The author, a former merchant marine captain with forty years experience, has developed a second career as a successful naval historian. – The tonnage of U-Boat books must rival a months sinkings in WWII, but here is a book that provides fresh insight into one of the least reviewed aspects of the U-Boat war – Highly Recommended.
NAME: U-Boats Beyond Biscay, Donitz Looks To New Horizons FILE: R2560 AUTHOR: Bernard Edwards PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 204 PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War 2, World War II, Second World War, submarines, anti-submarine, convoys, distant waters, Indian Ocean, Southern Atlantic, US East Coast, Mediterranean
IMAGE: B2560.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/yauptigs LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The author, a former merchant marine captain with forty years experience, has developed a second career as a successful naval historian. - The tonnage of U-Boat books must rival a months sinkings in WWII, but here is a book that provides fresh insight into one of the least reviewed aspects of the U-Boat war – Highly Recommended. Inevitably, there are many myths that have sprung up around the U-Boat war. Notably, the impression given by a number of historians that Donitz had hundreds of U-Boats available and almost destroyed the Royal Navy and the merchant marine maintaining the critical sea routes between the US and the British Isles. The U-Boat has consequently been portrayed as a pack animal hunting down and totally destroying ships in the North Atlantic. It is true that the Battle of the Atlantic was the German equivalent of the Bomber Command saturation bombing of Germany. The objective was to blockade the enemy and then destroy his morale, resources, and will to continue fighting. Both campaigns were equally costly in lives and were engaged in a continuing battle of technologies. The U-Boats came close at times to creating unsustainable losses for the Allies in the North Atlantic in the same way that Bomber Command came close several times to halting German war production and starving the home population, but also engaged in a technology war with new technologies changing fortunes for both sides, before opposing technology caught up or leap-frogged the enemy. However, the North Atlantic was not the only battle ground for the U-Boats, any more than Germany towns and factories were the only battle grounds for the RAF and USAAF. Hitler had always intended to destroy and occupy his European neighbours and then expand into the vastness of the Soviet Union, before destroying the US and taking over the British Empire. He just hadn't planned on starting in 1939. He had come to assume that the weak decadent European States would put up with him nibbling away and taking pieces at a time, until what was left was no longer able to stand against him. Having taken western and central Europe, he would have the resources he had captured to begin his crusade against the Soviets and then have the technology and resources to defeat North America. Nazi documents, and historians conjecture, provide a conflicting estimate of when Hitler intended to start a hot war but the general consensus is that it would have been sometime after 1944, or even 1949. Study of weapons design and development programmes and planned warship launchings suggest that this is the likely time scale with 1944 being not the preferred date, but the first date when Germany would have the necessary power. As we know from history and Nazi documents, the declaration of war by Britain and France in defence of Poland in 1939 came as an unwelcome surprise to Hitler. That surprise gave way to pleasure as the German Army and Air Force rolled effortlessly through Poland and then through the Low Countries, France and Norway. However, the German forces had many gaps in their weaponry because the initial rearmament, that had been designed as much to bully as to engage in hot war, was reaching obsolescence and the next generation of arms were not yet to even start a new rearmament. The early successes were as much due to the fact that the Allies had not yet completed their own initial rearmament programmes, and had not yet begun to change their political stance from appeasement to war, as it was to brilliant new German tactics and feats of arms. For the U-Boats, Hitler was more impressed with large surface ships and did not have a firm understanding of the realities of naval war against the two greatest navies, the RN and the USN. He hoped to defeat Britain first to avoid taking on two great navies together, but it is clear that he did not understand the potential for the submarine force. His lack of appreciation was aided by those German Admirals who wanted to build their own empires on the surface and were happy to tell Hitler what he wanted to hear. The author has produced a new insight into the U-Boat development and the war beyond the North Atlantic convoys. In 1939, Donitz had only thirty U-boats operational and many of them were the Type II Coastal U-Boats, unsuitable for operation beyond the North Sea. Even that number disguised the true weakness in U-Boat numbers. Of the thirty, only a maximum of eight boats were at sea at any one time. This further reduced in that for every boat on its war station, there would be a second boat on its way out to its war station and a third boat on its way back. Depending on how far the war station was from the occupied French coast, there would rarely be more than two boats on war patrol and frequently only one. This small handful of U-Boats in service did however achieve some impressive sinkings and suggested what could be achieved by a dramatic increase in numbers of long-range submarines. A monthly Allied loss of half a million tons of merchant shipping was serious and very difficult to sustain. It also represented further rationing in Britain to stretch out home produced supplies and what managed to get through the U-Boat blockade. That has been used by many historians to suggest that the Allies were lucky to survive, but the reality is that every enemy advance is countered and that counter is in turn countered by the other side. The Royal Navy countered by increasing the number of convoy escorts, improving tactics and weapons, while shipyards, particularly US shipyards beyond the range of German bombers, worked to replace lost tonnage with new and better ships in ever greater numbers. Further gains were made by building small carriers specifically for convoy escort and closing the air gap by introducing more long range maritime patrol and attack aircraft. The result was that Donitz had to look for new opportunities beyond the North Atlantic until he could counter the Allied improvements in convoy escort. Inevitably, the Allies superiority in war production meant that he was never to recover the Happy Days at the start of the war when a handful of U-Boats caused massive damage to convoys that were learning their survival tactics the hard way. Historians have not given the U-Boat war outside the North Atlantic convoys much attention, even though they were equally important. The entry of the US into the war gave great opportunity and a second Happy Days as U-Boats took on the considerable merchant traffic sailing along the US East Coast. The US Navy was very slow to introduce effective convoys and then establish hunter/killer groups, just as the US was very reluctant to introduce blackout regulations, lighting up its merchant ships for U-Boats offshore of them. U-Boats also operated in the South Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean favoured the smaller submarine, but the other areas required greater range. Re-supply submarines were sent out to refuel and rearm the hunting submarines at sea and covert resupply surface ships were positioned in neutral Spanish ports, Goa and other locations. The story of these operations beyond the North Atlantic is ably described in this book and supported by an interesting photo plate section.