compiled by Commodore G F Hopkins OBE, RNZN (Rtd)
Published by Reed Publishing. Price: $34.95.
Reviewed by David Nelson, OBE, BSc, Reg Eng, Captain RNZN (Rtd)
Tales from Korea is long-overdue and fills a real gap for those interested in the RNZN’s part in the Korean war, and the personal views and experiences of those who took part. Cdre Hopkins is to be congratulated.
It is more than a compilation as it includes his excellent timeline, map (few, if any atlases show Yang Do!), glossary and role sections, which set the scene, and without which the book would lose much of its impact. There are many (b&w) photographs.
Whilst several are multiple contributors, the book is based on oral histories of entire naval careers of most of those interviewed, not just the Korean War. The selections cover a wide range of human experience - afloat and ashore – including interaction with the Japanese, and make it clear that although for most, it was an important time in their careers, for some it was not.
One of the book’s strengths is the contrast of a range of views on specific episodes: e.g. Taupo at Yang Do.
It has straightened-out and revived many memories of my first sea appointment (Taupo), and has given me previously unknown facts such as the wartime background of our Captain, for which I am thankful. I was unaware also of the degree of the Royal Marine involvement with Rotoiti.
The odd nitpicks: Mis-spelling of some names (eg pg. 31 should be Twomey., and John O’Connell Ross)
Page 15: the 277P was primarily a surface warning radar, intended for detecting surfaced submarines, and/or periscopes: these were anti-submarine frigates.
I much enjoyed the book and strongly recommend it, not only to naval historians, but also to those who took part, and their families. An excellent answer to those who ask "what did you do in the Korean War dad (or granddad)?"