The Laughton Naval History Unit in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London in conjunction with the Society for Nautical Research and Global War Studies are organising a conference entitled, ‘Decision in the Atlantic’ that will be held on 17-18 May 2013. Here is the aim of the conference:
In the history of warfare few campaigns have been as long, as complex or covered as large an area as the Battle of the Atlantic did in the Second World War. The contest for allied maritime communications began on the first day of the war in 1939 and continued until the German surrender in May 1945. On the seventieth anniversary of the climax of the battle, this conference aims to draw together international scholarship with a view to highlighting recent approaches to its study and its emerging role in the wider historiography of the war. Where are we today in understanding convoy operations, the application of air power and intelligence? Although the core theme is the turning point in the spring of 1943 papers dealing with broader issues like logistics, economic aspects, agriculture and industry, maritime communications and grand strategy across the campaign are encouraged. Equally important is the human experience, the weather, morale, the impact on the home front and the role of ports and internal transport.
In conjunction with Dr Ben Jones, Lecturer in Air Power Studies, King’s College London at RAF Cranwell, I am organising a panel proposal for this conference. The theme for this proposed panel is, ‘The Battle of the Atlantic and the Transformation of Maritime Air Power’. The panel aims to examine how air power changed during the course of the battle and the role that it played in allied victory. My own paper, entitled, ‘The Key to Victory? RAF Coastal Command, Organisational Culture and Adaptation in the Battle of the Atlantic’, seeks to examine how the RAF adapted it most basic assumption, independence, to the needs of the allied war effort. It will do this through the prism of organisational culture theory and illustrate that despite problems from several vested interests within the RAF, it was ultimately able to overcome this challenge and contribute significantly allied victory in this key campaign. In using a conceptual framework my paper seeks to move away from the more technologically driven analyses of Coastal Command’s role to examine the importance of culture in order to understand how organisations adapt during wartime. Dr Jones’ proposal seeks to examine the use of Escort Carriers and Merchant Aircraft Carriers in convoy defence. This includes the background on the development of such vessels and the arguments within the RN and between the RN and the USN as to how they should be used e.g. in the Atlantic or covering landings in the Med. The tactics employed by their aircraft and their success rate would also be assessed.
We are currently seeking a third panellist for this proposal. While there is no limitation as to the subject matter we particularly keen to hear from anybody interested in proposing a paper related to the US experience of maritime air power during the Battle of the Atlantic. If you are interested please feel free to contact me using my contact details, which can be found in the side bar to the right.