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Submarine : An Anthology of Firsthand Accounts of the War Under the Sea, 1939-45 [Hardcover]

Jean Hood
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Sep 2007
There is no more vivid and poignant account than one at first hand, and this new volume draws together numerous stories from those men who served in the submarines of the Second World War, weaving them seamlessly together using excerpts from books and news articles. Accounts are arranged in chronological order and cover the mundanity of patrol, the strain of operating in confined spaces both at sea and inside the boat, the heat of battle and loss of ships and lives. Covering, as it does, all the navies involved, it looks at the reality of submarine life both from the point of view of the hunter and the hunted. Claustrophobia, humour, courage, fear, excitement are all to be found in the stories that are related. The accounts cover all the theatres of the naval war, from the 'Happy Time' of the German U-boat offensive, to operations in Mediterranean waters and the Allied disruption of Japanese communications in the Pacific. The result is a solid work that not only fills a gap in the recorded history of the war but can also be used as an overall view of it. Important technical developments, single submarines and analysis of whole classes, notable actions and important individuals are dealt with in the engrossing text. Introductory essays introduce each year of the war and outline the significant developments in the submarine war.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Conway (27 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844860469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844860463
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.7 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 936,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

BENEATH THE WAVES - This is more than just a collection of accounts. It gives the stories context...

To some degree, the submariners of The Second World War were a breed apart. Showing often extraordinary valour, they served in the most difficult and perilous conditions imaginable and suffering sometimes astonishing losses in the process. The famed German U-Boat captain Günter Prien wrote of his crew, they were men who "did their duty silently and blindly, who could neither see the day nor the target and who dies in the dark if it had to be".
Jean Hood's excellent book is a fitting memorial to such men. It is an anthology of both published and unpublished accounts of life below the waves - many of them gleaned from the archive of the Imperial War Museum.
Unlike many other recent anthologies, however, this is much more than a mere collection of stories unrelated to one another and lacking background or context.
Arranged chronologically, the accounts chart the waning fortunes of the German and Japanese submarine forces, the technical advances of the Allies, as well as the contributions of lesser known combatants, such as the Poles, Italians and French.
In addition to all this, the book contains a wealth of additional information, such as a glossary of naval slang, and illuminating sections dedicated to everyday life beneath the ocean waves.
It is this sheer volume and breadth of information that will appeal both to the naval history buff, as well as the genealogist. Indeed, for those who have discovered submariners among their forebears, this book should be required reading. However, even for the layman, Submarine is a fascinating read - full of insight, drama and pathos. -- Reviewed by Roger Moorehouse for BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine, February 2008 issue

A FASCINATING FIRST-HAND GLIMPSE OF WAR BENEATH THE WAVES

The submarine war was a hard and dangerous one. British submariners suffered 38 per cent casualties, almost all fatal and German U-Boats lost and incredible 85 per cent but continued to fight to the end.
In this oral history collection, submariners of almost all the participating nations recall their service. There are chapters on how submarines were worked, on life aboard and on the particular perils of the service - depth charges, being rammed, staying submerged for many hours. There is also a chapter for each year of the war, with tales from the submariner's perspective. Among the best are: one Royal Navy stoker who remembers hearing that his boat had been sunk and he'd been counted as dead; a U-Boat commander who describes swimming for 49 hours; and an American submariner who recalls returning to Pearl Harbour after the attack. The editor is to be congratulated on finding and putting together such a splendid collection of rare and compelling stories. -- Reviewed by Phil Tomaselli for Family History Monthly magazine, Jan 2007

From the Publisher

- Covers many of the overt and covert submarine operations- of
the Second World War.
- Includes vivid accounts by veterans of the submarine war.
- Balanced with news clippings, official reports and diary entries.
- Incorporates UK, US and Russian, German, Italian and 'Free' navy
accounts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In many ways this could be described as a book of short stories and, if that were the case, it would probably hold the record for containing the greatest number of such tales ever found in a single publication. In reality, each story is a personal account about an event on a submarine during WW2. Each of these is a vivid description of a dangerous or interesting occurrence and includes anything from Günther Prien's own account of entering Scapa Flow and sinking the Royal Oak to one of the many problems associated with the Russian Pravda Class submarine P-3 recounted by Torpedoman Nickolay Leontievich Tolokonnikov.

Set out in date order, no sooner have we digested an individual report of how one crewman was rescued and his treatment at the hands of his erstwhile enemy in one theatre of war, we move to an equally harrowing tale of an unplanned dive to previously unknown depths as a very different team from yet another nation struggle to survive. Elsewhere, this is a book which clarifies why those "other" X-Craft never got to attack the Scharnhorst. It is a book which explains a lot as it covers the exploits of those who manned submarines from the UK, USA, Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia and Yugoslavia during this dark period of world history.

Each entry commences with the name and either rank or position held by the contributor followed by a clear reference to the source from which the information was extracted. Anyone familiar with the extensive filing lists for material pertaining to Admiralty records now held in the British National Archives, will recognise the "ADM" prefix for much of the information and quickly realise how much research has gone into this project.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monument to the war under the waves 14 Oct 2010
By John Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is a unique anthology, a fitting monument to the war under the waves in 1939-45. It takes no sides - except perhaps submariners against the rest of the world - giving voice to axis and allies alike. The range of contributors runs from stokers to ship's captains, although it is dominated by the recollections of officers. It is drawn from published books, letters, the sound archive of the Imperial War Museum, and more recent recollections recounted to the author.

Nearly 600 pages long, this book is both introduction and overview to the role of submarines in WWII. There is an introductory section on submarines of the period and the men who served in them, and then the book proceeds year by year from September 1939 until the end of the war. The largely forgotten role of the Polish, Dutch, French and Italian submarine forces is covered in some depth, and the usually ignored Red Navy gets several mentions. There is even a story from a Yugoslav submarine - and I didn't even know they had a navy in WWII, let alone a working submarine!

There are no weak points here, just a collection of stories which together cover the undersea WWII. U-boat captains hunting convoys in the Atlantic, British subs doing much the same in the Meditterranean, the Dutch in Europe and the East Indies, the run to England of the Polish submarines in the opening days of WWII, the Japanese and US in the open expanses of the Pacific - it is all here. Perhaps there is less from the Japanese submarine force than you might expect, but that lack is more than made up for by a hundred others tales of life and death in a steel coffin 250 feet below the seas.

If you have any interest in submarine warfare, or WWII, this book is an excellent addition to your library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monument to the war under the waves 14 Oct 2010
By John Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is a unique anthology, a fitting monument to the war under the waves in 1939-45. It takes no sides - except perhaps submariners against the rest of the world - giving voice to axis and allies alike. The range of contributors runs from stokers to ship's captains, although it is dominated by the recollections of officers. It is drawn from published books, letters, the sound archive of the Imperial War Museum, and more recent recollections recounted to the author.

Nearly 600 pages long, this book is both introduction and overview to the role of submarines in WWII. There is an introductory section on submarines of the period and the men who served in them, and then the book proceeds year by year from September 1939 until the end of the war. The largely forgotten role of the Polish, Dutch, French and Italian submarine forces is covered in some depth, and the usually ignored Red Navy gets several mentions. There is even a story from a Yugoslav submarine - and I didn't even know they had a navy in WWII, let alone a working submarine!

There are no weak points here, just a collection of stories which together cover the undersea WWII. U-boat captains hunting convoys in the Atlantic, British subs doing much the same in the Meditterranean, the Dutch in Europe and the East Indies, the run to England of the Polish submarines in the opening days of WWII, the Japanese and US in the open expanses of the Pacific - it is all here. Perhaps there is less from the Japanese submarine force than you might expect, but that lack is more than made up for by a hundred others tales of life and death in a steel coffin 250 feet below the seas.

If you have any interest in submarine warfare, or WWII, this book is an excellent addition to your library.
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