Guide to Sources for Research into the Royal Navy

Major works

In the writing of these volumes the authors had access to relevant official documents; however, the inferences drawn and the opinions expressed are those of the authors themselves, who are responsible for their reading or presentation of the facts as stated.


Rodger safeguard

The Safeguard of the Sea : A Naval History of Britain; Vol. 1 660-1649 : N.A.M. Rodger, (London, HarperCollins in association with the National Maritime Museum, 1997)

N.A.M. Rodger's The Safeguard of the Sea : A Naval History of Britain 660-1649 is the first volume of a planned three volume work. (See "The Command of the Ocean" below.)


Rodger command

The Command of the Ocean : a naval history of Britain, 1649-1815 : N.A.M. Rodger, (London : Allen Lane, 2004)

N.A.M. Rodger's The Command of the Ocean is the second volume of a planned three volume work, and continues "The Safeguard of the Sea" up to te end of the Nelsonian and Napoleonic era.


Brenton naval history

The naval history of Great Britain : from the year MDCCLXXXIII to MDCCCXXII : Brenton, Edward Pelham (London, C. Rice, 1823-25)

Brenton's Naval history of Great Britain was published in five volumes. The author served with distinction during the Napoleonic Wars, on the North American station during the War of 1812, and in 1813 went on half-pay. Brenton then turned to writing, publishing in 1823 his Naval History of Great Britain from the Year 1783 to 1822. As an officer of rank, who had been actively employed during the period of his history, his opportunities of gaining information were almost unequaled. Brenton was 'attacked' by William James for alleged historical errors, causing a 2nd edition in 1837 (in 2 folio volumes) with Brenton's responses.


Clowes Royal Navy

The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present time : Sir William Laird Clowes, Sir Robert Markham et al (London : Chatham Pub. [re-imp], 1996-1997)

Originally published in London by Sampson Low, Marston and Co. between 1897 and 1903, Clowes' seven volume The Royal Navy was for many years the only major history of naval matters available and remains a valuable source. The volumes contain details of ships, operations, officers and men, as well as commentary that leads to a sense of continuity.


Marder Scapa Flow

From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow : the Royal Navy in the Fisher era 1904-1919 : Arthur J Marder (London, Oxford University Press, 1961 - 1970)

This is a detailed and complete history of the Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1914 - 1919. It ncludes a great deal of information on the First World War and the Royal Navy's involvement. It was published in five volumes : v.1. The road to war, 1904-1914 -- v.2. The war years : to the eve of Jutland 1914-1916 -- v.3. Jutland and after : May 1916-December 1916 -- v.4. 1917 : year of crisis -- v.5. Victory and aftermath : January 1918-June 1919.


Corbett naval operations

Naval operations : History of the Great War based on official documents : Julian S. Corbett and Henry Newbolt (London : Longmans & Co., 1920-1931)

Naval operations is generally accepted as being the definive authorised (by direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence) work on Royal Naval matters concerning the First World War; Vols. 4 and 5 are by Henry Newbolt. It was published as five volumes bound in nine parts: Volume 1. To the Battle of the Falklands, December 1914 -- Volume 2. From the Battle of the Falklands to the entry of Italy into the war in May 1915 -- Volume 3. The Dardanelles campaign -- Volume 4. June 1916 to April 1917 -- Volume 5. From April to the end of the war -- Maps and charts 1-18 to Vol. 1, 1-46 to Vol. 3, and 1-11 and 14 to Vol. 4, 1-31 to Vol. 5 in separate cases. Plans 1-5 to Vol. 2 in pocket.


Roskill War at sea

The War at Sea, 1939-1945 : Stephen Wentworth Roskill (London, H.M. Stationery Off., 1954-61)

The War at Sea, 1939-1945 was published as three volumes bound in four parts: Volume I: The Defensive -- Volume II: The Period of Balance -- Volume III, part 1: The Offensive Part 1: 1 June 1943-31 May 1944 -- Volume III part 2: The Offensive Part II: 1 June 1944-14 August 1945.


Freedman Falklands

The official history of the Falklands Campaign : Sir Lawrence Freedman (London : Routledge, 2007)

This two volume history, in the government official Whitehall histories series, describes the long dispute between Argentina and Britain over the sovereignty of the Islands. In March 1982 what started as an apparently trivial incident on the island of South Georgia turned into a major crisis. Drawing on official papers the author charts the growing realisation within the British government of the seriousness of the situation, culminating in the Argentine invasion, the British intervention and the ultimate Argentinian defeat.





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Revised: 26 June 2022