Britain appeared doomed until the German naval codes were cracked.

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The Codebreakers’ War in the Atlantic

By Gene J. Pfeffer

The Battle of the Atlantic was a life-and-death struggle between the German Kriegsmarine and the Allied navies that was fought for control of Britain’s lifeline to its empire and to the United States. Read more

Jammed with prisoners, the German supply ship Altmark was en route back to the Fatherland when she was intercepted and boarded by the British Navy.

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Seizing the Altmark

By Joseph M. Horodyski

On Sunday, September 3, 1939, the day that Great Britain and France formally declared war on Germany after the Nazis’ invasion of Poland, the German supply ship Altmark concluded her stay at the refinery center of Port Arthur, Texas, where she had taken on a full cargo of diesel oil, and returned to sea. Read more

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Sitzkrieg on the Western Front

By Michael Hull

Within hours of the entry of Great Britain and France into World War II on September 3, 1939, the British liner SS Athenia was sunk by a German U-boat off the northwestern coast of Ireland, with the loss of 112 dead, including 28 American citizens. Read more

Restricted by Naval Treaties, Britain Turned in the 1920s and 1930s to Cruisers, of Which the HMS Cornwall was the First.

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HMS Cornwall: a Symbol of British Naval Power

by William R. Hawkins

Following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 (and roughly four years prior to the construction of the HMS Cornwall), cruisers became a focus of the interwar naval arms race, no less keenly felt by the British, whose survival depended on the sea-lane. Read more