Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the Battle of the Atlantic began in September 1939 and lasted for almost six years until the Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe Day, with Australians serving on naval and merchant vessels during the battle.
“The battle was critical to the Allied victory in the Second World War and had the Allies lost here, the war might have taken a very different course,” Mr Chester said.
“Australians should reflect with gratitude on the contribution of our service men and merchant seamen of the Battle of the Atlantic and as a nation remember their service, and thank them for the sacrifices they made to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we value today.”
The Germans’ aim was to cut off Allied supply routes in the Atlantic Ocean. These supply routes were critical for the Allies to build up and maintain their air forces and for the transport of food, medicine, equipment and troops in preparation for the invasion of continental Europe in 1944.
“The Allies sunk nearly 100 German U-boats in the first five months of 1943. This was a decisive blow against the Germans, though not enough to end the battle,” Mr Chester said.
“German U-boats returned to the Atlantic, but they never again managed to pose the same threat, and supply routes across the Atlantic were secured by the Allies.
“During the war, around 5,000 British and Allied ships were sunk and some 65,000 Allied and merchant seamen were lost.”
This year we will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and Victory in the Pacific, and remember the almost one million men and women who fought to protect the Australian way of life.