Naval Warfare Books

They Shall Not Pass Unseen

Southall, Ivan


1956, Angus and Robertson, London
Paperback, 216 pages, 25 b&w photos

Type. General History
Pros. A lively, humanistic and rich-textured account of one squadron's war against the U-boats
Cons. Some outdated language of the "meeting the Hun" variety (but authentic for the time)
Rating.

Ivan Southall served as a Sunderland flying-boat captain in No. 461 RAAF Squadron, based at Pembroke Dock in Milford Haven, Wales. This squadron flew more than two million miles of maritime patrols from mid-1942 until the end of the European war. The 461 Squadron crest bears the motto, "They Shall Not Pass Unseen". During the war the squadron sank six U-boats. They also lost 11 Sunderlands and had 76 aircrew killed. Southall himself was responsible for sinking U-385 in August 1944. After the war, he assisted with the compilation of the official Australian war history. He subsequently became a widely published author of historical and children's works.

This book is not intended to be an exhaustive squadron history. Rather, Southall has focussed on the most dramatic incidents involving his squadron. These are presented in a fast-paced, novel-like style, which is nonetheless historically accurate. Southall has drawn on his own intimate knowledge of flying-boat operations, plus interviews with many of his squadron mates, to enliven the official operational records. This book leaves a vivid impression of what it was like to fly in the U-boat war. There is detailed coverage of the sinkings of U-465, U-106, U-571, U-385, U-270, plus the bizarre co-incidence of Sunderland U/461 sinking U-461! The damaging attack on U-119 by two Sunderlands is also detailed. Possibly the most thrilling episode is "The Great Combat" - eight Ju88 fighters versus a single Sunderland (N/461) for 45 nightmarish minutes over the Bay of Biscay on June 2nd 1943. The flying boat was riddled with holes, had one engine destroyed and a crewmember killed, but it managed to shoot down at least three of its attackers, drive off the rest, and keep flying long enough to regain the English coast.

Includes an appendix with names of all Sunderland crews of No. 461 Squadron involved in U-boat sinkings, air battles, air-sea rescues and other significant events. Much of the material contained in this book was later reprinted in Fly West.

Review written by James Oglethorpe, Sydney, Australia.

Published on 22 Jul 2002.

This title is highly recommended.