British & Empire Warships of the Second World War
Skip to main content

Book Information

Lenton, H T. British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. London: Greenhill Books, .

This volume is an absolute wealth of information; clocking in at over 750 pages, it's likely something that belongs in a serious researcher's collection. The first part of the book looks at larger, named vessels, organized by vessel type and class. As one example, the "Corvettes and Frigates" is divided into entries on the "Flower" class, the "River" class, the "Kil-" class, and four more classes. (The introduction includes several fascinating paragraphs about the peregrinations of vessel nomenclature, and shows how complicated the whole process was. A fair bit of background knowledge is required just to understand this section!) After some commentary on the design and development of the class, the author provides tables showing brief history information for each vessel in a class. Information may consist of as little as an indication of the intended builder and the approximate cancellation date.

This works fine for named vessels, but creates a conundrum for unnamed vessels. In the LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) section, for example, "LCM.21-118" are mentioned on pg 490; "LCM.119-220" on pg 491, LCM.221-334" on pg 492, etc. Of the 100+ ships on each page, though, just two to three dozen have any information at all about the vessel, and that information is slight, at best. For the LCMs, most have no "Building" or "Completion" information. Of the ones that have "Fate" information, it usually reads something like "Lost cause unknown Algiers ../11/42." (Meaning it was lost in November 1942.)

To me, this information might be useful to someone, and I don't want to not include the entry for that vessel. But for each one like that, there are several where no information at all is included, and I believe that adding an entry to should imply that at least SOMETHING is available in the resource. So I expanded entries like "LCM.21-118" to be "LCM.21", "LCM.22", "LCM.23", etc. If there's any information at all about the vessel, I kept the entry. If there is no information beyond its listing on the page -- nothing about where it was built, or how it was lost -- then I deleted it.

Still, for people who are working on an LCM that's not listed, there is information about the LCM class here that might be relevant. And if you're looking for an image of a specific auxiliary vessel, it may be that an image of a different vessel in the same class will do. There is one entry for the LCM(3) class, for example, and a separate entry to note the photo of the specific vessel LCM(3).528. This processing was most common for LCMs, of which several thousand were built, but was done a bit in some other sections, too.

Any index as big as this one -- over 13,300 vessel names even before I expanded it as described above -- is likely to have some inconsistencies. Some are unimportant here, such as entries out of alphabetical order, but others are a bit more confusing. Sometimes a vessel had two different lines for the same ship name. (Examples include "AFD.12", listed first on page 710, and the second time on pages 709 and 710; or "Barnstone", listed first on page 658 and 660, and the second time on page 662.) In these cases, there's no clear reason why they appear this way, and it makes sense to combine them in any case, so I've generally done that.

There's a similar and slightly stranger issue, too, in which duplicate page numbers appear in a single entry, such as "24, 265, 265, 567". I initially thought that this was the result of the publishers or editors failing to note that an illustration also appears on page 265, as duplicating and italicizing the page number is how illustrations are generally listed. However, I found that to not be the case. In some cases, due to the way this file was processed, the second page number has been inadvertently italicized. Also, in a few cases page numbers that should be italicized are not. I apologize for that and will immediately correct any errors that are brought to my attention.

"In the tables the suffixes (i), (ii), (iii), etc., have been added after ships bearing the same name; and indicate the chronological sequence of naming. However, it should be clearly understood that these bracketed suffixes are not part of the official name. In addition, there were numerous instances of mis-spelling of the names of mercantile auxiliaries in the Navy Lists; and a total disregard of accents to vowels." - from the Introduction, pg. 8.