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Hitler's Forgotten Flotillas (Hardback)

Kriegsmarine Security Forces

Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: WWII Naval Memoirs WWII > Naval Warfare WWII

By Lawrence Paterson
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781473882393
Published: 18th April 2017



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This study of the Kriegsmarine's Sicherungsstreitkräfte, their security forces, fills a glaring gap in the study of the German navy in World War Two. This wide array of vessels included patrol boats, minesweepers, submarine hunters, barrage breakers, landing craft, minelayers and even the riverine flotilla that patrolled the Danube as it snaked towards the Black Sea. These vessels may not have provided the glamour associated with capital ships and U-boats, but they were crucial to the survival of the Kriegsmarine at every stage of hostilities.

As naval construction was unable to keep pace with the likely demand for security vessels, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder turned to the conversion of merchant vessels. For example, trawlers were requisitioned as patrol boats (Vorpostenboote) and minesweepers (Minensucher), while freighters, designated Sperrbrecher, were filled with buoyant materials and sent to clear minefields. Submarine hunters (U-Boot Jäger) were requisitioned fishing vessels. More than 120 flotillas operated in wildly different conditions, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, and 81 men were to be awarded the Knights Cross; some were still operating after the cessation of hostilities clearing German minefields. The author deals with whole subject at every level, documenting organisational changes, describing the vessels, and recounting individual actions of ships at sea, while extensive appendices round off this major new work.

A solid, well researched primer regarding the majority of Kreigsmarine forces and their actions during the Second World War. Paterson offers a well-researched narrative detailing both the large scale aspect of Security Forces operations interspersed with examples of key or typical engagement examples in a manner that helps give shape to the data in a way that a mere reiteration of facts is simply incapable of doing. His division of chronologies into theatre-specific chapters offers one not only the opportunity to examine the operations of the Security Forces in different areas of operation, but actively compare the situation between the different war fronts as well. With modern scholarship decidedly lacking in the realm of Security Force general histories, this work fills an informative gap in works regarding German naval warfare from 1939 to 1945.

International Journal of Maritime History, May 2018: reviewed by Charles Ross Patterson II - Yorktown, Virginia, USA.

This book is an excellent treatment of a side of naval warfare that is rarely given the attention it deserves. It is thus heartily recommended.

Warship annual, 2018 - reviewed by Aidan Dodson

This is a well written book, with a good balance between background information, a good narrative framework of events and stories of individual incidents. While the topic is too big for a single book to cover every detail, this is an excellent study of a key part of the German Navy's war effort.

Read the complete review here.

History of War, John Rickard

This book contains extensive appendices, documents organisational changes, describes the vessels and recounts individual actions of ships at sea.
Thoroughly recommended.

Marine News

A very exciting and comprehensive book about these unseen units.

ModellWerft, September 2017 – reviewed by Oliver Bothmann

This new book provides a detailed view of the
Kreigsmarine Security Forces in WWII with many previously unpublished images. It is an important addition to the pool of knowledge and the
first substantial review of German naval security forces – Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


From Seaforth Publishing, a division of Pen and Sword, comes a new book I found particularly interesting. Many of us are familiar with the stories of the German Navy capital ships, the U-boats and the E-boats in WW2, yet this one covers to stories of less well known craft, the minesweepers, submarine hunters, minelayers, barrage breakers, landing craft, freighters, trawlers and the riverine craft that were used to patrol the Danube. Maybe not as glamorous as the likes of the U-boats, Bismark or Tirpitz etc but still a vital part of their war effort and a story about which little has been done before...

There is lots in here to enjoy, and certainly for me, to learn.

Read the complete review here.

Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland
 Lawrence Paterson

About Lawrence Paterson

Lawrence Paterson has written several books on various aspects of the U-boat war, including U-Boat War PatrolWeapons of DesperationHitler's Grey WolvesHitler's Brandenburgers and a biography of Otto Kretschmer. He lives in Taranto, Italy and is drummer in a heavy metal band.

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