Donitz and the Wolf Packs

B2082

With so many books being published on the subjects of Admiral Donitz and the German U-boat service, readers can be forgiven for wondering if a new addition to the list is really worth buying. This new book certainly is worth the cost and time of acquisition. The author is well-respected for his careful research and incisive writing. As a former merchant Captain, he has an understanding of the Atlantic environment and a natural feeling for all the brave merchant crews who risked their lives to keep Britain supplied with materials, and products of war, fuel, and food,

The capable text is very well-supported by maps and charts through the body of the book. There is also an interesting and informative photo plate section.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Donitz and the Wolf Packs
DATE: 231114
FILE: R2082
AUTHOR: Bernard Edwards
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 24o
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, U-boat Service, night raids, weather condition, Atlantic convoys, merchant ships, merchant ship loses, Kondor, submarine pens
ISBN: 1-47382-293-9
IMAGE: B2082.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/nlyvzeq
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: With so many books being published on the subjects of Admiral Donitz and the German U-boat service, readers can be forgiven for wondering if a new addition to the list is really worth buying. This new book certainly is worth the cost and time of acquisition. The author is well-respected for his careful research and incisive writing. As a former merchant Captain, he has an understanding of the Atlantic environment and a natural feeling for all the brave merchant crews who risked their lives to keep Britain supplied with materials, and products of war, fuel, and food,

The capable text is very well-supported by maps and charts through the body of the book. There is also an interesting and informative photo plate section.

After any conflict there will always be ‘what if’ theories and discussion. In any battle the outcome could have been very different with only a few minor changes to the course of the fight. The reality is that a particular outcome was achieved with a victor and a vanquished. As General Horrocks said in briefing the ground force component of Operation Market Garden, his ground force was the US cavalry riding to the relief of the settlers and should arrive just in time. Sadly, he didn’t manage that for the paratroopers holding out in Arnhem, but the point was well made and applied to the Atlantic Battle. It would have been great to suffer no casualties or reverses, but the important factor was the ultimate victory.

There are always two sides to any battle. The author has shown how Donitz managed to develop a potent force of directed submarines that could act as a pack rather than be deployed individually. He persuaded Hitler to start expanding the construction program and to agree to new and advanced developments of submarine technology and although he camE close on several occasions to cutting the Atlantic routes for Allied convoys, he ultimately failed. There were many factors that influenced the final outcome.

The RAF disgracefully neglected maritime aviation but was still determined prevent the RN having maritime patrol and attack aircraft returned, having already lost the fight to retain RAF control of shipboard aircraft. The result was that the first half of the war saw a large gap in aviation coverage of the Atlantic. Eventually the RAF stopped passing obsolete aircraft to Coastal Command and began to provide US aircraft it did not want to operate as strategic bombers, and even add potent aircraft including the superlative Mosquito and Lancaster machines. The RN also pioneered the escort carrier concept, flying Swordfish bi-planes as anti-submarine aircraft and Grumman Wildcat fighters to attack the German Kondor long-range patrol and attack aircraft. That turned the battle in favour of the Allies because it allowed the wolf packs to be disrupted and denied reconnaissance reports from the Kondors. That might have turned the battle in itself, but there was one invisible weapon that was probably the key factor.

Code breakers at Bletchley Park, assisted by Polish intelligence officers and the first electronic programmable computers, decoded radio communications between Donitz and the Wolf Packs at sea. This was their weak point. They could only communicate with standard radio systems that could be intercepted and recorded. They could introduce encryption to make the signals unreadable but, eventually, all encryption can be broken. The key to decryption, for intelligence purposes, is that it must be broken before the value of the information degrades through time. British code breakers managed to crack Donitz’s signals to his U-boats while the information gathered still had primary value and some code breaking was taking place in near real-time almost as though the signals were being send in the clear.

Initially, the code breaking provided warnings to the escorts and convoy commodore and not all information could be acted on without the Germans realizing that their codes were being broken. Later, particularly as Coastal Command could cover the U-boats from when they were leaving their French ports until the survivors returned, and resources allowed escort carriers and anti-submarine warships to operate as hunter/killer groups independent of convoys, code breaking could provide the intelligence to position these resources to attack the U-boats for virtually all of their war patrol. This broke up the wolf packs and allowed individual submarines to be hunted down and killed

The author has provided a comprehensive study of Donitz and his Wolf Packs, with some fresh insight and detail. Recommended.

Leave a Reply