The Royal Navy in the Era of Two World Wars: was it Fit for Purpose?
Predicting the role that a navy will be called upon to adopt is an impossible task, made easier with the benefit of hindsight. Whilst a navy (or a ship) might be best fitted to a particular purpose, successful navies (and warship designs) have tended to be those with the broadest range of general capabilities. The Royal Navy was a complex system, its efficient working dependent on factors and other parts of government not obvious to the general observer, such as the excellent work of the Oil Fuel Board from 1925. The skills required of naval officers in peace differed from those in war. Lessons were learned between the wars and performance was better in the second war, including significant input from the RNVR. In the First World War the navy had advantages but little opportunity to perform. In the Second World War the navy had to carry the war effort almost alone against desperate odds for several years, but lacked no opportunity to display its fighting qualities.