Defence of the Empire 1756 – 1956
This book catalogues the overseas defences of the British Empire. It is a story of the conflicting demands of cost and security across Great Britain’s naval staging posts for its far-flung commercial interests. Bill Clements’ book has successfully navigated a path through a complex story, without becoming too bogged down in detail, but equally without becoming bland. The race to maintain up-to date armaments is also charted as technology made older weapons obsolete; this in a time span encompassing the Seven Years’ War through to World War II.
Readers with an interest in WWII will find the chapters on Singapore and Hong Kong to be of particular value. The book is liberally provided with plans, line drawings and photographs to give a good representative feel for the defences. The Islands of Bermuda, Jamaica, St Helena, Antigua and St. Lucia, Ceylon, Mauritius and Ascension Island are all covered too.
The book should appeal to anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject of coastal fortifications, and perhaps even provide inspiration for a bit of “concrete sniffing” on family holidays abroad. It sheds light on a forgotten part of Great Britain’s overseas history.
My review copy was provided by Pen and Sword Publishing.