Review of The War at Sea Volume I to III… by Stephen Wentworth Roskill

A review of the 4 volumes of The War at Sea Volume by   Stephen Wentworth Roskill

I have been reading these books for many months, as it takes a while to get through it all. I got the volumes as Nook E-books.

The first volume has this as an overview message

The most comprehensive, detailed and authoritative account of the Naval aspect of WWII. No other account comes close. It is both a literary and historical masterpiece. It covers all the major US engagements as well as those of the Royal Navy. The book does more than merely record the events of history. The highly informed writer comments on the war in relation to the writings of Mahan, Corbett et al to draw many insightful conclusions about the naval strategy used by the Allies in WW2. A must have book

I would agree that if you are interested in WW2 naval it is a must read set of books. It was written in the late 50’s by a retired naval captain who served in WW2, he was appointed by the Cabinet Office Historical Section to write the official naval history of the Second World War. This set is the result.

He covers all aspects of the war at sea, from how things are organised to thinking about the errors of all sides in the conflict.

I have learnt more about WWII naval conflict from reading these out of print books than I ever knew. It shows the value of E-books in bringing long out of print books back into circulation.  This is a great read and well worth the time invested in getting to grips with it. It will help understand many of the land campaigns, as well as the sea ones. It also shows that the nuclear attack on Japan was pointless as there were already starving due to the naval blockade.

Roskill’s summery at the end is particularly thoughtful and still valid I think. It has also as the advice after WWI been forgotten.

He says, ‘that if a country depends on sea borne cargoes being brought in and out of the country, then it needs to make sure it has the ships to protect that supply chain as well as the ownership of the merchant ships which do the work. Neglecting that chain of supply is none at a nations peril.’

We have neglected the supply chain, most  merchant ships are now foreign owned, so we could not rely on them in a time of war also we no longer have the ability to protect the trade routs or these shores by sea power.

I do agree with him that as a island who relies on sea born trade and supply, we need a effective, balanced naval force to protect that trade and protect power from our shores. Also as we can only be invaded by sea control of the sea keeps us as a nation safe. Now I know that we are no longer a great power, but it seems to me and I expect to Roskill that a strong navy and air-force is more important than a strong army. With out air and sea power that army can go nowhere, and a army with out the means to stop an invasion will also not protect us.

It is strange that we humans so often forget the lesions of the past. No just from wars but also from life in general.

Russia at the moment is acting as if it had learnt nothing from the last 100 years. It was Hitlers so called protection of German nationals in other countries which lead us towards WWII.  The West has not learnt not to interfere in other nations internal disputes, as it often makes it worse.  We have all forgotten the wisdom of God shown to us, and the story of Israel in the bible shows us what happens when we do.



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