Most of Britain’s vital supplies were brought from the United States of America, across the Atlantic Ocean. The Germans were very aware that they might win the war if they could cut off these supplies.
At first they sent out fast modern battleships to attach and sink the British merchant vessels. However, the British cruisers sent out to defend the merchant ships managed to make sure that the many groups of merchant ships (convoys) reached their destinations safely.
The Germans then began to use submarines. This made it more difficult for the British to defend ships. The battle between the German submarines (U-boats) and the convoys of merchant ships and their escorts began in 1941 and lasted for the duration of the war.
The attacks on the convoys became very successful when the U-boats began to hunt in “wolf-packs” of several submarines. The submarines would set out from their bases in Norway and France and would remain at sea for many days. The groups of submarines would attaché the convoys and the escort vessels would be unable to cope. In the first six months of 1942, 586 ships were sunk by U-boats, the total for the year being 1,160. The essential supplies did not get through.
The following sentences about the Battle of the Atlantic have been jumbled. Place them in the correct order.
In the year 1942 1,160 British ships were sunk by U-boats.
The U-boats began to hunt in “wolf-packs”.
The Germans used fast modern battleships to attach the British Vessels. They were not always successful.
The merchant ships sailed across the Atlantic in convoys protected by cruisers.
Vital supplies were brought across the Atlantic Ocean to Britain during the war.
The Germans began to use submarines.
Draw a picture of a convoy:
Essential Supplies Britain is a small country and relies of food, fuel, etc, from other countries. These supplies were carried to Britain in merchant ships and tankers. The Germans knew that the British needed the supplies sent over to keep her troops supplied and the people fed. They attacked the merchant ships with submarines and warships. Over 5,000 ships were sunk. Some of the oil supplies came from South America. The German submarines attacking Curacao would be trying to stop the supply of oil reaching Britain and the rest of Europe.
What would they need the oil for? _________________________________
Use your atlas to find the distance the oil tankers would have to travel from Curacao to Britain.
Here is a list of the goods which the convoy ships carried: