Operation Drumbeat Glog

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Social Studies
World War I

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Operation Drumbeat Glog


The Second Happy Time lasted from January 1942 to about August of that year and involved several German naval operations including Operation Paukenschlag (or Operation Drumbeat) and Operation Neuland.

Despite the urgent need for action, little was done to try to combat the U-boats. The USN was desperately short of specialized anti-submarine vessels. President Roosevelt's 1941 decision to "loan" fifty obsolete World War I-era destroyers to Britain in exchange for foreign bases, was largely irrelevant. These destroyers had a large turning circle that made them ineffective for anti-submarine work; however, their firepower would have been a significant defense against surface attack, which was the major threat in the early part of World War II. The massive new naval construction program had prioritized other types of ships. While freighters and tankers were being sunk in coastal waters, the destroyers that were available remained inactive in port. At least 25 Atlantic Convoy Escort Command Destroyers had been recalled to the U.S. East Coast at the time of the first attacks, including seven at anchor in New York Harbor.[2]:p238

Lasting Impact

Reinhard Hardegen in U-123 sank seven ships totalling 46,744 tons before he ran out of torpedoes and returned to base;Ernst Kals in U-130 sank six ships of 36,988 tons;Robert-Richard Zapp in U-66 sank five ships of 33,456 tons;Heinrich Bleichrodt in U-109 sank four ships of 27,651 tons; andUlrich Folkers on his first patrol in U-125 sank one 6,666 ton vessel, the West Ivis


Michael Gannon, Operation Drumbeat: the dramatic true story of Germany's first U-boat attacks along the American coast in World War II, 1990, Harper and Row publishers, ISBN 0-060161155-8

The Story


Operation Paukenschlag (or Operation Drumbeat) and Operation Neuland. German submariners named it the happy time or the golden time as defense measures were weak and disorganized, and the U-boats were able to inflict massive damage with little risk. During this period, Axis submarines sank 609 ships totaling 3.1 million tons and the loss of thousands of lives, mainly those of merchant mariners, against a loss of only 22 U-boats. This was roughly one quarter of all shipping sunk by U-boats during the entire Second World War. Historian Michael Gannon called it "America's Second Pearl Harbor" and placed the blame for the nation's failure to respond quickly to the attacks on the inaction of Admiral Ernest J. King, commander-in-chief of the U.S. fleet.



Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz


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