Most naval autobiographies are written on deck: here is one from boiler and engine room to an accompaniment of falling bombs shuddering through a steel hull. Admiral Le Bailly's story covers Dartmouth, HMS Hood and then as an initially unwilling engineer, he joins the light cruiser HMS Naiad until she is torpedoed in the Mediterranean in 1942. After teaching at Manadon, Le Bailly is present at Japan's surrender aboard HMS Duke of York. As a rebel against
Admiralty design departments' hidebound practices he is temporarily excommunicated. His career picks up as Naval Attache in Washington then Director-General of Intelligence for all three Services in London — the first engineer to hold such posts.
Unusually well written with no punches pulled.
Vice Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1929 and trained as a naval engineer. After war service in HMS Hood, Naiad, Duke of York and as Professor of Marine Engineering at the Naval Engineering College he studied petroleum technology at Birmingham University before becoming secretary of Lord Geddes' Oil Quality Committee and chairman of NATO's Oil Standardisation Committee. Service in HMS Bermuda was followed by personnel training and administration and engineering design. He was secretary to Lord Murray's committee on naval officer entry and naval assistant to the Controller of the Navy, before a year at Imperial Defence College.
Since his retirement he has served on the Civil Service Commission, as chairman of governors of Rendcomb College, as council member of the Institute for the Study of Conflict and as vice president of the Sea Cadet Ship Hood. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Cornwall.
By the same author FROM FISHER TO THE FALKLANDS