The Royal Navy

Read more about the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Historically the first line in the defence of Britain, the Royal Navy (known as the “Senior Service”) traces its origins to the sixteenth century.  After the First World War Britain’s navy was significantly reduced in size, but by the outbreak of war again in 1939 it was still the largest navy in the world,

As the war progressed, the British & Commonwealth Navies expanded rapidly with large construction programmes, particularly escort carriers, destroyers, corvettes, frigates, submarines, landing ships and craft.  By mid-1944, 800,000 officers and men were in uniform and were relying on vastly improved radars and anti-submarine weapons as well on the information obtained from the efforts of the Enigma code breakers at Bletchley Park.

Since Britain depended on the Atlantic trade routes to import over a million tons of food, oil and raw materials every week, Winston Churchill was not exaggerating by describing the “Battle of the Atlantic as the dominating factor all through the war.  The German Naval Command had made its calculations and concentrated on starving Britain into surrender using its U-Boats to sink British-bound shipping.  The human cost to both the Merchant Navy and the British and Commonwealth Navies was high, with over 80,000 men alone killed or lost through enemy action.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 08/05/2012.