WORLD WAR II

Battle of the Atlantic

A - F

Azzole, Pete. "Afterthoughts: The Cat and the Mouse." Cryptolog 15, no. 3 (Spring Extra, May 1994): 2, 12.

This article reviews events in the U-boat war in the Atlantic.

Beesly, Patrick.

Beesly served as Deputy Chief of the submarine tracking room in the Operational Intelligence Centre throughout the war.

1. "Convoy PQ17: A Study of Intelligence and Decision Making." Intelligence and National Security 5, no. 2 (Apr. 1990): 292-322.

In what Sexton terms an "excellent study," Beesly looks at Adm. Dudley Pound's decision to disperse Convoy PQ17 as an example of the Allies' superiority in intelligence not working to their advantage.

2. "Operational Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic: The Role of the Royal Navy's Submarine Tracking Room." In The Royal Canadian Navy in Retrospect, 1910-1968, ed. James A. Boutilier, 175-186. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1982.

According to Sexton, "Beesly summarizes the effects of British and German cryptanalytic efforts on decision making."

3. "Special Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic: The British View." In Changing Interpretations and New Sources in Naval History: Papers from the Third United States Naval Academy History Symposium, ed. Robert V. Love, 175-186. New York: Garland, 1980.

Sexton gives this article, which stresses the limitations of Ultra, a "highly recommended" notation.

4. Very Special Intelligence: The Story of the Admiralty's Operational Intelligence Centre 1939-1945. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978. New York: Ballantine Espionage/Intelligence Library, 1981. [pb] London: Greenhill, 2000. [reprint] Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2000. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006.

For Pforzheimer, this book is "important" and "one of the most accurate of its kind." Constantinides calls the work a "first-rate product" by "a serious and honest writer." However, Beesly does not deal with the Pacific or the Mediterranean.

According to Kruh, Cryptologia 24.4, the 2000 reprint "includes a new introduction by W.J.R. Gardner, an excellent 22-page Afterword, 'Codebreaking in the Battle of the Atlantic[,]' by the ubiquitous Ralph Erskine, and a revised bibliography compiled by Gardner and Erskine." Writing on the 2000 edition, Hamilton, I&NS 16.3, finds that "[d]espite basing itself on much personal memory, sometimes unsupported by documents, Very Special Intelligence remains a reasoned and remarkably objective work."

Also, with regard to the 2000 edition, Rohwer, JIH 1.1, comments that "[w]e must be very grateful to ... Greenhill Books for re-publishing this most important book about the naval war 1939-1945 as seen from the 'back rooms' of the British Admiralty, and for asking two great experts to write a new introduction and an afterword. 'Jock' Gardner from the Naval Historical Branch in London ... gives a broad and instructive overview about the historiography of the naval war and the Battle of the Atlantic.... And Ralph Erskine ... delineates in his afterword the results of the 25-years of research into the role of signal intelligence in the Battle of the Atlantic."

Commenting on the 2006 edition, Bruns, DIJ 15.2 (2006), calls Beesly's "a thoughful story for serious intelligence professionals about the evolution of the bureaucracies created to fight other nations."

Beesly, Patrick, Jurgen Rohwer, and Kenneth Knowles. "Special Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic. The British, the German, and the American View." In Changing Interpretations and New Sources in Naval History: Papers from the Third United States Naval Academy History Symposium, ed. Robert V. Love, 413-449. New York: Garland, 1980.

Behrens, Carl E. Effects on U-Boat Performance of Intelligence from Decryption of Allied Communications. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Navy, 1954.

Sexton describes this work as a study by the U.S. Navy "of the role of Sigint on German actions and deployments in the Battle of the Atlantic."

Blair, Clay, Jr.

1. Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942. New York: Random House, 1996.

Kruh, Cryptologia 21.3, notes that for the years covered here, the author "chronicles virtually all major and many minor U-boat attacks and anti-submarine counterattacks and does it vividly and dramatically.... This monumental work is the most thorough study of the U-boat war in the Atlantic and includes 18 appendices that detail virtually any statistic wanted on the activities of the submarines that were involved."

2. Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945. New York: Random House, 1998.

Kruh, Cryptologia 24.1, comments that Blair presents "enormous detail and draw[s] on sources never used before." This is "the dramatic and authoritative story of the failures and fortunes of the German U-boat campaign against the United States and Great Britain.... [T]his monumental work is the most thorough study of the U-boat war."

To Green, Booklist, 15 Dec. 1998, it "seems unlikely that another historian will surpass Blair's achievement anytime soon. This two-volume chronicle assembles a whole library of information on the longest and one of the grimmest battles of World War II.... Superlative."

Anderson, Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), notes that the author "has researched these years thoroughly and meticulously. In fact, too meticulously." This is "a great book but a reader must be willing to plow through -- or sweep past -- all the details of every submarine versus anti-submarine engagement."

Bray, Jeffrey K. Ultra in the Atlantic. 4 vols. Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1994.

Vol. I: Allied Communications Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic.

Vol. II: U-Boat Operations.

Vol. III: German Naval Communications Intelligence.

Vol. IV: Technical Intelligence from Allied Communications Intelligence.

Surveillant 4.1: These are "reprinted, edited" versions of publications from the National Archives -- SRH-009, SRH-024, and SRH-025.

Buckley, John. "Air Power in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-45." Journal of Contemporary History 28 (Jan. 1993): 143-161.

Sexton notes the author's argument that "air power was the decisive factor in the Atlantic campaign, not Comint or HF/DF. Well worth reading."

Budiansky, Stephen. "German vs. Allied Codebreakers in the Battle of the Atlantic." International Journal of Naval History 1, no. 1 (2002).

DeBrosse, Jim, and Colin Burke. The Secret in Building 26: The Untold Story of America's War against the U-Boat Enigma Codes. New York: Random House, 2004.

Seamon, Proceedings 130.4 (Apr. 2004), notes that Building 26 on the National Cash Register campus in Dayton, Ohio, was where "the electromechanical giants that would help decipher Germany's complex Enigma code" were produced. While "the authors make a determined effort to explain the inner workings of Bombes, the average reader may have a tough time digesting unfamilar details.... But it will be worth the trouble." For Kruh, Cryptologia 29.2 (Apr. 2005), "[t]his excellent book is highly recommended."

Douglas, W.A.B., and Jurgen Rohwer. "'The Most Thankless Task' Revisited: Convoys, Escorts and Radio Intelligence in the Western Atlantic 1941-1943." In The Royal Canadian Navy in Retrospect, 1910-1968, ed. James Boutilier, 187-234. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1982.

Sexton: "A case study of the impact of Communications Intelligence from all sources on Allied and German decisions and actions.... Essential reading."

Erskine, Ralph.

1. "U-Boats, Homing Signals and HFDF." Intelligence and National Security 2, no. 2 (Apr. 1987): 324-330.

Sexton sees this as a "scholarly account of the importance of U-boat homing signals and Allied high frequency direction finding (HF/DF) facilities."

2. "Ultra and Some U.S. Navy Carrier Operations." Cryptologia 19, no. 1 (Jan. 1995): 81-96.

Operations by U.S. Navy escort carrier task groups against the German U-boats "show a significant difference of approach in the way in which the United States and British naval authorities employed Ultra (or special intelligence) from naval Enigma -- and escort carriers."

3. "Shore High-Frequency Direction-Finding in the Battle of the Atlantic:: An Undervalued Intelligence Asset." Journal of Intelligence History 4, no. 2 (Winter 2004). [http://www.intelligence-history.org/jih/journal.html]

From abstract: The author "reviews the operations of British and allied shore HF-DF nets during the Battle of the Atlantic." The article "includes Kriegsmarine assessments of shore HF-DF, and describes the measures ... adopted by the Kriegsmarine to counter HF-DF. It shows that shore HF-DF indirectly advanced the breaking of naval Enigma by about 12 months..., and that it was crucial to the breaking of the four-rotor naval Enigma cipher, Triton (codenamed Shark by Bletchley Park), at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic."

Farago, Ladislas. The Tenth Fleet. New York: Ivan Obolensky, 1962. New York: Paperback Library, 1964. [pb]

For Knowles, Studies 7.2 (Spring 1963), "[t]he main criticism that can be directed at the book arises from the author's dramatic compulsions, the most annoying of which is to portray the good guys as supermen and the bad guys as villians." Nevertheless, it "is based upon meticulous research into a wide range of source material," including both U.S. and German documents and records.

Constantinides comments that "[p]ersons familiar at first hand with the Tenth Fleet's history praised Farago's story as accurate and one of the most complete accounts that had been published at the time." Nevertheless, the work was written before Ultra became public knowledge, so it lacks that crucial dimension.

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