Submarines at War: A History of Undersea Warfare from the American Revolution to the Cold War.
In September 1776 British Admiral Lord Howe, in his 74-gun ship of the line, Eagle, was in New York port to support the forces opposing George Washington as they advanced on the city. Suddenly the sailors spotted a small egg-shaped vessel lying nearby, just under the waterline. From it came another, smaller object which floated towards the ship. Wisely, they sheered off just as the object exploded, sending up a plume of water. The very first submarine-launched torpedo had gone off and made history. Hardly a rip-roaring success for its inventor, Yale graduate David Bushnell, but a foretaste of things to come. So it is that Michael Gunton sets the scene for his fascinating account of those who fought in the submarine vessels of the twentieth century.
For the majority of people, the world below the sea is hard to imagine and the fears and excitement of submarine warfare are quite alien. The submarines of the Second World War were 200 feet long, about the size of four New York subway cars put together, and a good deal of the space was taken up by the engine and water tank. On the surface, with its deck so close to the waterline, the ship was subject to all the worst effects of wind and weather, while below the water the atmosphere was claustrophobic and air quality soon deteriorated. Gunton's book conjures up the peculiar combination of physical hardship with the feelings of danger, excitement and camaraderie that are the submariner's lot.
Drawing on written records and dozens of interviews, the author focuses primarily on the history of submarines in the two world wars and on the experience of the officers and men - all incredibly young - who served and fought from the leading maritime nations. The resulting story brings those perilous days vividly to life and will appeal to submarine aficionados and general readers alike.
MICHAEL GUNTON is a journalist with a lifetime's passionate interest in submarines. During the war he volunteered for the submarine service, but was sent instead to serve on minesweepers in the North Sea and Western Approaches.
By Michael Gunton.
Engelstalig, zwart / wit foto's.