16 Apr 20
Posted by: Dr James Bosbotinis

The Hudson Fellowship, an annual scheme which enables a Royal Navy or Royal Marines officer to undertake research on topics of maritime or strategic interest at Oxford University, will be well-known to readers of The Naval Review. The life and experience of Lieutenant Richard Guy Ormonde Hudson, whose bequest established the Guy Hudson Trust of which the Fellowship is the principal component, may be less well-known. Crash Start seeks to tell Guy Hudson’s story and his legacy. The author, Captain Chris O’Flaherty (whose latest book on mine warfare is also reviewed in this journal), is ably qualified to provide such an account, having himself been a Hudson Fellow in 2017-18, and the current Captain of the Maritime Warfare Centre.

Crash Start is divided into seven chapters, plus an epilogue, two appendices and a list of sources, covering 125 pages in total. The author provides a biography of Hudson and his wartime experience, which would, as O’Flaherty poignantly details, have such a tragic influence on Hudson’s subsequent life. Hudson joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, and saw service in home waters, including being involved in the battle against the Bismarck, before joining the Coastal Forces where he would serve with distinction in the Mediterranean and English Channel. Whilst serving with the Coastal Forces, Hudson contributed to the development of innovative tactics, which earned him the DSC and contributed to the defence of the eastern flank of the D-Day landings. However, Hudson’s experiences also contributed to his struggle with alcoholism and what would now be termed PTSD. Hudson’s dedication to the Navy would ultimately serve as his legacy through the establishment of his eponymous trust.

Crash Start is a well-written book that ably charts the life and legacy of Hudson. O’Flaherty writes in a compelling and highly engaging manner, effectively combining biography and military history. The author also charts in a poignant manner Hudson’s personal struggles, which would ultimately prove fatal. The depth of the author’s research is also evident and adds to the quality of the book. Crash Start provides an excellent, well-written biography and an account of aspects of Coastal Forces’ operations in the Second World War, which this reviewer found most fascinating. It is an enjoyable, thought-provoking and accessible read. Crash Start is highly recommended.