Tonnage War is not a score

In the first twenty days of March 1943, the Germans sank ninety-seven Allied merchant ships totalling more than 500,000 tons. This was almost twice the rate of new tonnage being built at that time. Almost two thirds of the losses were of ships in convoy. During the same period the Germans lost seven U-boats, which was just half the number of new boats coming into service. The Monthly History of the Trade Division of the Admiralty states: ‘The import programme of the U.K. was cut as low as it could be and then seemed hardly likely to be fulfilled.’

from Convoy by Martin Middlebrook, chapter 16 – An Analysis


This is how a historic event should be analyzed. Just throwing numbers at your readers doesn’t accomplish anything, it just gives them the false impression that they have learned something. Sure they might have stuck some figures in their memory, but have they understood their significance? In this particular chapter of his book dedicated to the battle of convoys HX229 and SC122, Martin Middlebrook masterfully summarizes and analyzes the events that he earlier described in the narrative chapter. Battle results are given context and the dark shadows of March ’43 suddenly appear clear.


This is the kind of information that we should have presented within the Silent Hunter games 😦 Graphs of tonnage losses (well, considering our players were on the side of the submarines, not their losses but the enemy’s) vs tonnage built correlated with outlining of historic events. That would have been “useful”!


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