The Battle of the Atlantic

If you’re studying the Battle of the Atlantic, the most recent podcast on World War Two is a useful source of ideas and perspectives. You can access it via the link below.

Factfile

The Battle of the Atlantic was a key conflict during World War II, lasting from 1939 to 1945. It was a struggle for control of the Atlantic Ocean between the Allied powers (primarily the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada) and the Axis powers (led by Germany).

The main goal of the Axis powers was to cut off the supply lines between the United States and the United Kingdom. To do this, they used submarine warfare, in which they sent U-boats (submarines) to attack and sink Allied ships using ’Wolf Packs’, to intercept convoys. The Allies, on the other hand, tried to protect their shipping with naval patrols, convoys, and new technologies such as radar and sonar.

The Battle of the Atlantic was significant for several reasons. Firstly, it was a crucial factor in the outcome of World War II. If the Axis powers had been able to cut off the supply lines between the United States and the United Kingdom, it would have had devastating consequences for the Allied war effort.

Secondly, the Battle of the Atlantic actually demonstrated Germany’s weaknesses. Germany had far too few U-boats and lacked the resources to replace crews and boats when allied anti submarine measures began to devastate the packs. In total, Germany sank just one percent of allied shipping.

Finally, the Battle of the Atlantic had a significant impact on the home front. The threat of U-boats sinking ships and the loss of lives had an effect on food supply to the United Kingdom. The battle also resulted in important technological advancements, such as the development of the sonar technology and the first computer.

Primary Sources

“The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome.” – Winston Churchill

“The Battle of the Atlantic was the key to everything. It was the only campaign in which the Germans could achieve a major victory and if they had won, they would have strangled Britain. If we had lost the war at sea, we would have lost the war on land as well.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces Europe

“We knew that we had to win the Battle of the Atlantic because, unless we did, there would be no operation Overlord (the invasion of Normandy). The Germans would have been able to reinforce their troops in France much more quickly and in much greater numbers than we could have landed. The Germans would have been able to contain the invasion and defeat it.” – Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

Podcast Episode: A revisionist approach to the U-Boat War

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