Bravo Zulu is NATO shorthand for ‘well done’. This massive (over 800 page) book promises to describe the gallantry and efficiency of those Australians with naval connections who were recognised by official awards. It achieves this and much more. It is not merely a listing of names and achievements. Each segment of awards is prefaced by its operational context and with a concluding summary of achievements. The result is well organized and easily readable.
One example of many in this book comes to mind. The author outlines the considerable RAN participation in D-Day. About 200 RAN personnel were involved. The remarkable story of Lieutenant Keith Hudspeth in midget submarine operations prior to 6th June 1944 won him the well-deserved award of the Distinguished Service Cross with two bars. His gallantry should not be forgotten.
Ian Pfennigwerth is an accomplished naval historian with many naval histories to his credit. He attributes this volume to the assiduous work of his team whilst humbly devaluing his tenacity and leadership.
The list of recipients has more than 3,600 names on it, making it the first comprehensive account of its type that has ever been complied. The author notes that Navy record-keeping has not always been of a high standard, and indeed, that RAN history has sometimes been under-valued. He and his team had to search widely for the details of recipients of awards and privacy legislation was sometimes a bar to their efforts. Nevertheless, the listings include British and Australian gallantry awards, as well as those from the United States, France and other allies. It also includes Humane Society awards and awards in the civil lists for retired naval personnel. The index listing the recipients is accurate and exhaustive.
A further volume covering the period 1975 to 2014 is in preparation. It will be a good companion to this essential book of reference.
I can but agree with the author’s statement:
“This is a great project, run by people who have served in the Navy, who are passionate about telling of the great things that Navy people have done.”
We are most grateful to the author and publisher for this review copy.
Reviewed for RUSIV by Mike Obrien, November 2016
Contact Royal United Services Institute about this article.