Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

U-Boat Far from Home

Stevens, David


1997, Allen & Unwin
ISBN 1864482672
Paperback, 286 pages, maps, photos

Type. General History book
Pros. Detailed and accurate narrative
Cons. Nothing major.
Rating.

U-862, the subject of this book, was one of the German Monsun boats operating in the Far East. This ultra-long-range type IXD2 boat holds the distinction of being the only German U-boat to operate in the Pacific, patrolling as far as the east coast of New Zealand and sinking two Liberty Ships in Australian waters. This book covers in great detail its operations in those waters.

It covers the career of U-862's commander, Heinrich Timm, career from his roots in the anti-submarine escorts to his first U-boat command of U-251 in the Arctic Sea fighting against the Russia convoys. Most of U-862's crew came from U-251 after she was decommissioned during extensive refit in 1943. U-862, its commission, training and inner workings are given a very good overview as are its crew.

The passage through the Arctic Sea and later the South Atlantic to the Far East bases is given in great detail. On this patrol U-862 sank several ships and also shot down a RAF Catalina aircraft on 20 August, 1944. There is included an amazing photo of that incident. He escaped the immediate search for him after that victory and headed east again.

U-862's second and last patrol from 18 Nov, 1942 until 15 Feb, 1945 is also covered. It was on this patrol that Timm navigated the southern and eastern coasts of Australia, while being tracked and hunted by the Australian forces. It was on this patrol he sank the SS Robert Walker south of Sydney and then escaped, patrolling right around New Zealand. On Feb 6, while on the return leg, he sank his last ship, the SS Peter Silvester before heading back to base in Singapore.

The book includes an appendix covering the German U-boats allocated to the Far East and their fates. It also contains an extensive section dealing with notes supporting the main text.

Another very interesting appendix is the complete history of U-862 on a day-to-day basis dealing with everything from its commission, training and working up through its operational career.

This is a really well written book using careful research among the very best sources available. Furthermore the author lets the reader decide if the U-boat crew in question simply did their duty or something else which is a big plus.

This is a recommended book for the Far East theater.

Review written by Guðmundur Helgason.

Published on 1 Feb 1998.

This title is highly recommended.

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