Battle of the Atlantic
- TV Mini Series
- 2002– 2002–
- 2h 26min
The story of the World War II effort by Nazi Germany to disrupt Allied shipping with U-boat attacks and the Allied efforts to prevent it.The story of the World War II effort by Nazi Germany to disrupt Allied shipping with U-boat attacks and the Allied efforts to prevent it.The story of the World War II effort by Nazi Germany to disrupt Allied shipping with U-boat attacks and the Allied efforts to prevent it.
It begins with "The Grey Wolves", the story of Hitler's submarines, the U-boats, and their threat to starve Britain into submission. With the leadership of Admiral Karl Donitz, and his 'wolf packs', they nearly succeeded. Huge numbers of merchant ships were sunk between 1939 and 1942.
The second part, "Keeping Secrets", describes the capture of an Enigma machine - the true story, not that of the feature film "U571" - and the invention of radar.
Lastly, "The Hunted" describes how the tide turned and the tactics of Captain "Johnny" Walker, in HMS Starling, and Admiral Sir Max Horton ashore in Liverpool, together with RAF Coastal Command, and comparable allied services, prevailed to win the Battle of the Atlantic.
Both the Allies and the Germans had a common enemy, of course - the Atlantic Ocean - and the graphic archive footage leaves the viewer in no doubt about the Cruel Sea. Churchill is seen meeting Jolly Jack and US Navy sailors and Hitler meets some of the top U-boat commanders.
As ever, best of all, are the stories told by the men, and women, themselves - the eye-witness accounts of the U-boat commanders, the Royal Navy hunters, the merchant seamen, airmen and code-breakers. This is truly a sea story and the tale of the under-stated heroism that underpinned the Allied victory in Europe. The cost was the loss of more than 30,000 merchant seamen, over 4,700 British flagged merchant ships and many allied surface warships and men. Over 85% of U-boat crews would lose their lives.
The three-part series is available on one DVD as part of the 12-disc boxed set "World War II Collection" (BBC Worldwide, 2005). See also the BBC Timewatch documentary "Forgotten Heroes" (1994), an extra feature on the DVD; in their own words, it tells the story of the merchant seaman in World War II.
The drama documentary "Western Approaches" (1944) will be of interest to those who wish to know more about the Battle of the Atlantic as will, of course, the feature films "Lifeboat" (1944) and "The Cruel Sea" (1953).
- Oct 16, 2007