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The current time is: 10/20/2017 12:17:41 PM
 Naval WWII    
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 2771

Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/1/2017 8:15:50 PM
After only a couple of weeks of America being at war against Germany, in 1942, U-Boats showed up on the very coast of N. America! They immediately began sinking ships at an alarming rate over 400 total. Basically to avoid panic this attack was not publicized. check out these documentaries on the subject!? They even put German mines in the Chesapeake Bay, & dropped sabotage teams on the shores.

[Read More]

What say you about the early U-Boat attacks on America,
so much so, that Germans called it the happy time!

Regards
Dave

feel free to discuss, list websites, articles, & videos,
even our allies in Canada were attacked!?
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5302

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/1/2017 9:34:58 PM
Well first of all, the Battle of the Atlantic started on Sept. 3, 1939 so Canada had already been involved from that date though war was not declared until Sept. 10. So Canada was already fighting the German u-boat menace. No surprise then that when the Germans decided to send u-boats to North America that they continued to attack Canadian ships and merchant ships departing from Canadian ports.

Canadian ports of Halifax NS and Saint John NB were critical to the effort to transport material to GB. Add the Newfoundland port of St. John's to that list.

In 1940, the RCN sent 4 modern River Class destroyers to assist the RN in the fight against the u-boats, over there. The RCN was in the midst of a great expansion to produce escort vessels and sailors to man them.

By 1941, the u-boats were intercepting convoys out of Canada in the mid-Atlantic where they were safe from aircraft attack.

The US was involved in convoy escort, probably in violation of its declaration of neutrality.

After Dec. 7. 1941, the Germans mounted u-boat attacks on the coast of North America, not just the US east coast.

In Jan. of 1942, 8 u-boats were stationed off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia ready to pick off ships. They took down 70 including 21 right in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Battle of the St. Lawrence (part of the Battle of the Atlantic) saw German subs head up the St. Lawrence River. There are stories that the Germans landed on the shore near Quebec villages and bought cigarettes and food from local shopkeepers. The Canadians government denies these stories. There is a group trying to prove that the German penetration of the St. Lawrence was much more extensive than once thought.

[Read More]

The USN was not fully prepared for the German attacks during Operation Drumbeat. After all, the navy had taken quite a hit at Pearl Harbor and resources had been shifted to the Pacific.

And so the Germans had a field day on the east coast of the US.


Cheers,

George


Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2771

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/1/2017 9:56:30 PM
Yes George,

Ya gotta wonder what the USN was thinking sending virtually all of their warships to the Pacific? The U-Boats were virtually unchallenged, except for a small group of ragtag patrol boats that the U-Boats probably giggled at? Today modern underwater teams are mapping and exploring these WWII Wrecks including a few U-Boats!?

[Read More]

History is real, fascinating stuff!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Moderator


Posts: 1309

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/1/2017 10:23:47 PM
Dave, I'm making a comment without following the full hour of your link. I got angry within the first three minutes, so thought I should just offer my piece.

Despite any nonsense from FDR, the US – and in particular, the USN – was at war with Germany long before PH. the USN understood the Uboat menace, and the challenges of convoying, and the importance of darkness, and the extent of U-boat operations. From Dec 8, the War Department should have ordered the USN to convoy all ships up the East Coast. Period. Not as a phase-in; not after further discussion. Immediately.

Much more serious was the lack of response to the war by the citizens of coastal cities on the Atlantic coast. No black-outs. No light controls at all. The lights were a marvellous assistance to U-boats looking for silhouetted targets. Hell, they didn't even have to come to the surface to find targets.

If the assault on Atlantic coast shipping wasn't publicized, then that was a disservice. Panic wasn't the concern, IMHO. Inconvenience was. I don't know enough to understand what PH meant, or what FDR's declaration of war meant, or what the de facto war between Germany and the US meant. Did US citizens post-PH accept Germans as enemies?

I believe the sinkings you are talking about were part of what the German's U-boat fleet called the "Happy Times". No convoy support. No effective blackouts. Just fat targets to be found in silhouette and blown out of the water.

As to Canada, we had been under attack by U-boat long before the US entry into WW2. U-boats were deep in the throat of the St. Lawrence, and swarmed around convoy and/or naval foci such as St. John's and Halifax, major centres of convoys and convoy support. We lost ships to skippers with balls, but also because we forgot where a U-boat might sail.

There has been much made of sabotage teams being dropped by U-boat in the opening months of the US involvement in the war. And there are comments about the effectiveness of he FBI in capturing such teams. I wish I could believe what sounds somewhat like J Edgar Hoover inspired bullshit, but if the Germans had insertion processes in place, one find was probably a tithe of other teams. Nobody talks about how many other such teams might have been dropped without discovery, before the US and Germany went to war.

Dave, given the undeclared war the US was involved in, I don't think it should come as a surprise that any U-boat on the US East Coast would delight in sinking anything that presented itself, particularly if the folks along the Eastern seaboard were unprepared to turn out their lights.

It was a disaster, of course. But I think the respsonsibility rests with the US.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 1:45:12 PM

Quote:
Dave, I'm making a comment without following the full hour of your link. I got angry within the first three minutes, so thought I should just offer my piece.

Despite any nonsense from FDR, the US – and in particular, the USN – was at war with Germany long before PH. the USN understood the Uboat menace, and the challenges of convoying, and the importance of darkness, and the extent of U-boat operations. From Dec 8, the War Department should have ordered the USN to convoy all ships up the East Coast. Period. Not as a phase-in; not after further discussion. Immediately.

Much more serious was the lack of response to the war by the citizens of coastal cities on the Atlantic coast. No black-outs. No light controls at all. The lights were a marvellous assistance to U-boats looking for silhouetted targets. Hell, they didn't even have to come to the surface to find targets.

If the assault on Atlantic coast shipping wasn't publicized, then that was a disservice. Panic wasn't the concern, IMHO. Inconvenience was. I don't know enough to understand what PH meant, or what FDR's declaration of war meant, or what the de facto war between Germany and the US meant. Did US citizens post-PH accept Germans as enemies?

I believe the sinkings you are talking about were part of what the German's U-boat fleet called the "Happy Times". No convoy support. No effective blackouts. Just fat targets to be found in silhouette and blown out of the water.


Brian,

I've run into some of these points before and they have some justification, but when you dig into the reality it becomes murkier - it becomes something of a naval version of the "Ronsons" and "Tommiecookers" story about Allied tanks. That is, much of our current perception is due to postwar participants postwar recollection of what they experienced, which then got solidified as "fact". However, those "facts" sometimes diverge from reality.

For example, the stories about "beach-goers" and people in "East Coast cities" (usually 'Miami' or 'New York' supposedly "seeing" sinking ships aflame "just offshore" are almost impossible to verify...and sometimes fail the "smell test". The coastal blackout was actually phased in from 8 December 1941 (initially it was D.C. blacked out in case the Germans decided to bomb it) to 1 April 1942 when the complete coastal blackout was ordered. The problem is prior to that there are few, if any, sinkings that can be pinpointed as "in sight of land". Even the stories of "tankers burning in sight of beachgoers" appear to be sightings of the fires reflected on the horizon at night (and IIRC when I plotted those locations it was off the North Carolina coast at Hatteras where there were no "cities" at that time to be blacked out - and damned few "beachgoers" in December-March! As far as the German stories go, the most famous anecdotal mentions by U-Boat seamen are from after April 1942, IOW after the blackout was instituted, so it is questionable what their memoirs were actually recording too.

Much, much more serious was the lack of escorts. Convoying was considered, but rejected, because it was believed that since the convoys couldn't be escorted that the solution would have been worse than the problem. Later wartime and postwar analysis indicates that was in fact probably correct. The real problem was the lack of suitable escorts available in useful numbers for coastal convoying. In that respect the transfer of the 50 4-stackers hurt, but otherwise, just like every other nation we were stuck with the inability/unwillingness to build escorts prewar. Logically that was the correct decision given the limited tonnage available to build under the monetary and yard capabilities in place then.

It also didn't help that the area to be covered was huge. That limited the effectiveness of the already small number of air resources available. Basing was inadequate, aircraft were inadequate, prewar limitations on Army Air Forces aircrew flying overwater limited their capabilities, as did the poorly defined lines of command and coordination between the Air Forces and Navy. PAUKENSCHLAG was initiated on the German declaration of war, with the first of six boats (one turned back due to engine problems) departing on 18 December. The target was the Northeast Sea Frontier - 750 linear miles of coast defended by seven Coast Guard cutters, four converted yachts, three 1919-vintage patrol boats, two gunboats dating back to 1905, and four wooden submarine chasers, with 100 short-range aircraft available for reconnaissance. The first attack was on 11 January and all five boats were in place by the 13th...by 6 February when they began returning, they sank 25 ships, nine by U-123. Convoying was instituted on the East Coast in May and in the Caribbean in July, but had limited effect given the continued dearth of escorts.

Finally, the government had committed to an immediate reinforcement of Britain, which meant trans-Atlantic troop convoys that had to be escorted heavily, which took away even more of the available escorts.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 5956
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 1:58:46 PM
First Transatlantic Convoy from USA to GB was AT1 in April 1942-this was not a troop carrier.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5302

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 2:00:25 PM
Hello Rich,

Were many of the USN modern destroyers immediately dispatched from the Atlantic to the Pacific after Pearl Harbor?


Also you mentioned the old four stackers. Was your reference to the ones that had been transferred to the RN and RCN and that these would have been useful in the initial stages of the u-boat attacks on the east coast?

Cheers,

George

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 2:17:10 PM

Quote:
First Transatlantic Convoy from USA to GB was AT1 in April 1942-this was not a troop carrier.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Um, no, sorry Jim, the first troop convoy was AT.10, departing New York on 15 January 1942 and arriving Londonderry on 27 January. It consisted of five ships and 23 escorts (including BB Texas, CA Wichita, CV Wasp, and 20 0thers). It carried the first increment of the 34th ID to Northern Ireland.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 2:27:11 PM
Odd Rich- AT10 sailing before ATi; but I have to accept your word as a noted scholar.DO you know where the US troops were to be used???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 5302

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 3:32:10 PM
Now I am confused. What does AT stand for

Also, I thought that the first US convoy departed from Halifax on Jan 10 and arrived in Londonderry on Jan. 24.

This was Convoy NA-1. What does NA stand for?

I have the HX and the ON convoy systems in my brain but I am not familiar with AT or NA

Two troop carriers detached themselves and made for Belfast.

These ships were the Strathaird and Chateau Thierry.

If accurate were these the advance elements of the 34th?

There is a monument in Belfast that commemorates the arrival.




EDIT: OK found something on wiki.

NA were troopship convoys from Canada to the UK
AT were troopship convoys from America (US version) to the UK. UK to America was TA

Cheers,

George

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/8/2017 11:44:40 PM

Quote:
Odd Rich- AT10 sailing before ATi; but I have to accept your word as a noted scholar.DO you know where the US troops were to be used???

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim, there is a misconception that all the convoy codes were used for a single series, but they actually got reused in some cases. The original "AT" series was actually in the Med - it was Alexandria to Tobruk and went from AT1 to AT49, ending April 1942. The second "AT" series were the Atlantic Troop convoys and the first was numbered as AT10. It ran New York to Londonderry. The second was AT12 (although it may have been the third, although there is no record of an AT11 or AT13, but the convoy records are somewhat incomplete) and was New York to Belfast, leaving 19 February 1942. Then AT14, AT15, and so on. The last was AT223 on 31 July 1945, which was New York to the Clyde. The final series of AT convoys was Ancona to Trieste in June 1945, but there were just two of those.

The best source for convoy data is Arnold Hague's Convoy Database.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 5956
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/9/2017 5:45:37 AM
Thanks Rich for your learned explanation of the AT coding -the source I used was termed Transatlantic Crossings and AT! was a convoy out of New York in April 1942 and not shown as a troop carrying convoy. I confess I had forgotten about Aenold Hague and his Convoy Darabasw which I have used many times in the past.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 2771

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/16/2017 3:26:23 PM

Quote:
Dave, I'm making a comment without following the full hour of your link. I got angry within the first three minutes, so thought I should just offer my piece.

It was a disaster, of course. But I think the respsonsibility rests with the US.

Cheers
Brian G
--brian grafton


Bri,

by US, do you mean you & your friends, or the United States?

anyway the U-Boats were shooting at us!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Posts: 1309

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/16/2017 7:00:53 PM
George, I have a print-out of convoy codes that runs to some 450 codes, and routinely run into coded designations that do not appear on my list.

Just looking at the list as I'm writing, I note (just as an example, and because of comments by Jim and Rich) that in 1941 AT indicated convoys from Alexandria to Tobruk, while from 1942-45 AT indicated troopship convoys from the US to the UK. In the first instance, we are looking at at an RN nomenclature (between two specific military locations), while in the latter we may be looking at a broader allied ID: AT probably meant Atlantic Troop. And just by-the-bye, many of the convoys around the world used the concept of reciprocal designations.

I sometimes think that RN officers charged with creating the code were either inveterate civil servants in uniform, or german spies who were undetected. Take the designation AS, for example. In 194o-41, AS meant Piraeus to Alexandria (Aegean Southbound), with a reciprocal (that's not really a reciprocal) of AN (Aegean North). From 1942, AS meant New York-Suez (America-Suez).

I guess ya had to work there!

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/16/2017 7:39:36 PM
Funny thing, Dave. You go to war, and the enemy shoot at you!

In this case, I think the US was negligent. The issue is more complex than I suggested, as Richto90 makes clear. But you can't blame the Germans for shooting at targets.

Cheers,
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/16/2017 8:23:31 PM
Rich, you'll get no argument from me on any of the points you are making. But if one has to offer a general assessment, I would pretty much stand by my comments.

I agree that "eye witness" accounts might press the envelope of a ship blowing up and sinking. A ship more than 20 miles off-shore is not typically a visible object, though it's explosion might seem to be. But I suspect that ships sailing up the US east coast were further off-shore, and the rest is over-ride. Hell, there were people on the West Coast seeing Japanese soldiers coming ashore!

Your story (sorry, the story about concerns of Germans bombing DC that you tell) is, IMHO, a good example of the separation between US citizens' perception and reality. Germans couldn't bomb the US. But – much less exciting and much more deadly – they could attack the products of what FDR himself had called "the arsenal of democracy".

I agree that unescorted convoys simply created target-rich environments. And I agree that USN needs after PH were much greater than USN resources.

I find it funny that you would mention the "hurt" caused by the 50 4-stackers, to be honest. IIUC, they were "wet" boats, and of very early design, but the USN ultimately made a good deal in trading them for bases.

I sympathize with what the US faced the day it entered war against Germany. Many of the issues were the same as the RN and other navies faced in 1939, and which were increased many-fold with the expansion of Germany's facilities on the coast of Europe. I don't know if the US had as many useless ship types as Britain did, but the USN – the service with ingrowing attraction – did not have the types of vessels required for defensive warfare.

I'm somewhat uncomfortable with your last comment, I will admit. I sense it is a bit disingenous.
Quote:
Finally, the government had committed to an immediate reinforcement of Britain, which meant trans-Atlantic troop convoys that had to be escorted heavily, which took away even more of the available escorts.
Gimme a break. Whatever promise might be made to Britain, we're looking at the US need to protect convoys of GIs heading to fight with nothing. And before all those GIs might be effective, shipments of weapons are required. You gotta protect the equipment that makes hordes of GI's worthwhile by providing them transport, food and comfort.

Gotta go. Thanks, Rich, for some good comments (that I'm going to find helpful).

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/17/2017 2:11:15 AM

Quote:
In this case, I think the US was negligent. The issue is more complex than I suggested, as Richto90 makes clear. But you can't blame the Germans for shooting at targets.

Cheers,
Brian G
--brian grafton


Sometimes it isn't that simple. I finally found my old notes on the realities of the "coastal blackout".

There has been considerable confusion and quite a bit of misinformation over the years regarding the East Coast "blackout" regulations. The first blackout in the U.S. at the start of the war was enacted on the West Coast,from the Mexican to the Canadian border, at 1900 hours PST on 7 December. However, it caused numerous problems. For one, there was no centralized "switch" to turn off power, especially to public utilities such as street lights. In Los Angeles, it was remarked that the 10,000+ street lights were in different jurisdictions, with different sections on different timers. On the East Coast, the first blackout was declared for D.C. on 13 December, and was only partly successful, for many of the same reasons. Boston tested its blackout successfully in early January and Manhattan about the same time. However, they were focused on air raid protection and not on coastal defense.

Part of the problem with coastal defense via blackout on the U.S. coast, both East and West, was the size of the populations and urban areas close to the coast. It was found early on that blacking out the port cities did little good, because the background illumination of the hundreds of cities and towns a few miles inland made it moot. In any case, the early successes of Paukenschlag were in part unforeseen because it was believed the Germans would not risk their relatively short-ranged (8,000-8,700 NM versus 11,000 NM for contemporary U.S. subs) in such an affair, plus there was an early breakdown in communications between the UK Submarine Tracking Room and the USN that dissipated the warning.

As a result of Paukenschlag, discussions between the War and Navy Department on 2 and 16 March 1942 led to the first mandated blackout on 18 April 1942. However, even that proved inadequate because of the background illumination problem, and on 14 May 1942 the blackout was extended further inland...and extended again in June and then August.

The worst though was the simple fact that many communities for months either failed to observe the regulations or simply flouted them.


Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 2771

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/17/2017 9:17:21 AM
BTW: If there was a total blackout how could the Merchant Marine or coastal defense craft maneuver the rocky coastlines of New England & the shallow shoals along the Atlantic Coasts, when traveling at night??

Lighthouses anyone?
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/17/2017 11:40:42 AM

Quote:
BTW: If there was a total blackout how could the Merchant Marine or coastal defense craft maneuver the rocky coastlines of New England & the shallow shoals along the Atlantic Coasts, when traveling at night??

Lighthouses anyone?
MD
--Michigan Dave


Lighthouses. Also channel markers, navigation buoys, and lights. It wasn't a matter of simply flipping a switch. Britain also faced many of these problems early on.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/17/2017 11:51:39 AM

Quote:
I find it funny that you would mention the "hurt" caused by the 50 4-stackers, to be honest. IIUC, they were "wet" boats, and of very early design, but the USN ultimately made a good deal in trading them for bases.


Um, sorry, but that is irrelevant to the argument. When placed into British service, the Towns were mostly engaged in coastal convoy work, exactly what they would have been used for in the US. And they freed up better ocean-going ships - mostly modernized V & W classes - that were somewhat wasted in that "non-wet" environment.

BTW, while most of the US ships eventually were overhauled in British yards - they got an average of some 20 weeks of work each - most were turned over after they had been prepared for service, were in service, or were just recently placed back into reserve. That left the USN with just the reserve boats that hadn't seen service in some cases for years and required major overhauls, delaying getting them into service. And yes, it hurt, as late as June 1944, 37 of them were still used as escorts for the coastal traffic on the east coast and Caribbean.


Quote:
I'm somewhat uncomfortable with your last comment, I will admit. I sense it is a bit disingenous.


Why is it "disingenous [sic]"? It is simple fact. Churchill wanted US troops there soonest and Roosevelt agreed. King pointed out the risks of committing the required escorts for them, but the requirement had to be met. It may have been political, rather than military, but that doesn't change the requirement.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/17/2017 8:59:22 PM
Yeah, Dave. Lighthouses indeed! Light up the world and give U-boats perfect means of triangulating where they are.

Maybe Rich can answer how far off-shore most of the ships were sailing. But the US East Coast is port-rich, and much of the normal (as distinct from military) traffic ran between those ports.

A ship heading from Galveston to Liverpool could stay off the Continental shelf, and join a UK-bound convoy off any of the main military ports linking the US and UK. But a local steamer carrying consumer goods from Florida to Baltimore might face navigational issues.

This might sound harsh, but didn't the US have regulations governing such things as seamanship, basic navigational skills and/or general operational capability for its Merchant Marine?

One of the interesting things that most nations realize once they go to war is exactly how limited their standards and requirements are. It took Britain many many months to realize that a great bomber fleet isn't any use if it can't find a target. It would take some time for traditional coastal mariners in the US to realize their expected supports (buoys, lighthouses, horns and the like) were precursors of death.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/18/2017 10:08:13 AM

Quote:
One of the interesting things that most nations realize once they go to war is exactly how limited their standards and requirements are. It took Britain many many months to realize that a great bomber fleet isn't any use if it can't find a target. It would take some time for traditional coastal mariners in the US to realize their expected supports (buoys, lighthouses, horns and the like) were precursors of death.


Glad to see you're backing away from your original comment.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/18/2017 7:17:38 PM
Rich, your remarks about the Town destroyers motivated me to see how they were employed by the RCN.

It seems that they were destined to be training ships if they weren't assigned to mid-ocean escort duty.

One was torpedoed and sunk (HMCS St. Croix) to the south of Iceland. The part of the crew that was rescue by HMS Itchen, was lost all but one, when Itchen was sunk a few days later. Hard luck ship.

Another, HMCS St. Clair, crossed the ocean to escort ships at the western approaches and she actually got into offensive action in the hunt for Bismarck. She eventually returned to Canada and escort to duty to mid-ocean.


You mentioned that the Towns were mostly involved in coastal duty. I wonder whether the RCN, pressed for vessels were compelled to use the Towns to escort ships to the Iceland.

Cheers,

George




brian grafton
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Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/18/2017 8:48:57 PM
Rich, are you referring to my following comment, or from another?
Quote:
Despite any nonsense from FDR, the US – and in particular, the USN – was at war with Germany long before PH. the USN understood the Uboat menace, and the challenges of convoying, and the importance of darkness, and the extent of U-boat operations. From Dec 8, the War Department should have ordered the USN to convoy all ships up the East Coast. Period. Not as a phase-in; not after further discussion. Immediately.

Much more serious was the lack of response to the war by the citizens of coastal cities on the Atlantic coast. No black-outs. No light controls at all. The lights were a marvellous assistance to U-boats looking for silhouetted targets. Hell, they didn't even have to come to the surface to find targets.
I'm not backing away from these comments, though I admit I wrote them as a broad assessment rather than a detailed analysis.

My point(s) remain that:
• the US had been at war with Germany de facto for some time before Hitler's Declaration of War on 11 Dec 1941. How much time might be debatable, because nothing was declared. But Hitler's declaration notes specifically that the US and Germany had been in a state of undeclared hostility for some time. And that is so. Most famously, the Reuben James comes to mind.
• the US had "observers" from all branches of service in England at various times after Sept '39. They were given the chance to assess the strengths and limitations of the European belligerents, and were largely invited to understand the challenges faced by the British. The British government might lie to its civilians, but it would protect only a vew of it's own issues from a most-hoped-for ally. And unless the US observers were blind, deaf and dumb, they must have noted the effectiveness of blackouts and similar issues.
• the US had made a deal over those four-stackers in Sept 1940, IIRC. That's 16 months before PH. I'm not an authority on naval matters, but I have read that those 50 ships were in mothballs when they were offered to the Brits. Suggests to me that they were considered surplus to requirements. If the US got Caribbean bases for mothballed 1918 vintage destroyers, they got a good deal. They also had more than 16 months to replace those obsolete ships. If they didn't have replacement vessels for ships already mothballed, then their deal was a bad one and their procurement program was less than well-informed.

Unless one hand wasn't aware of the other, the US had no reason to be surprised by going to war. It also had no reason not to be much more prepared than the various European allies who had to learn about WW2 military issues. It had an almost 30-month window to observe what was needed to make a the country ready for war. Given that lead time, I'm not uncomfortable with suggesting that the US government was culpable in its lack of preparation for a war it was all but demanding.

Cheers
Brian G

---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/18/2017 11:10:38 PM

Quote:
Much more serious was the lack of response to the war by the citizens of coastal cities on the Atlantic coast. No black-outs.


Except that as I just pointed out, there were black-outs. And just like the early war British black-outs they were problematic.


Quote:
No light controls at all.


Except there were.


Quote:
The lights were a marvellous assistance to U-boats looking for silhouetted targets.


Except there weren't. Yet again, there is zero evidence other than suspect anecdotes for vessels sunk when "silhouetted" and considerable evidence that the sinkings were much further out during the initial waves of the German assault. The "close in" sinkings were either after the blackouts became effective or were off the Hatteras coast where at the time there was little or no "city lights" for silhouetting.


Quote:
Hell, they didn't even have to come to the surface to find targets.


Um, really? You have evidence for that?


Quote:
I'm not backing away from these comments, though I admit I wrote them as a broad assessment rather than a detailed analysis.


I think then you need to go back and do some of that detailed analysis, because when I looked at the matter in detail some years ago it was evident that the broad brush strokes were just that.


Quote:
My point(s) remain that:
• the US had been at war with Germany de facto for some time before Hitler's Declaration of War on 11 Dec 1941. How much time might be debatable, because nothing was declared. But Hitler's declaration notes specifically that the US and Germany had been in a state of undeclared hostility for some time. And that is so. Most famously, the Reuben James comes to mind. (snip)


Actually that is all quite debatable, Reuben James was sunk off Iceland after all, not off Long Island, but of late I've become adverse to reinventing the wheel, so will leave you to your opinion.



Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2771

Re: Hitler's surprise attack on America! U-Boats terrorize the East Coast!?
Posted on: 10/19/2017 9:19:13 AM
It seems the use of aircraft later on, really helped the Allies contain the U-Boat attacks!?

MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

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