Battle of the Atlantic

During the war Great Britain got most of its food, war materials and other supplies from North America. Throughout the war, Germany tried to destroy the ships that brought goods to the island. German U-boats or submarines were the biggest threat to the British navy. At first, these U-boats were very successful in tracking down British cargo ships and sinking them. They often attacked in groups called wolf packs.

To survive such attacks, British ships travelled in groups called convoys. They were protected by destroyers and also supported by planes. As time went on, America gave British ships more and more protection.

In 1943 the Allies began to escort the convoys with small aircraft carriers. The planes that could take off from the carriers and long-range bombers from land began to attack and destroy more and more German submarines. The Allies began winning the sea war also because they started using an underwater radar system called sonar to locate submarines. By the middle of 1943 the Allies were sinking U-boats faster than the Germans could replace them.

Officers on board a British destroyer on the lookout for German U-boats

  • aircraft carrier = ship that planes can fly from and land on
  • Allies = the countries that fought against Germany in World War II (The USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union)
  • attack = the act of using weapons against an enemy
  • cargo = the goods that are carried on a ship or a plane
  • convoy = group of ships that travel together
  • destroy = to damage completely
  • destroyer = small fast military ship with guns
  • escort = a ship that travels with another one to protect it
  • goods = things that are produced so that they can be sold
  • long range bomber = plane that can carry bombs and drop them on a place far away
  • navy = part of a country's army that fights at sea
  • protect, protection = defend against something, guard
  • replace = to take the place of
  • sonar = machine on a ship or submarine that uses sound waves to find out where objects under water are
  • successful = to be good at something
  • supplies = things that are necessary for daily life , like food, clothes, medicine etc...
  • support = help, assist
  • survive = here: not to sink
  • take off = start
  • threat = danger
  • throughout = in all of
  • wolf packs = here: a group of submarines that travel together and attack enemy ships