Most notable achievements:
At the outset: The Titanic and the Californian – the first book to seek to clear Captain Lord of the Californian of the censure he received at the British Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic for not going to the rescue of the survivors.
An Agony of Collisions followed, giving examples of collisions at sea assisted by radar, and suggested reform of the international collision regulations in the light of radar.
Then came the biographies of great naval gunnery officers and a history of great gunnery at sea and of great gunned battleships.
Biographies of Nazi leaders followed for which Padfield received death threats: his biography of Grand Admiral Karl Donitz showed that far from being the unpolitical German naval officer he had been portrayed, Dontiz was an early extreme Nazi.
In Hess, Hitler and Churchill: The Real Turning Point of the Second World War Padfield shows Churchill’s moral greatness resisting Hitler’s blandishments for a compromised peace.
His focus on naval campaigns by which the west and primarily Great Britain spread its influence around the world culminated in his trilogy Maritime Supremacy, for the second volume of which Padfield won the Mountbatten Prize, amassing glowing reviews. Maritime Supremacy is a groundbreaking work linking the values of free trade, freedom of expression, freedom of worship, and democracy to Britain’s trading history and Naval power.
He has appeared regularly on both television and radio discussing Donitz and the Titanic, including Ludovic Kennedy on Donitz and BBC Start the Week.
For six years he spearheaded the campaign against turning RAF Bentwaters into a civil airport. The campaign was a success. His involvement helped protect an area of outstanding natural beauty in Suffolk from aeroplane noise.
He is one of the last remaining crew from the 1957 transatlantic voyage of the Mayflower II. He has remained in continuous contact with the Plimoth Plantation ever since the voyage and has been a guest of honour at important anniversaries.
Peter Padfield came to maritime history not as an academic but as a seaman with a passion for the sea and practical experience of sailing the world’s oceans. This love and knowledge of ships and the sea marks his writing. He rose to international renown in his field without formal training or funding but through the force of his own industry, research, insight and writing. Despite having no credentials beyond his original training as a P&O Officer his literary output enjoys worldwide respect, not least in the USA, and has reached a wide readership. Perhaps it is the lack of a university education in history that has resulted in his unique voice.