Academic journal article Military Review

A Forgotten Offensive: Royal Air Force Coastal Command's Anti-Shipping Campaign, 1940-1945

Academic journal article Military Review

A Forgotten Offensive: Royal Air Force Coastal Command's Anti-Shipping Campaign, 1940-1945

Article excerpt

A FORGOTTEN OFFENSIVE: Royal Air Force Coastal Command's Anti-Shipping Campaign, 1941945, by Christina J.M. Goulter. 366 pages. Frank Cass Publishers, London. 1995. $47.50.

The preponderance of World War II Royal Air Force (RAF) material deals with either the determination of Bomber Command's strategic offensive against Germany or Fighter Command's desperate defense during the Battle of Britain. Until recently, the RAF's only other home-based optional command-Coastal Command-has remained practically unnoticed by the world's historical community. Remedying this apparent lack of scholarship is Christina J.M. Goulter's A Forgotten Offensive.

Goulter's work focuses on only one of Coastal Command's many roles: its attempts to destroy enemy merchant and naval shipping in the North Sea. Competing against other RAF commands and the Fleet Air Arm for resources, Coastal Command provided aircraft for antisubmarine patrols and fleet reconnaissance, besides its antishipping campaign. Between 1940 and 1945, Coastal Command aircraft sank 366 vessels and damaged 134, accounting for more than 1 million tons of shipping. However, Goulter asserts, "The diversion of manpower and material to defend and maintain the German merchant fleet was, in fact, the most valuable contribution made by the antishipping campaign to the Allied war effort."

With excruciating detail and flawless research, Goulter examines practically every campaign aspect in this chronological study. …

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