The RCAF and the Battle of the Atlantic

A painting of a large white aircraft with an engine on fire flying above a submarine.
“VC Attack”, by Graham Wragg, illustrates Flight Lieutenant David Hornell’s valiant attack on a U-Boat during the Battle of the Atlantic. PHOTO: DND

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May 5, 2019, is Battle of the Atlantic Sunday.

The Battle of the Atlantic, which continued throughout the Second World War, was the longest and largest campaign of the war. Canadian men and women, serving in the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and the Merchant Navy, bore a heavy burden in this struggle for control of the shipping lanes on the North Atlantic Ocean.

Britain desperately needed supplies, particularly from North America. Germany, however, was determined to sink that incoming shipping with their stealthy U-Boats (submarines). So feared was this undersea menace that the Allied war leaders at the 1943 Casablanca Conference declared the elimination of the U-Boat threat as its number one priority.

The Royal Air Force’s Coastal Command, which included seven Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons, fought against the enemy’s U-Boats, merchant ships and warships. Coastal Command aircraft escorted convoys sailing from North America to Britain, and searched the seas from Iceland to Gibraltar. Coastal Command crews destroyed more than one-quarter of all German U-Boats “killed” during the war: 212 out of 800.

RCAF squadrons in Coastal Command and in Canada accounted for 19 U-Boats, while RCAF crews serving in Royal Air Force squadrons involved in many more “kills” in the North Atlantic. Read the rest of the article . . .

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