Wikijunior:World War II/Battle of the Atlantic
Why did the battle happen?
Britain is quite a small island and during the war it couldn't produce all the food for its people or all the guns, tanks and other equipment it needed for its army. So, Britain needed to ship the things it needed from other countries. Once Germany had conquered France and much of the rest of western Europe, Britain relied heavily on the United States and other countries outside of Europe for supplies.
The Atlantic Ocean is the world's second largest ocean and it separates Great Britain from North America. Thousands of ships would cross the Atlantic during the war bringing in vital war equipment and food.If Germany was to make Britain surrender, it needed to stop the ships. Ships also crossed the Atlantic to take supplies from the United States and Britain to the Soviet Union.
When was the battle?
The Battle of the Atlantic is the name given to the war fought between ships, submarines and airplanes between 1939 and 1945 - the longest battle of the war. The battle was at its most fierce between the middle of 1940 and the end of 1943. After this, the allies better weapons and code breaking skills meant the Germans could no longer sink enough ships to win.
Who was involved?
In the beginning it was Britain and Canada against the Germans. Then, from the middle of 1940 the Italians joined the German side. From September 1941 the United States joined the Allies, although they had given help before this date without officially being at war with Germany.
What were the results?
The allies lost 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, with over 30,000 sailors killed. The Germans lost 783 submarines and over 28,000 sailors.