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Yanagi (Hardback)

The Secret Underwater Trade Between Germany and Japan 1942-1945


By Mark Felton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Maritime
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781844151677
Published: 1st June 2005
Last Released: 1st August 2007



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This fascinating book examines the exchange of information and goods by underwater means between Germany and Japan during the second half of WW2. Known as 'Yanagi' this trade was a high priority to both Axis partners. As the Allies' grip on control of the oceans and air tightened, it became necessary to rely on submarines. This posed an increasingly heavy but necessary burden on tight resources.Thanks to the Author's research, here is the first full account of these operations with descriptions of individual missions be they by German or Japanese submarines and crews. Even by modern standards these were of impressive duration and demanded the highest standards of seamanship and discipline.

In 9 chapters of 209 pages the author describes in great detail the efforts made by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan to trade in weapons technology and raw materials. Faced with ever increasing Allied interdiction submarine crews braved dangerous voyages lasting months to bring much needed raw materials to Germany and weapons technology to Japan in a mutual aid programme based upon a common distrust. To read of the determination of both nations coupled with their need we see how the Yanagi trade evolved from blockade running surface shipping of great tonnage to undersea commerce of a fraction of that with a great loss of cargoes and personnel as the balance of war tipped in favour of the Allies. Employed were submarines of Japan, Germany and Italy in a bid to traverse 26,000 nautical miles unmolested with some early success. Stories of personal bravery and sacrifice unfold as U-Boat commanders respond to orders betrayed by the signals intelligence of the Allies who had broken their codes. There are some quite harrowing tales relayed and we are shown what may have been had this Yanagi trade had greater success. Well documented with 31 black and white photos - an excellent read.

Gary Wenko, Japanese Aviation

The author has done a superb job of putting this research together, and most readers will definitely learn something new in this book on this fascinating subject. In years of WWII research, I had never realized the extent of the technical exchanges that went on between these two Axis countries, particularly. The material on the Japanese effort to get jet aircraft into the Pacific war is first-class and illuminating.


About Mark Felton

Mark Felton teaches at Fudan University, Shanghai. He has written an impressive number of successful works for Pen and Sword Books on the Second World War such as The Real Tenko, The Final Betrayal and The Last Nazis.

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