Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Battles and Honours of the Royal Navy

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Battles and Honours of the Royal Navy

Article excerpt

Thomas, David A. Battles and Honours of the Royal Navy. Conshohocken, Penna.: Combined Publishers, 1998. 326pp. $46.95.

This very useful reference (in effect an updating of A Companion to the Royal Navy, Harrap, 1988) is advisedly titled-that is, it aims at a comprehensive listing of the Royal Navy's battles, not just its formal battle honors, as acknowledged by the Admiralty. All the "honours" are here, even some fought before the navy became officially 11 royal" in 1660, as well as a few apparent (to the author) errors. However, RN battle honors are defined in ways that exclude a number of actions that have been important to the service or to the course of history. For instance, they are given only for Royal Navy victories, 11 well fought" draws, or glorious (if unsuccessful) defiances of "overwhelming odds"; also, while some single-ship and even boat actions are included, others are not, and the opponent must have been another vessel. As the author points out in his introduction, the loss in December 1941 of Force Z (HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse) is disqualified on both of these counts, and yet it was a crucial event for the Pacific War and the history of naval warfare. …

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