Book Review: 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.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close