NORFOLK--It's one of the great untold stories of World War II. The German U-boat campaign off the Atlantic coast on the United States in 1942 claimed thousands of American lives and hundreds of U.S. ships, yet, unlike D-Day and Pearl Harbor, Hollywood hasn't focused on that part of the war.
Seven decades-plus later, author Ed Offley thinks he knows why.
'One of the reasons the tale did not get told very well was because at the time, the U.S. Navy had nothing but shame for what had happened in the Atlantic during the first six months of the war,' Offley said in an interview. 'It was an absolute defeat for the navy and the U.S. Army air forces.'
Offley, a former reporter for the Norfolk Ledger-Star, is promoting his new book, 'The Burning Shore, How Hitler's U-boats Brought World War II to America.' The tome focuses on the time period of January to July, 1942. During that period, countless German warships menaced he Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Maine to Florida, with much of the action happening off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. In that period, the U.S. suffered 4.607 deaths and 225 of its merchant vessels and Navy warships were sunk.'
Offley says the United States was 'totally unprepared.'
Eventually America sailors and airmen did repel the German fleet, and they withdrew, but not before the many losses suffered by the United States. Offley says he hopes to open the eyes of a new generation to an important chapter in American military lore, because of the lessons learned from the campaign's mistakes, and because of the selfless tales of heroism and bravery.