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in outline

HMCS Forest Hill (Navy Photos, click to enlarge), Flower class corvette carrying one of the most important technical developments of World War 2. Just forward of the mast is the "lantern" housing the aerial for the Type 271 10cm wavelength radar. Without it, the U-boats might not have been checked, the Battle of the Atlantic lost, and victory gone to the Axis. The heart of the Type 271 was the cavity magnetron, developed by Randle and Boot at Birmingham University, England, and carried across the Atlantic to the US in August 1940. It is now powers the humble microwave cooker.

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Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

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German Codes - The British Code & Cipher School moved to Bletchley Park, England, the site of its magnificent successes breaking the German Enigma codes through the 'Ultra' programme . The school built on the work of Polish and later French code-breakers. By April 1940 the first low level Luftwaffe codes were being deciphered. Many months followed before comparable progress was made with Naval codes.


Battle of the Atlantic - RAF Coastal Command continued to patrol for U-boats on passage into the Atlantic. Equal priority was now given to attacks, but the crews were not trained and lacked effective anti-submarine bombs.

Magnetic Mines - German seaplanes laid the first magnetic mines off the East Coast and dropped one on tidal flats at Shoeburyness in the Thames Estuary. It was defused on the 23rd November and recovered by Lt-Cdr Ouvry (awarded the George Cross), a vital step in the battle against a weapon which was causing heavy losses and long shipping delays. In November alone, 27 ships of 121,000 tons were sunk and for a time the Thames Estuary was virtually closed to shipping.



MARCH 1940

Merchant Shipping War - Since September 1939, 430,000 tons of shipping had been sent to the bottom by mines around the coasts of Britain - a loss rate only second to U-boats. Now the Royal Navy slowly countered magnetic mines with the introduction of ship-degaussing and 'LL' minesweeping gear. Although mines, contact, magnetic and later acoustic remained a threat throughout the war, they never again represented the danger of the first few months. Later in the year, fast, heavily armed and efficient diesel-engined German E-boats commenced attacks in coastal waters. (Enemy or E-boat was the English term for German motor torpedo boats or S-boats - "Schnell" - not to be confused with the heavily armed torpedo boats or small destroyers with their 'T' designation.)

APRIL 1940

German Codes - The Bletchley Park Ultra programme was now decoding some Luftwaffe low-level Enigma codes, partly because of poor German security procedures. There was little evidence the hard-won information influenced the war over the next two violent months.

Air War - The first mines were laid by RAF Bomber Command off the German and Danish coasts. The Royal Navy also continued and developed its minelaying operations.

JUNE 1940

German Codes - 'Ultra' was now breaking the Luftwaffe Enigma codes with some regularity, and early in the month had its first major breakthrough when supporting evidence for the Knickebein navigation aid for bombers was obtained. Army codes were more secure because of the greater use of land lines for communications, and the Naval ones were not penetrated until mid-1941.


British Scientific Developments - A British scientific mission carried to the United States details of many important developments. Amongst these was the recently invented cavity magnetron, vital for short wavelength radar and the eventual defeat of conventional U-boats. Also for the close-proximity fuse which became so important in the 1945 battles with Japanese Kamikaze aircraft. A view of another Type 271 radar "lantern", this time on heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Navy Photos) between the after funnel and the mainmast.

Battle of the Atlantic - Long range Focke Wulf Kondor bombers started patrols off the coast of Ireland from a base near Bordeaux. As well as spotting for U-boats they attacked and sank many ships, and continued to be a major threat until the introduction of ship-borne aircraft in late 1941 started to counteract them.

Royal Navy Codes - These were changed and for the first time RN operational signals were secure from German interception and decoding. It was another three years before the convoy codes were made safe from the Germans.


United States - After months of negotiations, a "Ships-for-Bases" agreement was announced on the 5th for the transfer of 50 old but valuable US destroyers to the Royal Navy in exchange for British bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the West lndies and British Guiana. The first of the "flushdeckers" arrived in Britain towards the end of the month.

Battle of the Atlantic - The German decoding B-Service was instrumental in directing U-boats to convoys, where they held the advantage as they manoeuvred on the surface between the merchantmen and escorts. Radar was urgently needed so the escorts could detect the U-boats, force them to dive and lose their speed advantage, before hunting the submerged submarines with ASDIC.


Battle of the Atlantic - Important steps were taken in the air war when an RAF Sunderland equipped with 1.5m wavelength anti-surface vessel (ASV) radar located a U-boat. This was the first success of its kind with a system that was mainly effective by day; contact was lost within two miles of the target. It was the addition of the Leigh light that turned it into a powerful night-time weapon as well. Now Coastal Command was using depth charges instead of ineffective A/S bombs.




Merchant Shipping War - Losses due to air attack and mines remained a major problem. Aircraft and E-boats had now added acoustic mines to the magnetic and moored contact mines in their armoury, but they never matched up to the threat the magnetic mines represented a year earlier.

MARCH 1941

Battle of the Atlantic - On 6th March 1941, faced with the mortal threat of the German U-boat and aircraft offensive in the Atlantic, Winston Churchill issued his famous Battle of the Atlantic directive. Catapult armed merchantmen (CAM) were to be fitted out, merchant ships equipped with AA weapons as a first priority, and more Coastal Command squadrons formed and fitted with radar. Port and dockyard congestion was to be dealt with and the defence of ports greatly improved.

Merchant Shipping War - Royal Navy motor gun-boats (MGB's) were entering service to combat E-boat attacks on East Coast convoys. Improved motor torpedo boats (MTBs) were also being built to attack German coastal shipping. This marked the first step in the building up of Coastal Forces.

Battle of Cape Matapan - As ships of the Mediterranean Fleet covered troop movements to Greece, 'Ultra' intelligence was received reporting the sailing of an Italian battlefleet with one battleship, six heavy and two light cruisers plus destroyers to attack the convoy routes. In the battle that followed, Italian battleship "Vittorio Veneto" was damaged and heavy cruisers "FIUME", "ZARA","POLA" and destroyers "ALFIERI" and "CARDUCCI" sunk for the loss of one Royal Navy aircraft.

APRIL 1941

Battle of the Atlantic - Over the next few months a number of long awaited ship types and weapons started to be introduced. These contributed significantly to the eventual defeat of the U-boat: (1) The first Auxiliary Fighter Catapult Ships flying the White Ensign and equipped with a single 'one-way' Hurricane were ready in April 1941. In May a Hurricane was successfully launched from a Red Ensign Catapult Armed Merchantman (CAM). CAM-ships were eventually superseded in 1943 by Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MACs) - merchantmen with full flightdecks, but sailing under the Red Ensign and also carrying oil or grain. (2) The final step in the introduction of ship-borne aircraft into the Battle of the Atlantic came in June when the first escort carrier was ready for service. HMS Audacity, converted from a German prize, had a short life, but proved the great value of these vessels. (3) New scientific developments also started to play their part. In May the first high definition, 10cm radar (Type 271) was installed in a corvette. Later still, high frequency, direction finding (HF/DF or 'Huff-Duff') was introduced to supplement the work of the shore stations.

MAY 1941

Capture of "U.110" and the German Enigma - South of Iceland, "U.110" attacked Liverpool-out convoy OB318. Blown to the surface by depth charges from corvette "Aubretia" on the 9th, "U-110's" crew abandoned ship, but she failed to go down. A boarding party from destroyer "Bulldog", led by Sub-Lt Balme, managed to get aboard. In a matter of hours they transferred to safety "U-110's" entire Enigma package - coding machine, code books, rotor settings and charts. The destroyer "Broadway" stood by during this hazardous operation. Two days later "U-110" sank on tow to Iceland, knowledge of her capture having been withheld from the crew. The priceless Enigma material represented one of the greatest intelligence coup ever and a major naval victory in its own right.

"U-110's" capture was far and away the most successful of the attempts to capture Enigma codes. In the March 1941 raid on the Norwegian Lofoten Islands, spare coding rotors were found. Then two days before the "U-110" triumph, a cruiser force had tried to capture the weather trawler "Munchen" off Iceland. At the end of the coming June a similar operation was mounted against the "Lauenberg". In both cases useful papers were taken but the real breakthrough only came with "U-110". Included with the material captured were all rotor settings until the end of June 1941. A number of codes were used with Enigma. The U-boat one was 'Hydra', also used by all ships in European waters. From the end of June, Bletchley Park was able to decipher 'Hydra' right through until the end of the war. Unfortunately the U-boats moved off this version to the new 'Triton' in February 1942. The big ship 'Neptun' and Mediterranean 'Sud' and 'Medusa' codes were also soon broken.

JUNE 1941

Battle of the Atlantic - Following the capture of the “U-100” Enigma material, the Royal Navy tracked down the supply ships already in position to support the "Bismarck" as well as other raiders and U-boats.

JULY 1941

Battle of the Atlantic - Air cover from Ireland, Iceland and Newfoundland was improving, but RAF Coastal Command lacked the long-range aircraft to cover the mid-Atlantic gap. It was in this area, some 800 miles long the U-boats were now concentrating. Between January and June 1941, North Atlantic merchant shipping losses had averaged 300,000 tons per month. From July to December 1941 they were considerably down at an average level of 104,000 tons. The reasons were varied - evasive convoy routing and more effective aircraft deployment from the 'Ultra’ work, introduction of radars and high frequency direction finding (HF/DF), the availability of more escorts, and continuous escort. Operational research or "OR" (Operations research in the US) using the simplest of mathematical techniques made great contributions to the analysis of more effective convoy sizes, escort numbers, U-boat search techniques, depth charge patterns and settings etc.


Battle of the Atlantic - Escort carrier Audacity (right - CyberHeritage. No enlargement) sailed with UK/Gibraltar convoy OG74. Her American-built Martlet fighters shot down the first Kondor to fall victim to an escort carrier, but U-boats still managed to sink five merchantmen. With major new U-boat construction programmes, the increased number of submarines available to Adm Doenitz (approaching 200 with 30 operational) allowed him to establish patrol lines in the Atlantic.


Battle of the Atlantic - RAF aircraft of Coastal Command were now flying regular patrols in the Bay of Biscay equipped with effective airborne depth charges and the long wavelength ASV radar. The first success was on the 30th by a Whitley of No 502 Squadron. "U-206" on passage to the Mediterranean was detected and sunk


Underwater Warfare - Three Italian human torpedoes launched from submarine “Scire” (Cdr Borghese) penetrated Alexandria harbour. Their charges badly damaged battleships Queen Elizabeth with Adm Cunningham on board and Valiant. They both settled to the bottom and the Mediterranean Fleet battle squadron ceased to exist. As the Imperial Japanese Navy went to war, they introduced the Allies to a secret and powerful weapon in the 24in Long lance torpedo, with its far heavier warhead and range than any other Navy's.




Battle of the Atlantic - On the weapons front, the forward-firing Hedgehog (right, on frigate HMS Parret - Paul & Maurice Whiteing. No enlargement) with its 24 A/S mortar bombs started to enter RN service. Its first success did not come until late in the 1942. 


Battle of the Atlantic - The Royal Navy suffered a major setback when U-boats in the Atlantic changed from the Enigma 'Hydra' code to 'Triton'. This was not broken until December 1942 - a ten month delay. But all was not lost as 'Hydra' was still used in European waters. This, together with signals traffic analysis and the vast amount of experience built up to date, meant that remarkably accurate pictures could be drawn of U-boat operations and intentions.

Bruneval Raid - Commandos carried out a raid on Bruneval in northern France to capture German radar equipment. They were lifted off by Royal Navy coastal forces.

APRIL 1942

Battle of the Atlantic - "U-252" attacked UK/Gibraltar convoy OG82 southwest of Ireland and was sunk by sloop "Stork" and corvette "Vetch" of the 36th EG (Cdr Walker) on the 4th. This was one of the first successful attacks using 10cm Type 271 radar. From now on the new radar and HF/DF played an increasing part in the sinking of U-boats.

MAY 1942

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boat strength approached 300 with over 100 operational. A fairly complete convoy system was being introduced off the US east coast from Florida north, but the submarines were now concentrating in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They could now spend more time on station assisted by 'Milchcow' supply boats. The result was that Allied losses continued at a high rate, especially among tankers.

JUNE 1942

Battle of the Atlantic - In the first six months of 1942, submarines worldwide had sunk 585 ships of over 3,000,000 tons, mostly in the Atlantic. At the same time the 108 new U-boats entering service far outweighed the 13 sunk in the Atlantic in this period.

Battle of Midway - On the 3rd, Dutch Harbor, close to Alaska, was attacked from two Japanese light carriers. But the main battle was far to the south off Midway between the carrier aircraft of both sides. On the 4th/5th in the close run battle, all four Japanese carriers - "AKAGI", "HIRYU", "KAGA" and "SORYU" went down. "YORKTOWN" was badly damaged and finished off by a Japanese submarine on the 7th. The Japanese forces retreated, Midway spared, and the Allies had their first major strategic victory of World War 2. The American Navy's successful dispositions were helped by the breaking of the Japanese naval codes


Battle of the Atlantic - For some time now aircraft of RAF Coastal Command had used the Leigh light searchlight in conjunction with ASV radar to illuminate and attack U-boats at night on the surface. The Germans now introduced the Metox detector which enabled U-boats to pick up the 1.5m wavelength transmissions of the existing ASV sets in time for them to submerge. They thus moved one step ahead of the Allies in the scientific war. The RAF's important Bay of Biscay patrols lost effectiveness accordingly.


Battle of the Atlantic - Losses continued high in the North Atlantic, many in the air-gaps on the transatlantic routes which aircraft could not reach from Newfoundland, Iceland or Northern Ireland. Apart from escort carriers, more very long range (VLR) aircraft were needed by RAF Coastal Command. Only No 120 squadron was equipped with the VLR B-24 Liberators. In October there were nearly 200 operational U-boats out of a total of 365. German losses were increasing as the effectiveness of Allied air and sea escorts and patrols improved, but nowhere near enough to offset new U-boat construction.


Battle of the Atlantic - Through massive construction programmes on both sides of the Atlantic, the Allies could deploy 450 escort vessels of all types against the U-boats, a large number but still not enough to curb the menace and go over to the offensive. In December the Royal Navy and its Allies regained an old advantage when after a 10-month gap, the "Ultra" programme broke the U-boat 'Triton' code used for Atlantic operations.




Air War - RAF Bomber Command by night and increasingly the USAAF by day mounted a growing attack on Germany and occupied Europe. As agreed at the Casablanca Conference, U-boat bases and their production centres would be major targets in 1943. Yet in the first six months, not one U-boat was destroyed in air-raids and the construction programmes were hardly affected. Throughout the war not one U-boat was lost in the incredibly strong, reinforced concrete shelters built by the Germans at their main bases.

MARCH 1943

Battle of the Atlantic - Throughout the war a large proportion of the losses due to U-boats were among independently routed merchantmen and stragglers from convoys, but in March 1943 the Germans came close to overwhelming well escorted convoys. Again the German B-Service was responsible for providing Doenitz' packs with accurate convoy details and routeing. These losses took place at another turning point in the secret war around the Enigma codes. Early in the month the U-boats changed from three-rotor to the far more complex four-rotor 'Triton' code. Yet by month's end this had been broken by the men and women of Bletchley Park and their electromechanical computers. The Allies' tremendous advantage was restored. This came at the same time as a number of other developments which together brought about a complete reversal in the war against the U-boats. The first five Royal Navy support groups with modern radars, anti-submarine weapons and HF/DF were released for operation in the North Atlantic. Two were built around Home Fleet destroyers, two around Western Approaches escorts and one with escort carrier Biter (right - Navy Photos). The mid-Atlantic air gap was about to be finally closed. Another major breakthrough was again in the air war. Aircraft were being fitted with the 10cm wavelength radar which was undetectable by U-boat Metox receivers. The new radar and the Leigh light made a powerful weapon against surfaced submarines, especially as they tried to break out through the Bay of Biscay air patrols. More VLR aircraft were also joining Coastal Command to extend further the Allies grip on the convoy routes throughout their length.  

Anti-Shipping Warfare - Attacks by German aircraft on Tripoli harbour sank two supply ships and damaged escort destroyer "DERWENT" so badly she was not fully repaired. This was the first German success using circling torpedoes.

APRIL 1943

'The Man Who Never Was'- Submarine "Seraph" released the body of a supposed Royal Marine officer into the sea off Spain. His false identity and papers helped persuade the Germans that the next Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and Greece as well as Sicily.

Japanese Navy - Adm Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet was killed when his aircraft was ambushed and shot down over Bougainville in the northern Solomons. His travel plans were known in advance through decoded intercepts. Since 1940 the American code-breakers had been able to read the Japanese 'Purple' diplomatic and command ciphers.

MAY 1943

The Dambusters' Raid - On the night of the 16th/17th, Wg Cdr Guy Gibson led No 617 Squadron in the famous raid on the Ruhr dams. Two dams were breached by Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs, but the damage to German industry was not great.

Royal Navy in the Pacific - After re-equipping with American aircraft and working-up out of Pearl Harbor, fleet carrier Victorious joined the Third Fleet under Adm Halsey seven months after a first USN request was made.

JUNE 1943

Bay of Biscay Patrols - Aircraft of Coastal Command continued covering U-boat exit routes from western France and were joined by surface escort groups covered by cruisers. At the same time U-boats were fitted with heavy AA armament to enable them to fight their way out on the surface in groups. U-boat sinkings went down as Allied aircraft losses mounted, but four U-boats were destroyed including "U-418" to a rocket-firing RAF Beaufighter.

Battle of the Atlantic - The Royal Navy had finally changed the British convoy codes and made them secure against the work of the German B-Service. In contrast, the British 'Ultra' work was fully integrated into the Admiralty U-boat Tracking Room, and an almost complete picture of German Navy and U-boat operations was available. As Allied air and sea forces grew in strength and effectiveness, especially through the use of 10cm radar and 'Ultra', Adm Doenitz sought other ways to regain the initiative. This he was never able to do, although right through until the last day of the war, the Allies could not relax their efforts, and continually introduced new detection systems, weapons and tactics.

Against numerous, well-trained and effectively used escorts, the day of the conventional submarine was drawing to a close. The Germans placed much faith in the Walther hydrogen peroxide boat now under development, which with its long underwater endurance and high speed, could prove a formidable foe. It did not get beyond the experimental stage by war's end. An interim step on the road towards the 'true' submarine started at the end of 1943 with the design and building of Type XXI ocean and XXIII coastal boats. Using the streamlined hull of the Walther and high capacity batteries, their underwater speed would make them faster than most escorts. Fortunately for the Allies they did not enter service in numbers until too late in 1945. For now the Germans had to rely on the U-boats currently in service and building. Total numbers stayed at around the 400 mark for the remainder of the war, in spite of a 40 boat per month construction programme, and various steps were taken to improve their offensive and defensive capability. Apart from extra AA armament, the Gnat acoustic torpedo was introduced specifically to combat the convoy escorts. Its first test came in September 1943. Before then in July, the schnorkel, a Dutch development that allowed batteries to be recharged at periscope depth, started trials. It did not enter general service until mid-1944, but then went quite some way to nullifying the radar of the air escorts and patrols. Even now the German Navy was unaware the Allies were using short wavelength radar, but when they did, early in 1944, an effective German detector was shortly introduced.

JULY 1943

Invasion of Sicily - Many of the troops coming from North Africa and Malta made the voyage in landing ships and craft. As they approached Sicily in stormy weather, Allied airborne landings took place. Sadly, many of the British gliders crashed into the sea, partly because of the weather. However, on the 10th the troops went ashore under an umbrella of aircraft. The new amphibious DUKWS (or "Ducks") developed by the Americans played an important part in getting the men and supplies across the beaches


Air War - Bay of Biscay air patrols sank five U-boats in August and continued to co-operate with surface ships. On the 27th, German Do217 aircraft launched some of the first Hs293 rocket-boosted, glider bombs against ships of the 1st Escort Group. To the south of Cape Finisterre, sloop "EGRET" was hit and blew up, and Canadian destroyer "Athabaskan" damaged.

Aerospace War - On the night of the 17th the RAF inflicted damage on the German rocket research establishment at Peenemunde on the Baltic coast.


Battle of the Atlantic - German U-boat wolf-packs returned to the North Atlantic armed with Gnat acoustic torpedoes to home on and disable the escorts so they could reach the merchantmen. In attacks on UK-out convoys ONS18 and ON202 the escorts suffered badly in the Gnat attacks. In the actions that follow, destroyer "Escapade" was badly damaged by a premature explosion of her Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar, but "U-338" was sunk by a VLR aircraft of RAF No 120 Squadron using the Allies' 'Fido' acoustic torpedo. Fortunately the Allies had anticipated the introduction of acoustic torpedoes and soon put into service 'Foxer' noisemakers, towed astern to attract the Gnat away from the vessel. The U-boats did not repeat their successes.

Underwater Warfare - Battleship "Tirpitz" (right, in a Norwegian fiord in 1943 - Maritime Quest) posed such a threat to Russian convoys and held down so much of Home Fleet's strength that almost any measures to immobilise her were justified. One attempt was made in October 1942 when a small Norwegian fishing vessel "Arthur", penetrated to within a few miles of the battleship in Trondheimfiord with Chariot human torpedoes slung underneath. Just short of the target they broke away and all the efforts were in vain. Now it was the turn of midget submarines - the X-craft each with two 2-ton saddle charges. "Tirpitz" was damaged and out of action for six months

Italian Surrender - As units of the Italian fleet sailed for Malta, battleship "ROMA" was sunk by a FX1400 radio-controlled bomb (unpropelled, unlike the Hs293 rocket-boosted, glider-bomb).


Burma - Under Adm Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, Gen Slim's 14th Army prepared for a major offensive into northern Burma from the area of Kohima and lmphal in India. Throughout the rest of the war, Adm Mountbatten's plans to prosecute the campaign even more vigorously in South East Asia were continually frustrated by his lack of amphibious capability.




Battle of the Atlantic - Over the next five months U-boat losses were so heavy that by May 1944, North Atlantic operations had virtually ceased. At the same time the Allies were not so successful against them as they passed through the Bay of Biscay from French bases and the Northern Transit Area from Norway. Now equipped with 10cm radar detectors the U-boats only lost five of their number in the Bay.

Air War - RAF and USAAF operations against Germany and occupied Europe increased in intensity. Much of the RAF's efforts were still directed at Berlin by night, but both air forces were now attacking the V-1 buzz-bomb launch sites in northern France. The recently introduced long-range P-57 Mustang fighter allowed the Americans to continue daylight bombing, but losses remained heavy.


Anti-Submarine Warfare - In the Strait of Gibraltar, USN Catalina's equipped with the new magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) located "U-761" trying to break in to the Mediterranean. Destroyers "Anthony" and "Wishart" of the Gibraltar patrol sank her.

MARCH 1944

Battle of the Atlantic -'Tsetse' Mosquitos of RAF Coastal Command armed with new 6-pounder guns had their first success. On Bay of Biscay patrol one of them sank "U-976".

MAY 1944

Battle of the Atlantic - The US escort carrier "Block Island" group was again on patrol in the Atlantic off the Canaries and being directed to U-boats by the work of 'Ultra' and the Admiralty Tracking Room. On the 6th her aircraft and accompanying destroyer escorts sank "U-66".

Aerospace War - A V-2 rocket crashed near Warsaw and resistance groups managed to arrange for the parts to be successfully airlifted to Britain.

JUNE 1944

Normandy Invasion - The Naval Task Force included 4,126 major and minor landing ships and craft for initial assault and ferry purposes, all designed and constructed over the previous three years. Other special projects included: British 'Mulberry' harbour project of two artificial harbours and five 'Gooseberry' breakwaters with 400 'Mulberry' units totalling 1.5 million tons and including up to 6,000-ton 'Phoenix' concrete breakwaters; 160 tugs for towing; 59 old merchantmen and warships to be sunk as blockships for the 'Gooseberries'. Also specially equipped British vessels for laying PLUTO - Pipeline Under The Ocean - across the Channel from the Isle of Wight to carry petroleum fuel.

Partly because of elaborate deception plans, partly because of poor weather, both strategic and tactical surprise was achieved. In spite of the vast number of warships off the Normandy beaches and escorting the follow-up convoys, losses were comparatively few, although mines, especially of the pressure-operated variety were troublesome.

Aerospace War - On the 13th the first V-1 flying bomb landed on London at the start of a three-month campaign against southeast England. Amongst the weapons shortly used against them was Britain's first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. By then Germany's Me262 jet fighter-bomber had been in action against Allied bombers.

Merchant Shipping War - Until the closing days of the war, the schnorkel U-boats operating in UK waters were especially worrying. When submerged as invariably they were, detection from the air was difficult even with 10cm wavelength radar, and location usually had to wait until after they had attacked.

Battle of the Philippine Sea - The Japanese had prepared for the Marianas landings, and from the direction of the Philippines despatched a strong naval force that included the two 18.1in-gunned battleships "Musashi" and "Yamato".

JULY 1944

Normandy Invasion Beaches - Attacks on the beachhead shipping by E-boats and small battle units such as the newly introduced "Neger" and "Marder" human torpedoes had limited successes, but mines still caused the most damage.

Anti-Submarine Warfare - "U-333" was destroyed to the west of the Scilly Islands by sloop "Starling" and frigate "Loch Killin" of the 2nd EG using the new Squid. This marked the first success with the ahead-throwing A/S weapon that fired three large mortar bombs.


German Coastal Forces Attacks - Coastal forces and small battle units continued to attack shipping off the invasion beaches, sinking and damaging a number of vessels in return for heavy casualties. On the 3rd, 'Hunt' class escort destroyer "QUORN" on patrol off the British sector was sunk, probably by a Linsen explosive motor boat. On the 9th, old cruiser Frobisher, acting as a depot ship for the British 'Mulberry', was badly damaged by a Dackel long range torpedo fired by E-boats.


Atomic Bomb - Far across North America in the southwest, the massive atomic bomb programme approached its climax at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Although intelligence reports suggested Germany had made little progress with nuclear research, the by-now mainly American work continued and a B-29 Flying Superfortress bomber unit was formed to train for the dropping of this awesome and untried weapon.

Aerospace War - It was only when Canadian First Army overran the V-1 buzz-bomb sites that London and the southeast of England saw the last one land. By then nearly 10,000 launchings of the sub-sonic pilotless "cruise missile" had inflicted 25,000 dead and wounded civilian casualties. Then on the 8th the first supersonic V-2 rocket hit London in a deadly campaign that lasted for over six months, and against which there was no defence.


Destruction of the "Tirpitz" - The damaged "TIRPITZ" was finally destroyed as she lay at anchor off Tromso, Norway. Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 (Dambuster) Squadrons, RAF Bomber Command using 12,000lb "block-buster" bombs put paid to the ship that had tied down the Home Fleet for so long. After several hits and near misses by these over 5 ton bombs, she turned turtle trapping nearly 1,000 men inside.




Merchant Shipping War - E-boats and small battle units operating out of Holland were now joined by Seehunde midget submarines. The new craft enjoyed some success, but mines remained the biggest problem for the Allies at sea.


Anti-Shipping Warfare - Attacks by German explosive motorboats were made on shipping in Split harbour, Yugoslavia, hitting a flak landing craft and damaging cruiser Delhi laying alongside.

MARCH 1945

Aerospace War - As the V-weapon attack on Antwerp continued, the last V-2 landed on London on the 27th, by which time 1,000 rockets had killed and wounded nearly 10,000 people in southeast England.

British Pacific Fleet - The British Pacific Fleet was now ready to join Adm Spruance's Fifth Fleet. It's main weapon was of course not the battleships, but the Seafires and American-made Avengers, Hellcats (right, taking off from HMS Indomitable - Paul & Maurice Whiteing) and Corsairs of the carriers' strike squadrons. They started their attacks that day.

APRIL 1945

U-boat Campaign - "U-1169" went down off the southeast coast of Ireland in a deep-laid minefield in St George's Channel.

End of the German Surface Fleet - When Germany surrendered, only three cruisers survived. Of these "Prinz Eugen" was used in A-bomb trials in the Pacific and "Leipzig" scuttled in the North Sea in 1946 loaded with poison gas munitions.

Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands - Japanese launched the first of 10 'kikusui' (floating chrysanthemum) mass kamikaze attacks which carried on until June. US losses in men and ships sunk and damaged were severe. On the 6th, British carrier Illustrious was hit. Damage was slight and she continued in service.

JULY 1945

Atomic Bomb - Late on the 29th after delivering atomic bomb components to Tinian, US cruiser "INDIANAPOLIS" was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea.


6th - B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay", flying from Tinian dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT killed 80,000 people.

9th - The second A-bomb was detonated over Nagasaki and over 40,000 people died.


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