Sunday, September 28, 2014

Submarines in the Mainstream

Submarines, or at least talk of submarines, dominates my time these days.

Sunday, September 28th          interview on CFRA, Ottawa radio. (via telephone 5 pm Pacific)

Tuesday, September 30th        "Terror on the Alert" is officially on the market.

Thursday, October 2nd            Naval Association of Canada conference in Ottawa re submarines.

Saturday, October 4th             Book signing for "Terror" at Perfect Books, Ottawa.

Tuesday, October 7th            Presentation at Vancouver Public Library Kerrisdale Branch.

Thursday, October 30th           Presentation at Vancouver Public Library Britannia Branch.

The VPL presentations will deal briefly with the history of submarines in Canada as well as "Terror on the Alert". Hope to see lots of familiar faces!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cavalry vs Cavalry

Cavalry Technology!


Thanks to Bob Mugford, editor of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI-Vancouver) Newsletter for the following item. My Random House Dictionary notes a cuirassier is "a cavalry soldier wearing a cuirasse"; a cuirasse being armour consisting of a breastplate and backplate. So far as I know the German cavalry encountered by the British in the early days of WW I weren't encumbered by the cuirasse.

When the British cavalry had to face cuirassiers for the first time, wearing their body armour, much discussion was had as to how to defeat them.  The answers for the heavy cavalry with a straight sword and light cavalry with a curved one was necessarily different.

The light cavalry answer was to slice at the arms, preferably the bridle holding arm, causing the cuirassier to lose control of his horse.

The heavy cavalry opted for a straight jab at the throat (this might miss and strike the face - Kennedy records stabbing one through the mouth). This would certainly do the trick. But if in too close to stab at him it was recommended that you punched the cuirassier in the face with the hand guard, this would cause the cuirassier to lose balance and topple from the horse. A cuirassier on the ground was useless, finding it impossible to remount in their breastplates.

Finally both recommended that if the cuirassier had passed then a back swipe at the back of the neck would decapitate the cuirassier. Many claim that numbers of cuirassiers fell to this stroke.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

From the West Coast to the Western Front

My apologies for the quality of the photo--the subject deserves much better. Pictured are Mark Forsythe of CBC Vancouver's Almanac, and Greg Dickson, authors of From the West Coast to the Western Front, who presented some fascinating items from the book at the Vancouver Public Library on September 17th.
Mark and Greg started this project only 18 months ago. The book has not yet cleared the printers', but it promises to be an excellent read, based on the samples presented

Due out on October 11th, the book will feature hundreds of stories of British Columbians who fought on the Western Front in the Great War. Those included Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, VC, who led the cavalry charge at the climax of my novel Soldier of the Horse. I'm very much looking forward to reading the book.

For more about the Canadian cavalry and submarines, subscribe to my weekly newsletter via the button on the upper right.

Upcoming: "Terror on the Alert" hits the streets, and better bookstores everywhere, on September 30th!

Thanks to RUSI Vancouver for organizing this and other Library presentations to mark the 100th year since the start of World War I.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cold War Submarine Gunnery

 Ed Falstrem, retired submarine commander, has kindly sent along a photo of one of his RN boats, HMS Aeneas. The photo was taken off Portsmouth.

 Aeneas was immortalized for playing the part of a submarine in the 1967 007 movie, "You Only Live Twice".

Ed commented:
"Note the gun.I remember the drill for preparing to surface and fire the gun. We did fire it on a couple of occasions onto an army range in Dorset. I was the XO at the time."

The last 4" round was fired from a Royal Navy submarine in December, 1974, by HMS Andrew.

In my novel "Terror on the Alert" the crew gets a couple of rounds away to good effect in 1962. The book launches September 30th.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fifteen Diesel-electrics All in a Row (or eight)

In my soon-to-be-available submarine thriller, "Terror on the Alert", my main character notes a buildup of Royal Navy submarines in their home ports during the leadup to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This photo was kindly provided by Ed Falstrem, who like me trained with the RN and served in A-boats. He says:

"Here is a photo of 15 RN submarines alongside the depot ship taken in Oct 1962, just as the Cuban crisis was developing."

Ed, who went on to command four Royal Canadian Navy boats, had this to say about "Terror on the Alert":

I have read the book and enjoyed it very much. I could argue with you over a couple of technical details but it sure took me back to my time on Acheron and Aeneas.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"It's Not the Ships...My War Years"--A Review

"It's not the ships, it's the men in them" was Fredrick H. Sherwood's favourite maritime adage, and the first words of that saying make for the perfect title to this memoir.
Freddie Sherwood, as he was known to his comrades and successors in submarines, was a much-decorated Canadian submariner who achieved a number of World War II firsts: first nonBritish officer in an RN boat, first volunteer reservist to command an RN boat, first Canadian to command an RN boat.
In reading this memoir I had the feeling of being in the company of a fine man, a born leader, and a meticulous but funloving submarine captain. The key to Sherwood's success was his ability to meld his crew into a unified team, and he took great pride in his ship's company, ensuring they got the recognition they deserved. From training days through service under a renowned RN captain, and on to his command of two submarines in the North Sea and the Far East, Freddie Sherwood's wartime story is a great read. Highly recommended.

"It's Not the Ships...My War Years" was edited and published by Freddie's son Philip. More information is on the web.