U-Boats Beyond Biscay, Donitz Looks To New Horizons

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.


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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

ISBN: 1-47389-605-3

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.