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The Wolf Packs Gather (Hardback)

Mayhem in the Western Approaches 1940

WWII Maritime

By Bernard Edwards
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781848846241
Published: 28th November 2011

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As a direct result of the capture of the British steamer City of Baghdad’s secret code books by the German surface raider Atlantis in July 1940, the Nazis were able to de-cypher Admiralty convoy plans with deadly effect. Admiral Doenitz, aware of the movements of the Allied convoys, marshalled as many of his U-boats as possible.

This book describes the resulting appalling Allied losses suffered by four convoys during the Autumn of 1940. The first convoy, SC2, consisting of fifty-three merchantmen, was attacked in early September by four U-boats. Due to poor weather only five ships were lost. Shortly afterwards, HX72, sailing from Nova Scotia, lost eleven of its forty-one ships to five Type VIIC U-boats. Top Aces Otto Kretschremer and Joachim Schepke, who penetrated inside the columns, accounted for nine.

No less than nine U-boats attacked SC7 in October 1940. Of thirty-five merchantmen a staggering twenty were lost. Despite being a ‘fast’ convoy with ten escorts, HX79 also fared terribly losing twelve ships. In total forty-eight merchantmen were sunk and seven more damaged without any U-boat losses at all.

A superbly researched and authoritative account of the darkest hours of the Battle of the Atlantic, The Wolf Packs Gather is a tragic account of unprecedented losses of seamen, ships and cargo from these merciless attacks on the four convoys.

The Author, a much published and distinguished historian and Merchant Navy captain, is well qualified to describe not only the German tactics but the inadequacies of the Allied counter-measures.

A superbly researched and authoritative account of the darkest hours of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Maritime Advisor

This book brings those tragic events to life through the eyes of those involved, as well as giving an overview of the German tactics and the inadequacy of Allied countermeasures, it would have benefited from listings of the individual ships and escorts in each convoy, and of the U-boats ranged against them, but is otherwise a useful addition to the bookshelf.

Ships Monthly, Feb 2013

Nobody recreated dramatic wartime naval action better than Captain Bernard Edwards. Highly recommended.

The England, Winter 2012

This is the fascinating account of the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic when, in the autumn of 1940, German u-boats began to hunt the North Atlantic in organised packs. The immediate effect on the poorly defended convoys was nothing less that catastrophic.
This is a superbly researched and authoritative account of those darkest hours, written in a stirring narrative style by this well established and popular naval historian.
An excellent account.

The Great War, March 2012

This is a valuable reminder of just how desperate the situation was in the North Atlantic early in the battle of the Atlantic. Many books on this topic tend to focus on the way in which the battle was won as more escort ships, better equipment and ever improving air cover turned the tide, but here we only see those desperate early days in which a handful of normally outclassed escorts bravely attempted to protect their convoys against deadly attack. In the four convoys at the centre of this book a total of forty-eight ships were sunk, taking with them hundreds of experienced crewmen and hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo.
This is an excellent book that really gives the reader an idea of how desperate the Battle of the Atlantic was, and how close to defeat Britain came in the Atlantic in 1940.

History of War

...well researched account

Britain at War Magazine, Feb 2012
 Bernard Edwards

About Bernard Edwards

Bernard Edwards pursued a sea-going career commanding ships trading worldwide. After nearly forty years afloat. Captain Edwards settled in a tiny village in rural South Wales, to pursue his second career as a writer. His extensive knowledge of the sea and ships has enabled him to produce many authentic and eminently readable books which have received international recognition. Beware Raiders!, Attack and Sink!, The Cruel Sea Retold, The Quiet Heroes, Twilight of the U-Boats, Death in the Doldrums, The Road to Russia, The Wolf Packs Gather, The Decoys and U-boats Beyond Biscay have been published by Pen and Sword Books.

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