Naval Warfare Books

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Second U-boat Flotilla

Paterson, Lawrence

2002, Pen & Sword Books / Leo Cooper
ISBN 0850529174
Hardcover, 224 pages, 34 b&w photos

Type. General History
Pros. Well-researched; vivid writing style
Cons. None to speak of

Readers of Lawrence Paterson's First U-Boat Flotilla will welcome this next in the series. Following the format of the previous book, the complete operational history of the flotilla is presented based on the unit's War Diary, in this case extending from the flotilla's first combat actions, in the Spanish Civil War, through the last days of World War II.

The Second U-Boat Flotilla, named Saltzwedel, played an extremely active role in World War II. Saltzwedel boats were first to attack both Britain at sea and America at home: Lemp's U-30 sank the first ship of the war, Athenia, on the first day of the war; and Saltzwedel boats launched Operation Paukenschlag, Germany's first strike on the eastern seaboard of the United States, in early 1942. Many other famous and infamous commanders and boats belonged to the Second U-Flotilla; incidents from the patrols of Hartenstein, Zschech, Wattenberg, Merten, Hardegen, Bleichrodt, and other familiar names fill these pages. As noted in the Foreword, "among the top ten highest scoring U-boats of the Second World War, six belonged to the Second U-Flotilla."

Given this flotilla's prominence and length of operation, it is no surprise that this book is full of exciting incident and interesting detail. As in his previous book Paterson's vivid writing style immerses the reader in the action, and frequent quotations from original source documents provide insight into the thoughts of both individual commanders and BdU. 34 black and white photos chronicle the flotilla in images from the Spanish Civil War through December 1944.

While the author specifies that this book is not a day-to-day breakdown of flotilla actions, it is nevertheless certainly a detailed chronological examination of the flotilla's activities. This detailed content, plus the extensive index, footnotes, a glossary, and an appendix listing boats of the Second U-Flotilla by year, make it a very useful reference work as well as a great read.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 10 Mar 2003.

This title is highly recommended.

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