German U Boats & the Battle of the Atlantic

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German U Boats & the Battle of the Atlantic: Brest, Lorient, St Nazairre, La Rochelle & Bordeaux Pens

April 27-29 2018, £549 plus £45 per night single room supplement, limited places available.

During World War II, U-boat warfare was the major component of the Battle of the Atlantic, which lasted the duration of the war. Germany had the largest submarine fleet in World War II, since the Treaty of Versailles had limited the surface navy of Germany to six battleships (of less than 10,000 tons each), six cruisers, and 12 destroyers. Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.”

In the early stages of the war the U-boats were extremely effective in destroying Allied shipping; initially in the mid-Atlantic where a large gap in air cover existed until 1942, when the tides changed. The trade in war supplies and food across the Atlantic was extensive, which was critical for Britain’s survival. This continuous action became known as the Battle of the Atlantic, as the British developed technical defences such as ASDIC and radar, and the German U-boats responded by hunting in what were called “wolfpacks” where multiple submarines would stay close together, making it easier for them to sink a specific target. Later, when the United States entered the war, the U-boats ranged from the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Arctic to the west and southern African coasts and even as far east as Penang.
A submarine pen (U-Boot-Bunker in German) is a type of submarine base that acts as abunker to protect submarines from air attack. The German occupying forces built many U-boat pens in the Atlantic ports of France in Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle/La Pallice, Lorientand Saint-Nazaire. Almost 4.4 million cubic metres of concrete were used.

The U-boat bases in France were the home port of the most famous U-boat flottillas from 1940 to 1944 :

– Brest U-Boat base : 1st and 9th flottillas

– Lorient U-boat base : 2nd and 10th flottillas

– St-Nazaire U-boat base : 7th and 6th flottillas

– La Rochelle U-boat base : 3rd flottilla

– Bordeaux U-boat base : 12th flottilla (+ italian submarines)

On this trip we start the tour at Nantes airport before driving up to Brest then visit each site  before flying out of Bordeaux airport late afternoon on Day Three.

 

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