The Battle of Atlantic
September 3rd 1939- May 8th 1945
During six years of naval warfare, German U-boats and warships – and later Italian submarines – were pitted against Allied convoys transporting military equipment and supplies across the Atlantic to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The Germans quickly ramped up manufacture of their U-boats and had hundreds of submarines patrolling the Atlantic Ocean by 1943. They allies tried countering U-boats by travelling in convoys. They often had destroyer warships that would help to escort them and defend them from attacks. For a period of time in 1941 this method was fairly effective in helping get many ships through safely to Britain. However, as the Germans built more and more submarines the convoys became less successful. In 1943 the battle reached its peak. The Germans had a large number of submarines in the Atlantic, but the Allies had broken the German secret codes and had developed new technologies for fighting submarines. The Allies used radar to tell where the ships were and special new underwater bombs called Hedgehogs that helped to destroy the submarines. By the middle of 1943, the battle had turned in favor of the Allies. From this point on in the war, the United States was able to more freely ship supplies to Great Britain including the large supply of soldiers and weapons needed for the Normandy Invasion.
Canada provided about half the naval escorts, primarily corvettes to protect shipping convoys, in the Newfoundland (later Mid Ocean) and Western Local Escort Forces. Most of the land-based air coverage came from Newfoundland and the Maritimes, and 7 RCAF squadrons used elsewhere by Britain's Coastal Command. By war's end 25 421 convoyed merchant ships had crossed the Atlantic successfully, and the RCN and RCAF received credit for 47 of the 788 U-boats and 2 Italian submarines that had been destroyed. This battle was bravely fought by the men and women of the Canadian Merchant Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. More than 4,600 courageous service men and women lost their lives at sea. The Royal Canadian Navy: Began the war with 13 vessels, of which 6 were destroyers, and 3,500 personnel, and ended it with the third largest navy in the world. At war's end the RCN had 373 fighting ships and over 110,000 members, all of whom were volunteers, including 6,500 women who served in the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Services. Escort of merchant ship convoys was the RCN's chief responsibility during the Battle. The first convoy sailed from Halifax on September 16, 1939, escorted by the Canadian destroyer St. Laurent. By mid-1942, the RCN, with support from the RCAF, was providing nearly half the convoy escorts, and afterward carried out the lion's share of escort duty. Approximately 2,000 members of the RCN died during the war, and 24 RCN vessels were sunk. Canadian aircraft and ships, alone or in consort with other ships or aircraft, sank 50 U-boats.
The outcome of the battle was a strategic victory for the Allies—the German blockade failed—but at great cost: 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk for the loss of 783 U-boats. The name "Battle of the Atlantic" was coined by Winston Churchill in February 1941. Casualties for the allied forces: 36,200 sailors killed, 36,000 merchant seamen killed, 3,500 merchant vessels, 175 warships, and 741 RAF Coastal Command Aircraft lost in Anti-Submarine Sorties. Casualties for the enemies: 30,000 sailors killed, and 783 submarines.
Battle of Britain
July 10th - October 31st 1940
Operation Sea Lion
The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and was also the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date. The leader of the German Luftwaffe was Herman Goering. The leader of the Royal Air Force was Sir Hugh Dowding. The Battle of Britain marked the first defeat of