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Would the Allies still have been victorious?

Discussion in 'Submarines and ASW Technology' started by Watson, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Watson

    Watson Member

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    Without the benefit of the British Ultra decoding program, would the Allies still have won the Battle of the Atlantic? If they had lost the Atlantic, could they still have won the Battle of Western Europe? Maybe the genius' at Bletchley were the real unsung heroes of the war.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Would the Kreigsmarine have been able to interdict enough shipping to change the course of the war if we didn't kill as many U-boats as we did? You'd have to ask if those losses would not have occurred at all if Ultra was not available, I think.
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I think that the importance of Ultra has much been overestimated,due to a successfull propaganda offensive of Bletchey Park .
    About the Battle of the Atlantic,to have an idea of the importance of Ultra,we should need to know the number of UBoats lost because of Ultra and the GRT of allied merchant ships saved by Ultra.
    For obvious reasons,I don't think any one had done an effort to do this .
    I doubt also the possibility to do it .
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Ultra helped more later in the Battle of the Atlantic than in the first couple of years in the war when things were critical. During the early period there simply were not enough ASW vessels to allow the Allies to act offensively. Therefore, U-boat kills were made primarily tactically. That is, most U-boats sunk up to 1943 were sunk after they attacked or were in the process of attacking a convoy.

    Beginning in about 1943 the Allies start to get sufficent resources to actively go on the offensive and start hunting down submarines far from convoys. This is where Ultra comes into play. By knowing the locations and probable route of movement as well as a boat's intended area of deployment the Allies could send aircraft and ships to hunt for the sub enroute to its operational area, or to hunt for it in that area.

    It also allowed the Allies, now with more shipping, to reroute convoys around potential areas it might be attacked. Earlier in the war getting materials delivered was more critical than avoiding the loss of some shipping. By mid war England was getting enough supplies that not losing of shipping was more important than the time lost taking a longer route was. So, again Ultra played more of a role in making this happen.
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    From what I've read HUFF DUFF was more important than Ultra as far as the ASW campaign was concerned.
     
  6. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Interestingly - the British were very effective early in the war with only ASDIC to help them :) The Kriegsmarine started the war with @65 boats IIRC....and by the start of WESERUBUNG on 9th April 140, the RN had in various ways already sunk 18 of them!;) Minefields off the North German coast and port roads' were very effective, as was them being forced to operate within the range confines of the North Sea and the UK end of the Northern and Western Approaches.

    It was once the range opened up into the wide open spaces of the Atlantic courtesy of French ports that uboats were really free to prowl in a big pond. But prior to that, they destroyed over a quarter of the KM's submarine force in seven months. And that was just with chance encounters and conventional escort and screening duties.
     
  7. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Good point. Lacking decrypts of the radio messages there would be a incentive to develop other methods further. ie: Very Long Range Patrol Bombers were poorly developed in 1941-42, & even into early 43. A look at the numbers of German subs sunk by them suggest a more robust air support for the convoy escorts earlier would have had a significant effect on submarine losses.

    Worst case for the Allies is after the emergency in the Pacific is stabilized in 1942 resources for MacAurthers South Pacific offensive are denied. The transports, escort, aircraft, ect.. go the the ETO & Mac is left running a holding operation through 1943. Perhaps the 1944 Central Pacific offensive would be delayed as well.

    Operationally & tactically ULTRA & the Engima decryots were usefull, but not decisive in the Atlantic battle.
     
  8. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    While Ultra certainly accounted for some killer groups being in the right place at the right time, I think Doenitz's big chatty mouth and HUFF/DUFF accounted for more U-Boat kills.
     
  9. Wynstead

    Wynstead recruit

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    I'm very new to this, as I'm registered only today. Perhaps I have not explored widely enough on this board but it is puzzling that there is no mention of Capt Gilbert Roberts and his Western Approaches Tactical Unit set up in Liverpool in early 1942. This was a 'simulator' devoid of any technology except for a large marked out floor space, charts, models, pins and flags representing a 'fruit cocktail' of counter measures under the names 'Raspberry', 'Strawberry', 'Gooseberry' and 'Pineapple'.

    It's secret lay first in correcting an assumption that U-boats attacked from outside convoys, whereas they attacked from inside. Having proven its worth the rapidly expanding WATU was also able to predict the 'pack attack' and to devise effective measures to counteract the threat. It is mentioned in Nicholas Monserrat in his classic 'The Cruel Sea'.

    The story of Roberts and the Western Approaches Tactical School was told by Mark Williams in his book Captain Gilbert Roberts RN and the Anti-U-Boat School. Now out of print but I just happened on a copy a few years ago in a bookshop in Gloucestershire. My attention was only drawn to it because I remembered Gilbert Roberts as a patient of my father, a doctor in Torquay in the 60s and 70s. I had no idea at the time that he had played such an important part in influencing the outcome of the war.

    Here's a review of this now out-of-print book Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard
     
  10. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Member

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    I would guess that yes the allies would have won, but 'Ultra' probably shortened the War by a fair margin, thus saving a huge number of lives.
     
  11. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    You may know that the Germans had also broken some allied codes too. this was how they were able to intercept many convoys during the "happy time". Oddly, despite losing several enigma machines captured by the allies, and even knowing this, the Germans seem never to have totally realized that their Enigma machine had been compromised and that they needed an even better encryption method. The most they did was add an extra wheel to the machine which merely made the decryption process a bit slower over at Bletchley.

    Allied code-breaking of Enigma transmissions was crucial during several battles: For example before the Battle of Kursk (July, 1943) the British were regularly feeding decoded German enigma messages regarding the kursk offensive to Stalin (through an intermediary in a neutral country - the Russians were never sure of the source). So Stalin and his General staff knew when, where and how the Germans were going to attack long before it started.
    (Source: The Battle of Kursk: Operation Citadel 1943 by Robin Cross)
    This was a crucial advantage. No one will ever know whether the Russians could have won the battle without the German enigma messages - but the Russians formulated their defensive strategy based almost wholly on this information, and won the battle.

    To answer your question, though, yes i think the allies would have won the war anyway. The only thing that might have allowed Hitler to win was if Britain had been captured by the Germans, or had accepted Hitler's peace offers at some point. But after Pearl Harbor, allied victory was a virtual certainty - upon hearing news of the attack Churchill wrote, "So we had won after all."

    The allies - Britain, US, Canada and Russia - had more men, more money, more manufacturing capacity and the American homeland and manufacturing was safe from Axis attack. Simply because, the USA was too far away for the Axis to effectively attack with the ships, aircraft and other weapons available at the time.

    Most important of all, we developed the atom bomb before the Germans did - possibly the only example of a true war-winning weapon ever designed.
     
  12. scrounger

    scrounger Member

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    Hi' I believe it would be difficult to gauge accurately how much ultra intercepts shortened the war. For example if the German naval command ordered their U boats to form a patrol line across a convoy's expected heading and this message was intercepted and decoded by ultra than the convoy was ordered to change course and the u boats were left to search empty ocean using up fuel and supplies for no return, meanwhile 35 or more shiploads of cargo make it safely to Britan . And in the days before the overwhelming allied naval strength made u boat operations extremely dangerous everywhere all the submarines could have made it back with little or nothing to show for their efforts . Also I believe it was ultra and Hitler's reluctance to see his large capital ships damaged by British ships that led to the failure of the surface fleet to cause the major convoy interruptions. ultimately the people of Bletchley park were worth their weight in gold, it's just when you work behind the scenes in the shadows and victory is acheived by simply moving your men out of the enemies way, sometimes success can be hard to measure ,.
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    On the risk of being of topic,the importance of Enigma for the battle of Kursk,is only an Indian tale .The Russians knew where the Germans would attack (not when,because the attack was several times postponed)because of local intelligence,and,because they also could decode German messages (it seems some people in the west still are thinking that the Russians were a bunch of primitives),and,most important,the German preparations could not remain hidden .
     
  14. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I am not sure that the USSR had broken Enigma themselves, but could have gotten Intel from British decrypts of Enigma passed on to them. I do agree that Russia was well aware of the German summer offensive if for no other reason that they could read a map, and the obvious place for an attack considering German tendency's was Kursk.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The Soviet espionage system also seems to have been head and shoulders above everyone else's.
     
  16. scrounger

    scrounger Member

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    HI; I believe a paranoid Stalin was Quite suspicious of western intelligence especially when he wasn't certain of it's source.. Also I wonder could it have been possible that the Soviets may have had a spy inside Bletchley park?? Remember they did have people on the inside of the Manhattan Project !!
     
  17. CPL Punishment

    CPL Punishment Member

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    Without Ultra the whole timetable for the war after 1943 could have been pushed back, maybe up to a year. Overlord depended on huge amounts of weapons, ammo and supplies, and huge numbers of men being concentrated in England. Historically this concentration was complete by late April 1944, thereafter it was a matter of waiting for the right combination of moon, tide and weather, which lined up on 5/6 June 1944. Overlord wasn't just the invasion, btw, it was a whole plan for victory in Europe. D+180 was supposed to be VE day, i.e. on or about 1 January 1945.

    As it turned out unforeseen problems of logistics and the amazing ability of the German army to resist and bounce back added nearly five months to the schedule, so instead of VE day being on D+180 as planned, it was on D+333 (give or take a day). However, had the invasion been delayed until August or September 1944, caused by U-boat interference with the concentration of forces stage of Overlord, then a lot of possibilities open up.

    In 1943 and early '44 Stalin was batshit crazy about the "second front" thing, even hinting that he would be compelled to make a separate peace with Hitler if the invasion didn't happen now! Yesterday even. In spite of Stalin's tantrums Eisenhower would not be rushed. He went when he was ready, and not a day sooner. If Overlord got delayed until August 1944 Stalin would have likely gone over to the defensive on the Vistula (as he did historically) but would have waited there until the Anglo-Americans landed and got well-established. No sense taking casualties to benefit the capitalists!

    Three months delay of the D-Day landings would have made the Overlord plan run six or seven months longer than the actual five months longer because the Allies would have barely secured Normandy by the time winter set in. The kind of destruction that was inflicted on Army Group B, would have been much less likely because the late autumn weather would have slowed Bradley's right hook against Von Kluge's rear. A lot more men and material would have escaped to fight another day. Instead of D+333 VE day looks more like D+400 if the Normandy landings happen in mid to late August 1944.

    You may have already guessed where I'm going with this, but here's the long and short -- If there's no Ultra then Berlin gets nuked.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Why? I didn't know the Soviets had the Bomb that early.

    Besides, a two month delay is still very early July, 1945. Even then, the Soviets would have Berlin pretty much surrounded and contained, and since it was to go to the Soviets anyway, why would the US "nuke" a city, and to that extent, a nation, that was pretty much defeated anyway. Especially since Japanese armed forces in the home islands remained relatively intact. Not to mention that the German armies were surrendering in droves, while the Japanese showed no inclination of surrendering. No, Berlin would not feel the blast of the atom bomb, not unless the war would be drug out for at least a year and Germany showed some kind of "miracle" resurgence. Although, some historians have hypothesized that without Ultra intel, the war could possibly have been extended years, but that is based on the fact that Ultra provided much more information than just that used in the "Battle of the Atlantic."

    Still, the matter is one of much debate, the Allies(US & UK) had several new technologies that would come into play and the aircraft industries & shipbuilding efforts of both countries were just beginning to hit their stride. So there is a lot to debate about when it comes to Ultra and the Atlantic.
     
  19. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    Actually, I think you vastly underestimate the dedication of those many authors who have dedicated themselves to the study of Ultra intelligence. I work on another aspect of the Ultra story, so haven't really dipped into the literature on ULTRA and its impact on the outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic, but there are plenty who have not least the emminent historian David Kahn. My guess is that if you read his book on the subject such details will be forthcoming. Similarly Harry Hinsley's, et al, vast works on British intelligence in WW2 probably give these kinds of details.
     
  20. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    They did, his name was John Cairncross.
     

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