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Description - Iron Coffins by Herbert A. Werner

A first hand account of the German U-boat battles of World War II, by one of the very few surviving commanders. This is a story of triumph, disaster and eventual survival against all odds. Herbert Werner was one of the few U-boat commanders whose skill, daring and incredible luck saw him safely through to the end of the war. His is an epic and chilling description of the fearful havoc wrought by one small U-boat on the Atlantic convoys. But easy success ebbed away in the face of ever-improving Allied detection and attack techniques. The hunters became the prey, to suffer appalling losses. Of 842 U-boats launched 779 were sunk, 'iron-coffins' to 28,000 men. Herbert Werner's graphic account of war waged from beneath the sea, of horror and cold, cruel death, is dedicated to the seamen of all nations who died in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780304353309
ISBN-10: 0304353302
Format: Paperback
(195mm x 133mm x 24mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Cassell Military
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 16-Jun-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Iron Coffins by Herbert A. Werner

UK Kirkus Review » Once unacceptable, a sympathetic attitude to German combatants in the last war is now a well-established factor in war literature. This story of triumph and disaster is a classic example: Werner was one of the very few U-boat commanders whose courage and professionalism carried him safely through to the end of the war. U-boats were known as iron coffins, and few survived the appaling dangers of naval combat. But Werner's mesmerizing first-person account of the havoc created by one small sub on the Atlantic convoys is rendered in astringent and measured prose. This story has an accelerating tension, as Allied detection and attack techniques improved, and Werner's U-boat swiftly went from being the hunter to the hunted. Of 842 U-boats launched, 779 were sunk, iron coffins for 28,000 men. The author's graphic account is dedicated to seamen of all nations who died in the battle of the Atlantic, and few will dispute the heroism shown on both sides. A selection of powerfully evocative photographs complements Werner's text. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » During the bleak months of 1941 when German U-boats had sunk more than 700 ships bringing vital goods to besieged Britain, Churchill spoke grimly of the "wolf-packs" that cut down ships faster than they could be built. This is an account of that warfare as experienced by a former U-boat commander who at the end of the war was captain of one of the three U-boats still afloat. Until March, 1943, it was a story of unbroken triumph but a gigantic Allied counteroffensive turned the hunters into the hunted. As Ensign, then Executive Officer and Captain, Werner served during the enforced, long submersions in which the boats became "mold-ridden, diesel hammering, oxygen-lacking, urine-reeking, excrement-laden cockleshells." At fast he did not question the war - but as the Reich crumbled, his disillusionment was complete.... Well written, without bravado or mock modesty, and on occasion stirring. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Herbert A. Werner

Herbert A Werner was born in 1920. He joined the German Navy in 1939, and the U-boats in 1941, taking up his first command in 1943. He survived the war, was interned by the Americans, British and French, eventually to become an American citizen in 1957.