The Battle of the Atlantic

BigBadBob141

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I think Churchill said that he got his first good night's sleep during the war after America entered!
P.S. I had an uncle who took part in the Arctic Convoys but he never liked to talk about them, his ship was the destroyer HMS Venomous, someone who wrote a book about it called it a hard fought ship, very, very true.
Apart from the Arctic Convoys it took part in the Dunkirk evacuation and Operation Pedestal in the Mediterranean escorting a very vital convoy from Gibraltar to hard pressed Malta.
One of the ship's taking part was the SS Ohio, an American tanker filled with aviation fuel, vital for keeping Malta's air defences flying, the bravery of its crew was truly outstanding as the Germans and Italians did everything they could to sink it.
They really should make a film about this, but knowing modern day Hollywood they'd only muck it up!
 
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mosaix

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Also people do not realize how vital the Arctic Convoys were to the Russian war effort, there is an argument that without the massive supplies from America and Britain they might not have defeated the Germans.

A question about the arctic convoys. I understand that shipping could deliver war equipment in bulk to the Russians but there was a terrible loss of ships, men and materials. Was there no supply of materials from the U.S. to Russia via Alaska, the Bearing Straights and then overland by rail to the Eastern front? Volumes would have been less but there would have been a practically 100% success of delivery.
 

BigBadBob141

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Good question, never heard of this, I suppose it could have been done, the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands weren't much of a threat, but don't forget it's a hell of a long way from Vladivostok to the front but then again there is the Trans Siberian railway as you said, on the other hand going the other way you first have to brave the Atlantic before the Arctic Circle!
P.S. I don't know how true what I wrote is or not about the convoys being vital to Russia winning, am only going by what some experts said on a TV documentary.
P.S. HMS Venomous also took part in the liberation of Norway!
 
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Venusian Broon

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The Japanese did not attack US shipping going to the USSR because they wanted to keep the USSR as at least neutral.

And yes the US did ship a lot via that route:

350px-Map_US_Lend_Lease_shipments_to_USSR-WW2.jpg


The British and US also used the land route via Iran as a major supply line.

Why they shipped so much via Murmansk?

Well, I suppose the main production centres for the British were in the UK and was also where a great deal of shipping was. Sailing it across two oceans, either Pacific or South Atlantic/Indian could have been done, but would have taken much longer and Murmansk was about the closest Russian point to land.

There was also political value in the convoys as they were demonstrating that the allies were steadfastly helping their USSR buddy.

Perhaps also it gave the Royal navy a chance to 'take the fight' to the Germans and maybe they had strategic reasons for operating this route, as this would take German air and sea resources away from other fronts and arenas

?
 

.matthew.

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True, by the very end it was a certainty, though Germany could have made it vastly more difficult. They had stockpiled over 12,000 tons of the newly developed Sarin that could have been used against the superior numbers on the Eastern Front. Perhaps the only reason for them not deploying it was Hitler's own experiences in WW1 giving him uncharacteristic humanity. It could also be argued they feared retaliation but as they were doomed to defeat, there was really nothing to lose - plus the Allies didn't even think nerve agents were real until they found them, despite a captured German scientist telling them all about it.

Either way, it was largely the Nazi High Command, led by Hitler, that repeatedly blundered the conflict by escalating the scope of the war and making otherwise terrible strategic decisions. With a more competent leadership in place - ones with experience or those who weren't too scared to give accurate reports - the war could have been drawn out for substantially more time, much like what would have occurred in the Pacific if not for the development of the atomic bomb.

And, much like the bomb, a single leap in technology could have flipped everything on its head. The Germans were playing around with jet propulsion along with what amounted to early cruise missiles, and while this was all in its infancy, a single breakthrough could have allowed for a reversal of fortune.

Combine that with Sarin for instance and the largely ineffective Blitz could have sent millions of British civilians to an agonising death and much as the A-bomb forced the surrender of Japan, could have brought the war to a halt or at least crippled the Allies severely enough to hold the line.
 

paranoid marvin

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True, by the very end it was a certainty, though Germany could have made it vastly more difficult. They had stockpiled over 12,000 tons of the newly developed Sarin that could have been used against the superior numbers on the Eastern Front. Perhaps the only reason for them not deploying it was Hitler's own experiences in WW1 giving him uncharacteristic humanity. It could also be argued they feared retaliation but as they were doomed to defeat, there was really nothing to lose - plus the Allies didn't even think nerve agents were real until they found them, despite a captured German scientist telling them all about it.

Either way, it was largely the Nazi High Command, led by Hitler, that repeatedly blundered the conflict by escalating the scope of the war and making otherwise terrible strategic decisions. With a more competent leadership in place - ones with experience or those who weren't too scared to give accurate reports - the war could have been drawn out for substantially more time, much like what would have occurred in the Pacific if not for the development of the atomic bomb.

And, much like the bomb, a single leap in technology could have flipped everything on its head. The Germans were playing around with jet propulsion along with what amounted to early cruise missiles, and while this was all in its infancy, a single breakthrough could have allowed for a reversal of fortune.

Combine that with Sarin for instance and the largely ineffective Blitz could have sent millions of British civilians to an agonising death and much as the A-bomb forced the surrender of Japan, could have brought the war to a halt or at least crippled the Allies severely enough to hold the line.


I think there were too many people in WWII who had experience of he use of chemical warfare in WWII; of it's relative ineffectiveness after the original shock, of the fact that it's use could just as easily harm the perpetrators as the intended victims, and of the inevitable retaliation on a similar or even worse scale. Not only this, but the sight of what damage it did to those affected by it.

Although much more difficult to deliver it by flying bomb, it could conceivably have been delivered by sells from long-range cannon far behind enemy lines to wreak devastation, but thankfully none of the sides used it. although the carpet bombing of towns and cities, incendiaries creating firestorms and ultimately the atomic bomb were hardly more humane.
 

BAYLOR

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True, by the very end it was a certainty, though Germany could have made it vastly more difficult. They had stockpiled over 12,000 tons of the newly developed Sarin that could have been used against the superior numbers on the Eastern Front. Perhaps the only reason for them not deploying it was Hitler's own experiences in WW1 giving him uncharacteristic humanity. It could also be argued they feared retaliation but as they were doomed to defeat, there was really nothing to lose - plus the Allies didn't even think nerve agents were real until they found them, despite a captured German scientist telling them all about it.

Either way, it was largely the Nazi High Command, led by Hitler, that repeatedly blundered the conflict by escalating the scope of the war and making otherwise terrible strategic decisions. With a more competent leadership in place - ones with experience or those who weren't too scared to give accurate reports - the war could have been drawn out for substantially more time, much like what would have occurred in the Pacific if not for the development of the atomic bomb.

And, much like the bomb, a single leap in technology could have flipped everything on its head. The Germans were playing around with jet propulsion along with what amounted to early cruise missiles, and while this was all in its infancy, a single breakthrough could have allowed for a reversal of fortune.

Combine that with Sarin for instance and the largely ineffective Blitz could have sent millions of British civilians to an agonising death and much as the A-bomb forced the surrender of Japan, could have brought the war to a halt or at least crippled the Allies severely enough to hold the line.

By 1939 the German economy was on the verge of collapse. The mefo off the book bonds used to pay fo for German rearmament were coming due with no way to pay it all back and, they desperately needed oil and other resources to keep things going . Germany had two stark choices , go to war or collapse. Every country they took , the first thing they did was loot that countries gold reserves to stave off the collapse . The only the could keep things going was the had to keep on conquering.
 

The Ace

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Wasn't there a HMS Pansy?
She was renamed Heartsease (K15) before launch. She rescued quite a few survivors during her career as a convoy escort, before colliding with a (friendly) destroyer, repaired, and flogged to the US.

The flower-class, while cramped and uncomfortable, provided sterling service, sinking or driving off U-Boats, fishing people out of the water, escorting damaged ships, and often just being there. I was casting doubt about their classification as warships, not the courage of the men who operated them in terrible conditions, and played no small part in the Allied victory.
 

Foxbat

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When it comes to bravery in little ships, it’s also worth remembering the role of the Shetland Bus - special operations groups and supplies ferried from Scotland to Norway in fishing boats.
 

BigBadBob141

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Corvettes were truly awful ships to serve in, based off whaling boats they had very poor sea handling.
Someone said that they could roll on wet grass, much better were the frigates that came after.
 

paranoid marvin

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I think the worst maritime jobs in WWII were probably the merchant navy; journeying from one side of the Atlantic to the other with no defences and in fear of sinking without warning any time of the day or night. And many of the seamen had signed up in peacetime, so had no expectations or choice in being conscripted into the battle of the Atlantic.
 

BigBadBob141

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Merchant seamen had a hell of a hard job and never got the recognition they deserved.
Plus the shipping companies had the fun practice of once a sailor got onto a lifeboat from his sinking ship he was no longer employed and therefore not paid while waiting to be rescued, its a wonder they weren't charged board and lodging while they were in the boat.
The same thing happened to sailors who survived the Titanic, they were stranded penniless and out of work in just the clothes they were wearing in New York, White Star didn't give a damn about them, so a department store gave the sailors their profits from one days sales!
The only recognition our merchant sailors got was from the Russians, who awarded a medal after the war to all who sailed in the Arctic convoys.
 

Foxbat

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erchant seamen had a hell of a hard job and never got the recognition they deserved.
Plus the shipping companies had the fun practice of once a sailor got onto a lifeboat from his sinking ship he was no longer employed and therefore not paid while waiting to be rescued, its a wonder they weren't charged board and lodging while they were in the boat.
The same thing happened to sailors who survived the Titanic, they were stranded penniless and out of work in just the clothes they were wearing in New York, White Star didn't give a damn about them, so a department store gave the sailors their profits from one days sales!
I didn't know this. That's the kind of behaviour nazis would have been proud of.
 

CupofJoe

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A few years after the war [maybe as late as 1950] my father worked on a Cunard Ship for one return trip across the Atlantic and apart from hating every minute of life onboard, he was also charged for his food and bunk space.
 

Ambrose

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My father was master of a MN ship. Apparently they had to fall out of convoy with engine trouble near the end of a trip to the UK in February 1941. My mother thought they were torpedoed, but a cousin of my wife found that the ship was bombed some way west of Scotland.
The ship, with the names of the senior crew, is in the Merchant Navy Memorial on Tower Hill. My mother and I were present at its openin, and I have visited it since.
 

BigBadBob141

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I came across a story on You-Tube, the New Zealand pilot of I think a Short Sunderland flying boat pressed home his attack against a U-Boat in the Atlantic.
Even though his plane was already badly damaged on his first pass by the subs numerous anti-aircraft guns, this was during the phase in the war where subs would stay on the surface and fight it out with aircraft rather then doing a crash dive.
He succeeded in sinking the sub but his plane by then was too badly damaged to keep on flying so it crashed and sank with all on board, a few of the subs crew survived in a life raft and were eventually picked up by the Royal Navy.
Because of their eyewitness accounts of the attack the pilot was posthumously awarded a VC.
The only VC awarded based solely on the accounts made by the enemy!
 

Foxbat

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he only VC awarded based solely on the accounts made by the enemy!
This is off topic but I think worth mentioning.
During the raid on St Nazaire (the largest commando raid of WW2). There’s a tale regarding posthumous VC recipient Able Seaman William Savage. He manned a pom-pom gun on one of the motor boats used in the raid. He returned fire on the German shore defences until he was killed (receiving over 30 wounds before succumbing to his injuries). The story goes that a German officer watched this action and turned to a captured commando standing next to him and said: ‘this man deserves your Victoria Cross’. Although not due to an enemy account, Savage got his medal.

It’s very humbling remembering that these warriors were men in their early twenties.
 

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