Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Battle of the Atlantic 1940

By the year 1940 Germany was already causing quite a bit of havoc in the Atlantic ocean sinking any merchant ship that would be sailing towards England. Europe being under the control of the Nazis on the Western front and Russia struggling on the Eastern front it seemed as though Germany was about to have total dominance over Europe. Every ship that was sunk by the Kriegsmarine was calculated by tons. Thousands of Allied merchant ships and hundreds of battleships and destroyers of the Allied navy were sunk in the Atlantic ocean between 1940 and 1944 when Germany had control of the North and south Atlantic ocean and the Atlantic floor (with their formidable Uboats). These were terrible times to be a sailor. You would never know if you would make the journey across the Atlantic. Otto Kretschmer (U505) would surely be the most successful Uboat commandant having sunk during the battle of the Atlantic at least 266,000 tons. This would be about 40 to 45 ships sunk! Most of the battles of the year 1940 were fought in the North Atlantic. Italy entered the war in June of 1940 and was part of the European Axis being Allies with Germany so began the battle for the Mediterranean sea. The problem for England was immense! We need to be re-supplied and re-arm and be feed our friends and allies but our ships are being sunk in the Atlantic. Canada was re-supplying England and 1941 saw the United States entering the war because of the attack on Pearl Harbour. The United States were helping their Ally England in early 1941. The United States would lend Destroyers and cruisers on the basis of the Lend-lease act of 1941 and England was being supplied military ships which included destroyers and battle cruisers. England would lend-lease bases to the Americans in the Isles of the Bahamas and Jamaica. Basically England was broke because of the damage being done to their country so it lend basis to the United States during the war for any military assistance it can get! The battle was far from over and seemed as though everything was lost! Like the Battle of Britain in the air it seemed as though England would not be able to win the Battle on the sea. If the Isle of Britain is lost, we loose our diving board to Europe. Remember if we loose England how can we fight the Battle in France and else were in Europe.

The Kriegsmarine had a system of navigating underwater called a Wolfpack which was absolutely terrifying for Allied sailors. A wolfpack consisted of a group of Uboats. There was the leader and the group of Uboats who would follow from behind as a second row behind the leader you would have two Uboats and then the third row three Uboats side by side and so on! If one Uboat missed a ship with a torpedo the other one behind would most likely hit the target sinking the Allied ship in the cold Atlantic waters. Wolfpacks were usually done when more than one merchant ship would be sailing towards England. The war is not lost because the RCAF and the RAF are patrolling the North Atlantic sinking Uboats when they can, they were called the Coastal Command. The coastal command aircraft were based in Newfoundland and Nova's Scotia and in England and Scotland. Slowly but surely we are helping to turn the tide of war in 1940-1941. With the courage of the Coastal Command flying above the ocean for hours and enduring the elements they were able to help our sailors stay afloat and reach England but the course of the war was far from over in the Atlantic. When seeing the Allied Bombers in mid Atlantic and the Allied fighters when nearing the English coast flying above the sailors merchant ships made them feel very well secure and was indeed a very welcomed site knowing that their friends were there indeed to serve and to protect them on their perilous mission to help save England!


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