Review Southern Thunder- Steve R. Dunn
Dunn copied the title of this book from a Danish book, which described the war for neutral Denmark as a rather distant “Southern Thunder”. This is the fourth book from his hand about naval and political warfare with a focus on the Royal Navy.
The book deals with the effects of the British blockade on Germany and the neutral Scandinavian countries, the U.S.A. and, somewhat less explicit, The Netherlands. He writes in a very readable and informative style, which makes it an attractive book for those with a special interest in the Royal Navy and the First World War.
It gives an insight in the effects of the naval blockade and the German countermeasures to escape this stranglehold. The Scandinavian countries, all neutral but with very different favorism towards the combattants, The Netherlands and, most importantly, the U.S.A. each tried to secure their national interests. Exports from the U.S.A. to both the U.K. and Germany were keeping those countries alife and resulted in huge revenues for the U.S.A. It tells how political influence and armed forces deployment often have difficulties to concur on the same objective: to deny the opposition livelyhood and raw materials for war production.
The book is focussed on the Royal Navy blockade of Germany and the Imperial German Navy’s counter offensive with U-boats and big gun surface ships. Up to the second half of 1917 the U-boats sank far more ships than the U.K. could produce, but also an ever increasing number of neutral ships were sent to the bottom. Under great pressure from both the British Foreign Office and the U.S.A., the Royal Navy adopted the convoy system for which she had to strip her Grand Fleet of destroyers and cruisers.
The positive effect on losses of merchant shipping was spectacular. U-boats now had to search for prey and take the risk of immediate armed response. Off course both combattants had to learn to cope with this new reality. This book gives an in depth review of this episode of new developments in warfare at sea, fodder for navy adepts! The naval activities were flanked by early attempts at aerial support, both by rigid airships and seaplanes. Also, British submarines penetrated the entrances to the Baltic with astonishing results. It contains a small but interesting collection of photographs of ships, aircraft and the leaders on both sides.
In a nutshell, a very informative and pleasant to read book about “Southern Thunder”.