Battle of the Atlantic

German Backstory

Germany’s counter blockade against Britain included the full force of the Kriegsmarine, also known as the German Navy. The Luftwaffe was in full force as well, and was mostly in it to cause chaos in the skies and on the ground. Since the blockade was about controlling the waters, Germany had a distinct advantage with the quality of their technology. Submarines in their fleet were created fast, with 20 per month being the average.

U-boats were a huge threat, and were near unstoppable since they couldn’t be detected at night by electronics. By the time nearby warships launched a counterattack the U-boats had already gone underwater again. As a bonus, Germany was clever in its communications and had decoded several messages from the British Admiralty.

Joining Germany later on in the war was Italy with their Italian Royal Navy as part of the Axis Powers. Their entry occurred on June 10th, 1940 and was a big help with their submarines.

British & French Backstory

As the longest military campaign in World War II, Britain had to fend off Germany from 1939 until 1945 in order to maintain the waters. Their blockade of Germany was announced only a day after the declaration of war, and became a very close call for the country. Joining in the battle were some of the Allied members, namely France, Canada and the United States.

In the later parts of the war during 1941 Britain gained an advantage through Allied help. Fifty American destroyers, higher coverage of the waters by Canadians and an even higher coverage in the air by the Air Force. Yet the big turnaround came when in March of 1941 when they captured a U-110 with several German codes and secrets. With the biggest secret in the war unlocked, the Allied Forces were able to track the movements of the German U-boats.

Why Was the Battle of the Atlantic Important?

The Battle of the Atlantic was an economic war that was about cutting off the supply lines and merchant shipping. With the United Kingdom being an island nation, it survived heavily on imports. Cutting off these supplies would cripple the nation, making it easier for Germany to win the war. If Britain lost the Battle of the Atlantic, then a forced peace would become the only viable option.

For Germany their defeat after the 6 year struggle led to the end of World War II in Europe. The Allied Forces suffered considerable losses compared to their enemies, and for the most part the Germans had the advantage. They had perfected submarine warfare in an age where other countries were still playing catch up.

Who Was Affected?

Both sides suffered considerable losses, but it was Britain who felt the blow the most, even as winners. The Allied Forces lost over 3,000 ships and 72,000 men, while their German counterpart lost 783 U-boats and 28,000 men.

Names to Remember

Winston Churchill was born November 1874 and served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He pushed the idea of a more offensive strategy in the battle, looking for a way to tip the battle in their favor. When Britain established bases in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, they gained a small but decisive land advantage that would pay off later in the war.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born January 30th 1882 and served as the 32nd President of the United States. His term lasted from 1933 to 1945, and was in contact with Winston Churchill during the war. The two ironed out the ‘Destroyers for Bases Agreement’ that loaned Britain 50 U.S. destroyers in exchange for land rights on British bases.

Important Facts

Here are some important things to remember about the Battle of the Atlantic.

• The 6 year battle lasted from 1939-1945 and led to the defeat of the Germans
• Several countries tried to ban submarines after World War I but failed
• In 1940 Britain changed their tactics and introduced permanent escort groups
• The United States participated in the war despite its neutral stance


Germany failed at cutting the supply lines off from Britain and had to surrender. Their defeat in World War II is one of the biggest stories in all of history.