In the course of your research, were there any books covering the totality of the Battle of the Atlantic that you found particularly worthwhile?

I can’t say that there are any great histories of the Battle of the North Atlantic but there are several good ones.

Battle of the North Atlantic recommendations:

The Atlantic Campaign by Dan van der Vat

The U-Boat War: the German Submarine Service and the Battle of the Atlantic by David Westwood

The Defeat of the German Uboats and the Battle of the Atlantic by David Syren.

If you haven’t read the Cruel Sea by Nicholas Montsarrat you want to do so. It is the best novel about the Battle of the North Atlantic and is actually a slightly fictionalized memoir since Montsarrat served as an officer on RN escorts in the Battle of the Atlantic. It’s a classic.

A movie was also made in the 1950s England from the book. The movie is interesting for several reasons. Montsarrat sets the first half of the book on a Flower Class corvette, HMS Compass Rose. Obviously the name is fictitious since compass rose is not a flower but the face of a typical older compass upon which the needle revolved.

In his novel, Montsarrat describes the horrific conditions on a Flower Class corvette, which were quite famous in the Battle of the North Atlantic. They were very seaworthy but “rolled on wet grass” as Montsarrat himself said and were a misery to serve aboard. When the producers went to make the movie they wanted it to be as authentic as possible and they had to search around for an old Flower Class corvette, all of which had been broken up and sold as scrap except for one in the Royal Greek Navy which the producers rented during the movie shoot.

Another reason the movie is so interesting, is that most of the extras playing the crew, had clearly served at one time in the Royal Navy so there is an innate authenticity about the movie which is captivating.

This post became so long that I broke it in half and will publish the second half next week.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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