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The strategic aim of control of the Mediterranean Sea, which at times even raised hopes of the conquest of the Near East and creation of a sea link with Japan through the Red Sea, was not reached for the most varied reasons, though at times we came near to it. The already planned attack on Gibraltar was not carried out because there was no political success in drawing Spain into the war. The winning and using of French North Africa was only possible with the voluntary support of the French, which was not attained. When the situation at sea in the Mediterranean took an unexpectedly favorable turn for us after the sinking of the battleship Barham by a German U-boat and the damaging of two other bat-.

The beating down of Malta by the German and Italian Air Forces to a state of helplessness winter did not lead to its conquest, for the Italian forces were insufficient; and German support, considering the commitments in Russia and North Africa, was not available.

Moreover, the successful offensive of Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa was prevented from being a strategic victory by lack of adequate land support to bring up supplies, lack of material, bad leadership of the Italians, and lack of reinforcements. On the Italian side, the navy suffered from lack of training, inferior technical equipment, and, to some extent, a lack of offensive spirit.

This is not to belittle many incidents of bravery in operations involving the Italian Navy and merchant fleet. On the German side, the final failure of the North African campaign was due to the fact that large forces were tied down in Russia, which prevented any large-scale operations by land and sea forces in the Mediterranean. The German Navy played only a very small role in the Mediterranean campaign and, apart from U-boat support, could only use light forces and improvised auxiliaries.

For this reason we had to leave the direction of sea warfare in this area largely in the hands of the Italian Fleet, over whose operations only limited influence could be exerted. At the end of January, the supreme commander of the navy was acquainted for the first time with Hitler's opinion that a campaign against Russia was unavoidable and that plans for this must be formed. Although at the beginning she abided loyally by the terms of the Russo-German Treaty, Russia subsequently changed her tactics and exploited the position into which Germany had been forced, by withholding more and more of her supplies of wheat and oil to Germany and also by flagrantly violating various conditions laid down in the treaty Baltic States, Rumania.

In addition, intelligence had been received that Russian armament, which on the face of things could only be used against Germany, had been placed on a war footing and that violent anti-German propaganda was being carried on in the Russian Army. Reliable intelligence was later received about the deployment of Russian troops on her western frontier.


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In order that Germany should not risk the danger of being overrun by Russia while the bulk of her own forces were tied down elsewhere, it was decided to carry out a "preventive war" against Russia as being vital to Germany's existence. For the naval command, whose strategic interests had been turned entirely to the war against England and her sea communications, this new development was particularly painful, though they supported Hitler in his opinion that war with Russia was an urgent necessity and unavoidable.

It was hoped, however, to bring the war with Russia to a successful conclusion within a few months, thereby releasing manpower and materials for the Mediterranean front. But we seriously underestimated the Russian war potential. Before the Russian campaign began, the changed situation in the Balkans made it necessary for Germany to attack in this area. Italy, who already in October had attacked Greece through Albania without the previous knowledge of the German high command, was now being hard-pressed there.

Another danger spot which needed clearing up without delay was the situation caused by the revolution in Jugoslavia in March The Balkan campaign began early in April and was brought to a conclusion in May by the successful offensive operations against Crete and the Aegean Islands. Apart from the attack on the islands, the navy, by its very nature, did not take part in the campaign.

The acquisition of further sea and coastal areas brought the navy numerous additional problems. Under the greatest difficulties and by the use of every possible expedient, the safety of the sea lanes, the protection of the island reinforcements, and the defense of the coast were assured. At the beginning of the Russian campaign, the navy took part only in the Baltic. It saw that its task from the very beginning consisted of preventing, by energetic measures, the Russian Fleet from taking any action, and of bottling it up even tighter in the Gulf of Finland with the advance of the land operations.

As the initiative of the Russian Fleet and its ability. A cruiser squadron, the so-called Baltic Fleet, was, for a time, held in readiness in the waters of the Aaland Islands. It participated by coastal bombardment in the conquest of the Baltic Islands and provided security against the possible breaking out of Russian surface forces. The conduct of the naval war in the Gulf of Finland was left to our own light forces, from torpedo boats downwards, in collaboration with the allied Finnish Navy. On the night the war began mine barrages were begun in the central and western Gulf of Finland, which in course of time were developed into strong mine fields pushed out as far as possible to the east.

As it was, unfortunately, not possible to take Leningrad and Kronstadt, and so to eliminate the Russian Baltic Fleet once and for all, the mines had to be maintained until the end of the war. In the first days of our own advance, especially at the time of the evacuation of Tallinn and Hangoe, they inflicted heavy losses on the Russians and prevented any Russian surface craft from breaking out of the Gulf of Finland until the loss of Estonia in A few submarines which broke out in the first year caused only slight damage.

In northern waters the objective demanded by the navy, the conquest of Murmansk, Poliarno, and the Ribachi Peninsular, was never attained as a result, in particular, of insurmountable difficulties of terrain. Consequently, there developed in this sphere a protracted struggle for sea communications in which we succeeded in maintaining permanently and without serious encroachment the important maritime traffic with Petsamo and Kirkenes.

In the third naval theater of war against Russia, the Black Sea, the Russian Black Sea Fleet possessed an overwhelming superiority over the few units of the Rumanian Navy, which were badly trained and without sea experience. These were strengthened by six Type-II German U-boats and an E-boat flotilla transported to the Black Sea via the Elbe, Reichsautobahn, and Danube, and by a number of landing craft, armed trawlers, and auxiliary vessels which were fitted out there.

The Russian superiority, however, was, as a result of the almost incomprehensible inactivity of their Black Sea Fleet, but with the exception of the later landings in Eupatoria and Feodosia, ineffective, so that we were in a very much better position to carry out the tasks which had fallen to the lot of the navy in the Black Sea than could be expected with such a strength ratio. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, , was a complete surprise to Germany's political and military leaders.

It also resulted in a state of war between the United States of America and Germany. Conditions for U-boat warfare in the North Atlantic were once again clarified. Limiting factors vis-a-vis North America ceased to operate. The bar against German U-boats entering American waters was raised by the political leaders and in December the U-boat command equipped the first six U-boats which were to operate in American waters as near to the coast as possible.

Additional U-boats were, unfortunately, not available because we did not have advance warning of the Japanese attack. The total number of U-boats ready for service was still small, and a larger monthly rate of increase could be expected only in the spring of The success of the first six boats in American waters was, as expected, very considerable. The American defense was inexperienced; on the other hand, the U-boat commanders were exceptionally experienced.

It was possible to operate very near to the coast and on the surface. Traffic was heavy here; consequently, the results were great.


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  5. The U-boat command, therefore, sent every boat available for operations in American waters to this area in order to profit by the favorable situation, but a reduction in these great successes was expected to set in after a few months. Such, however, was not the case. Until the end of September such operations were worth while despite the very long inoperative passage out and back. The area of operations was, moreover, so extensive that it was still worth while to operate in the Mona Passage or off Aruba or Trinidad when, as a result of strong defenses, operations off Cape Hatteras became too difficult.

    Compared with , each U-boat was economically valuable, even if, as already stated, its value had diminished, despite the great successes, to one-tenth of the figure. The large U-boat program ordered at the outbreak of war was in implemented only to the extent of 10 percent of the expected figure. Had the political leaders before the war recognized England as a probable opponent, and had they in prepared for a war with England and constructed a large U-boat fleet, the number of U-boats available in would have been available in but with 10 times greater results.

    The political desire of Germany's leaders not to make war against England and the corresponding armament policy of the navy led to our not having the requisite U-boats available at the right time or in the right numbers. In order to increase sinkings wherever possible, the U-boat command used the long approach route and sailed in a group the boats which were to operate in North American waters. They followed roughly on a great circle course in a wide rake-like formation. In this way convoy traffic was often unexpectedly encountered.

    Apparently, the English convoy command had had to abandon the dispersal procedure used in This great circle procedure continued throughout the whole summer and autumn of , convoys being attacked again and again and dispersed by U-boat packs lying in wait. The building program developed in such a way that, by late autumn, 42 boats were available for American waters, for operations against Cape Town, for three convoy-attacking groups in northern waters, in the North and Central Atlantic, and often an additional group to attack the Gibraltar-England traffic.

    Losses by antisubmarine warfare were small. The main enemy, particularly in relation to the tactical maneuverability of the U-boat on the. As these had, however, apparently not yet been fitted with long-range location devices, they were only available to spot U-boats close at hand. In a rough sea, and particularly at night, aircraft were not dangerous. Depth-charge attacks by destroyers against U-boats were not much feared.

    They were dangerous only when the U-boat was not protected by a sufficient depth of water. In general, depth charges dropped by sight over the diving position were more accurate than the patterns dropped later on the basis of Asdic bearings. A U-boat which lay low and left no oil traces generally was lost by its pursuer after a certain time and could surface under cover of night and escape. The U-boat crews had in the meantime gained excellent experience in repairing failures and leaks.

    Damage and failures which, in the early war years, would have forced the boat to surface and led to its destruction were now overcome under water; and consequently the boat was saved. Proof was also given of the excellent construction of the boats, which was extraordinarily elastic by reason of the pressure hull sections having been welded, in contradistinction to the usual riveting process in the First World War. Thus, when depth-charged, the boat shook but did not break. Provided the valves held, nothing could happen to the boat unless a depth charge exploded close by and caused the pressure hull to burst.

    Generally speaking, therefore, the U-boat attack in was superior to the defense. The finding of convoys was facilitated by the large number of boats. The U-boat's greatest possession, the element of surprise, was still effective. The U-boats, when on the surface, were not spotted soon enough for the enemy to be able to avoid them; and, when attacking, they could not be detected early enough by surface or underwater means of detection. The surprise Anglo-American landings in North Africa called for a concentration of U-boats on both sides of Gibraltar.

    Every U-boat that could reach these waters within 10 days was mustered. This resulted in a considerable reduction of tonnage sunk that was not made up by sinkings off Gibraltar. Defense in these African waters was very effective, particularly in the air, and U-boat losses were correspondingly high. Through this withdrawal of forces. This led to a reduction in the number of convoys sighted and consequently in the number of sinkings. Other grounds existed, however, for the renewed decrease in the number of convoys sighted during the winter of In , the German Cypher Office was fortunate enough to read various convoy ciphers.

    The German U-boat command thus had at its disposal the place and time of convoy meetings and also gathering points for convoy stragglers. This valuable assistance to attacking U-boats ceased in the early months of The secondary reason for this reduction in the tracking of convoys during the winter of may have been that, at this time, the enemy grasped the U-boat reconnaissance and patrol tactics and took avoiding action. If mobile operations employing the so-called wolf-pack system of a number of submarines operating together on the surface were to be given up, it would be impossible to achieve the desired concentration on one convoy.

    In this respect, the same conditions apply to sea warfare as for land warfare. Here, also, no decisive results can be obtained by static trench warfare, but only by mobile operations. The enemy air force was at that time the greatest problem for the U-boat command and it was therefore surprising that it was only later that the enemy recognized and used this weapon as being the most effective means against the U-boat.

    The second anxiety at that time was the possibility of the development of surface detection. Possible available counters were: Protection for U-boats on the surface against radar beams; i. The U-boat command expected only small advantages from the latter, since the low altitude of the apparatus on the bridge would allow only a restricted range. The important point about this group of possibilities was that the U-boat was enabled, as it were, to assume a cloak of invisibility. During the following years the most varied experiments were carried out in this direction.

    They led to a clear recognition that, at the most, reduced but not total absorption of radar beams could be achieved.

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    Another possibility to counter the development of surface detection was a complete change of tactics, i. This required, however, a high underwater speed and a great underwater radius of action. Without these properties the U-boat would have sunk in underwater warfare to a purely static instrument, and this would have meant a renunciation of the great results achieved by concentrating forces at the right place at the right time.

    However, in the years just before the war the development of a fast underwater U-boat was achieved. Very high underwater speeds were reached by means of the hydrogen-peroxide drive. Even before the war the U-boat command demanded the most energetic development of such a propulsion and such boats, but, unfortunately, it was found that much time was required and many set-backs were experienced.

    In the most successful months of the U-boat warfare in , the U-boat command continually called for a speed-up of this development and for the building of faster U-boats. They had many meetings with the technicians to try to achieve this. Although less convoys were encountered in January and February , due not only to the weather but also to the aforesaid causes, nevertheless, the danger that the surface warfare against convoys might come to an end did not appear to be immediate.

    On the contrary, new, well-equipped U-boats were coming out from home and their numbers were rising monthly. The number of boats in the Atlantic rose continuously in spite of continued deliveries to the Mediterranean and to northern waters to attack Russian-bound convoys. In March , conditions on the main battleground, the North Atlantic, were again very favorable. Many convoys were met and attacked with very great success.

    The most successful convoy battles and also the attacks on the convoys by the commanding officers reached their peak. It had now been proved unmistakably by years of war experience that the directing of the U-boats from another boat away at sea or in the neighborhood of the convoy was impossible.

    The whole direction had to be conducted by a U-boat commander ashore and often a thousand miles away. An understanding gradually developed between the commander ashore and the U-boat commanding officers at sea under his orders as to general conditions at convoy positions, air protection, close and remote screening, and the state of the weather. This understanding was so effective that the commander ashore could conduct operations and control successfully the tactical direction of distant actions; and it was felt by those at sea under his orders that the plan was correct and practical.

    In this, the higher command made unrestricted use of wireless and obtained the necessary information from the boats concerning conditions at the convoy position. No case is known to me in which agreement was not established by this method between the higher command and these veteran fighters. The battle at the convoy position itself was waged by the U-boats in tactical cooperation and with a high standard of individual performance in attack. With regard to reconnaissance, shadowing in spite of air and sea escort, clear reporting procedure, diving at the correct time to escape aircraft and destroyers, surfacing again as soon as possible, and pressing home the attack, breaking through the escort to attack, and carrying out the attack itself, the conduct of the U-boat commanders was excellent.

    They were men who, through years of seafaring in wartime, felt at home in the Atlantic in both summer and winter, and were a group of bold seamen of outstanding fighting ability. Consequently, there were convoy battles in which more than half, and in some cases over two-thirds, of the convoy was wiped out. Looking back over this period, it can be said that U-boat successes were at their peak. The number of the U-boats was continually increasing, losses were slight; and the reinforcement by boats from home, considerable.

    The radius of action of all the boats was considerably extended by the use of supply U-boats, from each of which, about 10 U-boats could each draw 40 tons of oil and additional provisions, thus obviating the unnecessary voyage to and from even the Biscay ports, which, according to German conceptions, were not far distant. The U-boats also fueled by surface tankers when such were available. These could also supply torpedoes. Through the construction, under timely orders from Hitler, of the U-boat shelters in the Biscay ports, the repairing and fitting out of the boats could be fully maintained without losses due to bombing attacks.

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    The torpedo branch had gained an extraordinary amount of technical experience from its failures at the beginning of the war and had reached a high stage of development. In the acoustic torpedo, now ready for action, the U-boat possessed at last a weapon against depth-charge-throwing escort vessels. By means of various kinds of looping torpedoes, and due to the concentration of targets in a convoy, the probability of scoring hits was considerably increased.

    Even though anxiety over the development of enemy air support over the Atlantic and the improvement of surface detection had a depressing influence on the U-boat war, the advantages mentioned above could be set against such anxiety. Because of the great distance separating the European and the Far Eastern theaters of war, cooperation between the German Naval Staff and the Japanese Admiralty, which was carried out by the formation of naval liaison staffs, was limited mainly to the mutual reporting of events, the exchange of experiences, and the dealing with general strategic questions.

    With the rapid and successful advance of the Japanese to the edge of the Indian Ocean, the possibility of a limited measure of direct cooperation presented itself. It was incumbent upon each to obtain the other partner's approval before crossing the line, this approval being granted in principle, and to conform to his wishes regarding the waters navigated and the sea routes used. After Penang had been established as a U-boat base, the German leaders were able to meet the demands of the Japanese regarding the operation of German U-boats in the Indian Ocean to an ever-growing degree, since the long passage was now compensated for by a greatly increased measure of cooperation.

    German armed merchant cruisers, too, could henceforth run into Japanese bases for repair and to replenish supplies. This often happened and was the more valuable as the passage through the North Atlantic and Bay of Biscay became steadily more dangerous owing to strengthened enemy reconnaissance and warship patrol. A break-through via the narrows of Iceland could only succeed in especially favorable and rare cases. Nevertheless, the raider war was continued successfully. For the purpose of exchanging important military and commercial goods rubber, metals, fuel oils a blockade-runner traffic using fast German merchant ships was instituted between western France and Japan.

    This blockade running worked very well to begin with and provided us with an important quantity of supplies. The operation of naval forces in the North Atlantic was no longer possible in because of the serious danger of air attack at the Biscay ports and the increasing enemy watchfulness in the North Atlantic. When this was fully recognized, a decision had to be made whether to leave the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau , and Prinz Eugen where they were, in Brest, or to bring them back to Germany via the Icelandic route or through the Channel.

    Taking into consideration the well-equipped detection installations on the English coast, the far superior British Fleet, and the very strong British Air Forces in this area, this operation represented an unusually hazardous venture which could succeed only by its surprise element. All three ships got back home, though the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau suffered damage from mines, necessitating. Henceforward in the Bay of Biscay, along with the coastal auxiliary units, only destroyers and torpedo boats operated.

    Their principal duty was to escort armed merchant cruisers, blockade runners and, in special cases, U-boats. The main sphere of activity of the remaining heavy units of the fleet had now moved to northern Norway where new tasks awaited them. From the general strategic point of view our main interest lay in further immobilizing as large a part of the English Fleet as possible in English home waters, thereby relieving both the Mediterranean and the Far Eastern theaters of war.

    The Anglo-American convoys to Murmansk and Archangel, which had, meanwhile, come into operation, represented an objective of equal strategic importance, which was attacked by our naval forces at different times with varying success, while U-boats and aircraft operating jointly, frequently achieved considerable successes. Our own activity in northern waters extended to various offensive sweeps carried out by cruisers, and especially by U-boats, into the Kara Sea, mining of the channels connecting the Barents Sea with the Kara Sea, mining of the Gorlow Straits and numerous coastal approach points, principally by U-boats, and constant U-boat operations and various destroyer sweeps against the Russian coastal traffic north of the Kola Peninsula.

    A system of partly manned, partly mechanically operating meteorological stations in the area from Greenland to Franz Josef Land, which was supplemented by weather reports from U-boats in the North Atlantic and meteorological aircraft, was created and maintained until The German major offensive in southern Russia toward the lower Volga, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus began on July 5, , and its first successful phases raised the hope that the reverses suffered in Russia during the previous winter would be made up for and the Russian campaign brought to a successful conclusion.

    Strategic objectives of the first order could be attained here: The total control of the Black Sea, the Caucasus oil, and the threat to British positions in the Near East, which, together with the ensuing favorable development of the situation in the Mediterranean the break-through of Rommel's army toward Egypt , gave promise of influencing this sphere too. The conquest of the Crimea and Sevastopol and the advance of the German armies as far as the western Caucasus, along with the capture of Novorossiisk, gave the weak German naval forces in the Black Sea numerous opportunities for operations and forced the Russian Fleet into the extreme southeast corner of the Black Sea.

    The German advance to the Caspian had already led to preparations for setting up auxiliary formations of small craft there for coastal defense and for the struggle against the weak Russian naval forces in this sea. The successful Russian counteroffensive on the Don, with the encirclement of Stalingrad in November , the retreat of our own Caucasus armies to the Kuban bridgehead which this compelled, and finally the defeat at Stalingrad on the third of February , brought about a fundamental reversal of the situation.

    In the Black Sea a stubborn static war between naval forces developed in the vicinity of the military fronts, in which the supply of the Kuban bridgehead across the Kerch Strait played a special role. In these engagements the Russians did not succeed in taking decisive advantage of the overwhelming superiority of their larger units. Only the Russian submarines east of the Bosporus were successful here and there in their attacks on the German supply traffic coming from the Black Sea to the Aegean. Simultaneously with the change in the situation in southern Russia a turn of events to our disadvantage occurred also in the Mediterranean.

    While Field Marshal Rommel was compelled on November 2, , to begin his retreat from the El Alamein position, on November 8, , American forces made a surprise landing on the west and north coasts of French North Africa after overcoming the valiant resistance of the French Navy. The operation of large numbers of U-boats west and east of the Straits of Gibraltar and in the central Mediterranean, in addition to strong German formations from Sicily and Sardinia, which could not, however, reach the American disembarkation ports, were unable to bring sufficient relief to the German troops in North Africa.

    At the end of this phase of the war in April , they were pressed back to Tunisia where the struggle for the last German bridgehead in North Africa took place. The incursion into North Africa of the Anglo-Americans left no alternative but the occupation of southern France by German troops. In spite of the loyalty of the French Navy in North Africa it was unfortunately impossible, on account of the secrecy of the whole operation, to come to any agreement beforehand with the French Admiralty regarding the fate of the Toulon Fleet, with the result that when the surprise German invasion took place, orders were issued to scuttle all warships.

    In spite of this the German Government abided by the German-French armistice agreement by which the Toulon Fleet remained in French hands even in respect to undamaged or only slightly damaged units. Only a few torpedo boats and auxiliaries, which did not come under the armistice terms, were taken over for coastal defense. The defense of the French Mediterranean coast west of the mouth of the Rhone was taken over by the German forces with the navy taking its appropriate share. The defense of the eastern coastal sector was left to the Italians. In the meantime the defenses of the Biscay and Channel coasts were developed on a large scale.

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    The commando raid against St. Nazaire in April , was, by its surprise tactics, a local success for the British. As opposed to this, the Canadian attack on Dieppe in August of the same year was an evident failure for the enemy, which revealed the power of our defenses but also indicated many lines on which they could be improved. It was regarded as a large-scale reconnaissance to gain invasion experience. The Allied air-borne mine offensive was becoming more and more in evidence in the coastal waters of the Bay of Biscay, the Channel, and the North Sea and particularly in the shallow waters of the western Baltic and the Baltic approaches.

    By the utmost exertion the German mine defense was, generally speaking, able to master the situation in a very short time so that our losses were kept within reasonable bounds. Only in the case of surprisingly extensive use of new fuses or other devices e. The mine offensive resulted in the reorganization to the smallest detail of routing and in the increase of protective equipment on naval and merchant ships. These countermeasures proved their worth. Not until the winter of did the mine offensive begin to cause us really serious difficulties.

    After the winter of had produced changes in the situation in Russia and in the Mediterranean unfavorable to us, there appeared in the spring of a similar change in the U-boat warfare which was, however, quite independent of the former and due to completely different causes. Although in March the major attacks on convoys could still be carried out, by May it was quite clear that the enemy's air strength in the Atlantic, consisting of long-range planes and of carrier-borne aircraft, had increased enormously.

    Of even greater consequence, however, was the fact that the U-boats could be located at a great distance by the enemy's radar, apparently on short wave, without previous warning on their own receivers. They were then heavily attacked by destroyers and aircraft carriers without even seeing the convoy, which had been diverted. If, however, in spite of this a convoy was contacted, it was discovered that the problem of finding it was no longer the only difficulty in that U-boats could not now attack the convoy because its fire power forced them to submerge.

    From this new situation it was evident that the enemy's aircraft and destroyers must now be fitted with new radar. The U-boat losses, which previously had been 13 percent of all the boats at sea, rose rapidly to 30 to 50 percent. In alone, 43 U-boats were lost. These losses were suffered not only in convoy attacks, but everywhere at sea.

    There was no part of the Atlantic where the boats were safe from being located day and night by aircraft. All the U-boat entrance and exit channels in the Bay of Biscay were, in particular, most carefully watched. Losses here were especially high. Under these circumstances, the previous surface war on convoys could not be continued because, in the meantime, the favorable conditions in the American sphere of activity had also changed and U-boat successes had diminished considerably in that theater.

    The enemy air force with its modern methods of searching had produced this change in U-boat warfare. As countermeasures, the ideas already started had to be followed up with all speed. These were:.

    WWII 1939, Pre-war build up

    Firstly, to produce as quickly as possible a new U-boat with as much maneuverability when submerged as U-boats had, up till now, possessed on the surface. Secondly, until production of these new boats, to make all possible alterations to the existing U-boats so that, in spite of the enemy's radar and superior air power, they might be as effective as possible.

    On January 30, , the commander in chief, U-boats, was appointed supreme commander of the navy. He was, therefore, in a position to deal personally and energetically with these important problems of naval warfare. Prior to this, all German industry had been united under Armaments Minister Speer. He was, therefore, given the order to produce the new U-boat. By means of very large batteries and an external design specially constructed for under-water cruising, they attained a high speed when submerged and could remain below the surface a greater length of time.

    The development of the Walter boats with hydrogen peroxide propulsion was also greatly hastened. In the meanwhile, the defensive armament of the available old type U-boats was improved by an increase in the number of AA guns. This succeeded in reducing the number of losses as compared with the month of May The fundamental determination that the final solution was to be found in the U-boat did not, however, change.

    North Atlantic with these more heavily armed boats. The boats were ordered to remain on the surface when attacked by aircraft and to cooperate in fighting off the attack. They were then to attack and break up the destroyer screen with acoustic torpedoes and, in the third phase of the battle, attack the convoy now deprived of its protection. It was a bold attempt which demanded a great deal of pluck and a high standard of capability from the U-boat. The vulnerable U-boats had to combat the enemy's overpowering defenses in the air and on the water before they could fulfill their main task of sinking the ships.

    This succeeded insofar as they managed to remain on the surface in spite of aerial attacks, and in the second phase of the battle to sink a number of destroyers. The third phase of the battle, the sinking of the ships, was, however, not so successful, because a smoke screen was laid in which the ships were not visible. In this action the U-boat losses were small.

    The success of the experiment encouraged repetition. However, it appeared that in the first attempt the smoke had also impeded the enemy's air activities. In further attempts the air force was so powerful that had the U-boats remained on the surface they would in all probability have been completely destroyed. It was, therefore, finally clear that surface warfare for U-boats had come to an end. It was now a matter of filling in time until the new type could be made ready for action. At the same time the Schnorckel was being developed for all types to enable the boats to recharge under water.

    The Schnorckel was not yet ready as its use necessitated alterations to the Diesel, and extensive trials had to be made in order that its use at sea should not endanger the crew. In these difficult months of , when the U-boat warfare was achieving only minor successes with high losses, the tough fighting spirit of the U-boat crews showed itself as never before.

    Parts of the ladders that the men would have used are still visible today but are in a very poor condition. Indeed, attempting to access these forts is extremely hazardous, and they are best viewed from a boat and a safe distance. The forts are now in varying states of decay, and attempting to enter them is probably ill-advised, if not illegal. They can be seen by boat or, on a clear day, from Shoeburyness East Beach. The closest place near the sea forts is Whitsable, about an 8-mile boat trip.

    You can see them from the coast on a nice day. Accompanied by Times journalists and scientific experts, meet people contributing to the history of medicine and scientific journalism. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and access to some of the best scientific minds available to concentrate on science reporting or medical history. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of Atlas Obscura in your inbox. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders.

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    Why the Luftwaffe failed in World War 2

    On October 17, , a ft. Added by Oliver Hong. In pastoral England, a plaque marks where an imaginary community addressed the problem of combat mortality. Added by jase. Visit England with Atlas Obscura Trips. Thanks for subscribing! Community Discussion No Comments Yet. Start the discussion. Suggest an Edit. Remember however Mainland England and the Atlantic fleets are also under continuous bombardment. England fights in North Africa and the Mediterranean to keep the Suez Canal open to its empire in the East and fights in the Middle East to keep access to oil as Churchill was responsible for converting all the Royal Navy shipping from coal to oil fired boilers.

    In Africa the task is much harder because the German in command, Rommel is such a superb military tactician. England has to respond to secure the oil fields which they do not want in German hands. Hitler changes his plans June The overall balance of the war changes overnight as Hitler reneges on previous agreements with Stalin and invades Russia.

    Hence some two years after the outbreak of war Stalin is forced to look at Churchill and Roosevelt as allies rather than Hitler.

    Air War Over the Nore: Defending England's North Sea Coast in World War II

    This is not particularly good news for England as; Churchill does not trust Stalin The Germans advance rapidly eastwards where they not only quickly close in on Moscow but also move through the Balkans onwards towards the vital English controlled oil fields in the Middle East. In a defensive move the English agree with the Russians to jointly move into Iran to secure the Anglo Iranian oil fields.

    Note at this time England controls the oil fields in both Iraq and Iran. August 2nd The might of the American production machine can be gauged as at this time they are supplying England, Russia and China with vital supplies of arms and vehicles plus food to keep them from starvation.