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Southern Thunder (ePub)

The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One

Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing WWI

By Steve R. Dunn
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 7.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526726643
Published: 10th January 2019


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During World War One the Scandinavian countries played a dangerous and sometimes questionable game; they proclaimed their neutrality but at the same time pitched the two warring sides against one another to protect their import and export trades. Germany relied on Sweden, Norway and Denmark for food and raw materials, while Britain needed to restrict the flow of these goods and claim them for herself. And so the battle for the North Sea began. The campaign was ferociously fought, with the Royal Navy forced to develop new tactical thinking, including convoy, to combat the U-boat threat. Many parts of Scandinavia considered that the War had 'missed' the region, and that it was just a distant 'southern thunder'; Much of that thunder was over the North Sea.

This new book tells this little-known, and often ignored, story from both a naval and a political standpoint, revealing how each country, including the USA, tried to balance the needs of diplomacy with the necessities of naval warfare. Starting from the declaration of a British blockade and its impact and reception in Scandinavia, the narrative progresses to cover the struggle to prevent supplies reaching Germany, the negotiations to gain preferential British access to Scandinavian trade and the work of the sailors, both of the merchant marine and Royal Navy who had to make the system function. By the end of 1916, the British–Scandinavian trade was so important that a new system of convoyed vessels was developed, not without much Admiralty infighting, leading to the growth of naval operations all along the East Coast of Britain in places such as Immingham, Lerwick and Mehil.

Two years later, the Germans, desperate to break the tightening stranglehold, even brought out their big-gun ships to hunt and disrupt the Scandinavian convoys, and at one point US Navy battleships were perilously close to engaging with the High Sea Fleet as a result.

Detailed analysis and first-hand accounts of the fighting from those who took part create a vivid narrative that demonstrates how the Royal Navy helped to bring about Germany’s downfall and protect Britain’s vital Scandinavian supply lines.

This is an excellent study of an important aspect of the war at sea during the First World War, successfully weaving together the diplomatic and military aspects of the story.

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History of War

The author’s grasp of often complex issues is impressive. This is an erudite book, which makes a significant contribution to the naval literature of the Great War.

Warship Annual 2021 Edition

"This fast-paced and easy-to-read book is highly

Marine News

"An interesting read of a previously unspoken story."

Chris Roche, South West Maritime Society

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to any member wanting a well-written and readable account of this important part of the naval war between 1914-1918.

Link to review: https://www.naval-review.com/book-reviews/southern-thunder-the-royal-navy-and-the-scandinavian-trade-in-world-war-one/

Naval Review - reviewed by Andy Field (print & online)

This latest work comes (again) from a publishing house where the editors, Robert Gardinder and Julian Mannering, have more than 50 years experience of producing the best in maritime history. This book lives up to the expectation that brings. A feature of Dunn's books is the depth and quality of his research, and a narrative rich in facts...

... Dunn shows himself a master of the subject, successfully casting light on a subject which is otherwise little explored. This is a very well written book.

Warships IFR, September 2019 - reviewed by Peter Hore

The author provides a fresh and fascinating analysis of this most significant theatre of the war, he has made a major and innovative contribution to our wider understanding.It may be regarded as essential reading not only to those interested in naval matters but in First World War history generally.

David Bowen, The Mariner’s Mirror, August 2019

'How isles were at heart of wartime sea trade between Britain and Scandinavia' as featured by

The Shetland Times, 3rd May 2019 - words – by Charlie Simpson

This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the naval aspects of the Great War and provides a detailed guide to fighting the smaller actions in the North Sea.

Wargames Illustrated - Reviewed by Jim Graham

In a nutshell, a very informative and pleasant to read book about “Southern Thunder”.

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Aviation Book Reviews

Despite covering politics, economics and naval tactics the book is very readable, educational and entertaining: laced with personal vignettes which bring us closer to the tragedies that war brings. Southern Thunder would make a good addition to a naval library and is the first of Steve Dunn’s books that I have read; I’m likely to source his others. An excellent book.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

‘Southern Thunder’ is a worthy treatment of this little-known, but intensely fought maritime campaign of a century passed. It contributes to the study of Royal Navy command and control in World War One.

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Australian Naval Institute, Tim Coyle

The First World War saw Britain and Germany competing for trade with Scandinavia, providing vital supplies to Britain and requiring the defeat of German trade to enforce a tight blockade of Germany. - Very Highly Recommended

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Author Steve R Dunn does a good job of explaining how the war in the North Sea developed, and uses a range of primary and secondary sources to describe the bitter conditions the Royal Navy crews had to endure and their bravery in protecting the convoys.

Nautilus Telegraph

A detailed and compelling account of the Royal Navy’s hard-fought campaign in the North Sea to protect Britain’s vital Scandinavian supply lines and deny Germany the food and raw materials that she so badly needed. It is the story of destroyers and U-boats, critical merchant ship losses, the commencement of convoy, and the acute consequences for Germany of the Royal Navy’s ultimate success. First-hand accounts of the fighting from those who took part help create a vivid narrative of this little-known and often ignored aspect of our naval history.

Read the full review here

Julian Stockwin Blog

Interview with Steve Dunn on War scholar

War Scholar

Detailed analysis and first-hand accounts of the fighting from those who took part create a vivid narrative that demonstrates how the Royal Navy helped to bring about Germany's downfall and protect Britain's vital Scandinavian supply lines.

Model Boats, April 2019 – reviewed by John Deamer

Here yet again [Dunn] has created a fascinating tribute to those involved in another little-remembered theatre of the war.

Read the full review here

The Village Online

This book is very readable, well-written and researched, and may well become a standard reference work on its subject.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

Article: Barnt Green author hopes his book will 'keep the First World War memory alive' as featured by

Bromsgrove Standard (online), 2nd February 2019

Article: 'Author Steve Dunn aims to keep World War One memories alive' as featured by

Malvern Gazette (online) and other publications, 30th January 2019

Article: 'Author aims to ensure WWI is not forgotten' as featured by

Plymouth Daily (online), 25th January 2019

Article: 'Bury historian Steve Dunn's new book Southern Thunder tells of forgotten WWI battle for the seas' as featured by

Bury Times (online), 27th January 2019 – words by Brad Marshall

Article: 'Sailor from Keighley features in new First World War naval history book' as featured by

Telegraph & Argus (online), 22nd January 2019 – words by Miran Rahman

Article: 'Sailor from Keighley features in new First World War naval history book' as featured by

Keighley News, (online), 22nd January 2019 – words by Miran Rahman

Article: 'Filey’s unsung heroes and brave acts feature in new World War One book' as featured by

The Scarborough News (online), 21st January 2019

Included in 'Village History' feature

The Village, 28th December 2018

About Steve R. Dunn

STEVE DUNN has a special interest in the Royal Navy of the late nineteenth century and the First World War, and has written biographies and narrative histories, most recently BlockadeSecuring the Narrow SeaBayly's WarSouthern Thunder , Battle in the Baltic and The Power and the Glory, all published by Seaforth, and the last awarded a certificate of merit at the Maritime Foundation awards in 2021.

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