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Bloodstained Sea: The U.S. Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1941-1944 Hardcover – 25 May 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education (25 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071424016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071424011
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 0.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,658,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

"An exquisitely researched, thoroughly absorbing history of the Coast Guard's role in the greatest sea battle ever fought."'Stephen Coonts, bestselling author of the Jake Grafton series

"Bloodstained Sea is one of the most riveting accounts of naval combat history I've seen, and a valuable reference for any military and naval enthusiast."'Vince Patton, Master Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

In November 1941, America was not yet officially at war. Nevertheless, under orders from President Roosevelt, sailors of the U.S. Coast Guard painted their gleaming white cutters battleship gray and steamed into action against the menacing U-boats of the Third Reich. Bloodstained Sea recounts how, over the next four years, these men'normally dedicated to saving lives and rescuing ships in distress'would be locked in one of the longest and bloodiest running sea battles in history.
Americans called it Torpedo Junction; to the Germans, it was Devil's Gorge. By any name, the North Atlantic of the early 1940s was one of the most dangerous fronts in a catastrophic war. Called upon in desperate times, seven of the Coast Guard's finest ships'the sleek, efficient, tough 327-foot Secretary Class cutters'plied these unforgiving waters to protect convoys of troops and much-needed supplies.

Hunting U-boats, rescuing survivors from frigid waters, they met every challenge and undertook any task necessary to ensure that the Atlantic remained open to Allied shipping. Here, for the first time ever, author and former Coast Guard officer Michael Walling relates the full saga of these vessels and their intrepid crews.

Through eyewitness accounts based on hundreds of interviews with crew members; personal diaries, notes, and letters; and each cutter's logbooks and patrol reports, Walling plunges you into the thick of battle, re-creating some of the most desperate encounters, heroic rescues, and harrowing missions of the Second World War.

Told largely in the voices of the men who lived it, this unforgettable tale is peppered with anecdotes about life aboard ship during wartime. You'll meet the liberty-craving crew members who painted their entire ship in less than an hour; the ship's mascot who became canine-non-grata in Greenland; and the crew whose vessel was mistaken for the German battleship Bismarck and attacked by the Royal Navy.

Complete with dramatic photographs of the Coast Guard in action, Bloodstained Sea brings this epic drama life.

Michael G. Walling served as a commissioned officer and a senior petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for six years. He has spent more than forty years collecting stories from hundreds of World War II veterans.The heroes you've never heard of. . . .

They were trained for and dedicated to saving lives and preventing disasters at sea, but they were needed for war. And between 1941 and 1944, the officers and crews of the U.S. Coast Guard undertook one of the most difficult and dangerous tasks any group of sailors has ever had to face'escorting convoys of merchant ships filled with desperately needed supplies from the United States to Europe, across a U-boat-infested Atlantic.

"Michael Walling has done a real service for the forgotten U.S. Coast Guardsmen who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic."'Dr. Dennis L. Noble, author of Lifeboat Sailors: Disasters, Rescues, and the Perilous Future of the Coast Guard's Small Boat Stations and The Rescue of the Gale Runner: Death, Heroism, and the U.S. Coast Guard

"Michael Walling plies new waters in this World War II saga, snatching our venerable Coast Guard's history from the depths of obscurity and preserving the exploits of these brave men for future generations."'David Morris, author of Storm on the Horizon: Khafji'The Battle that Changed the Course of the Gulf War

"Bloodstained Sea is a compelling tale of courage and heroism told with all the fury and terror experienced by those Coast Guard veterans who lived it. Michael Walling's story of valor and sacrifice is one that Americans must never forget."'Robert F. Cross, author of Sailor in the White House: The Seafaring Life of FDR

"Walling brings the bloody Battle of the Atlantic alive in this action-filled vivid portrait of the U.S. Coast Guard's Secretary-class cutters during World War II. A five-star book!"'Dr. Martin Davis, author of Traditions and Tales of the Navy; executive director of the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum

About the Author

Michael G. Walling (Hudson, MA) served as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard and has spent the last 40 years collecting stories from hundreds of World War II veterans. He is a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and a Search and Rescue volunteer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Recommended for those with an interest in the US Coast Guard (USCG). The core of the book are the activities of the 7 Secretary or Treasury class cutters. This included the pre-war Neutrality Patrol, convoys operating from Iceland and Nova Scotia, the later Bermuda - Mediterrean convoys and then service as amphibious command ships in the Mediterrean and the Pacific. The Treasury class were arguably the most suitable escort design of any nation for Atlantic conditions. The book includes the other large USCG cutters and the convoys escorted by USCG cutters.

At its best the book is compelling. Chapter 5 gives gripping and harrowing descriptions of the sinkings of troopships sailing from Nova Scotia in convoys escorted by USCG cutters: Dorchester in Convoy SG19 to Greenland and Henry R. Mallory in Convoy SC118 to Iceland. The aftermath of the sinking of a crowded troopship at night in winter in the North Atlantic must be counted among the visions of hell on earth. There are also little known nuggets of history. In May 1941 the USCG cutter Modoc found herself in the middle of the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck, encountering in rapid succession; the Bismarck, a flight of Swordfish torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier Victorious and the British battleship The Prince of Wales! The USCG had a key role in the US 'protectorate' over the Danish dependency of Greenland, between fall of Denmark in April 1940 and the entry of US into the war in December 1941.

However the narrative on the North Atlantic convoys lacks structure and falls into a long catalogue of convoys and sinkings which makes for dense and not very illuminating reading. A good part of the book may have been better structured as separate service histories of each of the Secretary class.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Book for Everyone 3 Aug 2004
By P. S. Merlo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Bloodstained Sea is a book for three kinds of people: those who know (or think they know) about the Battle of the North Atlantic, those who don't, and those who were there. The readers in the first two categories (I fall into the first) are in for an eye-opening ride on rough seas. I thought I knew. I was mistaken. Those unfamiliar with this part of our history will find a fast-paced story of heroic actions that could be fiction. But it isn't. I do remember tar and oil on the beaches but I never knew how bloody it was. Now I do.

These men battled U-boat wolf packs hunting through the convoys. They also endured bone-chilling cold and mind-numbing fatigue and this went on day after day and week after week with little respite. Only the brave and the selfless can do this.

Mr. Walling has done a superb job of telling their story. Extensive research using original sources such as ships' logs, interviews with veterans of the action, and his Coast Guard experience add to the authenticity of this book.

For the third group, those who were there, Bloodstained Sea is a well-deserved, long-overdue tribute to their gallantry. While we can only marvel at such dedication to duty, they can read it and say, "Yes, that's how it was."

This is a five-star book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Who says history is dull? 20 Jun 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an exciting, entertaining and informative book. The story of the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II deserves to be remembered and Mr. Walling tells it in a historically accurate, but vivid and enthralling manner. Thoroughly documented and backed with extensive primary source research and interviews, "Bloodstained Sea" demonstrates that the WW2 veterans of the Coast Guard should be ranked high in America's pantheon of heroes. Everyone interested in military or maritime history should own this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Muddy Water Sailors at War 27 Oct 2004
By Lawrence Mayes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When the courageous warriors of WWII are named, those of the Coast Guard who protected the vital life line convoys across the North Atlantic stand among the foremost, and this wonderful book gives them their long overdue tribute. Author Walling spent 17 years of exhaustive and productive research to interview those who fought both the Germans and mother nature in a no-holds-barred struggle of gigantic proportions, a contest in which the losers faced death in a number of horrible ways. The Coast Guard and its seven 327 foot Secretary Class cutters took on the toughest of sea and combat conditions alongside the navies of our allies against the toughest and most determined of Hitler's many weapons, the submarine. The author has given a very human face to the horrors these antagonists faced as oil tankers blew up, vessels broke apart in heavy seas, sometimes without the slightest warning, and brave young men risked their lives to rescue the mariners from flimsy boats and rafts while dodging enemy torpedoes. The grim realities of this kind of warfare, never glamorous, but absolutely essential in the grand scheme of the Allied effort to defeat a determined enemy, come alive though the stories of those who were there and survived. The ships themselves become central figures in this drama and their toughness and efficiency are matched only by that of their valiant crews as they face uncertainty and danger. Six appendixes provide excellent background on Coast Guard vessels and history to help the reader understand the infrastructure prior to and in support of the war effort. This book stands as the definitive work on what the Coast Guard achieved when called to serve and is an absolute "must read" for all those interested in the Battle of the Atlantic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting view on the Battle of the Atlantic 20 July 2006
By Eric Hobart - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Every author that attempts to undertake a project to write a portion of the history of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II has to pick a specific area to focus on - some focus on the U-Boats, some on the merchant ships, other on the tactics. Michael Walling has chosen to explore a different area than any others I've seen - the US Coast Guard involvement in the battle, with a particular focus on the Secretary Class of the Coast Guard Cutters.

The Secretary class boats were 327 foot long cutters that could run at high speeds and handle the terrible weather prevalent in the North Atlantic, thus making them ideal for escort & sub-hunting duty. Walling focuses on just a handful of ships in his tale, but does so quite nicely.

Naturally, when covering a topic such as an entire theatre of war, many other players partake in the story, and Walling most assuredly has not ignored any of the critical players, including the merchant vessels that the Cutters were escorting, the U-Boats that they were hunting, or (most importantly) the people that they were rescuing.

In my opinion, Walling spends perhaps a little too much time on the weather aspects of the battle, though this certainly made for fascinating reading, since many authors almost completely ignore this facet of this theater of war. Overall, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would say that it is an exciting, well researched, engaging tome covering the topic. I would recommend this book, in conjunction with some others, to any reader looking for a comprehensive story - this is a nice piece, it needed to be told, and is a solid addition to the literature on the topic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
All Coasties: Battle Stations! 25 Jan 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the fascinating and not well known tale of the US Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII. My father served as a gunner on convoy escort duty in Spring 1945 and I never really understood the dangers of this type of work until I read this book. They were sinking U-boats off the East Coast right up until the surrender in May 1945!

The best parts of this book were the actual stories of the coastguardsmen themselves. The most difficult part was reading through the course of the many battles as described in the skippers' after action reports.

All in all, I have now a greater respect for what the the USCG did in WWII and what it continues to do today in the Global War on Terror.
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