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The Battle of North Cape (Paperback)

The Death Ride of the Scharnhorst 1943

Maritime Military WWII > Naval Warfare WWII

By Angus Konstam
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781848845572
Published: 18th July 2011
Last Released: 12th October 2022



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'Angus Konstam's gripping account tells the story of this crucial but under-studied naval battle, and explains why the hopes of the German Kriegsmarine went down with their last great ship; only 37 of the German battlecruiser's 1700 crew were saved.' – The Nautical Magazine

'Angus Konstam's book is an excellent read and strongly recommended…. thoughtful and totally engrossing….If you are interested in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, the Arctic convoy campaign or capital ship actions, The Battle of North Cape is well worth its cover price.' – Naval Review

On 25 December 1943 the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst slipped out Altenfjord in Norway to attack Artic convoy JW55B which was carrying vital war supplies to the Soviet Union. But British naval intelligence knew of the Scharnhorst's mission before she sailed and the vulnerable convoy was protected by a large Royal Naval force including the battleship Duke of York. In effect the Scharnhorst was sailing into a trap. One of the most compelling naval dramas of the Second World War had begun.

ANGUS KONSTAM is a highly respected and widely published military historian. The body of his work encompasses everything from ancient Greece to the Second World War. However, his main field is maritime and naval history. He has published books on Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate, The History of Pirates, PT Boats: US Naval Torpedo Boats, The History of Shipwrecks, Hunt the Bismarck and the 7th U-Boat Flotilla. His most recent books include Salerno 1943: The Allied Invasion of Italy and Piracy.

This is an attractively designed and printed book with four maps/diagrams and 16 pages of black and white photographs on nice glossy paper.

Marine News

This book describes the moves and countermoves made by the protagonists as Fraser tracked Scharnhorst in harsh Arctic conditions, eventually cornering and sinking on Boxing Day after an epic battle with the loss of all bar 36 of her crew. It examines the performance of the two commanders, and provides a good overview or the last sea battle to be fought between capital ships.

Ships Monthly, Feb 2013

The author, as profilic in his works as his publisher is in their list, has provided a clear and exciting narrative of a fascinating and dramatic action. The maps are very helpful to the reader in following more clearly the author's subsequent account.
The book's structure, a chronicle of each day from December 20-26, emphasises the drama of the two sides' actions as they moved towards their climax.
The author very competently uses a wide variety of sources. He clearly understands the variables f naval warfare and, rightly, commends the skill, thoughtfulness and judgement of British CinC, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, whose manoeuvers, dispositions - and calculated risks - drew Scharnhorst to her destructions.

The Grove Review

This is one of a series of high quality military history books published by Britain's Pen & Sword Books. The hunting down and sinking of the magnificent German battle cruiser 'Scharnhorst' was on of the epic actions of World War Two. The fact that it mostly occurred in freezing conditions beyond Cape North at the top of Norway and that all but 37 of the ship's 1900 crew went down with her only added to the drama. No officers survived. It was, in the end, a very one-sided battle. British casualties and damage were slight. It also marked the effective end of the German surface navy, the Kriegsmarine. It was never again a serious threat. That fact combined with "Black May" seven months previously, when the U-Bootwaffe, was finally smashed, saw the beginning of the end. Although a brief book of only 160 pages, it tells the story very well. It is a stirring one.

Work Boat World March 2012
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