21 March 2010

U-Boat Adventures - Firsthand Accounts from World War II

Twenty-two U-boat veterans tell their chilling stories in this collection of their combat experiences in World War II, recorded by the author during several years of travel throughout Germany. It is one of very few books to examine the lives of the enlisted crew in the infamous submarines. Melanie Wiggins interviewed seventeen men and five of their commanders to take readers into the terrifying world of underwater warfare where every man helped determine the fate of his boat.

While tracking down the U-boat veterans, Wiggins came across photographs and secret diaries and gained access to personnel records. A reunion of the U-682 crew and interviews with Admiral Otto Kretschmer two months before his death and the ninety-four-year-old Commander Jürgen Wattenberg netted a wealth of information. Among the individual sagas included are Radioman Hans Bürck's description of his 1942 patrol to Aruba and Herman Wien's description of U-180 transporting an Indian anarchist to Madagascar.

Available from:
Naval Institute Press

Crossing the Zorn The January 1945 Battle at Herrlisheim as Told by the American and German Soldiers Who Fought It

Conceived in desperation after the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, Germany’s Operation Nordwind culminated in the frozen Alsatian fields surrounding the Zorn River. In what was expected to be an easy offensive, the German 10th Waffen SS Panzer Division attacked the American 12th Armored Division near the villages of Herrlisheim and Weyersheim. Neither army foresaw the savage violence that ensued.

Combining the vivid eyewitness accounts of veterans from both sides of the conflict with information gleaned from a variety of long-unavailable print sources, this richly detailed history casts a fascinating light on a little-known but crucial battle in the Second World War. Common stalwart German and American soldiers carried out near-impossible orders.

Available from:

A Bristol Soldier in the Second World War

Having been lucky to suvive a German air raid on his Bristol home, Herbert Haddrell's personal account of the harrowing experience of being called up and sent to Normandy, where he was seriously wounded after 43 days of battle, is a fascinating and moving story.

Using Herbert's recollections and some valuable letters, diaries and accounts of fellow soldiers, this book reveals the tale of a nineteen-year-old caught up in the midst of one of history's darkest moments. Supplemented with background information about the war and life in Bristol, this volume also includes rare photographs and archive material from the author's personal collection.

Compiled by Herbert's son, this book is a poignant reminder of the terrible ordeal that so many brave young men had to face in order to defend king and country, and perhaps even more importantly, their families and homes.

Available from:
The History Press

On and off the Flight Deck Reflections of a Naval Fighter Pilot in World War 2

Hank Adlam began his naval flying career in 1941, his first operational posting was to the newly-formed No. 890 Squadron. The squadron’s first operational role was to protect a convoy sailing from New York and bound for Greenock. Their major task was to protect the ship’s squadron of Fairey Swordfish anti-submarine aircraft and to destroy any long-range Lufwaffe Fw Condor reconnaissance patrols that were transmitting convoy positions to the waiting U-boat wolf-packs. During this first operational voyage he lost his best friend who was shot down. Later, on this same initiation to front-line operational flying, Hank was forced to ditch into gale-torn Atlantic Ocean.

In the autumn of 1942, 890 Squadron joined the fleet carrier HMS Illustrious, again involving convoy protection. During one patrol he helped destroy an enemy Blohm und Voss Bv 138 Seaplane. Illustrious sailed for the Mediterranean arriving in Malta, with the objective of providing air cover for the landings at Salerno. 1944 saw the Squadron pilots despatched aboard HMS London and then they briefly joined HMS Atheling, to provide air cover for a strong fleet attacking Japanese shipping around the Andaman Islands. When 890 was disbanded he joined 1839 Squadron flying the new Grumman Hellcat.

Available from:
Pen & Sword Books

The War Diaries of a Panzer Soldier: Erich Hager with the 17th Panzer Division on the Russian Front • 1941-1945

This book is a unique personal account of the war on the Russian Front, written using the diaries and photos of Erich Hager who served in the 39th Panzer Regiment, 17th Panzer Division throughout the war in Russia.

Hager rose to the rank of Unteroffizier and served as a company commander’s tank radio operator. During this time he kept diaries in which he recorded the events he went through every day at the front. His diaries have been translated and are presented with additional notes. Hager also took many personal photographs of comrades, and vehicles – many are included here. The book also includes a chapter on the 17th Panzer Division.

Despite taking part in many in many battles on the Russian Front, including the attempted relief effort at Stalingrad, little information on the 17th Panzer Division has been published. Hager’s material provides a tremendous insight into the war on the Russian Front from a front line soldier’s perspective.

Available from:
Schiffer Books