As far as Japan was concerned, the recent war was waged according to a rigid strategy. There was no detailed operational planning. It was a fight in which science had been ignored. In such circumstances the submarine, always highly vulnerable unless used intelligently, was inevitably sacrificed. Throughout the war the whole submarine fleet was in reality a special attack force in which, in the absence of scientific weapons, the crews were just so much human ammunition. Today we hear much about rearmament. If money is to be spent on armaments, it should be used for scientific development. Never again must we go to war with only a bamboo lance.
The Japanese Submarine Fleet was entirely wiped out, but the martial spirits of its sailors are still with us on the far-flung oceans. In the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic we remember the multitude of resentful sleeping warriors; in our ears we hear the whisper of the “voice from the bottom of the sea.”
Thus, as one of the few submarine captains to survive, I have taken up my pen to try to record something of the unknown hardships and successes of our submarines.
“Despite the gloomy conditions under which they worked, our submarines fought well, and the grim story of Japanese submarine units has been well recorded by former Lieutenant Commander Hashimoto.
“It is certainly valuable material, and I wish to recommend it as an excellent history.”—S. Toyoda, Former C.-in-C., Combined Fleet, IJN
Most aboard were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians, including the Downs family: Ray and Ina, and their two children, eight-year-old Sonny and eleven-year-old Lucille. Fast asleep in their berths, the Downs family had no idea that two torpedoes were heading their way. When the ship exploded, chaos ensued—and each family member had to find their own path to survival.
Including original, unpublished material from Commander Wu¨rdemann’s war diary, the story provides balance and perspective by chronicling the daring mission of the U-boat—and its commander’s decision-making—in the Gulf of Mexico.
An inspiring historical narrative, So Close to Home tells the story of the Downs family as they struggle against sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration in their effort to survive the aftermath of this deadly attack off the American coast.
The luck of the Scharnhorst had become a legend. In 1942 she had slipped unscathed through the Channel under the very bows of the British fleet to harry the Arctic convoy-routes. The British convoy which sailed for Murmansk on Christmas Eve, 1943, seemed a perfect target for another lightning raid. In fact it was a trap to lure the battleship into the open and then destroy her.
This is the story of the Scharnhorst’s dramatic sortie from her Norwegian lair.
The story of a battle fought with outstanding courage against impossible odds until the most feared of all Hitler’s battleships sank at last off North Cape.
“Eric Wiberg has made a significant contribution to the bibliography of World War II history.” —J. Revell Carr, Santa Fe, N.M.
This book tells one more key part of the big story and is one more piece in the giant puzzle of the history of World War II. Its value for historians cannot be underestimated. Throughout the stories of the attacks by German and Italian submarines on Allied shipping in the water around the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, several consistent themes emerge in Wiberg’s thorough accounts. Prime among them is the heroism of the merchant mariners who time and again put themselves in danger as they performed the critical task of moving supplies, military and civilian, which were vital to ultimate victory.
We read of numerous instances of sailors having their ships shot out from under them and then continuously going back to sea and having additional ships torpedoed and sunk. We can also recognize what we know today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was seldom recognized 75 years ago. Wiberg pays proper credit to the controversial Duchess of Windsor, whose husband was the wartime governor of the Bahamas. Just as she carried out this official duty, this book relates the heartening tales of everyday Bahamians, often poor and on outlying islands, who generously provided for these desperate castaways.
Wiberg also acknowledges the heroism of the Axis submariners as he recounts not only their victories but also their deaths as many of the subs were eventually tracked down and sunk.
History isn’t great events, it is the continuum of many small events carried out by real people. U-Boats in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos gives us an intimate glimpse of those events and, importantly, those people. J. Revell Carr Santa Fe, NM