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During the Second World War, the Atlantic Ocean was a strategic location for the Allied Powers (United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union) to deliver war supplies to each other. However, the Axis Powers, particularly Germany and Italy, wanted to stop them. This battle to control the Atlantic Ocean was eventually known as the Battle of the Atlantic. It took place across the northern part of the Atlantic to the American coast and the Caribbean Sea. The battles lasted for five years and eight months, from September 3, 1939, to May 8, 1945.
See the fact file below for more information on the Battle of the Atlantic or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Battle of the Atlantic worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
IN FAVOR OF THE GERMANS
- The first battle of the Atlantic started around the western side of Ireland on September 3, 1939, after a German submarine sunk the SS Athenia. The Allied ship had 1,400 passengers, and 118 of them were killed, including four Canadians.
- Nazi Germany gained a heavy advantage during the earlier battles in the Atlantic Ocean. The Germans utilized submarines, called U-boats (short for Unterseeboot, meaning undersea boat) to spy on British ships and sink them using torpedoes.
- This strategy caused significant damages to the ships owned by the Allies. In fact, in June 1941 alone, around 500,000 tons of cargo was lost due to U-boats.
- In the following year, the German U-boats successfully brought down more than 1,000 merchant ships belonging to the British navies.
- This further encouraged the Germans to quickly produce hundreds of submarines that eventually manned the Atlantic by 1943.
- In response, the Allied forces travelled in large groups known as convoys. The Allied destroyer warships served as escorts and defenders against German U-boat attacks.
- This tactic became effective for many Allied ships to safely cross the Atlantic and get to Britain, but only for a period of time, because Germany persistently manufactured more and more submarines to counter the method of the Allies.
- Moreover, the German naval forces employed another tactic known as the Wolf Pack, where a number of submarines would purposely surround and attack a British supply convoy at once.
- The Wolf Pack strategy was first used by the Germans on October 18, 1940, when seven submarines attacked the convoy SC-7. This convoy contained 35 merchant ships and six escorts moving from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Liverpool, England. The German U-boats sank 20 merchant ships, and around 140 sailors died.
- During that time, Great Britain needed at least 20 supply ships from France and the US to arrive in their country in order for the war against Germany to push forward.
IN FAVOR OF THE ALLIES
- The battle reached its peak in 1943, when Germany had a large number of submarines patrolling the Atlantic.
- However, the Allies had already broken into Germany’s Enigma code and developed new technologies to fight the submarines.
- The Allies used radars to pinpoint the locations of the submarines and destroyed them through innovative underwater bombs known as Hedgehogs.
- Moreover, the Allied aircraft carried a Leigh Light, a large spotlight used to find submarines that had surfaced during the evening.
- In mid-1943, the Atlantic battle was already working in favor of the Allied Powers.
- As a result, the United States managed to provide more ship supplies to Great Britain, including a large number of soldiers, weapons, and ammunition needed for the Normandy invasion.
- Canada had also been an ally at the time, and it expanded its escort duties and delivered ships to protect the ports belonging to the British navies.
- That same year, U-boats only managed to take out less than 300 merchant ships.
- Canada, through its strong hunter groups, was likewise successful in sinking eight U-boats between November 1943 to early 1944.
- Although new German submarines arrived in 1945, these were no longer helpful to the cause of the Germans, leading them to lose the battle.
RESULTS OF THE BATTLE
- Germany ultimately failed to secure the Atlantic Ocean as a supply line for Great Britain, leaving them with no choice but to surrender, but it was Britain that suffered the most, even though they ended victoriously.
- The control of the Atlantic was a vital instrument for the Allied Powers to keep Germany from fully invading the rest of Western Europe.
- It was estimated that at least 30,000 sailors died on both sides.
- Moreover, around 3,500 Allied supply ships and 175 Allied warships were destroyed by the Germans, while 783 German submarines were damaged by the Allies.
Battle of the Atlantic Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Battle of the Atlantic across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Battle of the Atlantic worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the battle to control the Atlantic Ocean which was eventually known as the Battle of the Atlantic. It took place across the northern part of the Atlantic to the American coast and the Caribbean Sea. The battles lasted for five years and eight months, from September 3, 1939, to May 8, 1945.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- WWII: Battle of the Atlantic Facts
- Mapping Out the Battle
- Find the Words
- Complete the Information
- Battle of the Atlantic: A Timeline
- The Two Sides
- Results of the Battle
- The Striking Part
- Historical Significance
- The Battle in Popular Culture
- In a Nutshell
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Link will appear as Battle of the Atlantic Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 5, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
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