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Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II [Paperback]

Edward L. Beach , Herbert A. Werner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
Price: £12.47 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 May 2002
The former German U-boat commander Herbert Werner navigates readers through the waters of World War II, recounting four years of the most significant and savage battles. By war's end, 28,000 out of 39,000 German sailors had disappeared beneath the waves.

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Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II + Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 Submarines
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Product details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc; New ed of "Iron Coffins: a U-boat Commander's War, 1939-45" edition (16 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681160X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306811609
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 591,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A first hand account of the German U-boat battles of World War II, by one of the very few surviving commanders. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Commander Herbert Werner served on five submarines from 1941 to 1945 and came to the United States in 1947.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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ENSIGNS," the Admiral began, " you have been called together to receive your first important assignments. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb....Better than fiction 2 Jun 2006
I have read loads of books on WW2. It was such a huge event.Yes, of course, being a world war thats obvious. But my point is that there are so many many aspects and stories that I doubt we will ever learn everything that happend in the vastness of WW2.

This book has left me in sheer awe and wonder. Awe in as much as what Herr Kapitan Werner endured throughout the years of the war firstly as an officer aboard a U Boat following training at the Naval College then eventually as Commander.

In the first years of war we hear of the battle in the Atlantic where convoys were very easy pickings for the 'wolfpacks'. We learn that the 'tide soon turns' and following the joining of the USA and advances in allies technology, the hunter becomes the hunted. U Boats become easy pickings for allied destroyers.

There is no doubt that Herr Werner was an extremely skilled commander but it will leave you in wonder at how he survived against all odds throughout the war. His survival includes overcoming the madness and senseless orders of U Boat Command and the sheer arrogance and mindlessness of senior officers (those in the main having seen little if any action other than indulging in their own oppulence).

We also hear of the heartbreak and loss as families of Herr Werner and his crew are wiped off the face off the earth by allied bombers.

Irrespective of which side they were on, there were millions of extremely brave and courageouse men and women during WW2 and this book provides an amazing story of just some of those. When the book brings us to the wars end you will no doubt breath a sigh of relief for the safety of the Commander and his loyal crew. Rest not....following capture and becoming a prisoner of war the story continues to have the reader glued to each page.

Believe me....fiction could not better this incredible story.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This author commanded a series of German U-Boats throughout WW2 and this is his own personal story. The photographs are also from his own personal collection and are, therefore, unlikely to have been published elsewhere. The Maps, however, could so easily be improved.

In Part One of this book, Herbert Werner takes the reader through the glorious years of success after success for both Germany and her U-Boat offensive. In Part Two, however, we reach that turning point in the war which he aptly describes as "Above us Hell." Finally, Part 3 is equally effectively described as "Disaster to Defeat."

An interesting and well written account of the U-Boat war of WW2 - not only because the author actually took part, but also because he was fortunate enough to survive that war and relive his experiences so that we might read and learn.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A survivor's story 20 Sep 2002
In the early years of World War 2, the U Boats were hunter killers, domineering the sea, and sending thousands of tons of allied shipping to the bottom of the ocean. They were so successful, they almost achieved their aim of starving Britain into surrender.
As the war progressed, the U Boats no longer enjoyed command of the sea. Use of sound detection gear(sonar), the employment of long range anti submarine seaplanes and heavily protected convoys made life for the crews very perilous.
Herbert Werner was one of the very few U Boat men to survive, ending the war as a Captain. He tells of his life onboard a number of boats, the cramped conditions, the extreme cold and unbearable heat, the camaraderie and fear. The patrols Werner and his crew were involved in are covered in detail. The sinking of allied shipping, depth charge attacks, surface attacks from fighters, he makes you feel as though you were onboard.
Werner tells of the loss of his friends, and the uphill battle they were fighting, not only against the enemy, but also the Naval command. As the war enters its final stages, he struggles to get replacement parts for his boat, and realises that his superiors are under pressure to ensure that as many boats are at sea, even if they are not completely seaworthy. In the end it is clear that no more can be done, there are not enough U Boats left to carry on the fight.
As there were so few survivors, it is a rare treat to be able to read a first hand account of life onboard an 'Iron Coffin'. The U Boat service was recognised as being very dangerous, and life expectancy was much lower than in any other arm of the German military. Even though they were the enemy, you cannot help but admire their determination and courage. A highly recommended and engrossing read.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the very best book I have read actually describing the conditions inside a German u-boat during World War II Atlantic Ocean war patrols. It is well written with both action and information in mind. The action standpoint is superb and makes the reader wonder how Capt Werner and his crew ever survived the punishment they took in their little fragile "egg" as aircraft and ships constantly dropped bombs and depth charges on them. From the information standpoint, Werner gives us a very comprehensive and interesting description of what it is like inside the early u-boats. It is hard to imagine how the crew lived like they did in their constantly rocking boat: without bathing for months, eating moldy food, suffering from constant humidity, freezing or roasting as the season might be (no airconditioning or heaters), and not having proper sanitary conditions (using a bucket in rough seas, etc.) Very good detail on u-boat life both aboard ship and in port. From another information standpoint, Werner gives us a good description of what average Germans were thinking as the war progressed, what sort of damage ordinary citizens were taking as the war proceeded in depth over Germany both from the heavy air bombardment plus the advancement of Allied armies from the south, east, and north. Werner is also a "ladies man" so we do hear a lot about the girlfriends in every port, so to speak, plus German submariners' night life in different occupied locations. (They seemed to like France a lot. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Published 1 month ago by DAVID S DAVIES
5.0 out of 5 stars what a fantastic story.
Couldn't put this down, what a fantastic story.
Published 1 month ago by Reginald Ringinglow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you for book arrived on time
Published 1 month ago by gareth sloggett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a very good book I love it a big thanks to you david....
Published 2 months ago by david owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I bought this book on a whim before embarking on a long train journey in the early 70's. It captured my imagination and started an interest in u-boat warfare, naval matters in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jc Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars Best u-boat book yet
Fantastic read, really enjoyed this book, highly recommended, as it tells the harrowing experience of the author though the war
Published 6 months ago by Dominic Musgove-wethey
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and very well written
Although this book was written by "The Enemy", (my father was a Norwegian submarine commander), it presents a fascinating account of submarine life and warfare. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Norma Lauritsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Life on a Submarine
Good book very well written and authentic, certainly a page turner, lots of happenings and goings on aboard the Submarine
Published 8 months ago by Jimbo
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
it was a present, so I don't know how it was received
Published 10 months ago by sue sewing
5.0 out of 5 stars Super read
I bought this for my husband on a recommendation from someone who said this was the best he had read in this genre.
Hubby concurred with this view.
Published 10 months ago by counterpoint
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