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History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944-1945 (History of United States Naval Operations in World War Ii, Volume 11) Paperback – January 24, 2002
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I found this volume to be one of the weakest in the series that I have read so far. The first chapter speaks of the organizational changes that the U.S. Navy made in attempting to deal with the U-Boat menace, and the next couple spoke about some of the technical developments that allowed the U.S. Navy to start locating the submarines and hunt them more effectively. Once you are past these chapter the rest of the book devolved into a series of anecdotes detailing how various submarines were detected, where they operated, and what how it was destroyed. While a few of those kinds of anecdotes would be interesting to read, one of my complaints about this book is that it is chock full of episode after episode of the same kind of action. After the first twenty or thirty, I lost interest.
Another major problem with this book is that it gives all the credit for the continual discovery of the submarines to the High Frequency Direction Finding equipment that the U.S. Navy deployed. While I am sure that this equipment played a large role, it seems very suspicious as to how it was able to vector hunter-killer groups to areas where multiple submarines intended to converge, even before the submarines themselves arrived! I had read that the author was not aware of ULTRA and the fact that American Intelligence was listening in on many German communications. However, even he should have started suspecting something besides use of direction finding equipment given how many times he had to write that groups of American ships and airplanes were vectored to specific locations and found two, three, or four submarines there, tethered to each other.
On the positive side, this book does cover the various technical advances that were made by both sides and describes them in terms that any layman can understand with the technical jargon kept to a minimum. And, by adopting a linear timeline approach, it makes sure to cover all theaters of the war (with the exception of the Pacific, of course) and all the way to the end of the war.
The story of the Naval War during World War 2 would not have been complete without this kind of coverage, but this one seems excessively long given that most of the stories told are basically repeats of others in the same book, with only the names of the people and the numbers of boats being different. This is unfortunate, as this series has long been an excellent reference to have on hand. This volume is simply not up to the standard that has been established with the previous volumes.
One caveat: There are omissions, e.g. IV CORAL SEA, MIDWAY AND SUBMARINE ACTIONS, re: the Battle of Midway and Commander Joseph J. Rochefort and his team breaking the Japanese naval code before the Battle of Midway (perhaps at the time of writing by Morison there was a security reason).
There is even a little "humor," as such, under incredible trying circumstances. In Volume XI, page 188, Morrison describes a skipper of an American LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) on D-Day, June 6, 1944:
"After landing American troops at Utah on the afternoon of D-Day, he was sent back to the Solent, where he received orders to load British troops at one of the local hards. Having done so he awaited orders, but none came. Observing an LCI convoy making up in the Solent he decided to join it, lest his passengers run out of food while waiting. As he was passing the Isle of Wight a signal station blinked to him, 'Where do you think you are going?' to which the skipper replied, 'I don't know!' After an interval came the the answer, 'Proceed!'" (Amen) We also learn in volume X THE ATLANTIC BATTLE WON, that Hitler used U-Boats in the Atlantic to forecast the weather for what is known as "The Battle of the Bulge." Hitler wanted the foul weather to stop Allied air attacks, which is what happened at the beginning of the battle.
The main titles to the volumes are (all have further sub-titles to each volume):
I THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC;
II OPERATIONS IN NORTH AFRICAN WATERS;
III THE RISING SUN IN THE PACIFIC;
IV CORAL SEA, MIDWAY AND SUBMARINE ACTIONS;
V THE STRUGGLE FOR GUADALCANAL;
VI BREAKING THE BISMARCKS BARRIER;
VII ALEUTIANS, GILBERTS AND MARSHALLS;
VIII NEW GUINEA AND THE MARIANAS;
IX SICILY - SALERNO - ANZIO;
X THE ATLANTIC BATTLE WON;
XI THE INVASION OF FRANCE AND GERMANY;
XIII THE LIBERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, LUZON, MINDANAO, THE VISAYAS;
XIV VICTORY IN THE PACIFIC;
XV SUPPLEMENT AND GENERAL INDEX (which includes in this volume the illustrations for all book dust covers with explanations- if your copy does not come with the book dust covers.)
With that said, I would have much shorter reference work handy to help steer through these 15 volumes and all the events in them, such as James L. Stokesbury's "A Short History of World War II," which really helps to put events into a succinct perspective (e.g. "The Battle of the Java Sea.")
For general reference: "O2S4 MEC:"
Offensive, Sprit of;
Superiority at Point of Contact (Economy of Force);
Economy of Force (Superiority at Point of Contact);
Cooperation (Unity of Command)
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