Commission Books

Commission books were produced by a ship's crew to commemorate a commission and they were usually paid for by using the ship's welfare funds. Commission books were not produced for every commision.

An interesting story about how this copy of the 1953 Coronation Review of the Fleet Program (PDF, 3Mb) came to be on this page. The copyright notice in the program says "The Contents of this Publication are Coypright and all rights are reserved. No extracts or reproductions from this Publication can be made in any form without the permission of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth and the Publishers."

The post of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was abolished in 2012, and the duties and repsonsibilites pased to the First Sea Lord. The publishers were Gale and Polden Ltd. of Portsmouth. They went out of business in 1981 after being bought by Robert Maxwell. Maxwell died in 1991 and his publishing empire collapsed in 1992, but just to be on the safe side I contacted the Admiralty about posting this PDF.

They replied saying "As the publication was originally written and published under the Authority of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth we would consider this as being protected by Crown Copyright as it was produced by Admiralty personnel as part of their official duties. This publication would no longer be protected by Crown Copyright as this lasts for 50 years from the date the material was first published so you are free to use a PDF copy of this programme on your website.

The programme is a very interesting historical document containing a wealth of information about an impressive Admiralty Fleet and also through the advertising it contains."

So here, for the first time on any website that I know of is the 1953 Coronation Review of the Fleet Program (PDF, 3Mb)

HMS Gambia Commissioning Book 1955-1956

Janet Kirkham, niece of Sick Birth Attendant Kenneth George Griffin, who was on the 1955/6 commission very kindly contributed a copy of the commission book. This is available as a PDF file (3Mb)

HMS Gambia Commissioning Book 1955-1956

Here is a scan of my copy of the 1958/60 commission book. This is available as a PDF file (7.4Mb)

HMS Gambia Commissioning Book 1958-1960

Dave Axford has very generously made 4 Gambia Commissioning books, as well as those for other ships, available as PDFs from his website. These books cover the 1952-1954, 1955-1956, 1957-1958, and 1958-1960 cruises.

Books about HMS Gambia

HMNZS Gambia by Jack S. Harker. Moana Press, New Zealand, 1989
New Zealand Cruisers in Combat by Timothy Gambrill. Dunmore Press, New Zealand, 1988 - contains several chapters about HMNZS Gambia
Towards Victory - Pictorial Record of HMNZS Gambia by Stuart Arthur Clausen. New Zealand, 1993
Warship World - Volume 9, Number 6, July/August 2005 - 3 page article on HMS Gambia by Bill Johnson

HMNZS Gamiba by Jack Harker New Zealand Cruisers in Combat by Tomothy Gambrill Towards Victory by Stuart Clausen Warship World July/August 2005


The following video is a reproduction of Naval Video Time Capsules: Episodes of the Royal Navy: Part 10: The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets by naval historian Roland R. Smith, who passed away in 2002. The original VHS video was very kindly given to me by Bill Hartland when I met him in August 2017.

I am not at all sure where I stand as far as copyright for this video is concerned. The film clips come from the Imperial War Museums and, as far as I know, fall under Crown copyright but the work that was done compiling them by Roland R. Smith probably was not. There is no copyright information at all on either the video box or tape cassette itself.

There appears to be a problem with the audio/video sync in some versions of Windows and the Chrome browser. I am currently (December 2017) using Windows 10 and Chrome v62. I found that when using Internet Explorer (v11), Edge (v41) or Firefox (v57) that the problems are no longer so apparent.


Dave Axford's Commissioning Books
Naval Ships Of The Worlds Navies