Underwater raid on Tirpitz
Peter Howard

This title together with one about Eben-Emael is the first in a new series of books about special operations from the UK based publisher Ian Allan. It’s a big size book with about 100 pages of good quality paper and with a soft cover.

As the title state it’s about the midget submarines raid in September 1943 that crippled the German battleship Tirpitz in Northern Norway. The German ship had under a long time threatened the allied shipment of Lend-Lease material to USSR. A rumor, that later showed to be false, that Tirpitz together with other big ships was going to attack the PQ17 convoy to Arkhangelsk/Murmansk made the UK Admiralty to split the convoy and send back the allied warships that defended it. The result was a catastrophe when 23 transport ships were destroyed by German u-boats and air attacks. After this the Allied Command decided to try to destroy the Tirpitz but she was well protected from both air and sea attacks in the Norwegian fjords. The solution was a plan an operation using small midget submarines called X-crafts.

The main chapters are about the X-crafts and their crews, how they developed the submarines and also how they trained for the mission and of course about the plan and the attack itself. The book ends with a short chapter about the final air attack that destroyed Tirpitz about half a year later.

The book contains many pictures mostly from British museums and archives; most of them are of real good quality and all are well placed in the text with something to add to the text. The book has also good operational maps and drawings of both the submarines and Tirpitz. You get this way very clear picture about the damage Tirpitz got.

The author doesn’t go in deeply into what happened to the X5 craft that was missing after the attack. Some of the relatives to its crew wanted them to receive VCs for accomplishment as two other crew members from other X-crafts received them. He tells short about this together with the history about the search for the missing craft but doesn’t take any personal position which is in my opinion good.

I enjoyed reading the book and learned much about the subject and got interest in reading more about related topics like the last attack of Tirpitz. The book is pretty specialized and that is the greatness but maybe because of that not suited everyone. I can recommend it for them who feel that they have just a small interest in the topic.

(Reviewed by Thorbjörn Wikström)
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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