Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats and Won the Battle of the Atlantic

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Overview


In Turning the Tide, military reporter and author Ed Offley presents a rousing military history of the climax of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, when a handful of battle-hardened British, Canadian and American sailors successfully beat back the German U-Boats that were threatening the lifeline between the US and Britain. Tens of thousands of merchant seamen, naval gunners, civilian passengers and U-boat crewmen lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic, making it the deadliest naval conflict in ...
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Turning the Tide: How a Small Band of Allied Sailors Defeated the U-boats and Won the Battle of the Atlantic

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Overview


In Turning the Tide, military reporter and author Ed Offley presents a rousing military history of the climax of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, when a handful of battle-hardened British, Canadian and American sailors successfully beat back the German U-Boats that were threatening the lifeline between the US and Britain. Tens of thousands of merchant seamen, naval gunners, civilian passengers and U-boat crewmen lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic, making it the deadliest naval conflict in history—but the losses were high because the stakes were even higher. If the U-boats had managed to sever the lifeline between the U.S. and Great Britain—as they seemed poised to do by late 1942—Germany could have denied the Allies their springboard into the European continent, effectively costing them the war. Using interviews with key survivors on both sides and extensive research in German, British, and American archives, Offley puts the reader into the heart of the pivotal episodes of this critical conflict, showing how the Allies nearly lost—and ultimately regained—victory in both the Atlantic and in Europe itself.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Sherry Sontag, co-author Blind Man’s Bluff
“Through the eyes of their prey, Ed Offley tells the constant terror of German hunter-killer wolf packs going after ships and their military escorts. To win, the allies needed just to survive, to carry desperately needed supplies to Europe. The miracle is these ships do far more. They turn the tide and pummel their tormentors in a moment of history that makes one hell of a story.”

David Poyer, author of Ghosting and The Crisis
“What’s left to add to the oft-told tale of the Battle of the Atlantic? Ed Offley manages to invest the story of the convoys with renewed drama.  Buttressed with statistics and details of tactics and ordnance, Turning the Tide is worth a place on the shelf with the best maritime nonfiction.”

Michael Gannon, author of Operation Drumbeat and Black May
“In this volume the author has selected a series of stories that both explicate and dramatize the most fateful months of the Allied-German battle for control of the North Atlantic in World War II. I am confident that the reader will find, as I did, his stories to be both engagingly written and compelling in effect.”

Carl LaVO, author of Back from the DeepSlade Cutter, and The Galloping Ghost
“Long before there was D-Day, there was D-Day in the North Atlantic Ocean for England. In Turning the Tide, Ed Offley delivers the definitive bible of how the Allies in March and May of 1943 turned defeat into victory against an armada of German U-boats determined to strangle resupply lines to England. The book delivers high suspense on the storm-tossed North Atlantic by taking readers inside the U-boats and the Allied convoys as well as American, English and German high commands racing for technological advantage at sea. In the end, Offley’s masterful account not only probes what gave each side an edge but reveals the bravado it took for a rather small group of Allied and German sailors to fight to the death in one of history’s great naval struggles.”

Marc Milner, University of New Brunswick, author of North Atlantic Run and The Battle of the Atlantic
“Offley tackles a complex and difficult campaign spanning months across a vast ocean and involving a myriad of actors, and turns it into a compelling piece of writing. In a field where the outcomes of battles are often treated as mere statistics—of tonnages sunk or shipping safely escorted—or as evidence of the impact of technology, Offley’s Atlantic tale is full of people wrestling with the sea, the enemy and their fate. In the end, Turning the Tide captures the human dimension of the crisis of the Atlantic War in the spring of 1943 in a way no one has for nearly forty years. And it is a welcome reminder that the Atlantic war lay at the heart of Allied victory in World War II.”

Kirkus
“Offley meticulously re-creates the terrifying U-boat assaults during this pivotal spring…and explains how the Allies turned the tide of the years-long battle.... An intensely focused account that cuts through the battle’s sprawl and duration, supplying the general reader with an appreciation of its character and importance.”

Publishers Weekly
“The author focuses on individual combatants, from the lowest ranks to the highest, emphasizing the human elements and making for an extremely readable text that should appeal to neophytes as well as professionals.”

Library Journal
“This is an account of the crucial convoy battles of March to May 1943 that saw Allied naval escorts and air power finally subdue the deadly Kriegsmarine subs. Offley...shows how the battle was very much a mind game, each side trying to outfox the other. The author’s emphasis is on the harrowing experiences of the men on both sides.”

Booklist
“This sound, readable WWII naval history focuses on a crucial period of the Battle of the Atlantic, one Offley argues was the turning point in the campaign.... Equally strong in writing, research, and backgrounding, this is a fine addition to material on the epic Battle of the Atlantic.”

Navy News (London)
Turning the Tide...is good narrative history which gives the reader a flavour of what it was like to fight in the Battle of the Atlantic at its climax. It was a struggle of unremitting strain and terror for friend and foe alike.”

Panama City News Herald
“Ed Offley’s new book Turning the Tide is a story few know in the history of World War II. The cat-and-mouse tale played out in the book in dark seas, during treacherous storms has first-hand accounts told by those [who] saw the battles up close and personal with real life-and-death consequences.”

Virginian-Pilot
“[A]s Ed Offley shows in this detailed and compelling book, a combination of technology and tactics enabled the Allies to turn the tide in the longest and most deadly naval battles ever fought.... He brings his naval expertise to bear in describing each side’s actions and perspectives during those pivotal encounters. Moreover, he does a masterful job of detailing the horrors of battle as brave men fought each other with fire and steel and also fought the ferocious and frigid waves in which many of them drowned.”

Virginia Gazette
“[An] excellent new book.... Offley describes in clear and wonderful detail how the Allies did it.... [His] writing is superb, and his research in the text and in the appendices are clear and to the point.”

The American Spectator
Turning the Tide is a dramatic contribution to understanding of a long-running and geographically huge confrontation that may have mattered more to the outcome of World War II than more commented-on campaigns.... As important and engaging as the sweep and generalities of the largest naval campaign in history are, the bulk of this book, and Offley’s signal contribution, is his first-hand, blow-by-blow descriptions of some of the deadliest and most game-changing encounters of the Atlantic war.... Offley skillfully blends history and statistics and analysis as well as heart-pounding narratives of sea-battles that have the immediacy of a good novel, only they tell of real people and real events. Turning the Tide...belongs on the bookshelves of professional historians or of general readers attempting to understand a central campaign in the most horrific war in human history.”

Proceedings
“[A] thorough and scrupulous operational history.... Turning the Tide ably sketches in the background and then sends the reader out on board two convoys in March 1943.... Offley recounts the struggle of ONS5 meticulously. We follow each merchant vessel and each U-boat and understand what they are up to; but we also get a sense of what it must have been like for the submariner in his dank little world and the watchman on his sleet-flailed bridge.... [A] valuable book.”

Philadelphia Inquirer
“When we think of World War II, we tend to think of two theaters of war: the European continent and North Africa, and the Pacific.... Far less attention has been paid to a third theater, the brutally cold, gale-slashed North Atlantic, where the British and American navies struggled against German U-boats to protect the supply lifeline that made the eventual Allied victory in Europe possible. Ed Offley’s well researched, tautly written account does its part to even the scales.”

Washington Times
“Ed Offley presents us with masterly military writing.... Offley, in careful detail that shows his knowledge of the subject, tells how Allied strategists and tacticians devised ways of leveling the playing field.”

Florida Times-Union
“Offley’s story...has all the guts and glory of the best World War II novels. Here, the heroes are real in this most important battle.... From the admirals to the ordinary seamen, Offley gives us the whole story, but he also manages to capture the intimate danger of pushing a small ship through treacherous seas while someone is shooting at you.”

Open Letters Monthly
“[A] great historical account...[a] disturbing, fantastic new book.... Offley has sifted through a towering heap of official records, read a library’s worth of histories, even interviewed surviving U-boat sailors. He’s brought all that formidable research together, crafted it with a very considerable degree of narrative skill, and produced a volume worthy to stand with Gunter Hessler’s The U-Boat War in the Atlantic: 1939-1945 or Clay Blair’s magnificent 2-volume Hitler’s U-Boat War. In passage after passage, he brings the submarine experience – Allied and Axis alike – vividly to life…. Offley is keenly attuned to the give and take of the Battle of the Atlantic…and he’s adept at painting quick portraits of determination – and bravery – on both sides of that battle.... Readers of serious, well-done history shouldn’t miss it.”

Florida Times-Union
“Offley’s story...has all the guts and glory of the best World War II novels. Here, the heroes are real in this most important battle.... From the admirals to the ordinary seamen, Offley gives us the whole story, but he also manages to capture the intimate danger of pushing a small ship through treacherous seas while someone is shooting at you.”

Publishers Weekly
WWII's Battle of the Atlantic, where Admiral Dönitz's U-boats attempted to starve Great Britain into capitulation, was one of many crucial points in that conflict that were indispensable to Allied victory. If the Germans had succeeded in interdicting its maritime lifeline, Britain would not have become the Allies' "unsinkable aircraft carrier" and staging point for invasion, which in turn meant that there would have been no second front in France, and this in turn could have lead Stalin to make a separate peace with Hitler. By examining two actions against Allied convoys in March and May 1943, Offley (Scorpion Down) demonstrates how the Allies were more responsive to changing technological and tactical conditions, while the Kriegsmarine was hampered by a failure to recognize the same changes and by a culture that encouraged reporting inflated results; curiously, both opponents had cracked the other's codes, but the Allies made better use of the intelligence. The author focuses on individual combatants, from the lowest ranks to the highest, emphasizing the human elements and making for an extremely readable text that should appeal to neophytes as well as professionals. (May)
America In WWII Magazine
Overall, Turning the Tide is rewarding reading. It undeniably enlarges our understanding of the Battle of the Atlantic and keenly evokes the sense of desperate aggression felt by both sides.
Library Journal
World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, fighting the German U-Boats encroaching along the North American coast and the Caribbean, was the longest naval battle in history. This is an account of the crucial convoy battles of March to May 1943 that saw Allied naval escorts and air power finally subdue the deadly Kriegsmarine subs. Offley (Scorpion Down), a naval veteran and military historian, shows how the battle was very much a mind game, each side trying to outfox the other. The author's emphasis is on the harrowing experiences of the men on both sides, rather than on high-level policy decisions. The subtitle is misleading: thousands were involved in these battles. With a glossary and helpful appendixes that list the convoys, technical details, and so on, this is recommended as a primer for those new to this part of World War II history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465028733
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 617,401
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Offley

Ed Offley has been a military reporting specialist for newspapers and online publications since 1981, including the Ledger-Star in Norfolk, Virginia, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stripes.com, and DefenseWatch magazine. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Offley served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Fight in the Dark ix

1 A City at War 1

2 The Adversaries 37

3 Movement to Contact 63

4 The U-boat 79

5 The Battle of the Codes 93

6 The Sighting 107

7 The Battle of St. Patrick's Day 127

8 Heavy Losses 159

9 Crisis in the North Atlantic 179

10 The Allies Fight Back 211

11 The First Skirmishes 245

12 The Mêlée at 55 North 042 West 281

13 Battle in the Fog 319

14 Defeat of the U-Boats 337

Epilogue 367

Acknowledgments 393

Appendix 1 Critical Convoy Ships, March-May 1943 397

Appendix 2 North Atlantic Convoys at Sea, March 1-May 24, 1943 405

Appendix 3 German U-boats of World War II 408

Appendix 4 Escort Warships 413

Appendix 5 Equivalent World War II Naval Officer Ranks 420

Notes 421

Glossary 444

Bibliography 452

Index 461

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