U-boats vs Destroyer Escorts: The Battle of the Atlantic
Gordon Williamson
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   The battle of the Atlantic pitted Germany's U-boats against Allied convoys sailing from North America and the South Atlantic. The name itself is a bit of a misnomer as it was not one single battle but the longest continuous military campaign of World War II, lasting for six years, stretching over hundreds of miles and involving almost countless combat engagements. By the end of hostilities, the Kriegsmarines U-boats had sunk in excess of 2,900 ships, representing over 12 million tons of Allied shipping. Despite some post-war claims that the U-boat campaign had no real chance of being successful in the long run, it is clear that the Allied leaders at the time had a different view. By January 1943. such were the worries over the U-boat's successes that at the Casablanca conference, it was agreed that the defeat of the U-boats was to be a number one priority. Indeed, when summarizing his thoughts on the Battle or the Atlantic, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, 'The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril'. The Battle of the Atlantic was not only a fight for the survival of Great Britain, but for the survival of real opposition to Hitler. If the U-boat campaign had succeeded and Britain had been starved into subjugation, the British Isles wouldn't have served as a base for the eventual bombing offensive and as a launching point for the invasion of Kurope. It is difficult to envisage how the stakes could have been higher...

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