 2018 it revived a name that is covered not only in glory but also tinged with controversy.

In this vividly told narrative we voyage in the company of those whose fates have been intertwined with Londons in peace, war and even during mutiny. For the ship’s companies of fighting vessels named HMS London have witnessed the highs and lows of British naval history spanning centuries.

The epic story includes: an ill-fated encounter between wooden wall battleships off Chesapeake in 1781 - whose result arguably lost Britain its American colonies; the hell of the Gallipoli landings in the First World War; the disastrous PQ17 convoy of the Second World War; a valiant foray into the teeth of communist Chinese fire during the 1940s Yangtze Incident; leading the British naval task group in Operation Desert Storm; sailing into the Arctic on a mission to end the Cold War at sea as the 1991 hard-liners’ coup in Moscow collapsed.

This new edition offers enhanced and new imagery in addition to other fresh material, including a young officer’s part in the climactic events of the Second World War in East Asia. We also learn how the London of Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II is offering up treasures from the murky waters of the Thames.

A new final chapter looks at the next HMS London, which will be a futuristic City Class (Type 26) submarine hunter. It also considers the missions the new London will face amid great power rivalry on the oceans that sees an increasingly volatile face-off between the West and Russia with China.

Featured in the Chartroom Ship's Library

Ships Monthly

HMS London provides a highly readable account of the history of the ships themselves and wider context within which they operated. The author writes in an engaging and accessible manner, whilst providing much depth. This is further enhanced with the various illustrations and photographs accompanying the text. HMS London will appeal to a wide variety of readers, including the interested enthusiast and the historian; this reviewer found the book to be a most enjoyable and interesting read. It is recommended.

Read the review here

The Naval Review

Overall, the author succeeds in taking the story of the HMS Londons beyond just a historical narrative. The details of life at sea and naval battles are interwoven with great first-hand accounts from men who served in several of the Londons from WWI to the 1990s. This is highly recommended reading, especially for those who are interested in the broad strokes of naval history from the 1600s right up to the present day combined with fighting actions and salty stories that bring it to life.

Warships International Fleet Review - February 2023

The 400 year period covered by this book saw significant changes in all walks of life, and in this book the author provides a superb description of the changes as seen from the naval point of view. A very entertaining and enjoyable book – highly recommended.

Les Brown, Small Warships

As featured on Dr Alexander Clarke Does Naval History Live Youtube (Bruships 92 - 46:00)

Dr Alexander Clarke



This fascinating account of the lives of British warships named LONDON looks at history from the perspective of the men who were there; veterans of the grim arctic convoys, the Yangtze Incident, the Cold War and the Gulf War.


As featured in.


As seen in.

Warship World
 Iain Ballantyne

About Iain Ballantyne

Iain Ballantyne has written extensively about navies past and present. He has visited warships and commando units to report on their operational activities in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Asia-Pacific and the Arctic, including covering the fall of the Soviet Union - plus its impact in Russia, Latvia and the Czech Republic - along with the 1990/91 Gulf War.
A former newspaper defence reporter and current Editor of the global naval affairs magazine ‘WARSHIPS International Fleet Review’, Iain has also contributed to television news and documentary programmes, and radio shows. He is host of the Warships Pod podcast.
Among his other naval history books are ‘Warspite’, ‘HMS Rodney’ and the award-winning ‘Killing the Bismarck’ (all published by Pen & Sword). In 2017, Iain was presented with a prestigious Fellowship Award by the UK’s Maritime Foundation for making ‘a truly outstanding contribution to stimulating public engagement in maritime issues.’

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