US Navy in WW II; Part i-- the atlantic war study guide

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Information about US Navy in WW II; Part i-- the atlantic war study guide

Published on March 10, 2014

Author: jbpowers



Suggestions for reading and viewing to supplement the visual presentations. The body of literature and film on this subject is immense. These are my personal picks.

The USN in WW II Part I The Atlantic War GENERAL symbols: after a DVD, (N) = available from Netflix (L) after a book, = Ham Co Public Library; # = number of copies at the Ham Co Public Library.; followed by price My “office hours” are 24/7 at e-Mail address: Feel free to e-Mail any questions, requests or suggestions You can review any session you miss at “The U. S. Naval Institute, based in Annapolis, Maryland, is a private, non-profit, professional military association that seeks to offer independent, nonpartisan forums for debate of national defense and security issues. In addition to publishing magazines and books, the Naval Institute holds several annual conferences. Established in 1873, the Naval Institute currently has about 50,000 members, mostly active and retired personnel of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The organization also has members in over 90 countries.”—Wikipedia USNI publishes a huge collection of biography and history books covering every aspect of the history of the USN & USMC. It began its mission in 1873 in the era when every American profession was founding learned societies to enhance the expertise of its members, e.g., the AMA, AHA, & many others. If a particular aspect of the USN in WW II interests you, look no further than its catalog of publications @ They currently have a sale on the Morison volumes (below). Samuel Eliot Morison, Jr., the standard work on the subject: “In 1942, Morison met with his friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt and offered to write a history of United States Navy operations during the war from an insider's perspective by taking part in operations and documenting them. The President and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox agreed to the proposal. On May 5, 1942, Morison was commissioned Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve, and was called at once to active duty.[1] The result of Morison's proposal was the History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, published in 15 volumes between 1947–1962, documenting everything from strategy and tactics to technology and the exploits of individuals—

a work which British military historian Sir John Keegan has called the best to come out of that conflict.”—Wikipedia They are available at the HamCo Public Library “Victory at Sea is a documentary television series about warfare in general during World War II, and naval warfare in particular, as well as the use of industry in warfare. It was originally broadcast by NBC in the USA in 1952–1953….The original TV broadcasts comprised 26 half- hour segments—Sunday afternoons …—starting October 26, 1952 and ending May 3, 1953. The series, which won an Emmy award in 1954 as "best public affairs program", played an important part in establishing historic "compilation" documentaries as a viable television genre.”— Wikipedia The complete series is available new at Amazon for $4.99 and used there starting at $2.03 (!) (N) on 4 disks. The Atlantic War ½ hour shows are: 1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 22 & 26. The text I used at U.S. Naval Academy is E.B. Potter and Chester W. Nimitz, Sea Power; A Naval History. Prentice Hall, 1960. I bought my current copy from Abe. They are now selling for $15.96 (2 copies) The period we study is chaps 26-43 of the 46 chapters of the text. There are later editions which take the story further. “Sea Power develops six main themes: (1) the influence of sea power upon history (2) the reasoning behind strategic decisions (3) the characteristics of successful leadership (4) the evolution of naval weapons (5) the evolution of naval tactics (6) the evolution of amphibious doctrine. “It is the duty of every person interested in the national defense to read and understand such a book as Sea Power.” Chester w. Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, USN”—op. cit. Our sessions ii-iv are aimed at the British sea war before the USN joins action. The standard work for this is Stephen W. Roskill, The War at Sea, 1939-1945 , 3 vols (1954-61), L (1) I. Why England [and America] Slept Potter and Nimitz, Chap. 26, Disarmament and Rearmament, pp. 476-490 This introduction begins with the post-war decisions which left the democracies so unprepared to deal with the fascist militarists. “Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”—Santayana Kennedy, John F. Why England Slept. 1940 L 2 ; Abe way too expensive! &c.. Since the author became rather well known, the book is something of a collectors item. JFK makes the case that what Graves & Hodges referred to as The Long Weekend (1919-1939) was a period

when the democracies took a holiday from the real world. He explains why ’31-34 was a period of disarmament. And why, when the rearmament began, it was “too little,too late.” Pretty impressive for a 20-year-old author. (I’m guessing there was help. ;-) a nice description of causes, terms and results here. I was interested that the author listed Sea Power as one of his sources! Similar wiki entries are available for all the facts, persons, documents, &c. Another approach to a deeper look at this period would be the biographies of the key players in the democracies and the Axis Powers II. Atlantic Surface Operations, I Chap 27, pp. 491-502 I will follow the USNA text which begins on 1 Sept 39 and traces the course of war from the outset, well before the USN is involved, even unofficially. This session will follow Germany’s attacks and Britain’s efforts to contain the threat. It ends with the Norway disaster and the fall of Chamberlain’s government, 10 May 1940 The Battle of the River Plate (Pursuit of the Graf Spee DVD (N) 1956 --119 min-In this World War II docudrama, the British Royal Navy's Capt. Bell and the crew of the Exeter set out to destroy the German pocket battleship Graf Spee, chasing the indestructible Nazi vessel and cornering it in the South Atlantic harbor of Montevideo. There, they wage a fierce campaign against the notorious battleship. The film's supporting cast includes Anthony Quayle, Ian Hunter and Peter Finch as the German captain, Langsdorff.)- Netflix summary. This was one of my boyhood favorites. A nice at-sea refueling sequence 15 minutes in between a US heavy cruiser representing the Graf Spee and a fleet oiler representing the Altmark. If the well done battle sequence doesn’t get your heart pumping… A website with a battle animation and spoken (and written) commentary. A simple presentation of this complex engagement. Pope, Dudley, Graf Spee : The Life and Death of a Raider. 1957. L 2 —a prolific British writer of maritime history and fiction. III. Atlantic Surface Operations, II Chap 28, pp. 503-518

This session concludes the story of Hitler’s surface threat, from10 May 40-the sinking of Tirpitz, 12 Nov 44. The much more serious and continuing undersea threat in the Atlantic will be dealt with in session V. Sink the Bismarck DVD (N) 1960 --97 min-Wonderful film describing the gallant actions on both sides as this behemoth is sent to the bottom. Enjoy! contemporary newsreel. With such “Briticisms” as “our furst chawnce to get a crack at the Hun” —another fine website with detailed info on the raid Pope, Dudley, 73 North : The Defeat of Hitler’s Navy. 1958. L 2 —describe the Battle of the Barents Sea, a turning point in Hitler’s naval strategy. IV. The Struggle for the Mediterranean Chap 29, pp. 519-540 Beginning with pre-war Anglo-French plans to stymy the Axis here and concluding with Rommel's defeat at El Alamein, 23 Oct-15 Dec 42 The Desert Fox: the Story of Rommel DVD (N) 1951 --91 min-Terrific job by James Mason. I remember an 11-year-old kid who watched this 3 times in a row at the Keith theater. The Desert Rats DVD (N) 1953 --88 min-Mason reprises his role here with a young Richard Burton leading the hit-and-run forces which nipped at his heels Victory at Sea DVD (N) 1952 --27 min @—Discs 1 & 2 Program # 5, Mediterranean Mosaic. The weakness of this series is clearly demonstrated here. Lots of stirring music and footage of the British French and Italian navies in peace and war, intense narration with lots of “purple prose,” but almost no strategic or tactical analysis. Fortunately, this is the low point of the series. Program # 8 Mare Nostrum. Here the North African desert war is developed and the role of sea power in cutting off Rommel’s supplies. V. The Battle of the Atlantic Chap 30, pp. 541-564 Central to the European phase of WW II was the task of defeating the Nazi U-boat threat. Without this Hitler was unstoppable. This session will describe ASW, beginning to end. Victory at Sea DVD (N) 1952 --27 min @— The difference of organization is most clear here. The t.v. documentary begins with September, 1939 and emphasizes the U-boat threat, ignoring the surface commerce raiders entirely. The U-boat threat was

certainly the greater and the longer lasting one. Three shows, 1.Design for War, 2. Sealing the Breach & 16. Killers and the Kill trace the anti-submarine war. The story culminates with Daniel Gallery’s capture of the U-505, the first enemy warship boarded and captured since the War of 1812. Das Boot DVD (N) 1981—209 min-“Nominated for six Oscars, this edge-of-your-seat dramatic triumph follows the trials of a German U-boat crew during World War II. Upon its restored re-release in 1997, an hour was added to the original film, which further augmented its impact. It also played as a six- hour German miniseries. In all its forms, the realistic and gripping battle scenes and palpable human struggle make Das Boot a critical hit.”—Netflix U-Boot Westwärts (YouTube) 1941-A WW II propaganda flick by UFA film corporation, one of Goebbels’ favorites. There is a Wiki article about it which includes a link for the YouTube URL or you can enter it yourself in your browser window: VI. The Allied Offensive against North Africa Chap 31, pp. 565-583 Strategic thinking, peripheral vs. continental approaches, begins this session. It concludes with the destruction of Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the Casablanca conference, 14-23 Jan 43. Victory at Sea DVD (N) 1952 --27 min @— Program # 9, Sea and Sand. After a brief digression to the East and the call for a Second Front, the session follows the North African landings through to “…the end of the beginning”—Churchill . VII. Operations against Sicily and Italy Chap 32, pp. 584-604 From the planning stages of Operation Husky against Sicily to the liberation of Rome, 4 Jun 44. Victory at Sea DVD (N) 1952 --27 min @— Program # 14, Roman Renaissance. The session begins with Hitler’s visit to Rome in ’43 to buck up his weak partner. Next, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio & the liberation of Rome. Again, clips of combat footage and striking narration but weak on analysis. Look for it in our session! VIII. The Defeat of Germany Chap 33, pp.605-627 From strategic planning for the final blows to “Mission Accomplished,” V-E Day 8 May 1945 Victory at Sea DVD (N) 1952 --27 min Program # 15, D-Day. The background and execution of Operation Overlord. Program # 22. The Fate of Europe. After a brief description of Russia’s maritime operations on the Black Sea as the

Nazis are driven out, the story of French liberation continues with Operation Anvil, the invasion of the French Mediterranean coast. Yalta is briefly described. The European war ends with the final German collapse. The Longest Day DVD (N)also (L)has copies of the DVD 1962 --178 min Although Saving Private Ryan opens with a justly celebrated grisly opening sequence portraying Bloody Omaha Beach, the best description of D-Day remains this film version of Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same title [also highly recommended]. The disk 2 (bonus material) @(N) is highly recommended, especially the discussion in the segment titled “The Longest Day: A Salute to Courage” (2000) which describes how both Ryan, the author and Zanuck the producer, both combat vets, were determined to bring out this book/film as a tribute to those who served there. Along with Das Boot, the film is in running for the best war film ever, certainly the “biggest.” I particularly applaud the decision to film in B & W when almost all flicks were in color, and the decision to have people speak in their own languages with subtitles. Here’s Netflix’ description. What a cast!!!This Oscar-winning war epic chronicles World War II's harrowing D-Day invasion. Shot on the beaches of Normandy, France, the ambitious film attempts to cover the historic day from all perspectives, focussing on both sides of the conflict. Cast:John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Peter Lawford, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery, Jeffrey Hunter, Mel Ferrer, Richard Dawson, Steve Forrest Beevor, Antony, D-Day :The Battle for Normandy 2009. L (20) The number of copies indicates his popularity. He and Max Hastings (His accounts of both the end of the European and Japanese war also highly recommended)are the reigning British military historians. Both have combat experience as well as academic credentials. Beevor’s book on the final days for Germany is titled The Fall of Berlin : 1945 2002 L (4) jbp 3/1/14

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