The Battle of the Atlantic was a theatre of war greatly influenced by technology and which also greatly influenced the development of technology. In this war of U-boat stealth required detection; there was need to communicate between ships; the need for Head Quarters to be able to reach combatants; a need to improve weaponry, to improve aircraft range, a need to speed up the production of ships and all aspects of war materiel. Science and industry on both sides of the hostilities was dedicated to developing advantages in every field. The role of the scientist and engineer was critical to the war effort.
The Battle of the Atlantic is often viewed predominantly through a History prism. This is because it is one of the most significant and pivotal historical conflicts of the 20th Century. Given this perspective, the significance of the role of transportation technology, manufacturing, drafting and communications is often forgotten or ignored.
The Battle of the Atlantic was a technological struggle between industrial nations. Who would be able to design, construct and manufacture the instruments of naval warfare? What technological depth did each of the protagonists possess? What R&D capability did they possess? What tradition in maritime technology could they call on? These were the 'hidden' yet salient questions that the conflict asked?
At the outset of the war it was apparent that both Britain and Germany enjoyed a semblance of equality in manufacturing and technological design and development. The war acted as an impetus to that established set of industrial assets.
In Canada there was only a fledgling naval tradition in terms of ship design and shipbuilding. This limitation was also evident in other technological realms that would soon become a matter of national survival.
Ship design, steel production, engineering, electronics, ship construction, were challenges for a nation of just over 11 million. Demands would come for a new industrial commitment as well as for fighting men. How would or could Canada respond?
The war at sea and the war in general propelled all industrial nations into a monumental technological competition. The nation(s) that met the challenge had the commitment and resources eventually prevailed. Canada was one of those nations and the post war economic benefits provided the boost for a new and technologically competent nation.
The 6 years of conflict stimulated technological growth at an amazing rate. The result saw a post war economic evolution in this young country. Shipbuilding, aerospace and transportation technology in Canada came of age.
Sample Assignment: Team Project
Brainstorm: Consider all of the technological and scientific inventions and services that you use on a daily basis. Consider those that you may not use on a daily basis but have used within a period of a year.
- Choose one form of technology or scientific service that is common and ubiquitous today that received its research and development stimulus during the Battle of the Atlantic.
- Your choice must have been keyed to providing a strategy advantage to the Canadian and Allied war effort or to the German war effort. It may have multiple purposes today. That is to say, it may have a predominant 'peaceful' or civilian application today. However, your choice may still have a modern military connection or application.
- Explain the original use of the technology or service, where and how it was used. Also explain how it progressed and evolved.
- Produce a display format that exmaines and explores your chosen study unit. Be creative - choose from all the technology that you have available today.
- Don't be reluctant in seeking assistance from veterans - they may have worked on your 'technology' or 'service' of choice.
- 21st century youth are said to be the smartest and most technologically able generation. This is open for discussion but here's an opportunity for your team to show the depth and understanding of the breakthroughs that were made by the youth of the 1930s and 1940s!
- A full period of display and discussion of final product may well inspire a collective evaluation on what you and your peers feel was the most important of those researched choices.