Review: In the Shadow of the Eagle

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Review: In the Shadow of the Eagle

Post by Marcus » 03 Apr 2011 17:29

A review of "In the Shadow of the Eagle-German raider and U-boat attacks off Western Australia and in the Southern Ocean during World War II" by Kevin Gomm.
Peter H wrote: A follow on to Gomm’s ‘Red Sun On the Kangaroo Paw’ the emphasis is now on Kriegsmarine operations in the vicinity of Australia and its sealanes,especially the Raiders and the U-boats of the Monsungruppe set up “wreck havoc in the Indian Ocean”. These extensive operations, what the author calls the “seemingly prodigious amount of activity that the resources of the German Navy were able to deploy to the far flung theatres of the Indian and Southern Oceans” remain relatively unknown and deserve more recognition.

Wide ranging, the book really starts in 1914,Gomm detailing the rise and fall of the raider SMS Emden in WW1 in the Indian Ocean in the first chapter. Then a chapter is devoted to German warship visits to Australia in the inter-war period, followed by details of the two Italian merchant passenger liners in Australian waters in June 1940 and their subsequent seizure.

The German Raiders Orion,Pinguin,Kormoran, Komet and Michel are then covered in detail.Little known the Komet got to be where it was because of Soviet assistance (and icebreakers) in navigating its way along the northern sea route then into the Pacific. The Kormoran controversy is also tackled but only briefly.The Blockade Runners Spreewald and Ramses are also covered.

I particularly found the chapter on the havoc caused by mines laid off Australia also very interesting.The little known deaths of Able Seamen Danswan and Todd,in attempting to render safe a German mine at Beachport South Australia in July 1941 is recorded as “the first casualties of enemy action on Australian mainland soil during World War II”. In 1966 a German mine from WW2 was also washed ashore at Surfers Paradise Queensland requiring delicate treatment in disposing of it!

U-boat operations are also well documented,followed by merchant ship losses in the Indian ocean near Australia,a bit on the hospital ship Centaur sunk by the Japanese,and to level things out the Prisoner of War camp maintained at Marrinup in Western Australia which also housed many Kriegsmarine and Afrika Korps prisoners.Odds and ends but always readable.

I highly recommend this book and would rate it 4 out of 5.It is highly readable,has 90
photos,and well researched. A most welcome addition to the library of anyone
interested in either the Kriegsmarine or naval operations off Australia in WW2.
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