Captain Gilbert Roberts, R.N., and The Anti-U-Boat School - Mark WilliamsLondon: Cassell, 1979, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper a little tanned A little age-toning to the edges of the text block. Text complete, clean and tight.
From the cover: “Without the Western Approaches Tactical Unit the Battle of the Atlantic might have been won by the Germans; that the Allies were victorious is largely due to the work of an obscure naval officer, Gilbert Howland Roberts, who ran W.A.T.U. Only now, when submarine tactics in this nuclear age have supplanted those of World War II can this story be told in full. Gilbert Roberts joined the Royal Navy in 1913 as a Cadet. His was to be a successful naval career although scarcely orthodox — among unusual appointments was that to the unique Danube Flotilla, and to fit out Australia’s first aircraft carrier (as well as Sydney’s famous bridge). By 1937 he had progressed to captain the destroyer Fearless when tragedy struck — Roberts discovered that he had T.B. and was invalided out of the Navy. The Admiralty considered it unlikely that any suitable service could be found for him.
However, in 1940 he was recalled to a desk job; by 1942 with the Allied convoys coming under increasing attack from U-boats, Winston Churchill was anxious to find someone who could develop anti-U-boat tactics, train naval officers, protect the convoys and sink the U-boats. Roberts was his man. He was immediately sent to Liverpool to set up the tactical school.
With the help of a bevy of young, inexperienced but able and loyal Wrens (one of whom, tiny Liz Drake, had to stand on a stool to reach the charts) Roberts, despite ill health, ran this school with great zeal. Naval officers came from all parts of the world to attend courses in anti-U-boat warfare — amongst them H.R.H. Prince Philip, Sir Peter Scott and Nicholas Monsarrat. Roberts and his ‘crew’ studied submarine strategy and developed counter tactics for the convoys to adopt. The most important were the ‘fruit cocktail’ — ‘Raspberry’, ‘strawberry’, ‘Gooseberry’ and ‘Pineapple’ — and ‘step-aside’. So effective were they that by late 1943 the U-boat threat was virtually overcome. Retired again once hostilities ceased, Roberts’ tactics were still in demand — by the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, and later N.A.T.O.
Honoured by Britain, by France, Poland and Norway, this once unrequired officer finally did retire from naval matters in 1964 after an incredible 50 years’ service to the Crown.”