Armed Merchant Cruisers 1878 – 1945: Passenger Liners As Auxiliary Warships In The Royal Navy

Armed Merchant Cruisers (AMCs) performed many essential functions during both World Wars but their vulnerability in action gained them the unfortunate sobriquet of “Admiralty Made Coffins”. Despite their obvious limitations, the AMCs of the 10th Cruiser Squadron played a significant role in defeating Germany during the 1914 – 1918 conflict, while, in both wars, AMCs substituted for regular cruisers and escorts engaged in patrol and escort work. This book explores the origins, capabilities and uses of AMCs in 1885, 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 45 as well as explaining the reasons for their demise during the latter conflict. This hardcover, 328 page, A4 book, which is illustrated by 262 monochrome photographs, contains four discrete parts, the first of which is devoted to HMS HECLA (1878). Part two explores the origins of the employment of steam powered merchant armed cruisers, including the 16 ships hired during the Russian war scare of 1885, and the introduction of Government subsidises to encourage the construction of mercantile tonnage which could be employed in a cruising role in wartime. Part three is devoted to work of AMCs during the 1914-1918 conflict, ranging from the vital blockade duties performed by the AMCs of the 10th Cruiser Squadron to operations in the South Atlantic and elsewhere. Part four, which covers the period from 1920 – 1945, describes how the Admiralty encouraged the construction of ships pre-stiffened to receive 6-inch guns, the effect of the collapse of the International Mercantile Marine on the availability of potential AMCs, the requisitioning, outfitting and operational use of AMCs during the Second World War and the competing interests that led to the demise of the Royal Navy’s force of AMCs during 1942 – 1944. The volume is completed by 7 appendices that detail (1) ships receiving subsidises prior to World War I, (2) the movements of the 10th Cruisers Squadron during 1914 – 1917, (3) a list of ships stiffened by 1933, (4) requisitioning and conversion dates in 1939 – 1940 and AMCs involved in escorting (5) HX/BHX, (6) SC and (7) SL/SLF convoys.

Authors: Richard Osborne, Harry Spong & Tom Grover
ISBN: 0-9543310-8-7
Publication Date: Aug 2007
Member’s price: £15+p&p (£3.20 UK, £12.95 EU & Rest of the World)
Non-member’s price: £22.50+p&p (£3.20 UK, £12.95 EU & Rest of the World)

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