- Date, John C., RANVR (Rtd)
- WWII operations, Book reviews
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Shropshire
- June 1990 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
HMAS Shropshire by Stan Nicholls Published by The Naval Historical Society of Australia Published December 1989. 315 pp. Photos. Profile views. Press cuttings. Maps. Index. Limited edition. Hard cover.
To be aware of two Japanese battle fleets bearing down on you, in what was to be the greatest sea battle of all time, the Battle of Leyte including the battleship gun duel of Surigao Strait, and remain on station, was a historical event of the greatest magnitude.
This was the situation of the Australian heavy County Class cruiser HMAS Shropshire as she led the right flank cruisers of the US 7th fleet in a thrilling night action. Opening fire at 0356 on the dark umbrageous morning of 25 October 1944, all hell broke loose as Shropshire joined the action with 32 broadsides at the target ship the IJN battleship YAMASHIRO, contributing to her sinking 23 minutes later.
Shropshire , in enacting her share of this dramatic sea battle, added great laurels to the honoured and treasured traditions of the Royal Australian Navy in being the only Australian cruiser or warship ever to have fired its main gunnery and obtained hits on an enemy battleship.
The author, Stan Nicholls, as the Commander’s Messenger was uniquely placed to know first hand of events about to happen and to visibly witness history in the making. Indeed his literary achievement in the portrayal of such exciting happenings is a resounding documentary masterpiece of both the history and service of this gallant ship.
Other actions are forcibly described such as the ship being subjected to five days of kamikaze aircraft attacks in the Sulu Sea leading into the Lingayen Gulf landings. Also highlighted, is the shelling of Corregidor Island fortress, the incessant and horrific kamikaze plane attacks, and bombardments in New Britain, New Guinea and Borneo to name a few.
An inspiring insight is also given of Shropshire as Flagship representing Australia at the Signing of the Surrender of Japan in 1945 and later participating in the London Victory March.
The book is an outstanding capsule summary with a narrative that surrounds the whole period of the commissioning of Shropshire in both the RN and RAN which once you start reading you cannot put it down until you have followed this amazing story right through. Chapters with termed tours of duty continually tabulating historical facts are arranged in chronological order from first commissioning in 1929 to the end of her career in 1955. Packed full with 235 photographic plates, 2 profile views of the ship, 50 original navigators sketch maps, 31 press cuttings and 2 aircraft recognition diagrams – its appeal is never ending.
As HRH Prince Philip states in the foreword, the book tells the dramatic events that were apportioned to Shropshire and it is quite a story!
The action commander Captain C.A.G. Nicholls says that, this was a proud and fortunate command.
As stated by Lt Cmdr W.G. Bracegirdle the then gunnery officer, Shropshire was a true fighting lady to be reckoned with.
The superb acrylicised coloured jacket and hard cover is befitting to the book which is excellently bound and the inside double cover spread both back and front offers a magnificent picture of Shropshire under kamikaze plane attack.
This limited edition book provides a mass of operational history, presented in an interesting, informative and well illustrated manner that will appeal to veterans, historians, naval enthusiasts, modellers and all lovers of sea battle stories.
Stan Nicholls has recorded for posterity a valuable and personal insight into the encounters of Shropshire and as author extraordinaire is to be congratulated on an inspiring manuscript.