Holiday Reading – Subsmash by Alan Gallop
It might appear that the only thing I do through the holidays is read, read, read. This is not entirely true, it seems I have a wife and two kids as well. But the truth of the matter I do love to read, and when I get into a book, I find it hard to put it down, and in between eating, sleeping, and occasional fun times with my family, I snatch a few pages here, a chapter there.
I have just got back from a week in a caravan up the Kaikoura Coast which inevitably involved two solid days of rain. To avoid the encroaching cabin fever it was lucky I had taken a couple of books with me (as my wife did) and this was the first I read.
Based on the tragedy and subsequent search and investigation into the loss of the submarine HMS Affray Gallop has done well to capture the feeling of an event that happened over 50 years before (at time of writing). Unlike other such books I have read (HMAS Perth, USS Indianapolis, KM Bismarck and such) this one does not involve any eyewitnesses nor survivors to the actual disaster itself so there is no commentary on what happened in the sub’s fatal last moments.
It must have been hard not to have an attempt at what went on inside and waxing lyrical (to the point of romanticism in some stories) what went through the minds of individuals on board as she sunk based on what a) the investigation found and b) what experts assumed was more likely to have happened.
The most compelling parts of this book surround the two train of thoughts of what actually caused the sub to sink; on the one side you have ex-crew, family, and naval experts who believe the sub was in such a poor state she should never have sailed, and then the Admiralty via Boards of Enquiry and assumptions which managed to come up with a perfectly logical explanation without any real evidence (the sub had only just been found, and was not salvaged).
But the part that was of most interest to me is the aftermath involving hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for the victim’s families – the ongoing battles and investigations into misappropriation (maybe too strong) and allocation of monies is the question I would have most like to have had answered.
A good read with some gripping parts. It is also well complemented with a good array of photos.