Sorry if this topic is floating around out there already, I couldn't find it through a search, so I'll start a new one.
I'm currently reading "Iron Coffins" by Herbert A. Werner.
If you want to know about the huge success immediately followed by the abject failure of the U-boat war then this is an excellent read. The author's sub got stuck on the ocean floor on his first mission, and they spent 16 non-stop hours bailing water out of the sub through the torpedo tubes. Then, the crew ran from one end of the submarine to the other until it was literally rocked loose. So started his career.
He describes the heady victories early in the war until about 1943, when it all changed, and by the middle of the year it became a suicide mission to even sail in the Atlantic.
The author returns to his native Hamburg on a 30 day furlough in 1942 to find his father imprisoned by the Gestapo for having an affair with a Jewish secretary of his. It seems that he filed for divorce and wanted to marry the woman. Then, when his mother reveals the news he shows up and shows his credentials to the officer in charge, who releases his father (and is impressed to be in the company of a U-boat officer). The situation in bombed out Hamburg is very uncomfortable, and he leaves for Berlin to see his girlfriend. What he finds there leaves him shattered and disillusioned. He opts to return to his boat, and arrives still believing in ultimate victory.
Interesting that their new radar the 'Metox' on these subs gave away their positions and it was months before they were aware, after the needless sinking of many subs. The U-230 received many, many last minute messages of subs going down, usually with complete loss of all hands. His schoolmates die daily. It is incredible that this sub has survived until 1943 with all the narrow misses it has encountered. How the author survives until 1945 I have yet to find out.
What an incredible, staggering loss of life seen by these brave sailors.
Last edited by Andy H on 28 Dec 2012 21:33, edited 1 time in total.
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