by Harry Cooper
PLEASE NOTE – This is an entirely new book with many new stories and photos; many never before seen.
Like its predecessor, this book is unlike any other about the history of the U-Bootwaffe because each chapter was written by a veteran of the War at Sea. These are their memories; these are their words. No researcher could write anything even close to “U-BOAT! (Volume II). This is from the men who were there. There is a stirring Introduction by famous author Captain EDWARD L. BEACH (1163-1989) USN (Retired) with words of praise for the abilities and honor of these men. Beach has published many books, including the famous ‘RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP!’ Another by RICHARD HENRICK (2568-1992), who wrote many submarine books including ‘CRIMSON TIDE’, about the merits of this book.
Chapter 1, ‘Submarine Technology’ – ERICH TOPP (118-1985), third most successful submarine Skipper of World War II, tells how technology has changed from his Type VII-C to the more modern submarines of today.
Chapter 2, ‘The Last Boat through Gibraltar’ – Oberleutnant zur See GÜNTHER HEINRICH (1945-1991) was commander of U-960 and he tells of his experiences in combat then tells how he managed to penetrate the Straits of Gibraltar on the surface without any interference from the Royal Navy…….and only one meter of water beneath the keel!
Chapter 3, ‘500 Pesos for a White Man’s Head’ – GEORGE ROCEK (828-1992) rode USS ANGLER and he tells of the rescue of many from the Philippines immediately after that island nation fell to the Japanese – and why it was so critical to get these people safely away.
Chapter 4, ‘Submarine Mystery Solved!’ – Combat crew chief John Carlin was sure they had sunk an enemy submarine, but they had no idea which one. Sharkhunters solved the mystery for them and as it turned out, the Skipper of the submarine, like John Carlin, was also a Member of Sharkhunters.
Chapter 5, ‘der Seekrieg’ – are the sometimes humorous funny memories of the war as told by Knights Cross holding U-Boat Skipper SIEGFRIED KOITSCHKA (225-1986)…………scared the heck out of a boatload of French fishermen.
Chapter 6, ‘Pig Chase in the Atlantic’ – JÜRGEN WATTENBERG (154-1985) was in the Germany Navy from the days of the Reichsmarine then of course, into the Kriegsmarine. As training Skipper, OTTO KRETSCHMER (122-1985) and Joachem Schepke were his students and they played many a prank on him. He was Navigation Officer aboard the pocket battleship GRAF SPEE when that beautiful ship was destroyed in Montevideo Harbor. Later in the war, he was Skipper of U-162 and in this chapter, he tells of the time they met ‘Douglas‘ on the high seas. This puts a human face on an otherwise life and death struggle.
Chapter 7, ‘A Moment in U.S. Navy History’ – JIM VERDOLINI (480-1988) was a kid of seventeen years when he joined the U.S. Navy and not once but twice, fate put him into a historical moment. As radioman aboard USS GUADALCANAL Jim watched the sinking of U-515 and the capture of her Skipper, Werner Henke. He was radioman on that carrier when they captured U-505 and towed her back towards Bermuda. He was then transferred to the Pacific where he served aboard USS RANDOLPH and he describes the fire and carnage of a kamikaze attack on his ship and others in the fleet.
Chapter 8, ‘AVISO GRILLE – Hitler’s Yacht?’ – Once the luxury yacht of a king, the Kriegsmarine took this ship as more or less a showpiece where Adolf Hitler sometimes met with heads of state. Naturally, the press at the time dubbed this ship “Hitler’s Yacht” but was this an accurate statement? What did Hitler eat when aboard? How did he act? This chapter gives an insight into Hitler when he was aboard and why duty as a seaman aboard wasn’t bad duty at all, as HERBERT WEISE (348-1987) learned after being posted to that ship’s crew. This is his story, his memories.
Chapter 9, ‘The Italian Submarine FINZI’ – Tenente Mario Rossetto remembers being placed in command of this boat – then told NOT to engage any enemy units. This was a difficult order for a young lieutenant to follow as he wanted combat, but on this first mission, he was overloaded with supplies and fuel to meet and resupply another Italian submarine off the Cape of Good Hope. Believing that he would be late to the rendezvous point, Rossetto pushed FINZI hard…..so hard in fact, that his engines quit in mid-ocean! This was the one and only resupply mission attempted by the Italian submarines. Did he make his meeting with the submarine DA VINCI? It’s in this chapter.
Chapter 10, ‘Caribbean Assistance?’ – During the war and for decades thereafter, rumors flourished that German U-Boats got help in the Caribbean in the form of food, fresh water and fuel. Did this really happen? Sharkhunters contacted the son of George Gough for an answer. Known at the time as “Uncle George“, he ran a small fleet of trading ships (sailing schooners mostly) out of Belize. His son tells of their experiences during the early war years – and the arrest of his father on 7 July 1942. This is right from the source.
Chapter 11, ‘That’s Her – The VALLIANT!’ – No one can doubt the bravery of the Italians who rode the ‘pigs‘ – the Maiale as their crews called them but for two men to ride one of these two-man torpedoes and attack a Royal Navy battleship – incredible! What was the result? It is all in this chapter by retired Ammaraglio Luigi Durand de la Penne. These guys were tough!
Chapter 12, ‘The Enemy Below’ – This was a great movie starring Robert Mitchum and Kurt Jürgens but how many know that this storyline was inspired by an actual event during battle in World War Two? This story is told from both sides in this chapter – first from the memories of an American destroyer escort’s commanding officer’s report then from VINZ NOSCH (280-1987), a crewman aboard the U-Boat. VINZ also tells some of the history of his boat’s time in the war including the time they met with a Type X-B boat and a doctor transferred to their boat to tend to their badly wounded Skipper only to have U.S. Navy planes jump them. As they reached a safe depth, they could hear the X-B boat getting hammered; then they heard it sinking past them to its doom at the bottom of the ocean.
Chapter 13, ‘Another Victim of the Rot Teufel Boot’ – BERNARD MAUER (2052-1991) recalls the time the tanker he served aboard an old tanker and fate put them in the crosshairs of U-552, the ‘Red Devil Boat‘ commanded by ERICH TOPP (118-1985), third most successful submarine Skipper of World War Two and holder of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaf and Crossed Swords.
Chapter 14, ‘Radiostation Atlantik’ – THILO BODE (304-1987) was I.W.O. aboard U-505 then Skipper of U-858 that he surrendered in the USA. BODE tells of the way the U-Bootfahrer perceived this propaganda radio station – much like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally on the other side. Did the men of the U-Bootwaffe believe the gloom and doom statistics from this radio station? Other than one U-Boat that surrendered to an airplane, did any others give up because of this radio station or others like it? Bode tells it in this chapter.
Chapter 15 ‘Operation URSULA’ – Anyone who thinks that post-WW I U-Boat combat began on 3 September 1939 with the sinking of the liner ATHENIA by U-30 under Fritz-Julius Lemp needs to read this chapter. It was Sharkhunters, thanks to super-spook PETER HANSEN (251-1987), that first broke the story of Operation URSULA in which German U-Boats were in combat AND sinking ships years before September 1939. One Skipper received the Spanish Cross in Gold with Diamonds directly from the hand of Adolf Hitler. You cannot call yourself a true historian of the U-Bootwaffe if you do not read this critically important story.
Chapter 16, ‘The End of SS SAN DEMETRIO’ – Kapitänleutnant OTTO von BÜLOW (305-1987), Skipper of U-404 and one of only twenty-eight Skippers to receive the Knights Cross with Oak Leaf tells of his encounter with this ship and the cat-and-mouse game they played after this ship spotted the periscope of U-404. The chase was on and in this chapter von BÜLOW tells how it all unfolded.
Chapter 17, ‘R-Boats from the Caucasus to Gibraltar’ – ALFRED NUESSER (1092-1989) tells of his combat experience aboard these sleek, small craft aboard which he served in many theaters of World War Two. As the fronts shrank on all sides, his R-Bootflottille was pushed inexorably further and further to the west.
Chapter 18, ‘Long Overdue – Presumed Lost to Enemy Action’ – American Merchant Marine Captain ARTHUR MOORE (533-1988) digs deeply into the mysterious loss of three American Flag merchant ships that were lost without a trace in World War Two…………lost without a trace until Captain MOORE began digging. What did he learn? The answers are here in this chapter.
Chapter 19, ‘Takes Wife – Saves Life!’ – U.S. Navy submarine officer Edward Campbell posted aboard an American submarine but was given shore leave to get married and the boat departed without him – never to return. Campbell talks about the other boats on which he served before and after the one that never returned. His submarine experiences cover almost the entire war.
Chapter 20, ‘The Death of AWA MARU’ – Radioman CHARLES LEVINE (2969-1993) rode USS QUEENFISH when that submarine intercepted and sank the mercy ship (not hospital ship) more or less against orders. Why did the Skipper, Charles Laughlin, attack and sink this ship that was supposed to have safe passage through his area? What happened to Laughlin when he returned to base? And what was AWA MARU really carrying? All that and more is in this chapter.
Chapter 21, ‘SURCOUF! French Giant’ – The very name tingles with excitement and mystery. What really did happen to this largest of all submarines of her day? All that is known – and some previously unknown – will be found in this chapter from her inception through building, through her escape to England where she planned to join the British but instead was violently seized by Royal Navy personnel with the loss of two British officers. We follow SURCOUF through all her many machinery problems, breakdowns and repairs in British then American shipyards and ultimately to the place where she was lost off the entrance to the Panama Canal………..or was she really lost there?
Chapter 22, ‘Type IX Long-Range U-Boat’ – An American ‘spook‘ who served with ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) during the war and later on with the NSA (so secret it is known as No Such Agency). Captain ROBERT THEW (333-1987)takes a long and critical look at Germany’s main long-range U-Boat with the eye of an Intelligence Agent. BOB is very thorough in his analysis. His findings and assessments of this type of submarine are all in this chapter along with the many variants, their modifications, weapons upgrades, their operations, their strong points and their weaknesses. There are photos never before seen on some of the Type IX variants.
Chapter 23, ‘Former Enemies’ – R-Boat veteran ALFRED NUESSER (1092-1989) was transferring to a new post aboard an old ship when it was torpedoed by a Royal Navy submarine. Many of the men aboard the old ship perished and AL was close to death himself when rescued by UJ-2102. After the war he tracked down a couple men of the Royal Navy submarine crew. What was the result? It’s in this chapter.
Chapter 24, ‘U.S. Navy ‘Armed Guard” – With the entry of the United States into World War Two, it became necessary to arm the merchant ship with deck guns and anti-aircraft guns. It was, therefore, necessary to station U.S. Navy crews aboard to man the weapons and Otis Moorehead goes into detail on this almost unknown branch of the United States Navy. Otis covers the Murmansk Run, ships lost there and more action in the North Atlantic with photos of stricken ships and their crews.
Chapter 25, ‘U-DEUTSCHLAND’ – In World War One, the Royal Navy had the German Navy and her merchant fleet blockaded in their ports but Germany needed raw materials for her war efforts – and Germany needed a victory of some kind, of ANY kind, to boost the spirits of citizens in Germany. A large cargo carrying submarine was built and commissioned, and she was meant to thumb the German nose at the mighty Royal Navy blockade. This boat was strictly and totally unarmed – the Captain did not even have so much as a pistol. She thumbed her nose at the Royal Navy blockade not once but twice, and that is in this chapter. There is also a very interesting connection between the Skipper of this boat, Kapitän Paul König of World War One and the Drumbeater, Korvettenkapitän REINHARD HARDEGEN (102-1985) of World War Two. It is in this chapter.
Chapter 26, ‘German and Royal Navies’ – Perhaps a better title for this chapter would be ‘How to Catch a Submarine with Fishing Line‘ because that is what happened. U.S. Navy submarine veteran and researcher KEN HENRY (1468-1990)tells us of the war patrols of the German UB-14 and the Royal Navy E-7. Each boat had its share of wartime adventures and each had a turn being caught in an anti-submarine net. Their paths crossed more than once, but at the last time, one was caught in a net while the Skipper of the other attacked – in a rowboat – and dropped grenades on the trapped submarine below. This chapter tells the results of this last meeting between the two Skippers.
Chapter 27, ‘Pirates in Uncle Sam’s Navy’ – Early in 1942, the U-Boats were running unchecked across the American throat off the US east coast and there was virtually nothing with which to stop them. This critical situation gave rise to ‘Project LQ’ and the American “Q” ship efforts began. How many ships were involved in this project? What happened to each in combat? What role did REINHARD HARDEGEN (102-1985) play in the “Q” ship actions? This chapter tells of this history, much of it previously unknown.
Chapter 28, ‘SS JEAN NICOLET’ – This Liberty Ship was sunk by submarine and what took place with the survivors/prisoners heralded the most brutal, inhuman acts of atrocity in World War Two or in any other war. What happened to the submarine’s commander and hew crew after the war ended? What was their punishment for this terrible butchery? The answer will surprise and probably outrage you.
“U-BOAT!” (volume II) is softbound, contains 230 pages and 109 photos