Victory on land and sea
Both in concept and content, Patrick Bishop is profoundly mistaken. The achievements and bravery of the RAF’s men and women are beyond doubt, but final victory – as always – had to be won on the ground. He is also, like too many writers, w sea-blind. Or at least sea-myopic. s The Battle of the Atlantic A was not, as he implied, a defensive “struggle for survival”; it was the essential starting point of the biggest offensive operation ever – Overlord. Without the Royal and Canadian navies’ efforts in keeping the ‘Atlantic Bridge’ in place for materiel and men, D-Day could never have happened. The defeat of Italy’s navy was also achieved by the Royal Navy, and the
bbreakingki off theh AfAfrikaik KKorps was dependent on the destruction wrought on Rommel’s resupply lines across ‘Mare Nostrum’. Both vigorously offensive strategies. Earlier, the Norway campaign had seen lethal blows dealt against the Kriegsmarine’s destroyer force, from which it never recovered; and the aggression and courage of the Royal Navy’s coastal forces kept the narrow seas open throughout the war.
Finally, his comment about the Pacific campaign was a red herring; after Pearl Harbor, this was overwhelmingly – and necessarily – a US naval theatre. Mr Bishop did nod towards the Royal Navy’s contribution. But in his urge to deliver an unsustainable thesis, he backed himself into an ahistorical cul-de-sac. Rob White, the Maritime Foundation, London Editor replies: Thank you for all the letters that we received in response to Patrick Bishop’s piece in April’s magazine. Unfortunately, we have not had space to print all of them, but we have tried to give a flavour here of the range of views expressed.