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Churchill's Atlantic Convoys (ePub)

Tenacity & Sacrifice

Maritime > Naval Military WWII > Churchill WWII > Naval Warfare WWII

By William Smith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
File Size: 13.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 280
Illustrations: 40 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399050999
Published: 5th May 2023


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Within hours of the outbreak of the Second World War, Winston Churchill took up office as First Lord of the Admiralty. The same day the liner Athenia was torpedoed in the Atlantic in the first U-boat attack of the war. Churchill quickly recognised Britain’s survival depended on countering the U-boat threat and the strategic importance of protecting Allied merchant shipping with measures such as the convoy system.

As this superbly researched book reveals, the Nazi U-boat fleet was relatively small and unprepared for war in 1939. But by early 1941 its numbers and effectiveness had increasing to the point that Hitler was able to declare ‘our warfare at sea is just beginning’. Prime Minister Churchill’s response was to issue his famous ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ Directive.

Churchill’s Atlantic Convoys describes the political, strategic and tactical ebb and flow of events, particularly between 1942 and 1943. Thanks to increased numbers and scientific innovations the Allies slowly gained the upper hand despite a determined German fight back in late 1943 and early 1944. While the U-boat threat was never wholly defeated, the tenacity and sacrifices of the Allied naval forces won the day.

Churchill later recognised the persistence of Germany’s effort and the fortitude of the U-boat service. It would not be until 7 June 1945 that Churchill and President Truman felt able to assert ‘the Allies have finished the job’.

As featured

Association of Royal Navy Officers Yearbook 2024

“Churchill’s Atlantic Convoys: Tenacity and Sacrifice” by William Smith is an excellent, well written and concise history of the Battle of the Atlantic with much of Winston Churchill’s writings, House of Commons speeches and radio broadcasts woven into the narrative, along with insights into the German perspective through the BdU War Log. He also quotes from Admirals Doenitz and Raeder’s reports to Hitler. Mr Smith also uses excerpts from British and foreign newspaper articles, and together all of these sources provide a contemporary narrative, in addition to his own historical perspective; hindsight always being the historian’s friend.

The book examines Churchill’s reluctance to authorise additional Very Long Range (VLR) aircraft to the battle against the U-boats at the critical point in the campaign, almost to the point where the battle could have been lost for want of an additional half dozen squadrons of VLR aircraft.

The book is impeccably and comprehensively researched, using a wide range of sources many of which will be new to students of the campaign.

I unhesitatingly recommend this important work to anyone interested in the Atlantic campaign, and to those who are new to the subject and want to learn about it.

I am sure the book will earn Mr Smith the success he deserves.

David Boler (Author)

As featured in

Ships Monthly

"...well researched book..."

Ships Monthly - January 2024

As featured by

Maritime Information Services

"This book is an essential reference for the battle in the Atlantic, and an interesting insight into Churchill’s role in events. It should appeal to those interested in Naval History and those who are fans of Winston Churchill. The detail of the research enables the reader to question the sometimes simplistic narrative of the Battle of the Atlantic."

Read the review here

British Modern Military History Society

This book is an excellent tribute to the men who served on these convoys, and to those who were lost.

Jon Sandison

Review as featured in

The Armourer

"...it does have plenty of interesting detail."

The Armourer – August 2023

"William Smith’s book here goes a long way to keep the flame of remembrance in our minds."

Africa Ports & Ships

".....splendidly researched book...."

International Federation of Ship Masters’ Association (IFSMA) Newsletter No 65 June 2023

About William Smith

William Smith is an Open University Honours Graduate and retired Civil Servant with forty-two years’ experience in Royal Naval, Joint Service and NATO logistics. He was seconded for four years to the US Navy liaising on Royal Naval weapon procurement programmes. He also attended the NATO Defence College in Rome.
Encouraged by his maternal grandfather’s Royal Navy service during the Great War and his father’s Second World War Merchant Navy experiences, for which he was decorated, Bill decided to research naval history during his retirement. This book is the result of his particular focus on the Atlantic and Arctic Theatres during the latter conflict. His Churchill’s Arctic Convoys was published by P&S in 2022.
He and his wife Valerie, who have a son, a daughter and three granddaughters, live in Wiltshire..

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