Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

U-Boats Destroyed

Kemp, Paul

2000, Arms & Armour
ISBN 1854095153
Paperback, 288 pages

Type. Reference book
Pros. Detailed, extensive source for U-boat fates
Cons. Contains some unfortunate spelling mistakes.

This book is a welcome addition to the world of U-boat books. Its scope is simplicity itself; documenting the final fates of all the U-boats sunk in action in both world wars.

This is by no means an easy feat, dealing with 178 and 784 U-boats lost in both wars respectively. Kemp is of course aware of this and writes in his preface: " ... and in no case can some of this be considered the last word on the subject. Studies in this field will continue and some U-boat fates for which there is little or no data will be revised."

How does it stack up? Simply said this is the best published-source on U-boat losses I've seen to date. The extensive research is very evident and the book is of very high quality. Some of the fates have never been published before in an English-language source and possibly nowhere else. U-47, for example, is given possibly the best explanation I've seen so far, only missing the possibility of a circular torpedo run some have suggested.

The fates are given in a time-order, first the First World War, including Imperial and Royal Austro- Hungarian boats, and then the Second One. It lists the boats missing from month to month and gives for each U-boat the following information:

Launched Commissioned
U375 7 Jun 1941 19 Jul 1941
Class VIIC
CO Kptlt. Jürgen Koenenkamp (lost)
Date of loss 30 July 1943
Location Mediterranean, NW of Malta,
36.40N, 12.28E
CauseDepth charge
Survivors None
Salvage d No
Notes Sunk by PC624 while attempting to transit the Sicilian Channel in order to operate in the Aegean. Ironically this was an area where a number of British submarines had also been sunk.

(The commander's correct spelling was Könenkamp)

This kind of layout is excellent for the quick look-up that such a book is so ideal for. It's not really a narrative but rather a reference book.

The book does contain some unfortunate errors, most of which are incorrect names of the U-boat commanders in question. But some of the mistakes are also in the fates themselves. However, this is still the best single-source in the subject and hopefully most of the remaining bugs will be cleared out of the second print, should there be one.

Highly recommended for the U-boat enthusiast.

About the author
Paul Kemp has written many naval history books including Underwater Warriors - Midget submarine Operations in War and A Pictorial History of the Sea War 1939-1945, both published by the Naval Institute Press.

Review written by Guðmundur Helgason.

Published on 4 Jan 1998.

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This title is highly recommended.

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