Vic­tory on land and sea

BBC History Magazine - - Letters -

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.

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