British Universities Film & Video Council

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Crisis in the Atlantic - 1941

Series

Series Name
The March of Time 7th Year

Issue

Issue No.
1
Date Released
Jul 1941
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Crisis in the Atlantic - 1941

Story

Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
Summary
The March of Time synopsis: Since the first day of the Second World War, Britain has relied for ultimate victory upon the convoys linking her to the immense resources of the New World. And now as this war moves towards its third year, the U.S. Navy is playing an increasingly active role in the war’s most critical campaign - the Battle of the Atlantic. Despite the British Navy’s heavy losses, the film shows, the naval tonnage of England and the United States together is still larger than that of the combined navies of the Axis powers. Responding to Britain’s need, Canada has expanded her war industry a hundredfold; Canadians are spending more than half of their national income to help in the defeat of Hitler. Today the greatest shipping centres in the world are the ports of Canada’s eastern seaboard, busy terminal for the endless processions of convoys which sail over the North Atlantic sea lanes. The utmost secrecy surrounds the operations of the convoy system. Before each ship sails it is thoroughly searched for any signs of sabotage or hidden bombs. Only the Commodore of the convoy knows in advance the course which will be taken. For two days the convoy is guarded by Canadian destroyers; and Royal Canadian Air Force bombers patrol the seas for hundreds of miles. The Canadian destroyers then pick up an incoming convoy, and the outward bound merchant ships are left to the protection of one or two auxiliary cruisers. All ships must maintain absolute radio silence, and heroes of the Battle of the Atlantic are the officers and men of the Merchant Navy, who, week after week, take precious cargoes across the Atlantic under the ever-present danger of attack by Nazi U-boats and dive bombers.

March of Time’s cameras turn them to Greenland, which has since 1814 been a crown colony of the Kings of Denmark. Although the island’s 17,000 inhabitants live only 600 miles to the north of the American Continent, they have had little contact with the outside world, their trade and commerce always having been a Danish monopoly. With the Nazi conquest of Denmark, the people of Greenland were cut off entirely form their mother country and become wholly dependent on the U.S. Coast Guard to bring them foodstuffs and other necessities. But [illegible] points out, the Nazi interests in Greenland has recently been increasing, for from air currents which arise out of the icy mountain ranges, the German High Command knew they could obtain accurate weather forecasts invaluable to air fleets and invasion forces. Also in Greenland is the world’s most important source of natural cryolite, essential to the processing of Aluminium. Early in 1941 came word from the Danish Governor of Greenland that two ships had arrived from Nazi-occupied Norway, one bringing supplies, the other passengers - probably Fifth-Columnists. Two of these passengers had taken control of a small radio station through which weather reports could be transmitted to Berlin. With the approval of Greenland the Danish Minister in Washington turned the protection of Greenland over to the United States until Denmark should regain her lost sovereignty. Today along the coast of this new U.S. protectorate air and naval bases are being prepared to complete the northernmost links in the great chain of U.S. defences.

As America pledges more help to Britain, and as the U.S. Navy leave for their new stations far out in the Atlantic. British merchantmen are already benefiting from the warnings of enemy activities which are now sent out to them by American patrols. The American decision has been taken, for she realises that on the outcome of this war depends her future - whether she will tomorrow have to stand alone against four continents with the High Seas lost, or whether she will be able to remain a free country in an orderly world.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.7 No.10 of the US edition.
Keywords
Ships and boats; Aircraft; Navy
Written sources
Documentary News Letter   Vol.2 No.7 July 1941, p128.
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Credits:
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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