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The Archaeology of First World War U-boat Losses in the English Channel and its Impact on the Historical Record.

McCartney, I., 2019. The Archaeology of First World War U-boat Losses in the English Channel and its Impact on the Historical Record. Mariner's Mirror, 105 (2), 183-201.

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DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2019.1589114

Abstract

This paper examines how the archaeological record of 35 known U-boat wrecks sunk in WW1 in the English Channel compares with the assessment of U-boat destructions made by the Admiralty’s Antisubmarine Division (ASD) in 1919. Comparison of the two shows that only 48% of the 37 assessments was correct. This divergence between the extant archaeology and the 1919 assessment was partly caused by over optimism at ASD regarding reported attacks. However, it is also observed that ASD’s own processes were on occasion overridden by a need to overstate Allied successes, and should be seen in the broader context of a wider range of inefficiencies that confronted the Naval Staff during WW1. The same mistakes seem entirely absent from the WW2 records in the same geographical area. The research reveals that the radio silence observed by the Flanders Flotilla proved a challenge to combating its U-boats at sea, making the tracking of the U-boats and the rerouting of Allied ships practically impossible. This was a factor in the early adoption of “controlled sailings” in the Channel. It may have also been the driving factor behind the Navy’s pressure to attack the Flanders bases by land in 1917, a key component often overlooked by historians.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0025-3359
Uncontrolled Keywords:Maritime Heritage, Room 40, Naval History, Admiralty, WW1, Naval Intelligence, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Royal Navy, U-boats, Battle of Passchendaele, Naval Staff, Flanders Flotilla
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:31731
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:05 Feb 2019 09:51
Last Modified:11 Feb 2020 14:02

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