Friday, December 31, 2021

Review of "They Fought Under the Sea," by the Editors of the Navy Times

 Review of

They Fought Under the Sea, by the Editors of the Navy Times

Five out of five stars

A history of the submarine and its use in war

 Devices that can be used to explore the floor of the ocean have been around a long time. There are even stories that Alexander the Great himself explored the ocean floor in an inverted shell that was reasonably airtight. Such devices were used for exploration as well as recovering treasure from sunken ships.

 This book starts at roughly that point in history and proceeds through the history of the submarine as a weapon of war. There was an attempt to attack British ships during the American Revolutionary War, but likely the first effective use of a submarine to attack and sink a surface ship was during the American Civil War. Unfortunately, while the target was destroyed, the submarine was also lost with all hands.

 What I found the most interesting was the number of submarines that the Imperial German Navy had when the First World War broke out in 1914 and Nazi Germany had when the Second World War broke out in Europe in 1939. Since the submarines were the most effective weapon both regimes had against Great Britain, it is baffling why they did not have many more submarines when those wars started. Especially when the Second World War started. Had Germany had a much larger fleet of submarines, they likely could have starved Britain out. Another gruesome fact is the casualty rate among the German submariners, something close to 90% did not survive the war.  

 Submarine warfare was the most ruthless and unforgiving aspect of both world wars. When a surface ship was hit and went down, no aid could be provided to the enemy. Many submarines were damaged by depth charges and the men went to watery graves on the floor of the ocean.

 This book is an excellent story about a weapon that was far too unappreciated by the decision makers in Germany. Which is fortunate, for it is one of the few things that could have led to a German victory in both World Wars.

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