Saturday, 20 August 2016

Looking Down On War

Whilst we were at the National Archives earlier this week, Sue paid a visit to the onsite bookshop ... and bought me a copy of LOOKING DOWN ON WAR: AXIS WARSHIPS AS SEEN ON PHOTOS FROM ALLIED INTELLIGENCE FILES.

The book was written by Colonel Roy M Stanley II, USAF (ret.) and published in 2011 by Pen & Sword Maritime (ISBN 978 184884 471 1). The book makes extensive use of aerial and other intelligence photographs, most of which were taken under combat conditions. It is split into the following sections:
  • Introduction
  • Chapter I - Background
  • Chapter II - Naval Bases, Ports and Harbors
  • Chapter III - Reichsmarine
  • Chapter IV - Regia Marina
  • Chapter V - Marine Nationale
  • Chapter VI - The Imperial Japanese Navy
  • Chapter VII - Final Observations
  • Bibliography
  • Index
I particularly enjoyed the first chapter because over the past ten years I have visited quite a few of the places featured in the photographs, and I spent quite some time trying to identify exactly where we had been. Some of the action photographs are amazing, and two in particular stand out. One is of Bristol Beaufighters attacking German mine-layers in the Gironde Estuary. Seven of the rockets that have been fired can actually be seen in flight on their way towards their target. The other photograph is used on the cover of the book, and shows a Japanese sub-chaser being attacked by an American B-25.

If one looks carefully, the crew of the ship's forward gun can actually be seen running for shelter!

An interesting book, and well worth reading if you have an interest in aerial and other intelligence photographs.


  1. What an unusual book! I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

    1. Tim Gow,

      It is not a book that I would have normally bought for myself, which made it all the more enjoyable when Sue bought it for me and I realised what a wonderful collection of unusual photographs it contained.

      I am sure that there is a game to be designed around aerial reconnaissance ... but I'm not sure how it could be done.

      All the best,


  2. Running for cover or running to their action stations?

    Interesting book.

    Sounds like an outdoor game, ship models in the grass being moved by umpires when appropriate. Players get to study Jane's for 15 minutes or so in the morning then in the afternoon have to walk briskly across the field, possibly with smartphones to take pictures of what they think is the enemy and then report back on what they saw and what the enemy was doing?

    1. Ross Mac,

      I think that they are running for cover as they seem to be moving away from the gun mounted on the forecastle rather than towards it.

      Thanks for your idea for a game design inspired by this book. I think that you have outlined the basis for a game that we can run at a future COW!

      All the best,