The first Sunday in May each year churches ring out with the stirring sounds of the famous hymn, Eternal Father strong to save, such moving words reaching high to the very heavens and calling us to remember ” for those in peril on the sea. A special moment that I proudly celebrate each year, the “Battle of the Atlantic”. The longest running battle of the Second World War. It began on the first day of the war with the sinking of the SS Athena a British passenger ship. It was sunk by U30 commanded by Oberleutnant Fritz Lemp. The U Boat threat ended six days after peace was declared on the 14th May 1945 with the surrender of the last U Boat, U-234. Its mission was to carry to the Empire of Japan the delivery of Uranium and vital German Research on a nuclear bomb. The battle for the Atlantic was without doubt the most important battle of the war. In 1940 Britain alone faced the might and menace of Hitler’s armies poised just twenty miles across the English Channel. Starving the people of the British Isles into surrender was a real possibility . The German U Boat menace threatened to cut of the supply of food and essential supplies for the British war effort. The valiant war waged by the Navies of Britain and Canada and later the USN eventually forced the turning point in favour of the Allies. However, the U Boat menace continued to the very end. So many lives were lost in this ongoing battle,36.200 Allied sailor died, 36,000 merchant seamen died. We lost 3500 merchant ships and 175 warships. The Germans lost 783 U Boats and 30,000 of the 40,000 men of the U Boat service never came home.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for a moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere on land sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome——–Winston Churchill
Her first and only mission into enemy territory consisted of the attempted delivery of uranium oxide and German advanced weapons technology to the Empire of Japan. After learning of Germany’s unconditional surrender, the submarine‘s crew surrendered to the United States on 14 May 1945.
IN WATERS DEEP
In ocean wastes no poppies blow,
No crosses stand in ordered row,
There young hearts sleep… beneath the wave…
The spirited, the good, the brave,
But stars a constant vigil keep,
For them who lie beneath the deep.
‘Tis true you cannot kneel in prayer
On certain spot and think. “He’s there.”
But you can to the ocean go…
See whitecaps marching row on row;
Know one for him will always ride…
In and out… with every tide.
And when your span of life is passed,
He’ll meet you at the “Captain’s Mast.”
And they who mourn on distant shore
For sailors who’ll come home no more,
Can dry their tears and pray for these
Who rest beneath the heaving seas…
For stars that shine and winds that blow
And whitecaps marching row on row.
And they can never lonely be
For when they lived… they chose the sea.
For those in peril on the sea—–Lest we Forget.
God Bless and keep reading