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The Royal Netherlands Navy of World War II

The Royal Netherlands Navy of World War II Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2022 Title The Royal Netherlands Navy of World War II
Author Ryan K. Noppen Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2020 ISBN 9781472841919
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.00


Author Ryan K. Noppen surveys WWII Dutch sea power in The Royal Netherlands Navy of World War II – 285th in Osprey’s extensive “New Vanguard” line.

Noppen recaps the total tale – interbellum influences, unrealized plans, surface units, submarine forces, and engagements – in just 48 pithy pages across three succinct sections:

  • Surface Vessels
  • Submarines
  • Operations

The Royal Netherlands Navy – Koninklijke Marine – entered WWII as small, mixed force of light cruisers, submarines, and minor surface vessels.

A comparatively small number of these defended home waters in skirmishes during Hitler’s May 1940 assault. But the majority, tasked with defending resource-rich Dutch East Indies colonies, actively fought in major early WWII Pacific actions.

Less than four months after Pearl Harbor, though, Imperial Japan’s Blitzkrieg had bludgeoned Holland’s small fleet-in-being to near extinction.

Remaining Koninklijke Marine vessels largely served in support roles for the rest of the war. And just one major Dutch surface warship survived WWII.

Photos, color profiles, a cut-away, and action artwork illustrate the account. And sidebars and extended captions augment the account with engaging details.

An index and selected bibliography neatly conclude contents. Unfortunately, don’t expert annotations – a consistent Osprey shortcoming.

But is it “comprehensive”, as cover copy claims? No. Text lacks any reference, for instance, to intriguing Dutch WWII warship camouflage – a topic many “New Vanguard” titles tackle.

Still, I enjoyed this handy little handbook. Make it your launchpad to further study of Koninklijke Marine ships and strategy during the Second World War.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!