History of Airpower Series – Paper 3 – Battle of the Atlantic Versus the Strategic Air Offensive over Germany: was the Second World War Prolonged Unnecessarily?

First published: 3rd March 2014 | Dr. Anthony J Cumming

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"We can wreck Berlin from end to end if the Americans come in on it. It will cost 400-500 aircraft; it will cost Germany the war."
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris[i]

"In my view the only well-founded ground of criticism of our central war direction now lies in the use we are making of our Air Force….I should like to take 50% of our bombing effort off Germany even at this late hour, and distribute it to the Atlantic, and in the Middle East and Indian theatres."
Major General Sir John Kennedy, Director of Military Operations to Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke[ii]

 

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Before the War

3. The Battle of the Atlantic: From Outbreak of War to Operation Barbarossa

4. The Strategic Air Offensive Over Germany

5. Operation Drumbeat

6. Torch, Casablanca and Future Strategic Direction

7. Climax in the Atlantic

8. The End of the Air War over Germany

9. Conclusion

10. Footnotes

 

Introduction

Last year (2013) marked the 70th anniversary of the climax of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest running continuous campaign of the Second World War. These operations were fought by the Allies with the objectives of securing supply lines and imposing a naval blockade on the Axis powers. Spilling into adjacent waters as diverse as the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the battles were fought by men and ships of the Royal Navy; Royal Navy Patrol Service; Merchant Navy; Royal Canadian Navy and United States Navy against the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. Although a constituent part of the Royal Air Force, RAF Coastal Command fell under the Royal Navy’s operational control from April 1941 and played a key role in securing the vital sea lanes. Despite the celebrations in Liverpool (the host city of Western Approaches Command from 1941), there is still reason to doubt if the significance of the Battle of the Atlantic has been brought home to the British people – perhaps one reason why the wider public still cannot quite grasp the importance of the sea to the nation’s security and wealth. Merchant Navy Day finally became an official day of remembrance in honour of nearly 47,000 seamen lost in the two world wars but the first of these was not held until 3 September 2000. Indeed, it was only in late 2012 that the British government finally allowed the Arctic convoy veterans their own campaign medal – the Arctic Star. As G H Bennett has recently pointed out, ‘Seventy years after the event the recognition inevitably came too late for some of those heroes of the ice who had served north of latitude 66° 32’ North’. [iii]

Similar delayed recognition was given to the aircrew of Bomber Command taking part in the Strategic Air Offensive over Germany, 1939-1945 but for different reasons. Snubbed in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s victory speech in 1945, the bomber veterans had to campaign long and hard for a statue of their wartime C.in.C, Sir Arthur Harris, to be allowed to stand next to that of Fighter Command’s C.in.C, Sir Hugh Dowding outside the RAF chapel at St. Clement Dane. Harris was such an odious individual; this edifice will never be a fit tribute to the 55,573 airmen that died under his command. However, further campaigning by veterans, a peer, a pop star and the tabloid press resulted in the 2012 unveiling of a large multi-million pound monument in London’s Green Park honouring not just the aircrew but the thousands of civilians from all nations that perished in the bombing of Germany.[iv] Inevitably perhaps, such an exceptionally large monument in a prominent position has drawn fire from critics who see this as defending the controversial tactics deployed by the RAF rather than a genuine commemoration. However such criticism has been relatively muted, perhaps because a wide spectrum of victims is acknowledged and the unacceptable delay in recognising the bravery of all the groups participating in the fall of Nazism is seen as little short of a national scandal.

Indeed, there is no doubting the enormous sacrifice and heroism of thousands of allied sailors, soldiers and airmen in the cause of defeating the Axis powers between 1939 and 1945 and war memorials play an important role in reminding future generations of the importance of past events. Less firmly established is the question which campaign made the greatest contribution to victory? At another level, air historian Cristina Goulter’s 2007 view about the Battle of Britain ‘the fulcrum of the campaign, and arguably the entire war, was in the air’ is undoubtedly shared by a great many air historians and RAF personnel.[v] In my view, this kind of statement exaggerates the importance of ‘independent’ airpower but it cannot be denied that following the advice of a high court judge, the government decided to give the RAF priority for war resources over the other services even before the crucial Battle of the Atlantic had reached its bloody climax.

That Britain’s war effort for 1939-45 became heavily oriented towards the air dimension is not in dispute. Indeed it is estimated that between 50 to 60% of British war production was devoted to the RAF.[vi] ‘By 1944, more Britons were building aircraft than serving in the army.’[vii]This naturally begs difficult questions as to whether this was the best use of available resources at the time and whether a better decision could have been reached. The extent to which one campaign was affected by the other and whether the clash of priorities led to an extension of the war by anything up to a year are uncomfortable questions that require more examination than previously given. In this connection some of the almost forgotten arguments of John Grigg (2nd Baron Altrincham) have been resurrected. Grigg argued that countless lives could have been saved by bringing D-Day (OPERATION OVERLORD) forward a year. This was the intended OPERATION ROUNDUP that was not implemented because of ‘diversions’ such as the Mediterranean Campaign and the Strategic Bomber Offensive. [viii]Inevitably these questions involve a certain amount of counterfactual history but providing that difficulties are properly acknowledged and the options proposed were genuinely available at the time, it is a legitimate exercise to try to provide a few answers. Though it is hard to empathise with Harris, whose wild claims and contempt for his colleagues’ forfeits sympathy, none of this is intended to diminish the standing of those charged with the enormous wartime responsibility of making literally life-and-death decisions affecting millions of lives. It must also be remembered this was the RAF’s first major war and some miscalculation was inevitable.

 

Before the War

As the head of the RAF, Sir Hugh Trenchard affirmed to Admiral Beatty back in 1919, ‘The RAF exists to support the Army and the Navy and there would be specific portions of the RAF trained to work with the older services’. At no point were the ‘portions’ assigned to direct support of the army and navy given priority for resources.[ix] Of the three RAF commands, Coastal Command was regarded as the ‘Cinderella’, being the least resourced at the outset of war in 1939 and saddled with the most obsolescent aircraft. At the other end of the scale, Bomber Command and its predecessors received priority for resources within the RAF until the politicians, suddenly aware that Britain’s air defences were threadbare, forced production changes in favour of Fighter Command. However, at the heart of the Air Ministry’s philosophy remained the belief that only the bomber could win the war, a conviction that hardened during the war with each defeat the Wehrmacht inflicted on the British Army.

Before the war there was much uncertainty about what Coastal Command’s function should be and it was finally decided that the primary role would be ‘trade protection, reconnaissance and cooperation with the Royal Navy’. One reason for the uncertainty was the Admiralty’s belief that the U-boat threat that brought Britain dangerously close to defeat in 1916/17 was now negated by the improved development of the Asdic device fitted to Anti-Submarine (A/S) destroyers, corvettes and trawlers. This according to Terraine meant that the Royal Navy was only really interested in air support from the point of view of detecting the surface raiders of the German battle-fleet. The Admiralty then lost interest in convoying and the use of A/S aircraft, preferring to concentrate on offensive patrols.

Asdic’s essential weakness was an inability to locate a submarine on the surface and this meant that many lessons from the previous conflict had to be relearned.[x] This, more-or-less represents a view that the Admiralty got themselves into a mess of their own making. However the papers of Group Captain Hugh Williamson, a former submarine officer and early aviation pioneer paints a different picture. ‘But the truth was that the Air Council, obsessed with their dreams of strategic bombing, had no interest in protection of merchant shipping, which they regarded as a naval responsibility’. Williamson also believed ‘there is little doubt that the protection of essential supplies coming to Britain from overseas was not the reason for having the shore-based anti-submarine aircraft transferred from the Admiralty; the real reason’ he claimed was that ‘when they came under Air Control the production resources which should have been allotted to them could be diverted to turning out more bombers.’[xi]

According to this view, the situation was analogous to a wicked step parent retaining custody of an otherwise unwanted child because of the financial advantages that guardianship might bring. In fact there is truth in both of these interpretations. The transfer of naval air power to the new ‘independent’ RAF in 1918 meant that the Admiralty was bound to look within its own resources for solutions to problems such as the submarine whilst the Air Ministry was likely to focus more on their perceived core business of strategic bombing. In truth, both the Admiralty and the Air Ministry fumbled the naval airpower ball between them, because of problems stemming from this hasty and ill-considered air force merger back in 1918. Unifying the ‘air’ this way had divided more logical areas of command resulting in lack of synergy and a surfeit of over-compartmentalised thinking. After 1918, and faced with massive spending cuts, the RAF needed to retain naval airpower under their own umbrella if only to retain viability for the new ‘independent’ service.

Carrier based aircraft finally returned to naval control after an inter-departmental battle in the late 1930s, but land-based naval aircraft stayed with the RAF. This was despite the fact that it was to expand rapidly in the last two years of peace, with more spent on it than either of the two other services. The result of this saw the Fleet Air Arm and RAF Coastal Command beginning the war with underdeveloped naval airpower doctrines and carrying a high proportion of obsolescent aircraft. Still, the Navy had only itself to blame for specifying the ineffective 100 Ib bomb as the type chiefly required. It soon realised that the other types available, including the 250 Ib and the 500 Ib, would have to explode in very close proximity to a high pressure (submarine) hull to do serious damage. The direct hits and near misses required for success would moreover be hard to obtain as proper bombsights were lacking.

Sadly, it had been discovered in 1917 that the best type of bomb for air attack was the 300Ib HE (total weight 520Ib) fitted with either an impact fuse or delay fuse timed to detonate at 40 feet below the surface. Yet, this was forgotten or ignored. According to one author ‘In no area of RAF armament was avoidable weakness so patent as in anti-submarine weaponry.’ Not until 1940 was there any recognition that the best weapon against submarines was the depth charge but the air-dropped version was unsuitable for night use because they could only be dropped at heights up to 300 feet, carrying a high risk of the aircraft hitting the water.[xii] Another problem likely to have had disastrous consequences was the failure to plan for a large scale magnetic mine assault. As Churchill described in The Gathering Storm, German magnetic mines, a few of which were air-dropped but mostly laid by destroyers and U-boats near harbour entrances, threatened to paralyze British seaborne trade. Although an Admiralty committee examined aspects of magnetic-firing devices in 1936 very little work was done on magnetic mines.

 

The Battle of the Atlantic: From Outbreak of War to Operation Barbarossa

Shipping losses in September and October 1939 attributable to mines were 56,000 tons but in November the recovery of an air dropped magnetic mine allowed an opportunity to develop countermeasures. Fortunately, cheap and effective degaussing techniques were introduced and by the end of 1939, Churchill could claim that the magnetic mine threat was under control. However, losses from this cause remained high up until March 1940.[xiii] Luckily, the Germans failed to mass produce the magnetic mine at an early stage. By deploying them in small quantities at the beginning of the war, the Germans allowed an opportunity to develop counter measures before British ports could be overwhelmed by a mass deployment.[xiv]

The over-reliance on Asdic contributed to the ill-conceived hunter/killer experiment of 1939 designed to sweep the U-boats from the English Channel with mixed groups of heavy ships leading to the sinking of the carrier HMS Courageous in September by U-29. Aircraft and carriers were of little use at this stage because surfaced U-boats could usually see approaching carriers before they were themselves detected by aircraft and even when they were located the aircraft carried no suitable weaponry to sink them. German ship movements were missed because of the inability of Coastal Command to conduct effective long distance reconnaissance sweeps of the seas around the British Isles, something that may have later contributed to the loss of another carrier, HMS Glorious to German heavy cruisers with the loss of 1,474 officers and men of the Royal Navy and forty-one RAF personnel evacuated from the Narvik area. Coastal Command had failed in its reconnaissance role but there was a limit to what could be expected from approximately 170 obsolescent aircraft operating at extreme range.[xv] The loss of Norway, Denmark, and shortly afterwards, the Western European coastline down to the Spanish border now opened up unprecedented opportunities for the Kriegsmarine’s surface raiders and U-boats. Unlike the First World War, German submarines could not be effectively blockaded with barriers extending across the English Channel and the North Sea.

Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz quickly installed his U-boats in bomb proof pens at new bases in Brittany, extending his reach further into the Atlantic than the Western Approaches Command base at Plymouth. As the air campaigns known as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies over England, merchant seamen endured what the U-boat aces called the ‘First Happy Time’. With most of the Royal Navy’s destroyers and other escort vessels tied down on anti-invasion duties, throughout the summer of 1940 (June-October 1940) U-boat captains such as Gunther Prien (U-47), Otto Kretschmer (U-99) and Joachim Schepke (U-100) sank 270 Allied ships. The situation would undoubtedly have been far worse if Doenitz had more than approximately six to eight U-boats at sea within an operational area at one time.[xvi] A second important mitigating factor was the unreliability of the German torpedo with faulty detonating pistols and depth control equipment. This meant torpedoes failing to explode on contact or running harmlessly underneath their intended victim’s hulls – problems that were not properly resolved until March 1941.

Despite the serious torpedo problem, Germany had two other major advantages at this time. Of great importance was German code breaking expertise. Until August 1940 B-Dienst, the Kriegsmarine’s intelligence service was reading the British Administrative Code enabling them to read 30-50% of the radio traffic and along with their expertise in reading the strength and direction of signals that could not otherwise be read, meant they could work out the position of convoys and Royal Navy warships.[xvii] B-Dienst also had significant success in breaking the Merchant Navy’s codes. This allowed the Kriegsmarine to evade the units of the Home Fleet during the early stages of the invasion of Norway (Operation Weserubung) and establish a foothold. By contrast, British intelligence was in a woeful state and the German naval signals could not yet be read.[xviii] Opportunities arising from other sources were also missed, for example an early sighting from Bomber Command that German troopships were en route to Norway was not acted upon as the information was not collated properly within Whitehall. [xix] Doenitz’s greatest advantage was his sophisticated system of centralised control that bore many features similar to Air Marshal Dowding’s system of fighter-control used during the air battles over England. Yet the system would eventually prove vulnerable because considerable reliance had to be placed upon heavy radio traffic between the submarines and Doenitz’s headquarters. The danger was that the British might eventually crack the Kriegsmarine’s Enigma codes – though the Germans were confident that this would not happen. The Enigma machines upon which the codes were encrypted were freely available before the war but the British code breakers needed to capture a naval code book and machine with its rotors set to the enemy code. This would not happen until the middle of 1941 and only then could real progress be made towards reading German intentions. This was still not the end of the story as the intelligence initiative continued to swing back and forth.

Whereas Dowding relied on Radio Direction Finding, or RDF (the 1940 term for radar) and visual observation from the Royal Observer Corps, for his eyes, Doenitz used long-range aircraft and visual/audio observation from the U-boats themselves. Periscopes only gave a narrow field of vision and could only be used in calm conditions, but even when surfaced the conning tower was still close to the surface, meaning that aircraft were by far the best means of detecting convoys at long range. The aircraft used were mainly Focke Wulfe FW.200 Condors, converted from civilian airliners and despite structural limitations and the small number of Condors; they were to prove effective both in the reconnaissance role and for direct attacks on shipping. Its chief advantage was a standard range of 2000 miles, enough to fly from Brittany, fly around the British Isles and land in Norway. But Germany’s own inter-service rivalries meant that aerial reconnaissance was less effective than it should have been.[xx] The successful conclusion of Weserubung in June also meant that Doenitz could concentrate on the trade war and with B-Dienst decrypts giving away likely convoy routes he could develop the tactic known as the wolf-pack. Up to six U-boats would spread out in a wide skirmish line across the convoys predicted path. Once detected, the sighting would be relayed to U-boat HQ, and the convoy shadowed until enough submarines could be gathered for an attack, usually at night. The U-boats would then attack simultaneously, some evading the escorts and attacking from the middle of the convoy. Even when convoys were heavily escorted, the wolf-pack tactics sometimes proved devastating as occurred when HX79 sailing from Halifax (Canada) to Liverpool was ambushed off Rockall in late 1940 losing a quarter of its ships.

This, and similar defeats, forced a change in British tactics and strategy. Greater numbers of escort vessels had been released from anti –invasion duties from October 1940 and Canadian shipyards were churning out increasing numbers of merchant ships and escorts. Furthermore, old American destroyers such as those obtained under the ‘Destroyers-for Bases’ deal with the USA in September 1940 permitted the creation of permanent escort groups that greatly increased effectiveness. Western Approaches Command was also transferred from Plymouth to Liverpool in order to bring it closer to the theatre of operations. In November, a belated attempt was made to wrest Coastal Command away from the RAF.

Despite the fact that Churchill had opposed the return of land based naval aircraft to the Royal Navy in 1937, the prime minister initially supported this as it was proposed by his friend and Minister for Aircraft Production, Lord Max Beaverbrook. Furthermore, Churchill noted the RAF had grown to such an extent it was now less likely that it would suffer ‘serious consequences’ if this reorganisation took place. In the longer term, Beaverbrook’s lack of restraint probably spoiled his case and whilst it would have been a sound move back in 1937, the dislocation caused in wartime made this a risky strategy. In the end, and after meetings by the Service Departments at which the matter was thoroughly discussed, the Defence Committee decided to keep the status-quo. [xxi] Needless to say, Coastal Command remained with the RAF after the war when it might have been much better to merge it with the Fleet Air Arm.

By the spring of 1941 it seemed that the airborne radar devices now being carried in Coastal Command’s aircraft were going some way towards solving the problem of locating U-boats on the surface but it was far from a complete answer. These devices had been in development since 1936, a year after the beginning of Fighter Command’s RDF chain, and rushed into service at the outbreak of war despite several shortcomings. Airborne radar or Air to Surface Vessel (ASV) Mk 1 could bring an aircraft close to a surfaced U-boat during darkness but visual sighting was still required for an attack. As the U-boat could submerge within seconds of hearing the aircraft’s engines there was little time for the aircraft to attack and the submarines often escaped. ASV I was also unreliable and would only work if the pilot flew dangerously low. [xxii]

An improved ASV II set slowly entered service in the early months of 1941 with much better range, robustness and reliability. Sadly, the RAF’s demands through the Battle of Britain and the Blitz contributed to production delays.[xxiii] Furthermore, the full benefit of ASV would not be realised until a means of illuminating the target area was found. The Leigh Light, a naval searchlight fitted to the front of a Wellington bomber was successfully tested in May 1941 but did not come into service for approximately a year because of delays at the Air Ministry, who initially favoured a Fighter Command project known as the Turbinlite.[xxiv] The culmination of all these changes helped reduce the shipping losses to manageable levels and the battles of Spring 1941 cost Germany the lives of Prien, Kretschmer and Schepke, thanks largely to these improvements in technology.

In response to the increasing pressure from counter measures, Doenitz moved west to intercept convoys prior to rendezvous with their escort; this was successful until escorts were allocated for the full length of the Atlantic. This was provided by the Royal Canadian Navy from its base at St John’s Newfoundland in the western zone. Convoys were escorted from Canada to a rendezvous south of Iceland where the British provided escorts for the remainder of the journey.

Despite its technical neutrality, the US Navy assumed an increasing role during 1941 as President Roosevelt extended the Pan-American Security Zone almost to Iceland. U-boats then found themselves entangled in a number of incidents with US warships despite orders from Doenitz not to fire on American warships unless attacked. American troops also occupied bases in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Greenland.

A stop-gap measure was also devised to protect convoys from air attack when out of the range of land-based fighters. This was the provision of a few Hurricane fighters launched by catapults and supported by rockets from specially adapted merchant ships known as Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM). After the catapult was released the Hurricane was fired by a rocket from a ramp on the approach of a German aircraft to engage the enemy. Afterwards it had to ditch near an escort where the pilot would hope to be rescued. Nine Axis aircraft were destroyed for the loss of one pilot. Coastal Command also operated longer range aircraft from Iceland including Northrop seaplanes (the very long range Catalina flying boats and Liberators were still on order) that reduced a section of the Atlantic lacking adequate air cover. This became known as the ‘Atlantic Gap’.[xxv]

The losses in April 1941 had been very high (195 ships or 687,901 tons) but were largely a freak occurrence as the disastrous British intervention in Greece provided the Luftwaffe with abundant targets and some particularly heavy raids on British ports had caused enormous damage. [xxvi] But by June 1941, it appeared that the U-boat threat had been contained with most convoys managing to evade attack and shipping losses held at manageable levels. In fact the losses had dropped so much, the Air Staff now displayed an increased reluctance to prioritise Coastal Command for new aircraft and other devices. But the true reason for the ‘failure’ of the U-boats was their lack of numbers. In 1940, the monthly operational totals ranged from 22 to 33 and in 1941, 22 to 86 (numbers peaked in May 1943 at 239).[xxvii]

Worse yet, a new sector of the war at sea opened in the summer of 1941 when the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union. Churchill immediately promised assistance to the Soviet Union but for the time being this could only be made in two ways. Firstly, to increase the bombing offensive on Germany to ease the pressure off the Soviet Armies and secondly to send Stalin vast quantities of supplies including American Lend Lease equipment by sea.

With the Soviet Union’s forces under tremendous pressure, having lost half its air force within nine days together with thousands of tanks and men, maintaining the Arctic convoys became a vital Anglo-American symbol of continuing support. In materiel terms the importance of the early convoys is apparent in the fact that some three-quarters of the tanks deployed by the Soviets in the Battle of Moscow in late 1941 were British.[xxviii]That the Germans, confident of imminent victory over the Soviets, made little attempt to disrupt the thirteen convoys (114 merchant ships) sailing to north Russian ports via the Arctic from August 1941 to March 1942 did not mean that operations were straightforward. These became ‘a marathon of human and mechanical endurance’. The only viable route was over the top of German occupied Norway into the Arctic where conditions meant greatly increased navigational and signalling difficulties because of the poor light. Loose floating ice was also a major hazard for the great majority of ships with bows not specifically built for such conditions. As ships quickly became engulfed in mountainous ice sheets that would capsize a ship if not removed, men were routinely sent on deck with steam hoses and a variety of hand tools in sub-zero conditions.[xxix] These appalling conditions took their toll with casualties from frostbite and having to live in permanently cold, wet environments. Yet none of those involved would have known that worse was to come during the following year, when German forces from Norway made determined efforts to cut off Stalin’s essential life-line.

June 1941 saw the appointment of a new C.in.C for Coastal Command. Air Marshal Sir Philip Joubert de la Ferté KCB, CMG, DSO. As the former ACAS (Radio) at the Air Ministry, Joubert had been a supporter of the Turbinlite (later the Helmore Light) and was responsible for obstructing the development of the Leigh Light in its initial stages. After two months in Coastal Command, however, Joubert changed his mind when it was discovered the Helmore Light was unsuitable. Yet even with this change of attitude, it would be almost another year before it came into operational service.[xxx] Joubert worked closely with scientists during his tenure, but much of the scientific collaboration can also be credited to his predecessor, Air Marshal Frederick Bowhill, a former World War I RNAS officer responsible for involving one Professor P MS Blackett.

Blackett was to head a powerful and ultimately successful Operational Research Unit of notable academics, scrutinising every scientific aspect of Coastal Command’s work. Although Joubert remained a dedicated RAF officer wedded to the needs of strategic bombing, a high level of collaboration was being achieved between Coastal Command and the Royal Navy. Air Marshal Sir John Slessor (A later AOC,) remarked that the senior naval staff officer at Coastal Command HQ – Commander Peyton Ward – became ‘in all but uniform and rank an officer of the Royal Air Force’. [xxxi] It might equally have been said that many RAF officers of Coastal Command became naval officers in the same way. Sadly, there was little evidence that this sort of camaraderie existed between other RAF commands and the older services.

It is important to note that at this stage, the Kriegsmarine still saw the commerce raider as its main weapon against British trade and with its far smaller surface fleet the guerre-de-course was the only realistic option. The first major British success against the commerce-raiders was the scuttling of the pocket battleship Graf Spee, off Montevideo in 17 December 1939, after she had sunk nine merchant ships. The Battle of the River Plate was the first victory over the commerce-raider and was achieved in part, because British Intelligence conned the captain into believing the force waiting for him outside Montevideo harbour was more powerful than it was.[xxxii]

The second major success was the result of a breakthrough by British code-breakers enabling the Royal Navy to track down the battleshipBismarck. Coastal Command successfully located Bismarck after she sunk the British battle-cruiser HMS Hood on 24 May 1941 at the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Fleet Air Arm Swordfish torpedo bombers from the carrier Ark Royal later damaged Bismarck’s steering gear before she was finally sunk by gunfire on 27 May 1941 further south in position 48-09N 16-07W.

Both German raiders had done considerable damage but the sinking of the Bismarck marked the end of German heavy ship operations against the Atlantic convoys. [xxxiii] However, with the battleship Scharnhorst and heavy cruisers Prinz Eugen and Gneisenau holed up at Brest, they remained a potential threat to the Atlantic convoys until Hitler withdrew them to Germany in February 1942.

The possibility of further incursions into the Atlantic by heavy surface ships remained until the disappointing performance of warships headed by the cruisers Lutzow and Hipper at the Battle of the Barents Sea at the end of 1942, where an important Arctic convoy was saved by an ‘inferior’ British naval force. This resulted in Germany concentrating her production efforts on the U-boat. Doenitz as the newly appointed C.in.C of the Kriegsmarine was also free to withdraw U-boats from Norway and the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Had Hitler drawn the same conclusions from the sinking of the Bismarck over a year earlier, the Allies would surely have been in even more serious trouble than they were to be in during 1942 and early 1943.

 

The Strategic Air Offensive over Germany

Despite the fact that strategic bombing (in one form or another) dominated Air Staff thinking between the wars, RAF Bomber Command was not well placed to bomb Germany in 1939. This was down to a long list of factors, including the notorious Ten Year Rule adopted in 1919 (scrapped in 1932) retarding the development of the armed forces, the RAF experience of Imperial Policing in the British Empire where no modern equipment was required and a general lack of technical prescience at the Air Ministry. Once Germany had managed to occupy virtually all of Western Europe in 1940, Bomber Command’s task became even more difficult as without continental bases its aircraft now had to fly hundreds of miles to reach German targets whereas all of the British Isles was now within range of relatively short-legged Luftwaffe bombers operating from their new western airfields. Early efforts to bomb targets in Germany such as the raids on the Kriegsmarine’s base at Wilhelmshaven seemed to indicate that British daylight bombing was futile because of the losses incurred by the attackers.

This forced the bombers into night attacks despite the added difficulties of navigation and aiming at specific military targets. ‘Bomber Command was forced to a night bombing policy for which it had neither the materiel, the training nor, it can be argued, the state of mind.’[xxxiv]In these early years, navigators had to rely on traditional methods used by mariners of the sailing era, such as navigating by the stars – useless in periods of poor visibility. Thus began the drift towards area bombing, a policy that made no pretence of striking directly at factories making war equipment but at the civilian workers themselves. A major factor in all this was the failure to develop a satisfactory fighter escort for the bombers, and this was the result of the Air Staff’s pre-war lack of interest in developing fighters generally. Indeed, little would have been achieved in the field of fighter development at all had it not been for Lord Hugh Dowding’s interest in capitalising on the British success in the pre-war Schneider Trophy air races. Even more important was the private sector determination to ignore the Air Ministry’s obsolete design specifications and develop the fast monoplanes that became the Spitfire and Hurricane.[xxxv] However, all British fighters had very short ranges and could not escort the bombers into Germany.

Ironically a solution to the problem of long range fighter escort may have been found much earlier if sufficient attention had been given to it. The North American Mustang first flew in October 1940 and was put into production for the RAF. It proved disappointing in the fighter/bomber reconnaissance role to which it was assigned but the performance was transformed by the marrying of the Mustang’s airframe to the famous Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the power plant of the very successful British Spitfire.[xxxvi]

As is now well known, the Mustang equipped with the Merlin (made under license in the USA as the Packard V-1650-7, first ran in August 1941 ) transformed the situation for the United States Army Air Force in 1944 by escorting the Flying Fortress formations all the way to the target and circumstances permitting, strafing airfields used by the defending fighters. With its heavy Colt 0.5 machine guns the Mustang was a hard-hitter and air supremacy over Germany was soon attained. This provided the means for the USAAF to develop precision bombing to a high degree, notably in its highly successful campaign to deprive the Wehrmacht of its essential oil supplies. Had the Americans acted more swiftly to develop the Mustang as a long range escort fighter, then as Grigg argues, ‘their precision bombing programme in 1943 might have succeeded’.[xxxvii] Had the British been so minded, then Bomber Command might not have given up on its own daylight bombing efforts so quickly, but as already indicated there was precious little official interest in fighters – long range or otherwise.

The RAF had moved away from bombing the industrial Ruhr in late 1940, targeting instead oil and morale, the former as the primary objective, the second only when conditions prevented an attack against oil. Unfortunately, Sir Richard Peirse, then C.in.C Bomber Command was instructed to begin the oil raids with incendiary attacks to spread the fires. As the official historian noted, the ‘fiction’ that ‘military objectives’ in the towns were being attacked was then ‘officially abandoned’. Despite wildly optimistic reports from the crews of bombers attacking oil plants at Mannheim on 16 December 1940, it was soon discovered that much damage had been done to the city but no major damage to the plants. Nevertheless, the photographic evidence obtained following what was effectively the first area raid of the war did not prevent recently appointed Chief of Air Staff, Sir Charles Portal submitting an un-amended paper to the Chiefs of Staff, (subsequently endorsed by the War Cabinet) aiming to obliterate 17 major synthetic oil plants in Germany within four months by these means. Predictably, little was achieved within the next three months but the Air Staff was saved from acute embarrassment by calls for the bombers to be diverted to assist in the Battle of the Atlantic, thus providing an excuse for not bringing the oil offensive to a successful conclusion. The bombing of the U-boat pens later merged into repeated attacks on the heavy ships at Brest but it is doubtful if the results were worth the effort expended. In return for the use of 1,875 aircraft, the dropping of 1,962 tons of high explosive, ten hits were made on the warships, two of which were duds. Ironically, the most serious damage to Gneisenau was made by a Coastal Command torpedo attack on 6 April 1941.[xxxviii] The final break out of the heavy ships back to Germany in February 1942 and in the teeth of British air opposition in the English Channel was yet another example of the gulf that existed between pre-war exponents of land-based airpower and the harsh reality. Some 242 bombers were scrambled against the German flotilla, few of which proved able to locate the enemy and only minor damage was inflicted.

This embarrassing escape allowed Bomber Command to renew its offensive against Germany, but this time the so-called night precision attacks were abandoned in favour of a transportation attack on marshalling yards, canals and on towns with the expectation of producing results on German morale. An increasing emphasis on morale appears to have stemmed from Lord Trenchard’s agitation from his seat at the House of Lords and the new transportation plan, required less accuracy than the oil offensive as it would mainly take place in city centres.[xxxix]

Sadly, in 1941 the Air Staff persisted in an unfounded belief that the RAF’s night bombing attacks were causing considerable material damage and were Britain’s only war-winning weapon. Not everyone in the RAF was convinced and a report was finally commissioned to investigate the enthusiastic claims of bomber crews. The Butt Report, circulated in August 1941 shocked senior RAF officers when its conclusions, taken from studies of photographic evidence, revealed that only one in three attacking aircraft got within five miles of the target and over the industrial Ruhr, only one in ten. Around half of Bomber Command bombs fell into open country.[xl] Predictably the Air Staff went into denial and tried to discredit the findings. Several months later, another report was produced by the Directorate of Bombing Operations on the evidence of German bombing of British cities concluding that that the war could be won if the forty three large German towns with populations over 100,000 were destroyed. This was thought achievable if the RAF could have 4,000 heavy bombers at their disposal. Chief of Air Staff Sir Charles Portal seized upon this report arguing that with such a force the war could be won in six months.[xli] Churchill was rightly doubtful and the conclusions were modified to the extent that air attacks would weaken Germany sufficiently to allow a successful return to the Continent by the BEF. In late 1941, he told Portal that he deprecated ‘placing unbounded confidence in this form of attack’ admitting that it might be the ‘most potent method of impairing the enemy’s morale at the present time’ but it would have to be assisted by armoured forces in the Nazi occupied areas. Churchill rightly argued that ‘it is quite possible that the Nazi war-making power in 1943 will be so widely spread as to be to a large extent independent of the buildings in the actual homeland’. [xlii]His inconsistency can only be explained by a desire to placate Stalin and wishful thinking at times of political vulnerability.

So controversial did this issue of where Britain’s resources should best be concentrated become that it was referred to High Court Judge Mr Justice Singleton. The war cabinet asked him to estimate ‘what results we are likely to achieve from continuing our air attacks on Germany at the greatest possible strength for periods of six, twelve and eighteen months.’ Singleton’s deliberations were bound to take into account the position of the Soviet Union and would influence where the majority of Britain’s war resources were to be deployed in the future. This was crucial because once the factories had re-tooled for bomber production, it would be nigh impossible to reverse the process. Despite the failure to take Moscow and Leningrad at the end of 1941, the German armies were having a very successful campaigning year in the south of Russia for most of 1942 and there was no prospect of Britain and America (who only joined the war in December 1941) returning to the continent in 1942. The fall of Singapore in February 1942, one of the most humiliating defeats ever suffered by a British army – and only weeks before Singleton’s enquiries – must also have had a depressing effect on his deliberations. He concluded, ‘If Russia can hold Germany on land I doubt whether Germany will stand 12 or 18 months’ continuous, intensified and increased bombing, affecting, as it must, her war production, her power of resistance, her industries and her will to resist (by which I mean morale).’[xliii]

It was, of course, an extremely difficult decision to make. Nevertheless the dearth of sound evidence supporting the bombing proposals were clearly bolstered by pre-war bombing theories promising decisive results from attacks on civilian morale. If the Soviets suddenly collapsed during 1942 as seemed likely at any time during the summer then the ability of the Wehrmacht to oppose a return to the Continent would have expanded exponentially during 1943 with all the resources of the conquered territory at Hitler’s disposal. As a result of this report, British resources now poured into Bomber Command which meant they held priority for the latest electronic aids enabling night vision. Most importantly, this was centrimetric radar using the klystron valve (Klystron H2S); later using the more precise magnetron valve (the sea version became ASV.III). [xliv] However, even before Singleton’s report was circulated, Bomber Command had already begun work on implementing the Area Bombing Directive in February, the same month that Portal appointed a new and ruthless C.in.C, Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris. The official targets were now the homes of German civilians – a policy to be known as area bombing. The ruthless bombing of Lübeck on the night of 28 March 1942, chosen because it could easily be found by navigators and was lightly defended marked the first implementation of the new policy. Other similar raids followed and Harris asked for Coastal Command’s aircraft to participate. As Wing Commander Allen pointed out, ‘if anything shows the lack of understanding of priorities by the then hierarchy … it must be the Coastal Commander’s [Joubert] acquiescence.’ When the Admiralty objected, Joubert was forced to withdraw his offer of help.[xlv]

Harris had never disguised his contempt for the Royal Navy, once telling Churchill that First Sea Lord, Admiral Dudley Pound should not worry about the large German battleship Tirpitz. ‘I’ll sink it when I have a spare moment’.[xlvi] That contempt was also felt for Pound himself.

For reasons that remain unclear, Pound was appointed First Sea Lord in 1939 over Admiral Sir Charles Forbes, C.in.C Home Feet between 1938-40. Though considered by Admiral A B Cunningham to be ‘quite one of the soundest and best of our war admirals and was never given credit for his doings,’ an argument with Churchill and Pound over anti-invasion resources seems to have been the reason for his dismissal as C.in.C at the end of 1940.[xlvii]

The RAF’s strategy was now based on the ‘insufferable’ Lord Cherwell’s infamous de-housing paper circulated in March 1942. This promised great results without the need for precision bombing of strictly military targets – though as may be gathered from the foregoing, no serious attempt at precision bombing was being made anyway. Stronger criticism of the bombing came from Professor Blackett and Sir Henry Tizard, the latter a former member of the Night Air Defence Committee and Cherwell’s rival. Blackett argued that Cherwell’s paper was far too optimistic and whilst Tizard acknowledged the need to divert resources from Germany’s eastern front to home defence, he believed that this could be achieved with a far smaller force than the Air Ministry now demanded. Professor A V Hill MP, an early radar pioneer also weighed in with a damaging speech in the House of Commons ‘We know most of the bombs we drop hit nothing of importance’.[xlviii] What the critics understood, and the proponents did not was that the German bombing of Britain in the Blitz really showed that bombing had little impact upon industrial production and the casualties, in relative terms to land battles were small. Over a million casualties were incurred at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 while The Blitz incurred around 40,000 killed plus a similar number injured in a campaign that lasted over eight months and thankfully, was well short of the 600,000 deaths forecast by the Air Ministry after two months of bombing. [xlix]

The reason why Field Marshal Sir Allen Brooke, Chairman of the Imperial General Staff threw his weight behind Portal was because of his desire to pursue a Mediterranean strategy that he had persuaded Churchill to adopt.[l] This was the price for the other chiefs of staff support. Portal’s proposals for an Anglo-American bombing force of 3,000 bombers operating from British bases were endorsed by the British Chiefs of Staff on 31 December 1942.[li]

Admiral Pound might have been expected to oppose the scheme in favour of more resources for the Battle of the Atlantic, but there were three reasons for his failure to do so. Though the Battle of the Atlantic was far from won, as previously explained, it was not causing undue difficulties in late 1942. Most convoys were evading the U-boats in the Atlantic, and Allied merchant ship production was increasing. The chance to pursue a Mediterranean strategy, providing it did not involve extensive land campaigning after defeating the Axis in North Africa, offered the chance to capitalise on British naval strengths, by allowing strikes at points along the enemy’s long, flimsy Mediterranean coastline. Whether this strategy was pursued to best advantage after El Alamein and the success of OPERATION TORCH (an Anglo-American operation to land US troops in Morocco and Algeria,) is another matter – but enormous potential clearly existed.

Sadly, Pound had already been diagnosed with a brain tumour at this time. It is hard to say to what extent this affected his judgment – but Brooke’s diary scathingly noted Pound’s propensity to fall asleep at meetings. This was the result of sleep-loss caused by painful hip-degeneration, and Brooke and his colleagues were later shocked to discover the full extent of Pound’s illness. This burden finally killed Pound in October 1943 – but the fact remains that he had been held in contempt by the arrogant Brooke.[lii]

Indeed, Pound had perhaps been too accommodating; his oft-recited mantra had been ‘compromises must be found’ in his dealings with the other chiefs of staff.[liii] While it hailed from the style of 18th-century thinking that had served Britain well, and Pound had reason to back its limited objectives, this Mediterranean approach is much-criticised. Indeed, its roots in the ‘horse-trading’ among professional heads of service was no sound basis for strategy in the national interest.

 

Operation Drumbeat

Unfortunately, by the time that Singleton made his report in May 1942, the Battle of the Atlantic had already entered another intense phase demanding more effective use of Coastal Command radar and aircraft – especially its VLR assets. Hitler’s declaration of war against the United States in December 1941 had finally removed the gloves from the U-boats in their confrontations with the US shipping. Seizing his opportunity to take advantage of a nation unused to dealing with enemy forces so close to home, Doenitz’s forces moved to the rich target area off the coast of the southern United States. Not yet organised into convoys, and with targets frequently illuminated by the lights of American seaside resorts, merchant shipping losses soared to new heights.

OPERATION DRUMBEAT, known to German submarine crews as the ‘second happy time,’ was conducted with greater numbers of U-boats – including some newer and larger type IXs and VIIs – assisted by a number of so-called ‘milchcows,’ whose purpose was to replenish the other submarines at sea. Losses were brought down to manageable levels as the Americans adopted convoys and enforced a black-out of their coastal towns. Between 13 January 1942 and 6 February 1942 the U-boats sank 156, 939 tons of shipping without loss and sinkings continued as increased numbers of IX and VIIs arrived in US waters. Furthermore, suspecting his signals were being read by the British, Doenitz had a fourth rotor added to the Enigma machine in February 1942 which prevented the German naval signals being read until December 1942. Doenitz’s staff was also reading most of the British Naval Cipher 3 signals from February 1942 to 10 June 1943.[liv] This meant the Admiralty had to make do with less reliable intelligence from other sources concerning U-boat movements while their own intentions were being revealed. In May, losses of merchant shipping dropped as the Americans instituted a convoying system. Doenitz responded by adroitly changing the theatre of operations, first to the Caribbean and then to the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty-four Anti-Submarine (A/S) trawlers loaned from the Royal Naval Patrol Service arrived in July and began to change the situation. Doenitz then moved back to the mid-Atlantic where Allied air cover was still sparse. With more U-boats available, the wolf packs adapted their tactics so that greater numbers could attack convoys in one or two waves. These would track convoys by day and attack under cover of darkness. In October 1942, 258,000 tons of merchant shipping was sunk in the gap between Iceland and Greenland. Even so, towards the end of the year Doenitz’s problems increased as more U-boats were falling victim to air attack leading to the desperate expedient of ordering his men to fight it out on the surface with their AA weaponry. [lv] Depth charge attacks were futile in this situation and led to aircraft upgrading their 0.303 machine guns to the far more effective American Colt 0.5 machine guns.

In July 1942, one of the worst naval disasters of the 20th Century occurred when the large Arctic convoy PQ17 was cut to pieces in northern waters. Failing to correctly interpret conflicting intelligence reports about the whereabouts of the German battleship Tirpitz, Pound concluded that Tirpitz was about to attack the convoy and ordered its dispersal. The naval escorts were forced to abandon the convoy which then scattered in the hope that individual ships would stand a better chance of reaching the Soviet ports. It was a serious tactical error that enabled Luftwaffe aircraft and Doenitz’s U-boats to pick off the Anglo American merchant ships piecemeal. Only 11 out of an initial 35 merchant ships reached their destination. This was a serious defeat and being the first Anglo American operation under the control of the British Admiralty it did nothing to engender American confidence in British leadership. It also caused friction with Russian leaders owing to the huge losses and the incomprehensible blunder that led to them. No more convoys were attempted until September when the next convoy was provided with the new escort carriers. The escort carriers also provided fighters for air defence of the convoy. HMS Avenger took part in Operation ‘EV’, PQ18, QP14 with 12 Sea Hurricane 1B fighters of 802 and 883 Naval Air Squadrons embarked plus 6 spare aircraft and 3 Swordfish of 825 NAS were also embarked. Swordfish shared the destruction of U-589 with the surface escorts, fighters shot down 5 enemy aircraft (Ju 88s & He 111s) between 2 September 1942 and 13 September 1942.[lvi]

The situation remained serious throughout 1942 but most convoys got through with most of their ships intact and it was far less critical than in 1916/17. Towards the end of 1942, Admiral Sir Max Horton became the new C.in.C of Western Approaches Command. Horton organized experimental special support groups that came to the aid of beleaguered convoys. Not being tied to specific convoys gave greater flexibility. This meant that A/S ships could detach from the convoy and continue the hunt for many hours. Horton used the ‘hold down’ tactic (invented by Captain John Walker in the Mediterranean in late 1941) which enabled a group of ships to maintain patrol over a submerged submarine until it was forced to surface for air. Such a manoeuvre required patience as ‘hold-down’ could take up to three days. Another important technological development was improved HF/DF High Frequency Direction Finding or Huff Duff. Fitted to larger escort ships, the operator would home in on the position of a German radio signal to determine the line of the enemy transmissions but it could not gauge the true position. Two HF/DF ships working together could fix the true position from two bearings which gave the position at the point at which they intersected. Broader intersections gave a more accurate position. Several shore based HF/DF stations were also used. The plotting process was made faster by an oscilloscope indicator that did away with the need for two HF/DF ships to obtain precise positioning. Operational trials had been carried out during 1941 and twenty-five escorts plus a number of other vessels were operating the FH3 version by January 1942. [lvii] Other weapons made their appearance later in the year including the Hedgehog anti-submarine spigot mortar. This threw contact-fused bombs ahead of the A/S ship while the submarine remained within the Asdic beam meaning that it could still be tracked. Time fused depth charges had the disadvantage of disturbing the water with their explosions around the U-boat making tracking difficult as they caused Asdic to lose contact.

But there was also an acute shortage of aircraft boding ill for the future. The Admiralty maintained to Portal in June ‘that ships alone were unable to maintain command at sea’ and that the inability to fulfil the Air Ministry’s own programme for all commands ‘are being daily decreased by our lack of command of the sea’. Indeed, there was a shortage of aircraft everywhere, a point that Joubert seemed all too ready to accept in not pressing for resources to be released for Coastal Command. In contrast to Joubert’s ‘broad view’ of the situation, Harris was capitalising on the ‘success’ of his 1000 bomber raid on Cologne in May to demand concentration on the air offensive and dismissing Coastal Command as ‘merely an obstacle to victory’. [lviii] But as Terraine points out, ‘it was the sheer lack of escort vessels, aircraft (especially VLR), radar sets and suitable depth-charges …just about all the vital necessities.’[lix] Not only this but by the end of the year, most U-boats carried Metox receivers, devices that could detect ASV radar transmissions that warn of an aircraft’s approach and allow enough time to dive before an attack developed.[lx]


Torch, Casablanca and Future Strategic Direction

Winter weather was now causing a lull in U-boat operations but they still held the potential to disrupt operations such as OPERATION TORCH, the landings in North Africa. As a more potent threat to American interests than Japan, Germany’s defeat held first priority despite vociferous demands from those demanding swift revenge for the attack on Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt claimed that these demands might succeed if substantial American forces were not deployed against Germany soon. After all, nearly a year had elapsed since Pearl Harbor and only American airmen and sailors had engaged German forces. Given the reluctance of the British to land in France, only the Mediterranean arena held out the hope of an American victory over the Germans that would engage the enthusiasm of the press. OPERATION TORCH was a complex and risky operation as large scale amphibious operations still had a poor record of success. Sailing directly from Virginia, the American troop convoys had to run the Atlantic U-boat gauntlet but fortunately, Doenitz was taken by surprise and failed to get the U-boats into position. Despite his intelligence advantages in reading Naval Code 3 giving him vital information about merchant shipping, it must be emphasised that B-Dienst failed to penetrate the higher security codes that would have given the operation away – indeed no major Anglo-American amphibious operation was ever compromised by German code breakers.[lxi] But there were many other problems. An attempt to raid the French port town of Dieppe a few months previously had been a spectacular disaster; underlining the hazards of a cross-Channel operation and showing, amongst other things, the failure of the RAF to develop their ground support techniques. Although there had been a reorganisation, the new co-operation had yet to be tested.[lxii] Furthermore, the attitude of the defending Vichy French garrisons could not be easily assessed. In the event, clandestine negotiations and diplomatic manoeuvrings finally negated the French military threat although resistance had been initially fierce in some of the landing areas. Also, one of the Atlantic beaches selected was prone to such frequent and heavy surf that the operation could easily have been wrecked by overturning all of the small craft used to transfer the men from the ships to the shore. Luckily, most made it to the beach intact.

The landing of American troops in North Africa at this time allowed an opportunity to trap the Afrika Korps between the Americans and the British Eighth Army, advancing from El Alamein, but the Germans were allowed enough time to establish a bridgehead within Tunisia to which the remnants of the Afrika Korps could make a stand. Had the original plan of landing as far east as Bone been adhered to the campaign was likely to have ended months earlier than it did but the planners did not wish to increase the heavy burden of risk still further because of the increased likelihood of air attack from enemy airfields in Sicily and Sardinia.[lxiii] Another possibility was the diversion of a portion of Bomber Command’s efforts over Germany towards the destruction of key Italian and Tunisian ports in order to prevent the build up of German defences. This was in line with Major General Kennedy’s earlier pleas but it hardly seems likely that such a request would have been entertained by the Air Ministry.

Sadly, the Axis forces hung onto their Tunisian bridgehead until May 1943, by which time the Anglo-American summit conference at Casablanca 14 -24 January 1943 had already decided the grand strategy for the next phase of the war. The united front displayed by the British chiefs of staff secured backing for a continuation of the Mediterranean strategy which came to mean invading Sicily and then Italy itself. Brooke was the major player in all this and despite his scepticism over the potential of bombing secured Portal’s support by holding out the prospect of bombing targets in Austria and South Germany together with the Rumanian oilfields. [lxiv] Unfortunately the delay in eliminating the Afrika Korps had fatal consequences for a rapid end to the war. At Casablanca, the British negotiators defeated the desire of General George C Marshall, US Chief of Staff to the Army for a cross-Channel invasion in 1943, instead putting the allies on the path to invading Sicily and Italy over France for 1943. But it was by no means a sound development for the future direction of Allied strategy. Indeed, after the failure to capture Tunisia quickly a Mediterranean strategy involving extensive land-campaigning would only have made good strategic sense if the Axis forces there had been contained and left to wither on the vine. Allied air and sea superiority made their long-term position untenable anyway. Naval bombardments and amphibious raids against the occupied French Mediterranean coastline and the long and poorly protected Italian coast could then have pinned down substantial enemy resources taking the pressure off the Soviet Union at a time when the fate of the German armies in the East was already precariously balanced. Unfortunately, operations in Tunisia and Sicily dragged on for months at a time when the American Admiral Ernest J King was pressing for landing craft and other resources to go to the Pacific. This proved enough to ensure there would be no cross-Channel operation in 1943.

To an extent, the subsequent Salerno operation achieved a diversion of German resources by soaking up ‘divisions available for the Eastern Front in general, and the Kursk campaign in particular’.[lxv]But as might reasonably have been foreseen given the mountainous terrain of Italy, invading the mainland ultimately led to a far greater Allied deployment. The invasion armada used at Sicily (OPERATION HUSKY) was larger than that used at Normandy the following year and there were already 16 British divisions ostensibly training for ROUNDUP in 1943 so it is by no means obvious that the Allies lacked the means for a direct cross-Channel attack on Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe’ during 1943.

With German armies still deep inside the Soviet Union with much longer supply lines than in 1944, and the so-called Atlantic Wall still incomplete, there was much to be said in support of Stalin’s frantic pleas for a second front in 1943. Sadly, with Harris immersed in his terror campaign over Germany in 1943, there was no prospect of meeting the prerequisite of overwhelming airpower in support of such an operation; this formed one reason why it did not take place. Yet, one can be forgiven for wondering what might have been the fate of western European nations had neither OVERLORD nor ROUNDUP been carried out leaving the victorious armies of the Soviet Union in sole control of the continent. [lxvi]

However, one of the sounder decisions to come out of Casablanca in the form of concentrating efforts in support of the Battle of the Atlantic was frustrated by Harris, now ordered to cooperate with the Americans in a combined bomber offensive over Germany known as POINTBLANK. This might have been achieved later in the year had the offensive then come under the control of the new supreme commander for OVERLORD General Dwight D Eisenhower, but British wrangling merely allowed Eisenhower ‘direction’ rather than ‘control’.[lxvii] Harris failed to cooperate and both the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and RAF went their own ways following their own doctrines – the former attempting precision bombing by day and the RAF continuing its sledgehammer efforts by night. Harris had interpreted and distorted the Casablanca bombing directive to his own advantage. The directive referred to ‘the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the undermining of the morale of the German people’. Harris subsequently quoted it to the Air Ministry as ‘the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system aimed at the undermining of the morale of the German people’. (My italics). This unforgivable substitution changed the directive’s meaning and now reflected Harris’s personal uncompromising doctrine of terror. Tragically, he was not corrected.[lxviii] As Harris’s superior, and the man charged with putting POINTBLANK into practice, Sir Charles Portal has been rightly criticised for failing to make him tow the line and it can only be concluded that Portal fundamentally shared Harris’s convictions.[lxix] Nevertheless, Harris sent bombers to try and destroy both the Brittany U-boat pens and the construction yards in Germany but without any noticeable effect.[lxx] This may originally have been intended as a sop to the Admiralty but considerable blood and effort was expended in pursuit of these objectives as nearly 2,000 sorties were carried out for the loss of 141 aircraft.[lxxi]

 

Climax in the Atlantic

RAF terror bombing continued but meanwhile, the Battle of the Atlantic was reaching a new peak with Doenitz deploying even more U-boats than before. Merchant shipping losses mounted heavily during the early months of 1943. Aided by good intelligence from B-Dienst, 50 U-boats operating in the North Atlantic during March 1943 took part in the sinking of 120 ships (693,389) tons. Worryingly, the majority of these were sunk within protected convoys, prompting serious doubts about the future of the convoy system. However, salvation was at hand as new escort carriers and carriers converted from merchant ships (MACs) began to accompany the convoys at the end of March and by mid-April there were 41 VLR aircraft closing the Atlantic Gap. Naval escorts were having more success as Huff-Duff was now standard and the increased radio activity between the U-boats and Doenitz’s HQ allowed more opportunity to home in on the enemy. More support groups were established and destroyers released from the abandonment of the Murmansk convoys came into action. Thanks to the work of the Operational Research Section, there was now a realisation that the spacing of depth charges at 36 ft when dropped from aircraft was relatively ineffective and a stick spacing of 100 ft was widely adopted. By May, the VLR Liberators carried a new acoustic air launched torpedo that immediately proved effective. By then, Coastal Command had received new ASV III radar sets that were immune to Metox but this was only after a long struggle with Harris who wanted it for the bombers despite the availability of other devices.[lxxii] ASV III and the Leigh Light now proved a deadly combination. As a result of this convergence in technology and new tactics U-boat losses soared in what Doenitz was to call ‘Black May’. U-boat operational numbers in the North Atlantic rose numerically to a peak of 60 during the course of the month but he was to lose 41 against the Allies loss of 50 ships (264,852 tons). On 24 May 1943, Doenitz withdrew his U-boats from the battle admitting ‘The decision in the Battle of the Atlantic has gone to the enemy’[lxxiii]. The following month the Admiralty changed its ciphers and B-Dienst lost its intelligence advantage. U-boat operations would later resume and more advanced U-boats appear but a turning point had already been reached and the Kriegsmarine would never come as close to victory again.

Yet for all the success now being achieved by code-breakers, aircraft and escorts the Battle of the Atlantic can also be viewed as a tonnage war that had not been going Germany’s way for a long time. In 1941, total UK/USA merchant shipping construction had been 2,583,000 tons, in 1942, 7,538.000 and for 1943 13,397.000 representing a rapidly rising bar for Doenitz to jump.[lxxiv] Using Bernard Ireland’s analysis of U-boat losses and ship sinking, the exchange rate for Jan-June 1941, was 24, Jul-Dec 1941, 8; Jan-June 1942, 40; Jul-Dec 1942 11; Jan –June 1943 3; and Jul-Dec 1943, 0.9 representing a steep decline in U-boat effectiveness during the second half of 1942. In reality, U-boat effectiveness was already declining during the second half of 1941 when the defences tightened up and only temporarily reversed during the early months of US involvement when the Americans were slow to introduce convoying. Convoying was the crucial factor as a nine knot convoy suffered half the loss rate of one travelling at seven knots and once air cover became more widespread it was noticed that aircraft cover for eight hours in twenty four further reduced losses by two-thirds.[lxxv] This view of the battle as one never close to defeat is shared with Clay Blair and is at odds with earlier historians including Terraine but none of this disguises the fact that it was a costly campaign in terms of men and material and fighting it was crucial to the outcome of the war.[lxxvi]

U-boat operations inevitably play a major role in all accounts of the Battle of the Atlantic but tribute must also be paid to the Royal Navy Submarine Service’s achievement. It is estimated that British submarines sank over two million tons of enemy cargo vessels, plus 57 major warships and submarines between 1939 and 1945. However, British submarine losses were very high with 36 per cent of the Royal Navy’s 206 boats lost over this period. As Churchill later wrote, ‘Of all the branches of men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners’.[lxxvii]

 

The End of the Air War over Germany

1943 marked the climax of Bomber’s Command’s efforts against Germany.

The Germans, having had their large towns and cities pounded to rubble, rallied around the regime and morale, though sometimes shaken, remained intact. Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and Munitions was responsible for tripling armaments production between 1942 and 1944 and this rose dramatically when the German economy was placed on a proper war footing and factories relocated to areas more difficult to bomb. [lxxviii] In the two months before D-Day in 1944 and despite opposition from Harris, Bomber Command was diverted from the area bombing of Germany towards the destruction of road and rail communications to the French coast. This was a sensible objective that would directly assist OVERLORD – the landings in Normandy. Despite Harris’s scorn regarding the ‘panacea’ of precision bombing, his crews demonstrated a far higher degree of accuracy than had previously been attained.

Methods pioneered by Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire involving low-level target marking with a Mosquito bomber (later a Mustang) reduced the bomb error from 680 yards in March 1944 to 285 yards in May. As Grigg has said ‘it seems likely that, given the challenge, the technique could have been evolved the year before, when Mosquitoes were also in service’.[lxxix] This is not to say that the command of the air was necessarily the most important factor in OVERLORD’s success. In 1944 the Germans considered that the weight of naval bombardment during and after the invasion of Normandy was a more important factor than the total allied domination of the air.[lxxx] Be that as it may, command of the air was crucial as it hindered German troop movements and their supplies and helped offset the qualitative advantages of German armour.

US General Carl A Spaatz’s Oil Plan became the Allied bombing priority for bombing in late September 1944 but until Portal forced Harris to comply in early November the Americans were left to carry this out alone.[lxxxi] Again, the tardiness of Portal’s efforts to bring Harris into line point to the CAS’s own difficulties in coming to terms with the changed situation. The terror campaign resumed in the last months of the war with the USAAF joining in the carnage because the Americans could not bear to leave their aircraft idle on the ground.[lxxxii] This reached its climax at Dresden on 12 February 1945 with at least 60,000 civilians falling victim to Anglo-American bombs. In this, the Anglo-American political leadership were too eager to offer evidence of support for the Soviet ground offensive.

The success of the attacks on the German oil industry is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that, in April 1944, aviation fuel for the Luftwaffe was 175,000 tons – but dramatically declined to 12,000 tons in August 1944. As a result, the Luftwaffe was unable to train sufficient pilots to fly the numerous fighter aircraft that advancing Allied troops later discovered hidden under bridges and in forests. After the war, American oil inspectors reported that ‘even a small part of the bombs dropped on cities would have sufficed to completely knock out oil targets at very early date’. Speer claimed that ‘The American attacks, which followed a definite system of assault on industrial targets, were by far the most dangerous. It was in fact these attacks which caused the breakdown of the German armaments industry.’[lxxxiii]

According to Herman Goering’s deputy Erhard Milch, ‘The British inflicted heavy and grievous injuries upon us but the Americans stabbed us to the heart’.[lxxxiv]Needless to say, none of this meant that area bombing had not yielded some positive results, particularly in the Ruhr where steel production fell by 80% in the second half of 1944. Even here, part of this reduction resulted from precision attacks on rail and water transport. Also, there had been a heavy diversion of resources for home defence, with positive results for the Soviet effort on the Eastern Front.

Yet this hardly justified the huge effort and expense which had gone into the area bombing. As the critics claimed in 1942, similar results could have been expected with a much smaller force geared to strategic targets in the German war economy. Just 100 slightly modified Avro Lancasters with additional fuel capacity at the expense of bomb load diverted from the bomber offensive and re-assigned to patrol the Atlantic Gap may also have brought about a faster build-up of invasion forces for ROUNDUP during 1942/43.

In fact, production of the Lancaster might well have been scaled back dramatically with a much higher production priority given to the multi role De Havilland Mosquito, a fast, twin engine light bomber that could outperform many Luftwaffe fighters. As Hastings remarks, ‘The Germans never got the measure of the Mosquitoes.’[lxxxv] This aircraft was so fast and flew so high it performed many missions without fighter escort. Entering squadron service in 1942 this remarkable machine could well have provided the means by which the RAF could have joined the USAAF in their daylight bombing attacks. However, it was not to be.

 

Conclusion

Better regard for precision bombing would have reduced the burden on the allied war economy; saved centuries-old German cities from ruin and, above all, potentially spared allied aircrew the ruinous losses they bore.

The men of Bomber Command nevertheless did their duty, sustained massive casualties and contributed to ultimate victory. And yet, at a strategic level, area bombing played a part in delaying a return to the continent: By encouraging the private arrangements between the British chiefs of staff, touched on earlier, it diverted resources to the Mediterranean even after the area had lost much of its strategic importance.

Churchill and Brooke must carry some blame for this, with a reluctance rooted in memories of the Great War and more recent blows from the German Army. The likes of Harris were ideally placed to take advantage of this reluctance. To be sure, Bomber Command’s contribution to final victory would eventually prove very significant – but one cannot deny its sledgehammer approach soaked up resources better used elsewhere. Sadly, while alternative effective air strategies and the means to implement them were clearly available – the intellectual legacy of Lord Trenchard upon the Air Staff meant insufficient effort was made to develop them.

Senior RAF and naval officers at Coastal Command and Western Approaches Command cooperated effectively from 1941 because, under naval control, they could easily throw themselves into fighting the same enemy in the same campaign. Lessons were learned and remedies applied where they could be found.

Yet for more senior officers engaged in the higher direction of the war, their bombing dogmas fuelled an ongoing inter-service rivalry. This played a destructive part because they regarded others as obstacles, rather than colleagues in the common cause.

The failure of Coastal Command’s C.in.Cs to press the resources case sufficiently was an obvious consequence of their RAF background, where the bomber provided the raison d’être of their service. Lacking priority for aircraft and electronic aids and short of every necessity, there was little chance of Allied forces closing the Atlantic Gap in 1942, thereby bolstering ROUDUP’s chances in 1943. An assumption that the bombing campaign was more important than the Battle of the Atlantic was even discernible in Slessor’s victory statement to his crews during the summer of 1943: ‘If we could really kill the U-boat menace once and for all many of us could be spared to take part in the more direct offensive against objectives on German and Italian soil’.[lxxxvi]

The obdurate Harris, the greatest single obstacle to inter-service harmony, should have been sacked but – as the ‘man with a plan’ – he seemed to Churchill to be the only person who could hold out hope of winning the war without risking a return to the Great War. Also damaging was the lack of strong naval representation within the Chiefs of Staff committee until the ailing Pound’s replacement in late 1943 by Admiral Cunningham. Until then, Portal and Brooke could pursue their strategies at ROUNDUP’s expense: One hardly imagines that the outspoken yet sensible Admiral Sir Charles Forbes (arguably, the only realistic alternative to Pound as First Sea Lord in 1939,) would have been as malleable to their diversions as Pound had been.

Certainly, had the possibilities of ROUNDUP been more thoroughly explored they might well have been tried. Given what Eastern Europe was about to suffer, and what it would continue to endure for the next four decades – all of which could reasonably have been predicted – an attempt to liberate Europe in 1943 deserved far more serious consideration than it received.

That the Battle of the Atlantic may have been less precarious than once assumed must not be allowed to diminish the contribution of that campaign to the final victory. Almost everything required for the British (and for a while, the Soviet Union) continuing the war had to come by sea.

Although Soviet military output recovered during 1942, the Red Army became heavily dependent on convoys carrying Lend-Lease equipment – it was on western beef and boots that the Soviet infantry reached Berlin. Indeed, the sheer number of American trucks employed gave a far higher degree of mobility to the Soviets than the mass of the German Army, still reliant on horses.[lxxxvii] This was a consequence of maintaining control of the sea.

Overall, the Battle of the Atlantic was undoubtedly more important than the Strategic Air Offensive. Until a lasting ascendency over the U-boat was achieved, enabling a bridgehead in France, there was no viable way that victory on satisfactory terms to the western powers could ever have been achieved. Churchill’s feelings of confidence in ultimate victory in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor may have been premature. He even declared not to care ‘how long the war would last or in what fashion it would end’ but from then onwards, concerns about the cost and shape of the ‘end’ must have grown in the back of his mind.[lxxxviii] It may have been that without an invasion, the Red Army would eventually have prevailed over the Wehrmacht but leaving the whole of Europe under Stalin’s tyrannical rule. This was surely not the outcome envisaged when Britain declared war in 1939.

Future policy makers should take heed that inter-service rivalries had seriously distorted the shaping and execution of strategic plans and must take firm steps to prevent it happening again. As Paper 4 in this series shows, there is little indication this lesson was properly learned in the post-war era.[lxxxix] They would also do well to recall Churchill’s comments made after the war, ‘The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome.’[xc] These words underlining the importance of the maritime life-line still hold a crucial relevance today. Are they listening?

 

Footnotes

[i] H R Allen, The Legacy of Lord Trenchard (Cassell, 1972), p.182.

[ii] J Kennedy, The Business of War (Hutchinson, 1957) as quoted by Allen, Ibid, p.182.

[iii] G H Bennett, ‘The Arctic Convoys: The Worst Journey in the World’,BBC History Magazine, pp.50-56.

[iv]‘Bomber Command Memorial’, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, http://www.rafbf.org/1794/bomber-command-memorial.html (accessed 10 January 2014).

[v] C Goulter, ‘The Fulcrum of Survival’, BBC History Magazine, Vol 8, No.11, Nov.2007, pp.23-24.

[vi] P Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (Penguin, 1976), p.310.

[vii] J Holland in TV Documentary, Cold War, Hot Jets, BBC2, broadcast, 31 January 2014.

[viii] J Grigg, 1943: The Victory That Never Was (Methuen, 1980), p.3-5 & back cover.

[ix] The National Archives, Kew. TNA AIR 8/17/2A. Trenchard to Beatty, 22 November 1919, in B Ranft (ed), The Beatty Papers (The Navy Records Society, 1993), pp.82-85.

[x] J Terraine, The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939-1945 (Wordsworth, 1998) pp.226-227, 232-233.

[xi] Papers of Group Capt. H Williamson, WLMN 4/5, Churchill Archives, Cambridge. ‘The Alternative to the Trenchard Policy’.

[xii] Terraine Right of the Line, p.233.

[xiii] Churchill, The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Vol.1, p.453. Appendix M (Penguin Classics, 2005), pp.638-641.

[xiv] G Hewitt, Hitler’s Armada: The Royal Navy and the Defence of Great Britain April-October 1940 (Pen and Sword Maritime, 2008), pp.36-38.

[xv] J Levy, ‘Lost Leader: Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes and the Second World War’, The Mariner’s Mirror: The Journal of the Society for Nautical Research, Vol 8, No.2. May 2002.p. 190. Churchill, The Gathering Storm, pp.589-590. See also S Roskill, The War At Sea 1939-1945 (HMSO, 1954), p.198.

[xvi] J Rohwer, ‘The U-boat War Against the Allied Supply Lines’ Decisive Battles of World War II, p.262 as quoted by Terraine, Right of the Line, p.231.

[xvii] F H Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War, Vol.1, Its Influence on Strategy and Operations (HMSO, 1979), p.381.
[xviii] Hinsley, Ibid p.103.

[xix] R Bennett, Behind the Battle: Intelligence in the War with Germany 1939-1945 (Pimlico, 1999), pp.39-40.

[xx] Terraine, Right of the Line, p.234.

[xxi] Terraine, Ibid, pp. 240-242.

[xxii] Terraine, Ibid, pp.239-240.

[xxiii] Terraine, Ibid, p.240.

[xxiv] Terraine, Ibid, pp.404-405.

[xxv] Terraine, Ibid pp. 244

[xxvi] Terraine, bid, 248.

[xxvii] Sir Maurice Dean The RAF and Two World Wars, p.153 as quoted by Terraine, Ibid, p.236.

[xxviii] J Clarkson in TV Documentary: PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster. BBC2, broadcast 2 January 2014.

[xxix] Bennett, BBC History, pp.50-56.

[xxx] Terraine, Right of the Line, pp. 404-405.

[xxxi] Terraine, Ibid, p.402.

[xxxii] A Preston, History of the Royal Navy (W H Smith & Son, 1985), pp.147-148.

[xxxiii] Terraine, Right of the Line, p.249.

[xxxiv] D Divine, A Study in the British Exercise of Air Power(Hutchinson, 1966), p.237.

[xxxv] H R Allen Who Won the Battle of Britain (Panther, 1976), pp.43-45. Also see J D Scott, Vickers: A History (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962), pp 201-2012 and R Wright, Dowding and the Battle of Britain, (McDonald & Co., 1969,p.53.

[xxxvi] Grigg, 1943, p.140.

[xxxvii] Grigg, 1943, p.140.

[xxxviii] Divine, Wing, pp.246-247.

[xxxix] Divine, Ibid, pp.252-253.

[xl]Allen, Legacy, pp.91-92. Grigg, 1943, p.142.

[xli] R AC Parker The Second World War (Oxford University Press, 1997), p.152.

[xlii] Churchill to Portal, 7 October 1941, as quoted in W S Churchill, The Grand Alliance: The Second World War, Vol.3. (Penguin Classics, 2005), pp.451-452.

[xliii] Copp T, ‘Bomber Command Offensive: Army Part II’, 1 September 1996, Legion Magazine http://legionmagazine.com/en/1996/09/the-bomber-command-offensive/ accessed 18 December 2013.

[xliv] Terraine, Right of the Line, p436.

[xlv] Allen, Legacy, pp.111-112.

[xlvi] Hastings, Bomber Command (Pan,2010), p.311.

[xlvii] Levy, Mariner’s Mirror, p.190.

[xlviii] A V Hill, Ministerial Changes, HC Deb 24 February 1942 vol 378 cc27- 176, Hansard, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1942/feb/24/ministerial-changes#S5CV0378P0_19420224_HOC_256 ( acessed 4 February 2014).

[xlix] Richards, Denis. Royal Air Force 1939–1945: Vol. I The Fight at Odds(HMSO, 1954), p.217. Overy gives the civilian death toll in the Blitz as 41, 480. R Overy, ‘The Dangers of the Blitz Spirit: The History Essay’, BBC History Magazine, October 2013, p.29. Data on casualty forecasts of the Blitz from Parker, Second World War, p.151.

[l] Grigg, 1943, pp.62-63, 70.

[li] Hastings, Bomber, p.225.

[lii] A Danchev and D Todman (eds), Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-45: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke (Phoenix 2002). p.143, p.144 and p.231.

[liii] Roskill, War At Sea, p.17.

[liv] ‘HyperWar Foundation: Compromise of Allied Codes and Ciphers by German Naval Communication Intelligence’, http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/ETO/Ultra/SRH-009/SRH009-6.html (accessed 23 January 2014) Terraine, Right of the Line, p.417.
[lv] Terraine, Ibid, p.435.

[lvi] BR 1736 (53) 2 Naval Staff History : The Development of British Naval Aviation 1919-1945 Vol.2. (Admiralty, London, 1956), p.299.

[lvii] G B Mason, ‘HF/DF or Huff Duff: High Frequency Direction Finding in Royal Navy Warships’, NAVAL-HISTORY.NET, http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Tech-HFDF.htm (accessed 26 January 2014)

[lviii] Terraine, Right of the Line, pp.424-426.

[lix] Terraine, Ibid, p.427.

[lx] Terraine, Ibid, p 432.

[lxi] HyperWar Foundation,http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/ETO/Ultra/SRH-009/SRH009-6.html (accessed 23 January 2014).

[lxii] ‘RAF History Timeline’, Ministry of Defence, http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/ Retrieved: 21 July 2012.

[lxiii] Grigg, 1943, pp.40-43. Also W S Churchill, The Hinge of Fate: The Second World War, Vol.4. (Reprint Society, 1954), pp.499-500.

[lxiv] Grigg, 1943, p. 70.

[lxv] D Porch, The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theatre in World War II (Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2004), p.666.

[lxvi] Grigg, 1943, pp.210-219; 231-233.

[lxvii] Hastings, Bomber, p.351.

[lxviii] Grigg, 1943,Ibid, pp.144-145.

[lxix] Grigg, Ibid, pp.136-137.

[lxx] Terraine, Right of the Line, p.441.

[lxxi] Data from Terraine, Ibid, p.441.

[lxxii] Terraine, Ibid, pp. 436-438.

[lxxiii] Rohwer, U-boat War, p.307 as quoted by Terraine, Ibid, p. 450.

[lxxiv] Table Tonnage, gross of merchant ships built, Parker, Second World War, p.135.

[lxxv] B Ireland, Battle of the Atlantic (Leo Cooper, 2003), pp.220-221.

[lxxvi] Terraine, Right of the Line, p.223 & p.452. C Blair, Hitler’s U-boat War: The Hunted 1942-1945 (Modern Library, 2000), p.707.

[lxxvii]A Rayden, How the Daily Mirror helped Britain win the war beneath the waves, PressGazette: Journalism Today, 21 January 2014 http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/how-daily-mirror-helped-britain-win-war-beneath-waves (accessed 21 February 2014).

[lxxviii] I Westwell, Entry for Albert Speer (1905-1981) p.157 World War II Commanders (Compendium, 2008), p.157.

[lxxix] Grigg, 1943, pp.222-223.

[lxxx] TV Documentary ‘The War At Sea’, movies4men, broadcast 6 December 2013.

[lxxxi] Grigg, 1943, pp.148-149.

[lxxxii] Hastings, Bomber, p.442.

[lxxxiii] Allen, Legacy, p.181.

[lxxxiv] Hastings, Bomber, p.456.

[lxxxv] Hastings, Ibid, p.306.

[lxxxvi] Coastal Command Review, Vol.2,No.1, May 1943 as quoted by Terraine, Right of the Line, p.451.

[lxxxvii] Parker, Second World War, p.141.

[lxxxviii] Churchill, Grand Alliance, p.539.

[lxxxix] A J Cumming, ‘History of Airpower Series – Paper 4- Rivalry and Retreat: The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in the Missile Age 1945-1970’, Phoenix Think Tank, http://www.phoenixthinktank.org/2013/06/history-of-airpower-series-paper-4-rivalry-and-retreat-the-royal-navy-and-royal-air-force-in-the-missile-age-1945-1970/ (accessed 13 February 2014).

[xc] W S Churchill, Closing the Ring: The Second World War, Vol. 5, (Penguin, 2005), p.6.

 


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