Book Review: The Forgotten Fleet: The Story of the British Pacific Fleet, 1944-45

I just finished reading John Winton’s The Forgotten Fleet: The Story of the British Pacific Fleet, 1944-45 about the Royal Navy in the Pacific Theater in the closing stages of World War II. Often times, the most mention you get of the Royal Navy in the Pacific in 1944 and 1945 is that they were there, were greatly outnumbered by the US Navy, and that their carriers had metal instead wooden decks. Winton’s book, therefore, greatly interested me and I enjoyed reading about the Royal Navy’s contributions to naval war in the Pacific and their support of Commonwealth forces in Southeast Asia. Winton didn’t just tell the story of the sharp end of the spear either, he dealt considerably with the British Pacific Fleet’s Fleet Train and the logistics of supporting the fleet at sea for longer times that the Royal Navy had previously done. He also told the story of how the British Pacific Fleet helped repatriate Commonwealth POWs and civilian internees after the Japanese surrender.

I vacillated between giving this book three stars or four stars, but eventually settled on four. My problems with the book had nothing to do with subject material or how Winton wrote about it, my problems were with the e-book conversion and maps. First, the e-book conversion was poor; many words were misspelled as a result of the conversion and apparently the publisher didn’t bother editing it to correct the errors. The frequent errors were a major distraction. Second, the book’s maps were not with the relevant text; maps help you understand military history (particularly when dealing with lesser known and remote areas of the Pacific and Southeast Asia) much better, and particularly with an e-book are best placed with the relevant text instead of at the beginning of the book. Were it not for the conversion errors, I would likely have had no qualms giving it a four star review, although the maps may have prevented me from giving it five. That said, if you can work your way through the frequent conversion errors or get a print copy of the book, it’s well worth reading for a better understanding of the Royal Navy’s contribution in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

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