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The Royal Navy and the Battle of Britain, by Anthony J. Cumming

Annapolis: United States Naval Inst., 2010. Pp. xiii, 207. Appends., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1591141605.

A revisionist look at the Battle of Britain, “The Few,” and the decidedly overlooked role of the Royal Navy in the defeat of Hitler’s ambitions in the late Summer of 1940. 

British naval historian Cumming argues that the story of the Battle of Britain has largely been shaped by wartime news reporting, Chruchilian rhetoric, and and then takes a hard look at the RAF and the RN during the campaign, some of the principal actors, notably Churchill, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding of Fighter Command, and Adm. Charles Forbes of the Home Fleet, and much more, not to mention the Germans. Cumming makes the case that the navy’s role in the campaign, keeping the sea lanes open, raiding German invasion ports, and patrolling the local waters, was at least as important as that of the RAF in the defense of Britain.  Noting that many of the German leaders, especially in the Kriegsmarine, had reservations about an invasion as well, he concludes that while the outcome of the air battle was important, the threat of intervention by the Royal Navy was the critical factor in securing Britain from invasion in 1940. 

An important read for anyone interested in the Second World War, Britain in the War, and modern naval campaigns.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   


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