Haynes have done their usual magnificent job on this with copious illustrations and clear and relevant diagrams and drawings, some lifted from the A-boats Admiralty Book of Reference (BR 1963). The author’s qualifications, as engineer, historian, author and above all ex-submariner, are impeccable and include service in Alliance’s sister boat Acheron. The result is exhaustively comprehensive as to the boat and her people. The timing is key, as publication follows close aboard the recent multi-million pound restoration of this key RN Submarine Museum exhibit. This was very necessary, considering the state she was in when I took my grandson to visit in 2011.
- Peter Goodwin
The work opens with a brief history of submarines in the Royal Navy, going back to Holland 1 and forward to our first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, and thus the demise of the diesel boat.
The history of the class and of Alliance herself, systems, weapons, machinery and their and the boat’s operation, are comprehensively covered and complemented by an account of the crew and their accommodation and messing. As it happens while this book was in hand I met up with two ex-A-boat submariners (Alaric and Auriga) who told me to make sure the six-step flush was explained. It isn’t! Life on board is described in detail and makes it very clear to the reader what very special people diesel submariners were. The chapter on submarine escape has the effect of underlining this.
Finally the restoration of vessel vastly corroded by salt air and an infestation of pigeons is described in detail. One would very confidently recommend a visit to what is not only a fascinating exhibit - but also a memorial.
For a non-submariner (my experience limited to a few weeks as a midshipman in a depot ship with diesel boats alongside) this book was a mine of information. For those not within convenient range of Gosport appendices list the other visitable submarines worldwide.