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Rohwer, Jurgen. Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two: German, Italian and Japanese Submarine Successes, 1939-1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1999.
Preface; Explanatory Notes; Abbreviations and Symbols; Index of Submarines; Index of Commanding Officers; Index of Convoys; Index of Ships Attacked; Charts
Few subject areas in World War II are more studied than submarines in general and U-boats in particular, few have a better body of precise informational literature in print, and few authors are more knowledgeable in this area than Jurgen Rohwer. Dr. Rohwer, besides being a veteran of the Kriegsmarine, has since the end of the war accumulated a huge amount of data about the navies of all combatants. His associates includes many international experts and his research encompasses obscure archival material about submarine operations not available in English.
The original edition of this book was published in Germany in 1968 and the English edition in 1983. Since then it has been out of print and largely unavailable. Over the years the data in that edition has also been vastly updated by the opening of new sources not originally available to Dr. Rohwer. The new edition represents a coordinated international effort to bring together information from every nation and every navy, with archival sources for both the U-boats and their victims. This large and complicated task has been eased in part by compiling, arranging, and verifying the information in a relational database maintained by Thomas Weis of the Naval Archive of the Library of Contemporary History.
Attacks (not necessarily sinkings) compiled here were conducted by submarines of the German, Italian, Japanese, Romanian, Finnish, and Vichy navies all over the world. For presentation, the attacks are first divided into seven geographical areas:
Atlantic Ocean/North Sea
Indian Ocean/South African Theater
Within each geographical area, the attacks are listed in chronological sequence in tabular format. Each row lists one attack and is divided into fifteen columns:
Column 1: Date/time of beginning of attack, according to submarine.
Column 2: Nationality of submarine.
Column 3: Number of name of sub.
Column 4: Name of sub's skipper.
Column 5: Position of attack as reported by sub.
Column 6: Type of target, ranging from battleship to yacht, according to submarine; with estimated tonnage.
Column 7: Weapons used by sub: torpedoes, deck gun, ramming, etc.
Column 8: Code designation of Allied convoy attacked.
Column 9: Date/time of hit.
Column 10: Nationality of vessel attacked.
Column 11: Type of vessel attacked.
Column 12: Name of ship attacked.
Column 13: Actual tonnage of ship attacked, with symbol representing result of attack
Column 14: Position of the ship attacked, according to Allied records.
Column 15: Reference number for footnotes.
More than sixty nationalities are represented in the attacks and targets include more than thirty different kinds of warships as well as eighteen kinds of naval auxiliaries and nineteen categories of merchant ships. Several different attack results are indicated by symbols:
/ no success claimed (or dud)
$ damaged, not repaired, total loss
A variety of other conventions are used, such as italics to visually distinguish warships from merchant vessels, parentheses for uncertain data, and so on.
This tabular format allows Dr. Rohwer to squeeze approximately 6000 attacks -- along with charts and extensive indices -- into under 400 pages. Here is a sample:
|ATLANTIC OCEAN/NORTH SEA: OCTOBER 1939|
Our August 1997 review of Dr. Rohwer's Allied Submarine Attacks of World War Two: European Theater of Operations, 1939-1945 concluded with lines equally applicable here:
"Rohwer's new book is a strict and unadorned by fascinating database; more than that, it's a wonderful addition to the body of precisely quantified knowledge required to make informed judgments about submarine operations, the larger naval campaign, and the course of the war as a whole." Recommended.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Naval Institute Press.
Thanks to NIP for providing this review copy.
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Reviewed 5 April 1999
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone