Genre: Non-fiction, Military History
Release Date: October 2014 (first addition)
Publisher: J H Haynes & Co Ltd.
An insight into the design, construction and operation of the most feared German U-boat of World War II.
The Type VII U-boat was the workhorse of the German Kriegsmarine in the Second World War. It was also the most numerous German U-boat class of the war with 709 built and the most produced submarine class in history.
It enjoyed spectacular victories, including the sinking of the liner SS Athenia and the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous soon after the outbreak of hostilities, which showed how vulnerable unescorted ships were against German U-boats. When U-47 sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 inside the Royal Navy anchorage at Scapa Flow, it forced the entire Home Fleet to move to temporary anchorages around the Scottish coast.
In the desperate Battle of the Atlantic that raged for much of the war, U-boats’ “wolfpacks” stalked merchant convoys that were Britain’s lifeline, sinking thousands of tons of Allied merchant shipping and taking Britain to the brink of disaster. The U-boat was a game-changer.
Centrepiece of the Haynes U-boat Manual is the sole surviving example of a Type VIIC U-boat, U-995, which is on public display at the German Naval Memorial near Kiel in northern Germany.
About the Author
Alan Gallop is a journalist, author, and teacher of PR and marketing subjects at commercial colleges. His previous work includes a book about Buffalo Bill’s adventures in England, a history of the women and children who toiled in Victorian coal mines, and a biography of explorer Henry Morton Stanley. He has written about the birth and development of Heathrow and about the loss of HMS Affray, the last British submarine to go missing at sea. He is married with two children and lives in Ashford, Middlesex.
The author gives a good overview of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) before and during the war and provides lots of information about the Battle for the Atlantic.
Although some readers can be disappointed about lack of technical details, I found it a rather pleasant read. Being not technically savvy, I wanted to read more about the history of the type VII U-boats, the major battles/operation they took part in, the crew, and everyday life onboard during patrols and ashore.
The book uses numerous detailed photos of U-995, based in Laboe, the War Memorial near Kiel in northern Germany. U-995 is the only survivor of this type of U-boats.
The author also gives a brief overview of other types of U-boats, which I found useful for my research.
A few pages repeat the narrative next to a photo again in the text, making reading a bit repetitive. Some chapters contain some sort of “subchapters”, breaking them in the half-sentence, which I found confusing and distracting.
I’d like to see more information from the crewmen themselves. Excerpts from their memoirs, diaries, reports, interviews, etc. would’ve shed even more light on the subject, giving a personal touch to the book.
The book definitely can’t be called a “manual”. I wouldn’t recommend it to the readers who’re searching for in-depth technical details/specifications. It’s a good read for people who’re looking for a clear, simplified introduction in the type VII U-boats and their history.