Book Review – ‘The Watery Grave: The life and death of the cruiser HMS ‘Manchester’ by Derek Law
In 2009 the wreck of the British cruiser Manchester was located by divers off the coast of Tunisia. A subsequent lecture on the discovery by a university colleague inspired the author, then president of the World Ship Society, to examine the facts about her contentious sinking. She had been controversially scuttled off the coast of Kelibia in 1942 after being torpedoed by an Italian MS torpedo boat. After the longest court martial in naval history, lasting some 18 days, her captain was dismissed his ship and never held another seagoing appointment, although he enjoyed a distinguished career in shore appointments until his retirement in 1952, including service with the Royal Indian Navy and as an ADC to King George VI.
Almost half of the text is directly taken from the ship’s log, reports of proceedings, despatches, a board of enquiry report and the court martial records. This leads to a highly technical and detailed account of events but ensures that the reader has all the evidence to draw their own conclusions rather than simply accepting the views of the author …