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Convoy: The Greatest U-boat Battle of the War (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Paperback – 12 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (12 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304365785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304365784
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 19 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 761,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Martin Middlebrook is distinguished for his detailed analysis of major military actions and this work, first published in 1976, retains an honoured place in the bibliography of the Battle of the Atlantic.' (SHIPS TELEGRAPH (Ministy of Defence) Oct 03 )

About the Author

Following his first book, The First Day on the Somme, Martin Middlebrook has published a series of books on major turning points in the two World Wars - all classics of military history.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grev VINE VOICE on 16 April 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book focusing on two convoys, one fast and one slow, that were at sea at the same time and therefore became involved in the same mid Atlantic battle. By focusing on one battle from start to finish Martin Middlebrook succeeds in rendering the often tragic Battle of the Atlantic far more real and human. In most other books on the subject the battle becomes reduced to a mere list of ships and statistics. Here, we meet the usually faceless and nameless crews, many of whom emanated from countries not otherwise involved in WWII and were basically carrying out the only job they ever knew in the middle of an often brutal, nightmarish warzone... and ceased to be paid the moment their ship was sunk, always assuming they survived. We also meet the crews and the inexperienced commander of the overstretched multinational escort group charged with protecting the convoys, who too late to alter the slower convoy's course discover that they are sailing straight into the jaws of the largest wolf pack the German navy ever assembled to attack a convoy, involving over 40 U boats. Some of the decisions the young commander was forced to make were appalling - the escort group was far to small to cope with the massive and unceasing U-boat assault and if a ship was sunk he could often not spare a ship to go back and search for survivors; in one instance this led to a tragic result that haunted him for the rest of his short life as he discovered too late that a merchant vessel he designated to rescue over 80 survivors from one stricken vessel had ignored the order and left the passengers to die. Despite all this - the battle was utterly one sided as the U-boats swamped the escort group - the book ends on a note of hope: this battle was the last major success the U-boats enjoyed.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henk Beentje TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
The book: In February 1943, 63 merchant ships were sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic, and 19 U-boats. Britain was losing 700,000 tons more imports than were arriving, and reserves would be exhausted in April; while Germany was losing half the number of U-boats compared to new ones being built. This was the crisis of the battle of the Atlantic. At this time, convoys SC.122 (slow) and HX.229 (fast) set out from New York, with a third HX.229A split off due to the sheer number of freighters and tankers: 141 ships carrying 920,000 tons of vital cargo (fuel, meat and other food, timber, minerals, steel, gunpowder, lorries, locomotives, invasion barges, aircraft, tanks...) and 1,000 passengers. Twenty escorts crossed with them, mostly elderly Flower class corvettes, a few destroyers, frigates, trawlers and sloops. German naval intelligence was reading most Admiralty ciphers, and 45 U-boats were on their way to sink as many as possible. This book is the story of this part of the battle.

My opinion: Middlebrook dovetails UK, US and German sources with personal accounts, and does it well. He combines strategic overview with personal drama, and it all forms a fascinating and harrowing whole. He interviewed Donitz as well, plus 39 U-boat men, in additions to scores of Allied merchant sailors and Navy personnel.
A fascinating portrait of the crisis of the Battle of the Atlantic, while the Air Gap was still open...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Lloyd on 16 May 2011
Format: Paperback
A brilliant reconstruction of the battle around convoys SC122 and HX229 which sailed from New York to Britain in March 1943. This was the high water mark of the WWII German U-Boat campaign; thereafter the threat of the U-Boats was mastered and never again reached the same level. The book is meticulously researched. It presents a highly complex set of movements and clashes between ships and U-Boats in an understandable and compelling narrative. Excellent use is made of quotations from survivors to highlight the human dimension of this life and death conflict. The book has an excellent background on the British and American merchant service and the U-Boats and escorts. It also has a fine analysis of the convoy and sets it in the context of the larger war. Highly recommended, both for the casual reader and those with an interest in the Atlantic campaign.

For other accounts of single convoy actions in the Atlantic see I Was There to Face the Night of the U-Boats by Paul Lund and Harry Ludlam (covering SC7 from Nova Scotia in October 1940) or Crisis convoy: the story of HX231 by Peter Gretton (covering HX231 on the same route in March 1943, the same month as the events in this book).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard Wilson on 26 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
A fascinating insight of the battle of the Atlantic. Martin Middlebrook's books are an excellent way for readers new to war history books to pick up and read. They give a very human aspect of the war, his research and interviews with people from both sides make for a fascinating read. Superb
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By monkeymp on 10 Dec 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent read
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