Battle of the Atlantic - RAN and RAAF Operations (World War 2, 3 September 1939 to 25 May 1945)

About This Campaign

The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1945

The sea lanes of the Atlantic played a vital role in the transport of equipment, fuel, food, munitions, aircraft and general supplies from North America to Europe, from the declaration of war in September 1939. The battle for control of the Atlantic Ocean began on 3 September 1939 with the sinking of a British passenger liner by the German submarine U-30.

Sir Winston Churchill had remarked that 'the 'U-boat peril' was the only thing that ever really frightened him during World War Two.

Australia’s part in the campaign in the Atlantic was multi-faceted, on the sea and in the air.

RAN Ships such as HMAS Australia, and the N-class destroyers HMA Ships Napier, Nepal, Nestor, Nizam and Norman carried out escort duties throughout the Atlantic in the first year of the war.   HMAS Australia figured in two major actions off Dakar in northh west Africa. in the course of which one of its Walrus seaplanes was shot down by Vichy French aircraft. In addition, to sinking U-127, Nestor was also involved in the hunt for the famous German battleship, KMS Bismarck.

Training depot HMAS Rushcutter, now known as HMAS Watson, also played a crucial role, in supplying officers and ratings trained in antisubmarine warfare. Some sources suggested that up 20 percent of those involved in the Atlantic conflict had been trained at Rushcutter.[1]

For more information, please see http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/australian-sailors-battle-atlantic (www.navy.gov.au)


[1] Djokovic, Petar. “Australian Sailors in the Battle of the Atlantic.” Royal Australian Navy – Feature Histories, viewed 05/04/2016, http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/australian-sailors-battle-atlantic. (www.navy.gov.au)

In addition to warships, a number of RAAF Squadrons attached to Coastal Command carried out extensive Maritime patrol and anti-submarine operations over the Atlantic as part of the campaign to counter the threat posed by German U-Boats.  

Nos 10 and 461 Squadrons operated Sunderland Flying Boats from bases in Plymouth and Pembroke Dock on the south coast of the U and as far afield as Oban in Scotland ranging out over the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic.  

Units such as 455 Squadron carried out maritime strike operations over the North Sea, Norway and the Normandy beaches as part of D Day operations, equipped with the potent Bristol Beaufighter. In adidtion hundreds of RAAF aircrew served in RAF units of Coastal Command as well and RAAF pilots operated seaplanes that were launched from Crusiers such as HMAS Australia.

 

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Names

Showing 7 people of interest from campaign

JENNER, John Desmond

Service number 423132
Flight Sergeant
No. 251 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Air Force
Born 22 Apr 1924

BUDD, Hamilton Roland Dacre

Service number 416307
Flying Officer
No. 10 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 18 Apr 1915

SHEEHAN , Norman Oswald George

Service number 428853
Flight Lieutenant
No. 40 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 12 Oct 1923

BELL, John Napier

Service number 162
Flight Lieutenant
No. 10 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 25 Apr 1916

SOUTHALL, Ivan Francis

Service number 418900
Flight Lieutenant
Born 8 Jun 1921

SMITH, Ronald Alfred

Service number 423365
Flight Sergeant
No. 251 Squadron (RAF)
Royal Air Force
Born 19 Sep 1923

YEOMAN, Edwin St Clair

Service number 473
Flight Lieutenant
No. 10 Squadron (RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force
Born 10 Jun 1920