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The Watery Grave (Hardback)

The Life and Death of the Cruiser HMS Manchester

WWII All Frontline Books Royal Navy

By Richard H. Osborne
Frontline Books
Pages: 244
ISBN: 9781473845855
Published: 3rd November 2015

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In 2002 the wreck of a British cruiser was located by divers off the coast of Tunisia. The stunning photographs of the wreck inspired Dr Richard Osborne to delve into the controversy surrounding the loss of one of the Royal Navy's proudest ships – HMS Manchester.

After taking part in the Norway campaign of 1940, Manchester was sent to the Mediterranean, where she was involved in the dangerous Malta convoys. On her first convoy she was struck by a torpedo and badly damaged. In danger of sinking at any minute, her skipper, Captain Harold Drew, managed to save his ship.

Her next operation was to prove her last. In Operation Pedestal, the vital Malta relief convoy, Manchester was again hit by a torpedo. This time, rather than risk the lives of his crew Drew decided to scuttle his ship. For this Drew was court-martialled in what would become the longest such case in the history of the Royal Navy.

Using the testimony of those involved, the highly respected naval historian Dr Osborne pieces together one of the most intriguing stories to emerge from the Second World War. Coupled with photographs of the wreck and a detailed account of its discovery, The Watery Grave: The Life and Death of HMS Manchester, will shed new light on this remarkable tale.

A story well worth telling and gives very real sense of the pressures put on those making difficult decisions in impossible circumstances.

Mariner's Mirror

In 2002 the wreck of the cruiser HMS Manchester was located off the coast of Tunisia. Stunning photographs of the wreck inspired Dr Richard Osborne to delve into the controversy surrounding her loss.

After taking part in the Norway campaign of 1940, Manchester was sent to the Mediterranean, where she was involved in the dangerous Malta convoys. In July 1941, on her first convoy, she came under attack from Italian aircraft and was struck by a torpedo and badly damaged, but her commanding officer, Captain Harold Drew, managed to save his ship as she was in imminent danger of sinking. Her next operation was to prove her last. In August 1942, while taking part in Operation Pedestal, the vital convoy to resupply Malta, Manchester was again torpedoed, this time by Italian boats. Rather than risk the lives of his crew, Drew decided to scuttle his ship. For this, he was court-martialled in what would become the longest such case in Royal Navy history.

Using the testimony of those involved, coupled with photographs of the wreck and detailed account of its discovery, the author pieces together one of the most intriguing stories to emerge from World War II

Ships Montly, October 2016

This book provides a detailed analysis of the war career of HMS Manchester, her previous torpedoing during Operation Substance, and the Pedestal Convoy which led to her sinking. The subsequent court proceedings are in considerable and necessary detail.

Worth buying if you are interested in the loss of HMS Manchester.

World War 2 Cruiser Operations - Mike Russell

EXCELLENT READ
This is an excellent book.
Researched in great detail and well written.
The descriptions of the damage to HMS Manchester on two occasions and the different outcomes
are almost a " Naval Whodunnit "
I recommend this book as a good read.

Amazon Customer Review

Out of the Ordinary Naval History book

Firstly, this is a very different book from the majority of those written about the war at sea.
The cruiser HMS Manchester was sunk off the coast of Tunisia in August 1942 whilst participating in the famous Operation Pedestal to the besieged island of Malta (which was then close to surrender if supplies did not get through). This book delves deeper into the story of this particular sinking which resulted in the Court Martial of her captain. Over the years the whole episode, including the Court Martial, has gained a certain notoriety. This book follows the design of the light cruiser Manchester (a half-sister of the preserved Belfast) and her construction shortly before the start of the Second World War. Then, in more detail the vessel’s operations early in the war, including the Norwegian Campaign, and culminating in her being torpedoed in the Mediterranean in July 1941, not so very far from her final resting place one year later. The parallels between the two incidents, single torpedo hits at similar positions on her hull, with much the same damage, and the very different decisions made by Captain Drew with each episode are at the centre of this book. Perhaps best described not so much “who-dunnit?” as “why-he-did-it?”
A fascinating insight into the way the wartime Royal Navy dealt with the combat loss of an important vessel. The detailed depiction of the Court Martial process is a particular strength, along with the focus upon the relationship between a warship’s captain and his senior officers, very much at the centre of this tale.
Some excellent photographs of the wreck of the ship on the seabed.
Highly Recommended

Amazon Customer Review

Although arguably this is a book of data, data, and more data, whose reading can be somewhat heavy at times, its author, Richard H. Osborne, using an agile narrative without neglecting the technical part consisting of names, dates, etc., makes for a pleasant and interesting story.

...One of the key things to achieving this is undoubtedly the structuring of the work. The inclusion of some maps and diagrams plus the collection of 27 great pictures of the time in black and white are an ideal complement for better understanding.

...I thought it was a curious and interesting book, although perhaps aimed more towards those lovers and history buffs of naval and who like stories based on real events.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

In 2002 the wreck of the British cruiser HMS Manchester was located by divers off the coast of Tunisia. After taking part in the Norway campaign of 1940, the ship was sent to the Mediterranean, where she was involved in the Malta convoys. On her first convoy she was struck by a torpedo and badly damaged. In danger of sinking, her captain, Harold Drew, managed to save his ship. But her next operation was to prove her last. In Operation Pedestal, the vital Malta relief convoy, Manchester was again hit by a torpedo. This time, rather than risk the lives of his crew Drew took the decision to scuttle his ship. For this he was court-martialled in what would become the longest such case in the history of the Royal Navy. This book sheds new light on the controversial incident.

Big Jules Blog - Julian Stockwin

A fascinating book including photographs of the wreck of Manchester after its discovery in 2002. Certainly, a very good read.

Warship World - March/April 2016

The author, Richard Osborne, has delved deeply into the records so as to cover every aspect of this WWII event. He paints a vivid picture of the torpedoing of HMS MANCHESTER and the subsequent Court Marshal of the ships captain.

Ton Class Association

A very welcome new book... Overall, perhaps not a book for a casual follower of naval affairs, but for those with a deeper interest, a fascinating insight into the way the wartime Royal Navy dealt with the combat loss of an important vessel. The detailed depiction of the Court Martial process is a particular strength, along with a focus upon the relationship between a warship's Captain and his senior officers very much at the centre of this tale. Recommended

Marine News - SH

Well written book. It gives chapter and verse of a little known episode of the WWII conflict in the Mediterranean.

Bob Dean, author

About Richard H. Osborne

Richard Osborne is a retired lecturer in Pharmacology who was born in Portsmouth in 1948 and awarded a Ph.D in Neurochemistry by Imperial College in 1974. He has always had a keen interest in ships joining the World Ship Society in 1962 and serving as its Chairman from 2000 to 2012.

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