$34.99

The Battle of the Atlantic
[DDBOAMTS]

This design acknowledges the longest battle in World War II and pays tribute to all those who have served at sea.

The Battle of the Atlantic September 1939 - May 1945

The front of the shirt features a Liberty ship being torpedoed by a German U-Boat, all it the view of the deadly submarines periscope. While the ships are all screen printed on this piece, the explosion features over 30,000 stitches of embroidery that really enhances the design. The sleeve features an embroidered anchor with the Battle and dates it represents an iconic Tattoo a majority of seafarers don.

We believe it is our finest piece to date.

The back of the shirt reads like this:

The name "Battle of the Atlantic" was coined by Winston Churchill in February 1941. It was the longest, largest and most complex Naval battle in history. It started immediately after the war began and lasted six years, until the German Surrender in May 1945. It involved thousands of ships in a theatre covering millions of square miles of ocean.

The first shots of this battle were fired on September 3, 1939, just hours after Britain declared war on Germany. A German submarine, U-30, torpedoed the SS Athenia, a passenger ship en route to Montreal; 112 people were killed.

This was the only battle of the Second World War that was waged close to North American shores. German U-boats attacked coastal shipping from the Caribbean to Halifax. During the summer of 1942, they even penetrated deep into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and sank ships.

As Britain required more than a million tons of imported material per week in order to be able to survive and fight, supplies for England and the Allied forces were carried by ship in convoys across the North Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of Merchant sailors served on these ships carrying food, fuel, weapons, ammunition and other supplies. Thousands of others served on Navy Vessels and in Aircraft, assigned to protect Merchant Ships from enemy attacks. In 1940, the German Navy launched a campaign of submarine warfare and worked furiously to cripple and cut off overseas lifelines.

German U-Boats had developed a deadly strategy throughout the North Atlantic of hunting convoys in 'Wolf Packs'. Groups of submarines would stretch out across suspected convoy routes. When a submarine spotted a convoy, the call went out for the rest of the pack to rendezvous in its path. Once gathered and under cover of night, the U-boats would strike together; their torpedoes ripping into several ships almost simultaneously. The 'Wolf Packs' were particularly dangerous in the area of the Atlantic that planes could not defend called 'The Black Pit'. Between March and September of 1942, U-boats sank almost 100 Merchant Ships a month. One allied ship was going down every four hours, yet German U-Boat losses remained low.

The Germans were close to their goal of crippling the vital supply chain. Thousands of sailors had been killed and millions of tons of precious cargo lay at the bottom of the ocean. By 1943, a series of factors helped turn the tide of the battle. British intelligence, which had already cracked the Germans' Enigma code, made even further advances in this field. They were able to better track German communications and U-boat movements. New long range aircraft were also developed that allowed for full aerial coverage of the Atlantic. Britain’s Royal Navy undertook more aggressive tactics against the U-boats, forming elite hunter groups of its best anti-submarine ships to prowl the ocean searching for submarines and to aid convoys under attack.

The outcome of the battle was a strategic victory for the Allies. The German blockade failed, but at great cost: 3,500 Merchant Ships and 175 Warships were sunk compared to the loss of only 783 U-boats. Victory was costly. More than 70,000 Allied Seamen, Merchant Mariners and Airmen lost their lives. Many of those who died have no grave-site; their bodies were lost to the Atlantic.

Merchant Mariners were civilian sailors who operated vital supply ships during the war. The government coordinated their routes and Navy officers commanded their ships. Merchant Mariners were all volunteers, receiving a marginally higher pay rate than Navy sailors. The Mariners had little opportunity for advancement or decoration and received no benefits or pensions after the war. Their sacrifice was not fully recognized until 1988 in the U.S.A. and 1992 in Canada. By then, thousands of Mariners had already died. Nothing was done to compensate the living for the loss of benefits since 1945.

Being a Merchant Mariner was far from easy. They faced fierce attacks by German submarines and hazardous, life-threatening weather conditions in the North Atlantic. They put themselves in harm’s way in the quest for peace and freedom in the world. The Battle of the Atlantic was not won by any Navy or Air Force; it was won by the courage, fortitude and determination of the British and Allied Merchant Marines. They were the Unsung Heroes of World War II.

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