Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

Dark Sky, Deep Water

First Hand Reflections on the Anti-U-Boat War in Europe in World War Two

Franks, Norman

1997, Grub Street, London
ISBN 1898697574
272 pages, 99 b&w photos

Type. General History
Pros. Includes many extracts from primary sources
Cons. Author's own writing style is a bit difficult

This book presents accounts of a number of conflicts between U-boats and RAF Coastal Command throughout the course of World War II, essentially devoting one chapter to each incident.

The author's writing style tends to be a bit difficult, but since a significant percentage of the text consists of lengthy extracts from primary sources - survivor statements, war diaries, personal recollections and official documents - this turns out not to matter too much. The book contains a great deal of quite valuable and interesting material, and seems generally to be quite accurate (with the exception of a few minor oddities, such as explaining an SC convoy with the sentence "SC was the code for a convoy from Great Britain to the USA").

Several of the chapters focus on the experiences of shot-down aircraft crews, while most focus on both sides of the battles between U-boats and aircraft. Operational histories, some short and others more detailed, of a great many U-boats are included; boats discussed include U-607, U-461, U-462, U-459, U-454, U-489, U-164, U-598, U-604, U-507, U-848, U-177, U-763, U-197, U-415, U-802, U-343, U-976, U-155, U-867, and U-373.

The book includes an index of personnel mentioned, although not of U-boats. There is no bibliography as such; the author notes various individuals as sources, but does not mention specific publications or documents. My impression is that the book is based upon much primary research in the archives, as well as interviews with battle participants, but this is not explicitly stated anywhere.

Altogether, this book is definitely worth reading, its main attractions being the inclusion of so much primary source material, and its focus on not-often-told stories of aircraft-U-boat conflict.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 16 Sep 2000.

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