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Monitors of the Royal Navy (Paperback)

How the Fleet Brought the Great Guns to Bear

WWII WWI Royal Navy

By Jim Crossley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 232
ISBN: 9781473877146
Published: 31st May 2016



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Monitor warships mounted the biggest guns ever deployed by the Royal Navy, and played an undeniably important part in Allied efforts during World War One and Two. They were built as cheap "disposable" ships made out of redundant bits and pieces which the Admiralty happened to have available which could bring heavy artillery to bear on enemy coasts with pin point accuracy and on at least one occasion a force of only three monitors had a profound effect on the strategic situation in WW I. Being classed as disposable they were often exposed to risks far more recklessly than more expensive battle ships or heavy cruisers. So impressive was their performance in WW I that two were retained in service into WW II and did such good work during the North African campaign that two new ones were built and they fought in the Mediterranean, in the Normandy landings and in the advance of the Allied armies into occupied Europe. They astonished allies and enemies alike with the devastating effect of their accurate fire reaching targets 10 miles or more inland.

The book deals with the origins of Monitors and how they evolved from the bomb ketches of the 18th century. It looks at how the various classes of monitor were designed and built and explores their careers in both World Wars, including the particular impact they had on the various campaigns in which they fought. It attempts to assess their effectiveness in comparison with other classes of ship, and is sure to appeal to all enthusiasts of naval history, old and new.

A most interesting, valuable and very readable
history of an unusual and lesser-known, but
nevertheless fascinating, type of warship.

Ships in Scale, January 2016 -February 2017 - reviewed by Roger Marsh

As featured in

North Norfolk Living

As featured in

Warship World, November-December 2016

This book is a tribute to ships which were frustrating to operate, however, nothing can detract from the fact that for a very limited investment they provide excellent value. Highly recommended.

Scuttlebutt edition 53

The book is one for the general reader to explore some of the lesser known aspects of British naval history and for the specialist researcher and analyst to ponder the contemporary relevance of that history.

Read the full review here.

John Johnston - Australian Naval Institute

Monitors are aptly described as “odd ships” and this book tells their tale in a highly enjoyable way. More recently, the USN resurrected the Missouri class battleships for bombardment roles; today cruise missiles have replaced guns for shore bombardment. This book is a tribute to ships which were frustrating to operate, with inherent reliability and design issues. However, nothing can detract from the fact that for a very limited investment they provided excellent value. Highly recommended.

Warship World

In precis, this work is admirably researched and records the activities of a little known (and now extinct) type of naval vessel.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I give it a 5.

NZ Crown Mines
 Jim Crossley

About Jim Crossley

Jim Crossley read Modern History at Cambridge. He has had a lifelong interest in naval affairs. He is himself a keen sailor and springs from a family with a long naval tradition. His own father was a midshipman on the battleship Resolution in 1916 and his mother was a cousin of Commodore William Goodenough, one of the central figures in the Jutland battle.

Jim Crossley was nominated for the Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Maritime Award for Best Literary Contribution for their book 'Voices From Jutland: A Centenary Commemoration'.

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