Saturday, August 29, 2009

Raleigh on the Rocks - The Canada Shipwreck of HMS Raleigh

By Richard Rohmer
ISBN 1894294467
240 pages, 6" x 9"
paper, $19.95
Richard Rohmer, a person of some note in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s as the head of Canadian military reserve forces, a series nationalistic novels followed later by a number of works of history, has undertaken to bring to light a potentially dangerous situation in Canada.
The HMS Raleigh was commissioned as part of the British North Atlantic squadron in 1922. She was a Cavendish-class cruiser of 12,000 tons displacement, length overall of 605 feet, with a complement of 700 officers and men. On August 8, 1922, in thick fog and without warning, the Raleigh ran aground on Point Amour, Forteau Bay, Labrador. The ship remained hard aground and upright for four years. During this period, she was stripped of all salvageable items and was destroyed with explosives in September 1926. Since that time, local residents have been salvaging the brass from cordite containers and shells, which were left behind. Each spring new projectiles and cordite wash up on the beach and are collected. This book follows the story of the Raleigh from 1922 to current times.
The book recounts the brief career of HMS Raleigh but soon falls apart when reference is made to "Victoria Island" instead of "Vancouver Island" in British Columbia. In fact the reader quickly becomes aware of the complete lack to proof reading or editing done on this book. One is left feeling as if the initial manuscript went straight from the writer’s desk to the printing process.The CPR liner SS Empress of France is misidentified as HMS and later corrected to SS. The photo captions do not always match the photographs – one glaring example is a photo of the stern of HMS Raleigh misidentified as the bow. Another photo caption still contains the word "etcetera," as if text was to be added later.Rohmer also misses two Canadian links within the book. The service record of the Navigating Officer of HMS Raleigh, Commander Bott, shows that he served in HMS Niobe before this ship was transferred to the brand new Royal Canadian Navy in 1910. Later in the book, reference is made to the cruiser HMCS Aurora and submarines HMCS CH-14 & CH-15 being in a state of disrepair in Halifax in 1926.
Another annoyance with this book is photocopies of documents are placed within the text. The readers are left to fend for themselves on reading through these instead of a narrative from the author. It would’ve been much easier to include these as appendices and have them replaced by a better narrative.This is the first work we have reviewed from the publisher. Their lack of proofing or editing even extends to their marketing materials – reference is made to "cordiate" instead of "cordite" still being contained within the hull of HMS Raleigh.To quote some famous movie critics, "thumbs way down on this one."

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