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A Game of Birds and Wolves

A Game of Birds and Wolves

Simon Parkin
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
"One retired Naval Captain. Ten brilliant young women. Ninety days until the UK faced defeat. Never told before, this is the true story of the secret strategy unit and their invented wargame that won the second world war."

So, I became aware of this book prior to its publication, as I was chatting about gaming with someone who happens to feature in the book, and told me the story. It sounded fascinating and as it happens, Auld Yin had a copy for review which he kindly sent me.

"1941. The battle of the Atlantic is a disaster. Thousands of supply ships ferrying vital food and fuel from North America to Britain are being torpedoed by German U-Boats. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is lying to the country about the number of British ships sunk. He is lying about the number of British men killed. And worst of all, unless something changes, he knows that Britain is weeks away from being starved into surrender to the Nazis."

The conditions are dire and in an attempt to counter the significant threat posed by the U-Boat wolfpacks, a small team of Naval staff including the relatively newly (reformed) Wrens are tasked with trying to find a solution. So, they wargame convoys versus wolfpack attacks, where the wolfpacks invariably are successful; and from that analysis, determine the anti-submarine tactics the convoys and escorts should employ to engage and destroy the threat.

It is a well written, well researched and fascinating story which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Simon Parkin brings to life an important part of British history that needs recognition and changed the outcome of WW2 in favour of the Allies. More importantly, it highlights the unsung efforts of a small group of young women who, at that time, were not allowed anywhere near combat operations. I recommend it to anyone interested in WW2 history.

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