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Torpedo Junction: U-Boat War Off America's East Coast, 1942 (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – April, 1996
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"The best account to date of America's early war against the U-Boat." Journal of Military History
"Homer Hickam is a gifted storyteller...the reader is transported back to those crucial battles at sea to live and die with those seamen." Times-Herald, Newport News, Va.
"A dramatic end detailed account." West Coast Review of Books --Journal of Military History
About the Author
Homer H. Hickam, Jr., was born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia. The author of Torpedo Junction, a Military History Book of the Month Club selection, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Smithsonian Air and Space and American History Illustrated, he is a NASA payload training manager for the International Space Program and lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
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The fact that we didn't have the resources or in some cases, the will by our government officials to do anything about such losses was difficult to fathom. Yet, among all this were some really courageous sailors, Coast Guardsmen and merchantmen.
Torpedo Junction takes place on the seas of the East Coast of the US and the Gulf of Mexico during early 1942 WW2. Torpedo Junction is a great action packed history of the German U Boats and their crews that attacked shipping during the early 1942 WW2 era.
The book is a page burner with no boring parts. Each page was action packed and I read the 411 page book in 1 and 1/4 days. There are some great B/W pictures too, as well as charts of the Battle of Torpedo Junction where ships were sunk. There is also a great Appendix, notes and bibliography. Readers are given the opportunity of months of more reading if they prefer that was used in the creation of this book. LOTS of research done. Homer also was a certified diver and dove some of the wrecks to verify the actual torpedo holes in hulls or deck gun damage done.
This is a great book for the naval historian. We learn of the political problems Rear Admiral Andrews went through to try to get any support ships and planes to help stop the incredible massive tonnage sunk by the German U Boats. Seems Admiral King in charge of the entire US NAVY was very stubborn about not giving Rear Admiral Andrews any ships at first. Reluctantly Andrews gets 3 WW1 old destroyers on temporary loan. Admiral King had his own ideas about needing ships to combat the Japaneses in the Pacific and preferred the British Navy to handle the U boat problem. He had little use for Churchill or the British Navy. Churchill sends Andrews 12 old Trawlers to help in ASW....almost useless. But the little ships and crew show their valor to try to fight the U boats and some of the trawlers are easily blasted away. Oil company executives finally hound President Roosevelt to do something to stop their many oil tankers from being sunk. Seems Admiral King only listened to President Roosevelt. Eventually Rear Admiral Andrews gets more destroyers, Coast Guard ships, army planes and blimps to start protected convoys of ships but not until hundreds of thousands of tonnage of ships are sunk and many lives needlessly lost.
The books shows many of the U Boat captains and various stories about them and their crews as well as stories about Coast Guard Cutters and their crews, destroyers, B 29 planes, PBY rescue planes,and much much more. Some of the compassion of the U boat commanders to the survivors in the life boats are shown. Some even gave the survivors food and water and more and MOST waited for the survivors to get in their lifeboats before finishing their attacks on the ships. However there were some commanders that sometimes just blasted away with their torpedoes and deck guns to sink the ships as soon as possible regardless of survivors.
The U boats sunk a total of 259 ships. Many off NJ, NY ,NC FL and even in the mouth of the Mississippi river! Miami Beach gowers in Miami Fl watched tankers being torpedoed and German U boats. The captain of a U boat could even see the Miami Beach gowers on the beach romantically making out and automobiles and department store lights. They were that close. Also German spies/ saboteurs landed in the US from U Boats. They were caught and most executed.
Torpedo Junction is a fantastic account of early 1942 WW2 U boat action around the US East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Also lessons for government leaders to learn and not make again. Anyone interested in early WW2 U Boat, Coast Guard cutters, destroyers, British trawlers, minesweepers, B29 planes, blimps and more will enjoy this book. Also historians trying to find out why it took so long for the US to develop protective convoy measures will find this book fascinating. Great non stop navel WW2 action from beginning to end. I loved this book! 5 stars plus!
I look forward to reading his other books. Homer H Hickam Jr a great action packed author. I ordered Rocket Boys and Dinosaur Hunter and a few others. I'll review them and post.
Most are familiar with Rocket Boys and the movie it spawned, October Sky, but few know that Homer has such an interest in U.S. history. This book makes it clear that Homer can weave a tale no matter what the subject.
As an avid amateur U-boat historian myself, I found this account of this little-known part of WWII fascinating. He tells of the brave sailors, airmen, and civilians who succeeded in ending Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz's reign of terror along the East Coast of the United States, when his U-boats attacked Allied shipping in plain view of swimmers on our Atlantic Coast beaches.
A battle that was only fought half-heartedly in the beginning finally reached a successful crescendo when our military leaders realized that the only way to end the terror was to devote the resources to the effort. This story is that of brave Coast Guard and Navy officers and crewmen who fought against overwhelming odds, eventually enacting such a heavy price from the Nazis that Doenitz brought his campaign to an end. Hickam is to be commended for remembering and memorializing this critical time in our war effort.
I read many books about aspects of WWII that are little known.
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The material presented is omitted from most history books, so it is somewhat...Read more