The Forgotten War of the Royal Navy - Baltic Sea 1918-1920

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Michal Glock
Other Publication Information
Paperback, 144 pp, over 100 B&W images, Maps, Line Drawings
Product / Stock #
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

From its title, this book purports to be about the Royal Navy, but only a minority of the text is devoted to that service. There is no mention of it at all until page 34 (Out of 144 pages total, or roughly almost 25% of the way through the book), where the fate of some submarines sent to the Baltic in 1915 is covered in one paragraph. The Royal Navy then does not re-appear until page 46. While some Royal Navy ships, primarily light cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines, were involved in the fighting in this area during the post war period, the part they played was small, usually only involved a few ships and would only merit a footnote in most histories. One interesting aspect is that the HMS Vindictive, a cruiser converted with a “flying off deck” was deployed to the area and some RNAS aircraft, albeit flying from land bases, were used in bombing attacks against ships and shore targets. At the back of the book are line drawings of representative British and Russian/Estonian ships that were involved with brief descriptions of each type and there is a six-page chart listing all the non-British ships that were involved with technical specifications for each.

The book covers the fighting in and around the Gulf of Finland at the very end of WW I and the early Russian revolutionary period. It mostly concentrates on the naval forces involved and even includes the Cyrillic spelling of the names of the ships. Estonians, Latvians, rogue German forces, Bolsheviks and Finns were all involved at one point or another. The coverage is more of an overview of the actions involved rather than a detailed examination. One aspect of the names involved that can be confusing to the western mind is that they are similar on both sides, so sometimes it is a bit confusing as to who is leading/fighting whom. In addition, the author uses the old names of some locations, such as Reval for Tallinn and Helsingfors for Helsinki. The names changed as the countries involved gained their independence, but it takes a while to get use to what is where. Complicating this is the lack of one overall map of the area. Several times in the text what are referred to as important locations are off the small insert maps that are used to illustrate ship movements, so unless you know the geography of the area well, you are left in the dark.

The photos are excellent. They are clear and of subjects not normally found in most sources, and there are over one hundred of them.

In conclusion, if you are an avid devotee of the Royal Navy and need to know everything it ever did, this book may fill a void in your knowledge. If not, it is at least a good start at understanding the incredibly complex situation in the Baltic area at the end of the First World War.


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