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Decision in the AtlanticThe Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War$
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Marcus Faulkner and Christopher M. Bell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781949668001

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9781949668001.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms

The Admiralty, the Air Ministry, and the Battle of the Atlantic

(p.78) 4 Brothers in Arms
Decision in the Atlantic

Tim Benbow

University Press of Kentucky

During the Second World War, there were intense disputes between the Admiralty and the Air Ministry over the provision of air support for the Battle of the Atlantic. This was not mere inter-service squabbling but the product of deep and long-standing differences about the nature and conduct of war. The Admiralty, fully appreciating the central role of air power in attacking and defending sea communications, repeatedly asked for reinforcement of the under-resourced Coastal Command. The Air Staff, however, consistently and strenuously resisted these requests due to the overwhelming priority it placed on the strategic air offensive against Germany. This chapter by Tim Benbow examines these disputes between 1940 and 1943, assessing the arguments presented by the Air Staff and by the Admiralty. It maintains that the Air Staff was dogmatically fixated on demonstrating that bombing could win the war on its own, despite ample evidence to the contrary, and failed to allocate aircraft appropriately. As a result, the war at sea did not receive the support that its strategic importance justified. It further asserts that Churchill and his government failed to adjudicate effectively on this vital issue as a result of their sloppy and inconsistent approach to setting priorities.

Keywords:   Admiralty, Air Ministry, Battle of the Atlantic, Bomber Command, Coastal Command, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, strategic bombing, U-boat

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