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U-48: The Most Successful U-Boat of the Second World War (Paperback)

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: Naval Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII WWII

By Franz Kurowski
Frontline Books
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 16-pp plate section
ISBN: 9781399014311
Published: 21st September 2021
Last Released: 30th March 2024


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Following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Germany was not permitted to build or operate submarines. Clandestine training about Finnish and Spanish submarines took place and U-boats were still built to German designs in Dutch yards.

At the outset of the Second World War, Dönitz argued for a 300-strong U-boat fleet, since his force of 57 U-boats 'could only inflict pin-pricks against British seaborne trade'. In August 1939, U-48 left Germany, commanded by 'Vaddi' Schultze, to take up a waiting position around England.

It scored its first success on 5 September, when it torpedoed the British freighter Royal Sceptre, then the Winkleigh on 8 September. On both occasions – the first of many – Schultze showed himself to be a notable humanitarian: he addressed signals to Churchill giving positions of the sinkings so that crews could be saved.

By 1 August 1941, U-48, the most successful boat of the Second World War, had sunk 56 merchant ships of 322,478 gross tons and one corvette. She was then transferred to the Baltic as a training boat. Schultze became commander of operation 3 U-Flotilla and later was appointed commander, II/Naval College Schleswig. He died in 1987 at the age of 78. U-48 was scuttled on 3 May 1945.

As featured on World War II today

WW2 Today

This period is often overlooked in conventional studies of both the Battle of the Atlantic and the Second World War. Viewing German U-Boat activity in the early days of the Second World War through the periscope of a single submarine allows Kurowski to introduce new students to the subject, and still provide something new for more experienced readers.

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

"U-48 is a memorable tribute to all U-Boat crews for their service and sacrifice they willingly gave to the Kriegsmarine."

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

"The book gives readers a detailed description of how the commanders of U-48 proved incredibly successful by sinking or damaging fifty-seven vessels (322,500 total gross tonnage) in two years."

Read the review here

The Naval Historical Foundation
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