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The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters (Hardback)

Linchpin of Victory 1935-1942

Seaforth Royal Navy Seaforth: Modern Naval

By Andrew Boyd, Foreword by N A M Rodger
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 538
ISBN: 9781473892484
Published: 20th March 2017


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Star review


'Boyd demolishes the props of received opinion one by one. A book that not only challenges received opinion but convincingly refutes it.'

(Alan Judd, The Spectator – read the full review via www.spectator.co.uk)

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THIS IS THE COMPELLING STORY of how the Royal Navy secured the strategic space from Egypt in the west to Australasia in the east through the first half of the Second World War. This contribution, made while Russia’s fate lay in the balance and before American economic power took effect, was critical. Without it, the war might have lasted longer and decisive victory proved impossible. After the protection of the Atlantic lifeline, it was the Royal Navy’s finest achievement – a linchpin of victory.

The book moves authoritatively between grand strategy, intelligence, accounts of specific operations, and technical assessment of ships and weapons. It challenges established perceptions of Royal Navy capability and performance and will change the way we think about Britain’s role in the first half of the war. It also emphasises that Britain was not acting alone in this period and it underlines the importance of the American relationship
to Britain’s eastern policy.

Andrew Boyd argues persuasively that it was the Admiralty, demonstrating a reckless disregard for risks, which was primarily responsible for the loss of Force Z in 1941, not Prime Minister Winston Churchill as traditionally suggested. However regrettable, this loss was not a sign of fundamental imperial failure but rather a temporary setback, eclipsed by Britain’s strategic success in securing what really mattered. He demonstrates how the Royal Navy recovered quickly – coming close to a British Midway off Ceylon against the Japanese in 1942.

Superbly researched and elegantly written, this book adds a hugely important dimension to our understanding of the war in the East.

‘This new account ought to startle the many comfortable ideas which have been dozing too long in their arm-chairs.’ N A M Rodger, author of A Naval History of Britain

This is a fascinating book which ends in 1942 on the basis that there was no longer a credible threat in the Indian Ocean. What Boyd puts forward, successfully to my mind, is that despite some well publicised losses the RN achieved a vital strategic victory in keeping the Indian Ocean sea routes protected. This is a comprehensive and well argued book which successfully challenges many of the previously established writings about the naval war in the Far East. Very highly recommended.


This volume is not ‘light’ reading in the accepted sense of that phrase. It is a ‘Learned Treatise’ on a specific subject and as such is probably most suited to university-level research. Researchers interested in British foreign and naval polices concerning the Japanese and the ‘British Far East’ may find it of interest, as might naval historians and those interested in British naval tactics in World War II. University and Public libraries may well find it a useful reference item for their political science or military history sections. The small number of photographs the volume contains may also be of use to modellers, war-gamers or those interested in the Royal Navy, the Fleet Air Arm, the Imperial Japanese Navy or World War II.

NZ Crown Mines

About Andrew Boyd

Andrew Boyd CMG, OBE, DPhil was educated at Britannia Royal Naval College and St John’s College,
Oxford. He served as a submariner in the Royal Navy before joining the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1980. He is currently a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham where he specialises in
twentieth-century naval history. The Royal Navy in Eastern Waters is his first book.

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