By Stuart Robertson and Stephen Dent
The small, lightweight, 35mm cameras that were available by the time of the Second World War revolutionised war photography. Unencumbered by heavy equipment, including tripods and photographic plates, the photographer could now get much closer to the action
and respond instinctively to changing situations, shooting a series of pictures on a single film. Although their smaller format meant that technically the images were usually less sharp and more grainy, this tonal harshness gave the pictures a gritty realism
and immediacy. And with the easing of censorship, the photographers were able to publish unflinching images of conflict and the catastrophic consequences of war as never before. From a naval point of view, developments in submarine and aircraft carrier technology
completely changed how a war would be fought at sea. Navies of the protagonists were expected to provide many support services, from the protection of convoys to the landing of troops on hostile shores, which literally enabled the war to go global. 'Conway's
War at Sea' describes the Second World War through the chronology of naval events.
Chapters are organised by year, with a concise introduction followed by pages of photographs, each accompanied by an informative caption. They include the work of photojournalists on assignment and specialist naval photographers attached to a particular unit
or ship, who captured the confusion of a sinking vessel or the moment of impact of a kamikaze attack. Often grainy, blurred, damaged, these intense images are balanced by the more organised, framed shots of naval personnel in training, in preparation for battle,
and planning operations in shore bases, as well as dockyard workers and harbour facilities. From the scuttling of the Graf Spee and the Channel Dash of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, to the Operations Room at Western Approaches, and the US Marines wading ashore
at Iwo Jima; from the amateur photography of a serviceman on board a destroyer to Robert Capa's images of the mayhem on Omaha Beach, this collection is a moving and informative addition to the library of anyone interested in the Second World War.