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"Battle of the Barents Sea" Topic

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554 hits since 29 Mar 2018
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 11:05 a.m. PST

"The Battle of Barents Sea on the morning of 31 December 1942 was not operationally noteworthy. The Nazis lost one destroyer and the British lost one aging destroyer and a minesweeper. But the battle has continued to intrigue naval historians and tacticians even after nearly sixty years. It taught many lessons, the prime one being that one goes into a naval battle resolutely or not at all.

To understand how this battle--skirmish, really--could have had such far-reaching consequences we have to consider the dilemma confronting Hitler at a time when his Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army were surrounded at Stalingrad. The Soviets were counting heavily on materiel from the west which could be supplied only through a treacherous sea route through the Barents Sea into Murmansk. During the summer, the edge of the ice pack retreated to 300 miles from the North Cape of Norway, so convoys could pass well clear of a coastline dotted with German air bases. But the long summer days also made them vulnerable to u-boat attack. Conversely, in winter when ice-free waters narrowed to 150 miles and the days were short, the u-boat danger was lessened but air attacks became more frequent. The Luftwaffe had been successful in sinking large numbers of Allied merchantmen in the turbulent, icy waters of the Barents Sea. But now Field Marshal Hermann G÷ring's dwindling number of fighters and bombers were urgently needed on the eastern front in support of the attempted Stalingrad breakout. Russian re-supply would have to be crushed by the Nazi surface and undersea fleet if it was going to be done at all. And winter was the time to do it.

Like Churchill, Hitler fancied himself a master strategist and often second-guessed his generals and admirals. Because of some British commando landings in Norway he became convinced that the British planned to invade Norway and that Sweden would then join forces with Russia and trap his land forces in a gigantic pincer move. His naval commander-in-chief, Gro▀admiral Erich Raeder dissented and correctly reasoned that the Allies' next move would be an invasion of North Africa. Hitler disagreed and decided it was time for his surface fleet to prove its mettle. For years he had railed against his surface ship fleet, calling it a poor imitation of the British navy and a breeding ground for malcontents and revolutionaries. But he was deeply conflicted on the issue. While often referring to it as a useless liability, he was placing an inordinate confidence in its ability to crush any Allied attempt to invade Norway or re-supply the Russians . In truth, a megalomaniacal Hitler had little understanding of naval operations and strategy. And his long distrust of the Kriegsmarine would come to a head on the morning of 31 December 1942…."
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Bozkashi Jones30 Mar 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

This is the EXACT reason I introduced 'force morale' into my games – in a 'normal' game this should be a cakewalk for the Germans but confusion and worry about what superiors might say swung the battle.

"that an enemy force of at least one pocket battleship, one heavy cruiser and six destroyers, with all the advantages of surprise and concentration, should be held off for for four hours by five destroyers and two 6" cruisers without any loss to the convoy is most creditable and satisfactory" [Adm. Tovey]

A well earned VC!


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2018 10:21 a.m. PST



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