In All Respects Ready: Australia’s Navy in World War One – David Stevens

In All Respects Ready: Australia’s Navy in World War One – David StevensIn All Respects Ready: Australia's Navy in World War One by David Stevens
Published by Oxford University Press Australia on October 23rd 2014
Pages: 470

Written by Australia’s foremost naval historian, In All Respects Ready presents the most comprehensive and authoritative account of the Australian Navy’s involvement in World War I yet published.

When the newly built Australian fleet sailed into Sydney for the first time in October 1913, it was portrayed as a sign of peace that came from being prepared for war. Within a year that war had broken out, and the Royal Australian Navy, fully trained and ready, was the most professional and effective force Australia had to offer the British Empire. Throughout the next four years of conflict Australian ships and sailors would operate across the seas and oceans of the world, establishing a tradition of intrepid courage and dogged endurance while forging their own unique naval and national identity.

Impeccably researched, and drawing on a wealth of previously untapped official reports, intelligence summaries and private diaries, this book offers far more than a chronicle of historical fact. Crafting the definitive work on this largely ignored chapter of Australian history, the author presents an engaging narrative of the war at sea that brings to life both the human element and a richly depicted sense of place.

I think I won this a few years ago when I thought I’d have more time for reading. I probably won it on Twitter. I’ve stopped entering book competitions as I’d really like to get through my To Be Read Pile. I’ve put off reading it due to the subject matter being rather heavy and due to the book being rather heavy. I speak partly in jest as I weighed it at 1.2kg! I picked it up this time because of its size.

I loved this book. It was nicely written with lots and lots of information for me to chew over and think about. It is incredibly fact-dense, each paragraph is so filled with information that sometimes I only managed to read one paragraph before putting it down to consider what I’d read. Other times I couldn’t put it down and had to finish the chapter.

Shortly after I started reading I formulated the question ‘how does one go about training people for these sorts of situations?’ This is more about how do you go about setting up the training scheme to enable people to learn enough to go out and do their jobs than anything else. I finished the book a little wiser but wanting more details on this point. The information was scattered throughout as it didn’t seem to be part of the brief of the author.

What this book highlighted to me is that there’s an awful lot of lost life during war. So many boats and submarines were lost and that means people too. Some people were rescued but so many were not. This was on both sides of the war. I refuse to be partisan and celebrate the loss of life of the enemy. War is hell.

I salute the submariners. To dive under the water and know you might never come up again is a form of bravery I don’t have. I can’t begin to guess the number of submarines that went down with all hand still alive and never surfaced again. To even consider those people down there unable to get out of their machine and try to swim to the surface. I’m trying not to think about and I’m not succeeding.

It’s a book I’d recommend if you’re interested in learning more about war. Not having read any other non-fiction books about World War One I’d recommend it as a text book for class. It really is that good. Stevens has provided a book for the future, a book that will be quoted many times.