Wynn, Kenneth. U-Boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1: Career Histories, U1-U510. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997.
Introduction; Abbreviations; Author's Notes; maps; Sources and Selected Bibliography
Appendices: U-Boat Commanders; U-Boat Groups; Deutsches Feldpost Numbers; Allied Warships sunk, damaged, or attacked; Merchant Ships sunk, damaged, or attacked; Warships Mentioned in the Text; Other Merchant Ships Mentioned in the Text; Allied Air Force Units Mentioned in the Text
Naval Institute Press scores another big success with this volume, a sure candidate for one of the top new WWII-related books of the year.
Author Kenneth Wynn has assembled prodigious quantities of data on every U-boat serving from 1939-1945 (although those boats with higher numbers will be covered in the second book of the two-volume series). Wynn's research, which began in 1990, includes mountains of primary material from the Bundesarchiv and Public Records Office as well as all the relevant secondary sources.
The boat-by-boat organization makes for a book in which, finally, it's easy to find the complete history of every U-boat. Although there are hundreds of other books about U-boatsand some of them provide a certain amount of hull-by-hull coverage (such as Paul Kemp's U-Boats Destroyed, also from NIP)Wynn's work offers by far the best and most comprehensive English-language summaries of complete service histories for every boat.
Along with full textual detail, the presentation also provides tabular data in a consistent, easy-to-find, and easy-to-read fashion: U-boat number; type; builder and yard; dates for keel laid, launched, and commissioned; fate (mostly sunk, with date and location); number, location, and dates for flotilla service; commanders (with dates); number of patrols; number of ships sunk (with tonnage) and damaged; and even Feldpost number. The additional narrative describes the events of each sailing in considerable detail with anywhere from a paragraph to a full column of text.
U 335 Type VII C
Built by Nordseewerke, Emden
Keel laid 3.1.41 Launched 15.10.41
Commissioned 17.12.41 Feldpost Nr. M 47 884
Sunk 3.8.42 NW of the Shetlands (62°48'N 00°12'W)
8 U-Flotille, Konigsberg/Danzig December 1941 - July 1942 (ab)
6 U-Flotille, St Nazaire July 1942 - 3.8.42 (fb)
KL Hans-Hermann Pelkner December 1941 - 3.8.42
Patrols: 1 Ships sunk: None
1. 30.7.42 Left Kiel for operations in the North Atlantic.
The outward-bound U 335 was sighted as she surfaced on 3.8.42 NW of the Shetlands by the British submarine HMS Saracen (Lt M G R Lumby).
After the boat was sunk in a torpedo attack, the Saracen looked for survivors, of which there appeared to be three. As Saracen approached one man raised his arms and then disappeared, the second was a corpse and the third, a signalman, was picked up. He said that the other two had been U 335's commander and the 1 WO.
41 other men went down with the boat.
In addition to the main body of the book there is a selection of maps in the back and a number of useful appendices, some of which serve also as indices, presenting, for example, lists of ships sunk by nationality (such as the Syrian vessels Hassan, Mawahab Allar, Mouyassar, and Omar el Kattab).
In the rich literature of the U-boat war there are many other excellent titles. Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War (with volume two due late this year) is probably the single best narrative history. Gunter Hessler's post-war "debriefing" (The U-Boat War in the North Atlantic, 1939-1945) is an important document. Axis Submarine Successes by Jurgen Rohwer and U-Boat: The Evolution and Technical History of German Submarines by Eberhard Rossler remain seminal reference works. To that stellar company we can add Wynn's U-Boat Operations of the Second World War.
Now, where is the definitive compilation of biographies of U-boat skippers?
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Naval Institute Press.
Thanks to NIP for providing this review copy.