The Battle of the Atlantic

One of the greatest naval battles fought during WWII

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About the Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of Atlantic was the longest military engagement in WWII lasting from September 1939 to May 1945. It was a battle fought in the air but mostly in the sea. It took place from the Labrador Sea all the way to the Irish Sea. To be specific it took place in the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of Canada .The combatants in this battle were USA, Britain, Canada, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.

Why did the Battle of the Atlantic Start?

There are a few reasons why the battle started, but one of the main ones that sparked the battle was when the Germans attacked a ferry killing 112 civilians. A German submarine U-30 attacked what they thought was a British auxiliary cruiser, but turned out to be a ferry, the SS Athenia, which were the types of ships the Germans were told to avoid. This caused the French and British to go to German ports and sink incoming ships.

Why did the Battle of the Atlantic Start? Pt.2

Another reason was that the Allies relied on the Atlantic as a passageway for getting their supplies and men to the war, the Germans also knew this. So it made sense that if the Allies could not get their supplies and men to the battlefront, the Axis power could win. However, after the accidental attack on the SS Athenia by the Germans, gave the allies a reason to to attack the Germans without holding back. Which caused all hell to break loose in the Atlantic.

The Result of the Battle

The result of the battle was a strategic win played by the Allies. Although, it came with a great cost. 175 warships and about 3500 merchant ships were destroyed, but the Allies did sink 783 U-Boats.

Why Was This Battle Significant to Canada

Canada had a major role in the success of the battle. One of Canada's main roles were escorting Canadian and Britain convoy to the battlefront. Canada also escorted the US for a little while, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germans attacked the US coast and destroyed over 600 ships. Canada escorted US ships to fend the Germans off until the US could have good-enough escorts themselves.

Why Was This Battle Significant to Canada Pt.2

The Atlantic Gap

Canada had been given the responsibility to cover 2 key points in the Atlantic that would aid in them in the war. The first one is the "Mid-Atlantic Gap". It was located of the coast of Greenland, which was used as a fueling station for Canada. This gap was used as a supply line but was very hostile and hard to take control of. Since Greenland was a fueling station and Canada was to the west, the gap was narrowed down to 300 nautical miles (560 km).

Operation Overlord

This was the the second point that Canada was responsible for holding, this battle is also known as "The Normandy Invasion". On June 6th, 50 RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) ships were deployed from Canada to help cover the flanks of the invasion and to ensure to have submarine defense in the invasion. They were also to provide distant patrols and prevent submarine flotillas from getting reinforcements. The whole invasion relied on the RCN to cover the flanks of the British and Americans to ensure a successful landing on the beach.

"Canadians solved the problem of the Atlantic convoys" – British Admiral Sir Percy Noble

What Canada's Efforts Resulted In

Throughout the war Canada had made 25,343 successful deliveries, they delivered about 164,783,921 tonnes of cargo. German documents state that Canada was responsible for the loss of 52 submarines in the Atlantic. Although 59 merchants ships and 24 warships were sunk.

Interesting Facts

  • Germans used a technique called the Wolf Pack, where one U-Boat would be targeted by the Allies and the other U-Boats sneak up behind it and sink it
  • The Allies used new special underwater bombs called "Hedgehogs"
  • Winston Churchill first called it the "Battle of the Atlantic" in 1941.
  • Winston Churchill once wrote "... the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril'. If Hitler has won the Battle of the Atlantic, Great Britain would have been out of the war and Germany's efforts elsewhere may well have turned out quite differently."
World War 2 • Battle of the Atlantic • In colour