HMS Cavalier: Destroyer 1944
Seaforth Historic Ships Series
By Richard Johnstone-Bryden
Softcover, 128 pages, bibliography, fully illustrated in color
Published by Seaforth 2015
Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.4 x 9.6 inches
HMS Cavalier (D73) was a CA class destroyer commissioned into the Royal Navy in November of 1944. Decommissioned after the war, she was later modernized and re-entered service in 1957. She spent most of her operational service in the Far East, eventually trading her torpedo tubes and “X” gun mount for a Seacat SAM system and Squid ASW mortars. She was finally decommissioned in 1972 and began a long and complicated journey through the hands of various trusts, associations, and bureaucratic red tape which eventually resulted in her being preserved as a museum ship at Chatham. She was opened to the public in 1999, and was officially designated as the National Destroyer Memorial in November 2007.
The first portion of the book is a brief history of Royal Navy destroyer design and development to the point of the building of the CA class late in the war. The narrative then shifts to Cavalier’s service history and modernizations until she was paid off in 1972. Her preservation and eventual restoration as a museum ship close out the book’s textual portion.
The bulk of the content is a series of high-quality photographs of the preserved ship. The interior is open to the public and has been extensively restored, with many spaces fitted out with equipment and personal items as would be seen in service. The exceptions are the Engineering spaces, which pose safety obstacles for public access but were photographed for the book. All photos are captioned extensively and it is obvious the author spent considerable time researching the details. This is a beautiful, well presented book, and certainly worth picking up if you have an interest in warships. The museum has done an outstanding job in Cavalier’s preservation and the photographs do justice to their efforts. There are several museum ships preserved in the U.S., I can only hope that a similar series of publications would someday be produced with American warships as their subjects. Recommended.