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Iron Coffins: A Personal Account Of The German U-boat Battles Of World War II Paperback – June, 2002
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Werner's odyssey began when, on his first mission, the U-230 got stuck on the ocean floor and the crew spent 16 hours jettisoning water and weight out the torpedo tubes, and then ran from one end to the other to rock the boat free. So started his career. The number of close calls he and his ship would encounter over the course of the war, and survive, is equivalent to winning a lottery. Werner and crew had lady luck on their side at times, but many other escapes were a direct result of his competence and the crews bravery. It is a fascinating tale. The new radar that submarines employed in 1942 was later discovered to be acting like a homing beacon for allied aircraft, leading to the deaths of many crews from giving away their position before this error was discovered and fixed. By 1943 the Allies had prefected their hunt and destroy tactics so that many of these subs were unable to escape when their positions were verified. Many, many last reports from Werners classmates and fellow submariners were received onboard the U-230 before they went down with the loss of all hands. These haunting messages were continually relayed to Werner and his sub and somehow this man was able to keep from being part of the majority of brave sailors who died an anonymous death in the deep waters of the Atlantic ocean.
Simply an unforgettable book to read. One of the finest first person accounts of WWII that I have read to date. Ranks right up there with the works of Guy Sajer and Eugene Sledge.
Mr. Werner covers the highly technical training he first received in the Kreigsmarine as a cadet. He writes about living in pre-war Germany, a very nice place to live. When he gets his commission and becomes an ensign in the Kreigsmarine his luck is with him and he's assigned to one of the best commanders in the Germany Navy.
Mr. Werner's tale covers the three distinct periods of German's WWII time line. First, he writes of the early successes and victories where a single U-boat would sink 18K to 30K of shipping in a single sorte. Note, while Pearl Harbor was a military disaster for the USA the German U-boats sank dozens of ships in a single month. Mr. Werner was an intregal member of this highly effective team.
The one part of Mr. Werner's book that rings true is the turning of the war in the period of March to May of 1943. In that time frame nearly 100 German U-boats were sunk. In one harrowing patrol their submarine saw no ships and spent all its time being bombed, straffed, or debth charged.
The last part of the book deals with the destruction of the U-boat arm and Germany. Basically, everything goes into destruction for Germany. The new generation U-boats are too far and too few to change anything. The new torpedos are too few to really matter.
Mr. Werner wrote this book and, at the time, didn't know the allies had captured all the German submarine Enigma coding equipment. The Allies were decoding the submarine messages faster than the Germans themselves in WWII. One reason - discoved by accident - that Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I highly recommend this book to people interesting in naval warfare and WWII. It's about the havoc German U-Boats inflicted on allied merchant ships and also events which led to... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Rudolph E. Sellitti
Excellence, just pure excellence. The survival story of Herbert Werner is at times appaling, nerve wrecking, and always interesting. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I originally read this book when it first came out in 1969, then I disposed of it a long time ago. While browsing the World War II selection here, I came across the title and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Stimpert
I have probably read this book at least ten times since I received a copy from the old Military Book Club in the early 1970s. Read morePublished 3 months ago by JRH