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The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945 (Hardback)

WWII Seaforth: General Seaforth Naval Naval Warfare WWII

By Poul Grooss
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781526700001
Published: 17th May 2017


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From the shelling of the fort at Westerplatte, on the Polish coast, on 1 September 1939, to the loss of thousands of German refugees at sea in May 1945, the Baltic witnessed continuous and ferocious fighting throughout the Second World War. In this new book, the author chronicles the naval warfare and merges such major events as the Siege of Leningrad, the Soviet campaign against Sweden in 1942, the three wars in Finland 1939-44, the Soviet liberation of the Baltic states, the German evacuation of two million people from the East, and the Soviet race westwards in 1945.

There are also included fascinating insights into, until now, poorly understood topics such as Swedish co-operation with Germany, the use of the Baltic by the Germans to train U-boats crews for the Battle of the Atlantic, the secret weapons trials in the remote area of Peenemunde, and the RAF mining campaign that did much to reduce the threat of new and revolutionary German submarine technology. Furthermore, the author explains how messages from Bletchley Park were the basis for the RAF attacks on German coastal regions. The political and military backgrounds of the war in this theatre are explained while the details of ships, radar, artillery, mines and aircraft are all covered. This is a superbly researched work which shows how the naval war in the Baltic shaped the Second World War in ways that have not been fully understood. It is a major contribution to the naval history of this era.

Poul Grooss' The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945 is a comprehensive combined operations view of a little-studied subject. Prior to the publication of this work, trying to gain a cohesive view of this region has been a frustrating, piecemeal affair for the interested reader.

Whilst the main focus of the book concerns naval events, there is plenty of detail to engage those seeking more information on the Siege of Leningrad and Kronstadt. Throughout, sections outline the course of the war in broader perspective, for context. The Author set out to explain the war in this region to the non-military reader, and in this he succeeds admirably.

Grooss covers naval tactics and technology, the history of the region prior to WWII and the role of Sweden in supporting Germany. This comprehensive study succeeds in welding together a disparate series of separate histories into a cohesive whole. The eleven chapters of the book are laid out chronologically, and by topic, so that the narrative flows in a logical order.

It was a revelation to this reviewer just how extensive mine-laying was by all sides, and how many sinkings were attributable to this activity. Naval enthusiasts need not worry that the book is a pot boiler – it has been some 40 years in the making and presents as a detailed and authoritative account of the war.

This title will be of interest to naval enthusiasts, and students of the Eastern Front alike. Wargamers too will find inspiration in accounts of little-known engagements, such as the attack on Bengtskär. It is highly recommended.

Chris Kemp, Freelance

The author followed a long career in the Danish Navy, as a torpedo boat skipper, missile corvette captain, intelligence officer and Soviet analyst, with a post as a teacher of naval warfare at the Royal Danish Navy Academy. – This is a well researched, and nicely illustrated book covering the much neglected conflict in the Baltic during WWII – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.

Firetrench - Julian Stockwin

The author taps into many unfamiliar sources, illuminates many little-known and unknown corners of the war, integrates many aspects usually treated separately (if at all), and ties together into one useful package the full range of events on and adjacent to the Baltic during the war years. Not perfect, but quite a good job and quite a valuable book, especially from someone who is neither professional historian nor professional writer.

Stone & Stone

About Poul Grooss

POUL GROOSS is a retired Danish Navy Captain who commanded torpedo boats and guided-missile corvettes in a career that lasted more than 40 years. His is a teacher of naval warfare at the Royal Danish Naval Academy, Chairman of the Naval History Society of the Royal Danish Naval Museum and a tour guide on military history expeditions to the Eastern Front.

Perfect Partner

Battle of the Baltic (Hardback)

During WW2 hostilities in the Baltic Sea commenced on 1 September 1939 when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish fortress of Westerplatte and ended on 9 May 1945 with the final evacuation of German refugees from the Hela peninsula. In the intervening years battles raged back and forth between the confines of this cold cruel sea. The Soviets attacked the Finnish island of Russarö on 30 November 1939 with an air and naval bombardment. The Russian naval blockade of Finland began and their submarines attacked merchant vessels in the Gulf of Bothnia and their ships engaged…

By Robert Jackson

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