The Battle of the Atlantic, Canada’s longest continuous military engagement of the Second World War, lasted 2,074 days, claiming the lives of more than 4,000 men and women in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian merchant navy
The years 2019 to 2025 mark the eightieth anniversary of the longest battle of the Second World War, the Battle of the Atlantic. It also proved to be the war’s most critical and dramatic battle of attrition. For five and a half years, German surface warships and submarines attempted to destroy Allied trans-Atlantic convoys, most of which were escorted by Royal Canadian destroyers and corvettes, as well as aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Throwing deadly U-boat “wolf packs” in the paths of the convoys, the German Kriegsmarine almost succeeded in cutting off this vital lifeline to a beleaguered Great Britain.
In 1939, the Royal Canadian Navy went to war with exactly thirteen warships and about 3,500 regular servicemen and reservists. During the desperate days and nights of the Battle of the Atlantic, the RCN grew to 400 fighting ships and over 100,000 men and women in uniform. By V-E Day in 1945, it had become the fourth largest navy in the world.
The story of Canada’s naval awakening from the dark, bloody winters of 1939–1942, to be “ready, aye, ready” to challenge the U-boats and drive them to defeat, is a Canadian wartime saga for the ages. While Canadians think of the Great War battle of Vimy Ridge as the country’s coming of age, it was the Battle of the Atlantic that proved Canada’s gauntlet to victory and a nation-building milestone.
About the author
Not a soldier, but the soldier’s storyteller, not a veteran, but recognized by vets as keeper of the flame, TED BARRIS has published eighteen non-fiction books, half of them wartime histories. He has worked as a broadcaster in electronic media in Canada and the US for forty years. He is a full-time journalism professor at Toronto’s Centennial College and the author of the online column the Barris Beat. His book The Great Escape: A Canadian Story won the 2014 CLA Libris Award for non-fiction book of the year. His latest book, Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen in the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany, is a national bestseller.
Other titles by Ted Barris
Rush to Danger
Medics in the Line of Fire
Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany
Victory at Vimy
Canada Comes of Age, April 9-12, 1917
Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited
Canadians at D-Day June 6, 1944
Dundurn Korean War Library Bundle
Fighting Words / Korea / Triumph at Kapyong / Deadlock in Korea / Cross-Border Warriors
The Great Escape
A Canadian Story
Deadlock in Korea
Canadians at War, 1950-1953
Breaking the Silence
Untold Veterans' Stories from the Great War to Afghanistan
Behind the Glory
Canada's Role in the Allied Air War