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Iron Coffins: A U-boat Commander's War, 1939-45 Paperback – 9 Mar 2006
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A first hand account of the German U-boat battles of World War II, by one of the very few surviving commanders.
About the Author
Herbert A Werner was born in 1920. He joined the German Navy in 1939, and the U-boats in 1941, taking up his first command in 1943. He survived the war, was interned by the Americans, British and French, eventually to become an American citizen in 1957.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, very informative
Book arrived early and in good order
Just finished Iron Coffins by Herbert Werner, an autobiography of a WW2 u-boat officer and commander. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Simon Connell
Excellent read, it debunks a couple of myths regarding the U-boat war.Published 9 months ago by Peter Mahoney
Great account of an almost suicidal attempt to cripple the allies shipping during the Second World War.Published 15 months ago by R. J. Brady
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