Search results for: quiet-heroes-british-merchant-seaman-at-war

Quiet Heroes

Author : Bernard Edwards
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The men of Britain's Merchant Navy, although unarmed civilians going about their lawful business were the first to be involved with the enemy in the Second World War. Less than nine hours after the declaration of war on 3 September 1939, the Donaldson liner Athenia was sunk without warning by a German U-boat off the west coast of Ireland. From that moment onwards, British merchant seamen were constantly in the front line in all quarters of the globe. For almost six years they faced, without flinching, their own private hell of torpedoes, bombs, shells and mines, all the while fending off their old arch-enemy, the sea. Sorely pressed, and often tired near to death, they kept open Britain's tenuous lifelines, bringing millions of tons of raw materials, food, oil, arms and ammunition, without which the country could not have survived. As always, their spirit was indomitable, their professionalism unchallenged. The price they paid for their bravery and dedication was horrendous: 2,246 ships lost, 29,180 men killed, and countless hundreds maimed and wounded. This book tells the story of just a few of these quiet heroes.

Sea Breezes

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The Archaeology of the Second World War

Author : Gabriel Moshenska
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The Second World War transformed British society. Men, women and children inhabited the war in every area of their lives, from their clothing and food to schools, workplaces and wartime service. This transformation affected the landscapes, towns and cities as factories turned to war work, beaches were prepared as battlefields and agricultural land became airfields and army camps. Some of these changes were violent: houses were blasted into bombsites, burning aircraft tumbled out of the sky and the seas around Britain became a graveyard for sunken ships. Many physical signs of the war have survived a vast array of sites and artefacts that archaeologists can explore - and Gabriel Moshenskas new book is an essential introduction to them. He shows how archaeology can bring the ruins, relics and historic sites of the war to life, especially when it is combined with interviews and archival research in order to build up a clear picture of Britain and its people during the conflict. His work provides for the first time a broad and inclusive overview of the main themes of Second World War archaeology and a guide to many of the different types of sites in Britain. It will open up the subject for readers who have a general interest in the war and it will be necessary reading and reference for those who are already fascinated by wartime archaeology - they will find something new and unexpected within the wide range of sites featured in the book.

War Under the Red Ensign 1914 1918

Author : Bernard Edwards
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he Kaisers determination to starve Britain into surrender and the development of his Navy and the U-boats in particular meant that Britains merchant navy was in the front line throughout the Great War.This book charts the progress of the war at sea which began with the sinking of the oil tanker San Wilfrido off Cuxhaven only eight hours after the official declaration of war. The merchantman Glitra was the first victim of a German U-boat (U–17) on 20 October 1914 she was to be joined by many, many more. As the war on land intensified so the naval struggle grew ever more bitter. As vividly described there were many incidents of atrocious behavior, amounting to war crimes, by the attackers against their hapless victims; sinking of lifeboats, machine-gunning of survivors, attacks without any warning designed to cause maximum casualties.We learn of instances where the weak gallantly fought back such as the duel between Captain Bissett-Smiths Otaki (with one gun) and the heavily armed German surface raider Mwe. Although he went down with his ship, Captain Smith was posthumously awarded the VC, and remains the only merchant seaman so honored.War under the Red Ensign contains many inspiring and shocking accounts of war at sea and is a gripping read.

The British Empire and the Second World War

Author : Ashley Jackson
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A pioneering study of the role Britain's empire played in fighting the Second World War.

Naval Warfare 1919 45

Author : Malcolm H. Murfett
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Naval Warfare 1919–45 is a comprehensive history of the war at sea from the end of the Great War to the end of World War Two. Showing the bewildering nature and complexity of the war facing those charged with fighting it around the world, this book ranges far and wide: sweeping across all naval theatres and those powers performing major, as well as minor, roles within them. Armed with the latest material from an extensive set of sources, Malcolm H. Murfett has written an absorbing as well as a comprehensive reference work. He demonstrates that superior equipment and the best intelligence, ominous power and systematic planning, vast finance and suitable training are often simply not enough in themselves to guarantee the successful outcome of a particular encounter at sea. Sometimes the narrow difference between victory and defeat hinges on those infinite variables: the individual’s performance under acute pressure and sheer luck. Naval Warfare 1919–45 is an analytical and interpretive study which is an accessible and fascinating read both for students and for interested members of the general public.

U Boats in New England

Author : Eric Wiberg
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Starting weeks after Hitler declared war on the United States in mid-December 1941 and lasting until the war with Germany was all but over, 73 German U-Boats sustainably attacked New England waters, from Montauk New York to the tip of Nova Scotia at Cape Sable. Fifteen percent of these boats were sunk by Allied counter-attacks, five surrendered in the region, and three were sunk off New England--Block Island, Massachusetts Bay, and off Nantucket. These have proven appealing to divers, with a result that at least three German naval officers or ratings are buried in New England, one having killed himself in the Boston jail cell. There were 34 Allied merchant or naval ships sunk by these subs, one of them, the 'Eagle', was not admitted to have been sunk by the Germans until decades later. Over 1,100 men were thrown in the water and 545 of them made it ashore in New England ports; 428 were killed. Importantly, saboteurs were landed three places: Long Island, Frenchman's Bay Maine and New Brunswick Canada, and Boston was mined. Very little was known about this.

People Places and Passions

Author : Russell Davies
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The first of two volumes on the social history of Wales in the period 1870–1948, People, Places and Passions concentrates on the social events and changes which created and forged Wales into the mid-twentieth century. This volume considers a range of social changes little considered elsewhere by studies in Welsh history, accounting for the role played by the people of Wales in times of war and the age of the British Empire, and in technological change and innovation, as they travelled the developing capitalist and consumerist world in search of fame and fortune.

U Boats off Bermuda

Author : Eric Wiberg
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The untold story of 142 German and one Italian submarines, which patrolled the waters around BermudaThe Axis powers sank eighty Allied ships, one of them naval, for the loss of two submarines1,224 Allied sailors and passengers were landed in Bermuda during the warMore than steel on steel: this book tells of their survival voyages, rescue and reception For the first time, a book exposes an obscure theatre of the Second World War in great detail and comprehensively, not just in terms of geography, but also from the perspectives of both Allied and Axis participants. U-Boats off Bermuda provides details of specific U-Boat patrols and their commanders, as well as a general overview of the situation in the theatre of war around Bermuda. It is a detailed analysis of individual casualties, broken down by a) background of ship, b) background of U-Boat, c) attack method (surface and/or submersed), d) details of survivors and their plight at sea and e) their rescue, recuperation and repatriation. Detailed maps and illustrations provide a human face to what were often tragic attacks with fatal consequences. Did you know that half a dozen German submarines came close enough to the US Naval Operating Base in Bermuda to see Gibbs Hill? Or that hardy Canadians from a sunken trading schooner rowed and sailed their way to the remote island on their own? Allied pilots based in Bermuda sank two German U-Boats, rescued dozens in daring water landings and several crashed.

The Mariner s Mirror

Author : Leonard George Carr Laughton
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Ships Monthly

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The Cruel Sea Retold

Author : Bernard Edwards
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Bernard Edwards recounts the history that Nicholas Monsarrat used as the basis of his famous adventure novel, The Cruel Sea, which tells the tale of British ships trying to evade destruction by U-boat wolf packs hunting them in the North Atlantic. This work--a factual retelling--describes the actions of the three British convoys featured in the novel, first detailing the experiences of Convoy OG 71 when it attempted to sail from Liverpool to Gibraltar on 14 August 1941 with twenty-two merchantmen and eight escorts. During the trip, ten ships were lost without a single U-boat being sunk, and the convoy had to seek refuge in Lisbon. A month later, Convoy HG 73 sailed from Gibraltar with twenty-five merchantmen and thirteen escorts. Ten more ships were lost and only one U-boat was damaged. British fortunes began to improve when Convoy HG 76 sailed from Gibraltar in December with thirty-one merchantmen and a heavy escort of fifteen warships. During a six-day running battle, five U-boats were sunk and seven British ships lost.

Beware Raiders

Author : Bernard Edwards
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A British naval historian recounts the victories and defeats of two of the most infamous German Navy vessels during World War II. Bernard Edwards’s Beware Raiders! tells the fascinating story of two German ships and the havoc they caused amongst Allied shipping in World War II. One was the eight-inch gun cruiser Admiral Hipper—named for World War I’s German fleet Admiral Franz von Hipper—fast, powerful, and Navy-manned. The other was a converted merchant man, Hansa Line’s Kandelfels armed with a few old scavenged guns manned largely by reservists, and sailing under the nom de guerre Pinguin. The difference between the pride of the Third Reich’s Kriegsmarine’s fleet and the converted cruiser was even more evident in their commanders. Edwards emphasizes the striking contrast between the conduct of Ernst Kruder, captain of the Pinguin, who attempted to cause as little loss of life as possible, and the callous Iron Cross–decorated Wilhelm Meisel of the Admiral Hipper, who had scant regard for the lives of the men whose ships he had sunk. Contrary to all expectations, as Edwards reveals in his thrilling accounts of the missions performed by each ship, the amateur man-of-war reaped a rich harvest and went out in a blaze of glory. The purpose-built battlecruiser, on the other hand, was hard-pressed even to make her mark on the war and ended her days in ignominy.

The Twilight of the U Boats

Author : Bernard Edwards
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In essence, this is the story of U-223,commanded by Karl-Jrgen Wehter from the time of her commissioning in Kiel in January 1943 through a murderous career to her eventual but dramatic demise in the Mediterranean in March 1944. At the same time, the book covers the declining fortunes of the U-boat arm as a whole from early 1943 when it seemed invincible and seriously threatened the Allies with defeat to the end of the war.

Churchill s Thin Grey Line

Author : Bernard Edwards
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The naval historian and retired merchant navy captain recounts the contributions of Britain’s civilian ships during WWII in this “cracking read” (The Bridgend & Porthcawl Gem). The first British casualties of the Second World War were not members of the Royal Navy, the army, or the Royal Air Force. They were British merchant seamen on the transatlantic passenger liner SS Athenia, torpedoed by a German U-30 submarine on September 3, 1939. For the duration of the war, Britain’s merchant fleet performed a vital role, carrying the essential supplies that kept the country running during the darkest days and made victory possible. Their achievements came at a terrible cost with 2,535 British oceangoing merchant ships being sunk and, of the 185,000 men and women serving in the British Merchant Navy at the time, 36,749 sacrificed their lives. Another 4,707 were wounded and 5,720 ended up as prisoners of war. Their casualty rate of twenty-five percent was second only to RAF Bomber Command’s. Thoroughly researched and full of fascinating true accounts, Bernard Edwards’s Churchill’s Thin Grey Line tells the inspiring story of those brave civilian volunteers who fought so gallantly to defend their ships, cargo, and country. “A cracking read which brings home to the reader how much we in [England] owe to the Merchant Navy . . . Bernard Edwards has done them proud.” —The Bridgend & Porthcawl Gem

Maritime Bibliography

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The British National Bibliography

Author : Arthur James Wells
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The Publishers Weekly

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Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council

Author : United States. Merchant Marine Council
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The Wolf Packs Gather

Author : Bernard Edwards
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The capture by the German surface raider Atlantis of the British steamer City of Baghdads secret code books in July 1940 enabled the Nazis to de-cypher Admiralty convoy plans with deadly effect. This book describes the resulting appalling Allied losses suffered by four convoys during the Autumn of 1940. Admiral Donetz, aware of the movements of the Allied convoys, marshaled as many of his U-boats as possible. The first convoy, SC2, consisting of 53 merchant men was attacked in early September by four U-boats. Due to poor weather only five ships were lost. Shortly after HX72, with 41 ships, sailing from Nova Scotia, lost eleven ships to five Type VIIC U-boats. Top Aces Otto Kretschremer and Joachim Schepke, who penetrated inside the columns, accounted for nine. No less than nine U-boats attacked SC7 in October 1940. Of 35 merchant men a staggering 20 were lost. HX79 also fared terribly despite being a fast convoy with ten escorts, losing twelve ships. In total forty-eight merchant men were sunk and seven more damaged without any U-boat losses at all. The Wolf Packs Gather is an authoritative account of the darkest hours of the War in the Atlantic. It describes not only the German tactics but the inadequacies of what few escorts there were and the heartbreaking loss of defenseless life.