Book Review: German U-Boat Losses During World War II: Details of Destruction


by Axel Niestlé

London: Frontline Books / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2014. Pp. xii, 306. Illus., maps, tables, appends, notes, biblio., indices. $39.95. ISBN: 1848322100

The Indispensable Handbook of U-boot Losses

Niestlé’s 1998 reference guide to U-boat losses, copies of which can go for as much as $100, quickly became an indispensable reference for students of naval warfare, but left many questions unanswered, notably the fates of many German submarines.

This revised and expanded edition incorporates extensive new material from recently declassified documents and other newly found papers such as logbooks and diaries. In addition, Niestlé was able to incorporate the discovery of new wrecks and information gathered from examinations of many wrecks. He has thus been able to correct occasional errors in the original, some based on incorrect official information, while adding details of many additional sinkings. As a result, the fate of only 63 U-boats remains unknown.

Although his textual treatment is short, Niestlé manages to make a number of important points. Perhaps the most notable new conclusion that can be drawn is that more detailed research has revealed that mines were far more effective in sinking submarines than had long been believed. Information on sinkings is in tabular form, supplemented by notes which are often quite informative.

This is an outstanding work, though primarily for the serious student of naval operations, and particularly submarine warfare.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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