Bravo Zulu: Book Review

Bravo Zulu: Book Review

bzBook Review:  

“Bravo Zulu” Volumes 1 & 2 by Ian Pfennigwerth.

Between 1900 and 2014 over 4,000 Australian naval people received honours and awards for their efforts, courage, sacrifice and service to the nation. Whether a George Cross for defusing mines during the World War II UK ‘Blitz’, an American Silver Star for flying helicopters into intense enemy fire in Vietnam, a Distinguished Service Medal for the Iraq War or a Conspicuous Service Medal for quietly ‘just getting the job done’, Bravo Zulu recounts the stories of the men and women recognised for their Royal Australian Navy service. Some give insights into running of our Navy; others recall inspiring feats of courage under fire or bravery in risking their lives in saving others, on and off duty.

Through the recipients’ stories, Volume 1 traces the formation and development of the RAN, and its fortunes from World War I to Vietnam and everything in between. There are plenty of stories to engage an aviator, some well-known, others not. The exploits of RAN aviators flying in Europe (and not just V.A.T. Smith) during World War II are recorded, as are the backgrounds to the awards for the splendid Korean War service by Sydney and her Air Group. ‘Hairy’ helicopter rescues are recounted, as are examples of superb flying of aircraft in difficulties. Nor were the maintainers and deck crews forgotten when awards were made. All are recorded in Bravo Zulu.

In the separate chapter on Vietnam the circumstances behind all the honours and awards to RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam personnel which were able to be validated before the book went to print are included, as well as those presented to RAN aviators who served with 9 Squadron RAAF. The significant part played by FAA personnel from Melbourne and HS817 in the rescue of survivors from USS Frank E. Evans is described in the final chapter. Away from the flight deck, Bravo Zulu explains the background to awards to FAA people involved in the introduction of new aircraft types into the RAN, for service in the carriers Sydney, Vengeance and Melbourne and in detached helicopter flights. In short, the book makes a worthwhile contribution to recording the history of RAN aviation.

The second Volume, with 882 pages, describes the development and activities of the RAN from 1975, with separate chapters devoted to the Navy’s role in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 1999-2000 UN East Timor peacekeeping operation, enforcement of UN sanctions on Iraq, the 2003 Iraq War the continuing service of naval people in Iraq and Afghanistan, ashore and afloat and, of course, border security operations in Australia. Above all, Bravo Zulu Volume 2 is about people labouring mightily to ensure that Australia’s Navy is acknowledged internationally for its organisational capability and operational reach. There are 80 aviation-related stories in Bravo Zulu Volume 2 alone.

Thousands of hours of careful research can be bought for a steal as follows: 

Vol 1:  Hardcopy $85.00 + $15.00 P&P
Vol 1: Softcopy $75.00 + $15.00 P&P

Vol 2: Hardcopy $90.00 + $15.00 P&P
Vol 2: Softcopy $80.00 + $15.00 P&P

Vol 1 & 2 bundle:
Hardcopy:   $170.00 + $30.00 P&P
Softcopy: $150.00 + $30.00 P&P

You can visit Ian Pfennigwerth’s Naval History site here to order your copy, or, if you are overseas, you can buy through the online re-sellers listed here.

The FAAAA does not have any affiliation with the author or the publisher.