Churchill's Greatest Fear: The Battle of the Atlantic 3 September 1939 to 7 May 1945, Richard Dohertyr

Churchill's Greatest Fear: The Battle of the Atlantic 3 September 1939 to 7 May 1945, Richard Doherty

There are countless books on the battle of the Atlantic, so any new one has to have something quite distinctive about it to be worthwhile. Luckily there are some very nice features about this book that bring it into that category.

First is the decision to cover the entire duration of the battle in detail, rather than focusing on the years in which the U-boats were at their most effective. This is especially useful towards the end of the battle, where the impact of new German technology and tactics is examined in more detail than normal.

The second is the inclusion of a series of unfamiliar topics. This includes the rubber coated 'stealth boats' that appeared towards the very end of the war (with limited impact), Portuguese fears about letting the Americans use bases on the Azores or the Irish agreement to open an air corridor across Donegal to allow flying boats to use Loch Erne. It also includes some surprisingly significant topics that rarely get much coverage. Perhaps the most important was the role of operational research, where researchers worked closely with the men actually fighting the battle to try and improve their performance against the U-boats. It was operational research that proved that most U-boat attacks came from within convoys, after U-boats had penetrated the cordon of escorts, and not from outside as had previously been believed, and later proved that large convoys were safer than a larger number of small convoys. There are also interesting sections on the training of convoy escorts, looking at the key individuals who helped make it more realistic and more useful. It is also interesting to see various highly regarded websites used as sources (or disagreed with). 

As a result this is a useful volume, and included material that I'd not come across before.

14 untitled chapters

Author: Richard Doherty
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Year: 2015

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