Business in Great Waters: The U-Boat Wars 1916-1945 (Wordsworth Military Library) Paperback – February 1, 1999
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- Item Weight : 2.15 pounds
- Paperback : 841 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1840222012
- Product dimensions : 5.75 x 1.75 x 8.75 inches
- Publisher : Wordsworth Editions Ltd; Reprint edition (February 1, 1999)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #783,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book opens with Germany imposing a naval blockade of British Isles.Suddenly Britain was engulfed by a crisis of stunning dimensions andAdmiralty in London despaired.Had no idea how to combat menace.But the serious nature of the threat aroused latent dynamism of the British.Flurry of inventions ensued such as hydrophones,depth charges,underwater location devices.The most important being the emergence of the of convoy.Convoy helped English to penetrate the German blockade.German campaign foundered because naval command failed to evolve suitable tactics to negate the success of allied convoy system.
Sadly during interwar years the Admiralty became complacent about ASW .Meanwhile Nazis came to power in Germany.Hitler was determined to reverse the outcome of World War I.Simultaneously the U boat arm had a new competent ,dynamic leader Adm Karl Doenitz who honed U boats into a formidable offensive weapon and hurled it to assail Britain's sea line of communications.As a antidote to the convoy Doenitz evolved the tactics of wolfpack.U boats were spread out across probable path of convoy.When a convoy was sighted sub sent a sighting report to shore-based HQs while continuing to shadow the convoy.HQs in turn directed other U boats lurking in the vicinity towards the convoy. U boats now coming from different directions converging towards target thus formed a pack.This constituted an effective tactical riposte to the convoy: concentration of defending force vis a vis corresponding concentration of attacking forces.Advances in the field of W/T made this manoeuvre feasible.
Despite the novelty of the system often convoys sneaked through U boat cordon.A fact which symbolises the im mensity of the ocean.Thus Adm Doenitz tactical problem was intercepting convoys.It was precisely here that radio intelligence came in.Radio intelligence helped the U boat command pin-point the position of the convoys. Immedietly U boats were put across its track.From early 1942 many of pack attacks came to be guided by Sigint.
But during the early phase of the war attacks took palace in and around British isles where bulk of shipping Britain's overseas empire converged.Pack attacks launched on the surface during nights caught British defences napping.Since Asdic could not detect surfaced U boat.However since U boats mostly operated on the surface it gave scope for radar detection.As author says the outcome of the campaign was influenced by technical innovations.Most important being ASV III radar fitted into coastal command aircraft which started patrolling sealanes.
Radar robbed U boats of its invisibility and pack attacks became difficult whenever convoys came under the range of aircover.Often U boat had to submerge thus losing contact with the convoy. From autumn 1942 onwards most of the escort groups had one vessel which carried automatic high frequency direction finder FH4 which can intercept the first contact signal of U boat.Then a destroyer homed in onthe bearing forcing U boat to submerge and lose contact with convoy.
Mention should also be made of role played by OIC of Admiralty in foiling pack attacks.Author has rightly dubbed it as nerve centre of anti U boat war.British penetration of German naval enigma cipher made posible evasive routing of convoys.In short ,Doenitz U boat packs were mastered by superior technology :combination of airpower ,radar, HF-DF cryptanalysis,improved depth charges better escorting techniques etc.
By May 1943 U boats were defeated but struggle for establishing technological dominance continued as Doenitz again planned to hurl his favourite weapon against AngloAmerican supply lines after making them invisible to Allied air and surface escorts.Snorkelled U boats which appeared by Jan 1944 to a great extent helped evade radar detection .By early 1945 submarines emerged . This marked the beginning of a new era U boat war since it rendered all Allied ASW techniques obsolete.
Author has termed the phenomenon as'unappealing lanscape of square one'.To sum up,considering the level of technology prevalent at that time war against U boats was immensely complex ,sophisticated campaign.This book impecabbly researched,and I consider best available on the subject.
Erudite and lavisly detailed;brimming with statistics on U boat war also contain tables on U boat losses.
Top reviews from other countries
Full credit must be given to Terraine for his perseverance in research so that issues such as "just how many U-boats DID aircraft actually sink during WWI?" can finally be laid to rest. It is the standard of scholarship which means this work is seen as seminal by military and social historians alike and is often cited in Journal articles relating to this subject matter.
However, what I found frustrating as an historian wishing to cite this work, is the author's repeated failure to mention the year when he gives a particular date:
* years are not mentioned in his chapter headings
* he does tend to jump around in, for example, comparing the situation in 1916 to that of 1917 and obviously 1918
* his primary sources often do not include a year, just a day and a month
It is sometime impossible to confidently cite him without a great deal of time and energy being expended in tracking down for oneself exactly WHEN he is talking about. Chapter 4 is a case in point.
No doubt some smartypants will offer all sorts of quotes from the book to prove me wrong, but I can only go on my experience, from those of us writing literature reviews comprising hundreds of books and dozens of journal articles who just don't have the luxury to read any work from cover-to-cover, this is just NOT cricket!
This small criticism has unfortunately cost him a star from me. Otherwise without a doubt, this is a 5-out-of-5!
P.S Really interesting book about the U-Boat wars- well worth a read
An excellent read n0ot to be missed by anyone interested in the subject