Title: The Sea Raiders by E. Keble Chatterton
Publisher: Endeavour Press
I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Naval warfare in the two World Wars is often told in the history of the ‘big’ ships, epics like the Battle of Jutland, the Battle of Midway… the list goes on. The Sea Raiders, however, concerns itself with the little ships, the German merchant raiders who crept out of their ports to wage a lonely war far from home. It is also – although to a lesser degree – the stories of the British and other allied ships who were hunting for them.
It might be easy to overstate the role of the ‘sea raiders’ in Germany’s war, as by the author’s own admission, the amount of damage they did, or ships they sunk, was not large, but they were operating at a time when the main German naval forces were blockaded in port, and unable to do any damage.
The Sea Raiders is a well-written, and well-researched look at an interesting part of history. I’m reminded of Campbell’s ‘My Mystery Ships’ which I read as a child, and another book about the SMS Wolf, which was more recent. I enjoyed both of those books immensely, and found The Sea Raiders to be an interesting read from the other side of the fence. The author devotes a single chapter/section to the career and exploits of each of the raiders examined. If there is one slight criticism which might be made, not a great deal of time is devoted to the captains and crew of the ships, and I found myself diving for Wikipedia to find out more information. I would have also liked more description of the actual battles which occurred, rather than oblique references to which the author occasionally resorts.
The Sea Raiders is not without its problems, as mentioned above, but all in all is a very readable history book which covers its subject well.