Allied Escort Carriers of World War Two in Action - Kenneth PoolmanLondon, New York & Sydney: Blandford Press, 1988, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Diagrams; Maps; Glossary; 2-column text; Appendices ;
From the cover: “‘Woolworth carriers’, ‘jeeps’, ‘banana boats’ they called them — pocket warships converted from tankers, tramp steamers and merchantmen — unlikely heroes in the war at sea. Yet these were destined to become key weapons in the Battle of the Atlantic and to play vital roles in all the naval theatres of war.
HMS Audacity was the first of these brave and busy little ships, built to counter the menace of the German Condor long-range bombers and U-boats to the transatlantic convoys. A burned-out, captured enemy fruit ship, she was turned into a primitive auxiliary aircraft carrier with no hangar, operating just six US-built Martlet fighters flown by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. Her presence, and that of her sisters, was to turn the tide of the Atlantic battle.
More than 120 ‘escort carriers’, as they became known, were produced during the Second World War, their urgent construction speeded by new techniques. In the United States, ‘Hurry up’ Henry Kaiser, the genius of the Liberty Ship, built 50 jeep carriers in less than two years using prefabrication and all-welded construction.
They were controversial ships: unsound, unseaworthy and vulnerable, said their critics. Disaster was sure to follow — their welds would crack in a heavy sea or the stress of combat; a torpedo would blow them apart… Vulnerable they were, and very lively in high seas, with their thinly-plated, unarmoured merchant hulls and heavy top-hamper — ‘an awful lot perched on very little’, said a British CVE captain. And some indeed suffered the fates prophesied for them. Others saw the war out triumphantly and were recycled into merchantmen after the cessation of hostilities, having proved their worth time and again. The mobile air cover they provided was of the greatest significance in defeating the U-boats and fending off the depredations of the Luftwaffe in the Arctic convoys to Russia.
But the escort carrier became ‘a great deal more than the name implies’, as Admiral Nimitz wrote, not merely ferrying aircraft to the big fleet carriers, but actually standing in for them. Escort carriers were used to support amphibious landings in North Africa, Italy, Burma and dozens of Japanese-held islands in the Pacific.
With more than 400 photographs (many of which have not been published before), line drawings and maps, this book tells the full story of these humble heroes. The author, Kenneth Poolman, is well qualified to present this lively account: a former Fleet Air Arm instructor, he knows how the men who fought the war at sea from the air really felt, their fears and their gritty fortitude — and their fatalistic humour. Here he presents, in highly readable form, the fruits of deep research in official archives and the personal recollections of ex-naval airmen in the United States and Great Britain.”