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Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain's Ww2 Submarines

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'Sea Wolves' is the story of the crews who bravely manned British submarines in the Second World War. This small band of highly trained and highly skilled individuals fought in the front line for six long years, undertaking some of the most dangerous missions of the war.

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'Sea Wolves' is the story of the crews who bravely manned British submarines in the Second World War. This small band of highly trained and highly skilled individuals fought in the front line for six long years, undertaking some of the most dangerous missions of the war.

30 review for Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain's Ww2 Submarines

  1. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    This is the first book that I have read covering the men and operations of the British submarine force in the Second World War. I have read heaps of books on German U-boats, US Pacific submarines, and Japanese submarine operations in the Pacific but never anything on the British. This book offers a very good account of the men, officers and ratings, and their submarines during operations in European waters, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. The British submarines tended to operate close to shor This is the first book that I have read covering the men and operations of the British submarine force in the Second World War. I have read heaps of books on German U-boats, US Pacific submarines, and Japanese submarine operations in the Pacific but never anything on the British. This book offers a very good account of the men, officers and ratings, and their submarines during operations in European waters, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. The British submarines tended to operate close to shore in mined and heavily patrolled waters, and in parts of the Mediterranean, in very shallow and clear waters that accounted for the high losses suffered in that theatre. Whilst operating off Norway in the early stages of the war the British crews had to work with long daylight hours, which caused all sorts of problems not experienced by other navies’ submarines during WW2. This is best expressed in the following passage from the book: “Somehow the horror of that grim summer which claimed half our flotilla lies almost forgotten – the translucent seas, with never a ripple to hide us from our foes above; the cloudless skies, that seldom darkened in those northern latitudes to give us the blessed shield of invisibility for which we craved to charge our batteries; the everlasting anxiety as to when we could venture up to change the foul air in the boat; men panting like dogs in the carbon-dioxide laden stench we breathed; the plaintively repeated signals from our base asking for one or other of our flotilla mates to report their position – the sign that yet another boats was overdue; all these things are but unreal memories.” – (Sub-lieutenant Ben Bryant who survived the war and retired as a rear-admiral in 1957). Under these conditions the submariners suffered devastating casualties, comparable with RAF Bomber Command. This book offers the reader a vivid and insightful story of the men who served in British submarines during the Second World War. It is well worth the read as the book places you with these men as they face the terror of being depth-charged and the horror of trying to escape from a sunken submarine filled with the bodies of their comrades.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geevee

    Sea Wolves is a very good account of the British submarines at war. As the book's subtitle "The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 submarines" suggests it is not a history, although it provides much in this area, but a story and in this respect it excels. The research for the book was first done by the author and his writing partner Phil Craig for their book and tv series Finest Hour. It was decided not to include the submarine aspects in relation to the events of 1940, and so Tim Clayton used Sea Wolves is a very good account of the British submarines at war. As the book's subtitle "The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 submarines" suggests it is not a history, although it provides much in this area, but a story and in this respect it excels. The research for the book was first done by the author and his writing partner Phil Craig for their book and tv series Finest Hour. It was decided not to include the submarine aspects in relation to the events of 1940, and so Tim Clayton used this research, especially the interviews he carried out with many of the service's submarine commanders, to form this very interesting book. As with much of Britain's military story in the lead up and early years of the war the service was underfunded, under equipped and under valued. It deployed boats built for training purposes on operations with poor quality torpedoes that were rationed. Much of the book covers the war in the Mediterranean where the submarine service took heavy caualties but also made significant campaign winning contributions. Norway is covered as is war with Japan; I should have liked more on this latter campaign but what there is clearly describes the experiences and frankly shocking tactics employed by both sides in hunting targets and treatment of human beings. The book's real strength is derived from the author's interviews where the voices of the boats' commanders and crews can clearly be heard describing what it was like to live - even go to the toilet in public - in small, compact and comfortless boats. Even more riveting is the descriptions of what it is like to have been depth charged, and for me this is the finest writing within this book. Finally, the author asks some questions on the value of the boats and their work, and provides some figures on casualties - 38% - and the work they did. Sea Wolves is an absorbing account of a service that carried out dangerous and lonely work that was of much value to the Country and wider world during the Second World War.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Victor Gibson

    I really gave this book three stars for the author's research, but really how could he tell the story of all the British submarines operating all over the world during the Second World War? It was, in my view, just too difficult a job, and as a result the narrative only comes to life now and again. There are probably hundreds of submariners named, which while it indicates the depth of the research, creates confusion for the reader unless you have kept a record of who, what and where. Observation I really gave this book three stars for the author's research, but really how could he tell the story of all the British submarines operating all over the world during the Second World War? It was, in my view, just too difficult a job, and as a result the narrative only comes to life now and again. There are probably hundreds of submariners named, which while it indicates the depth of the research, creates confusion for the reader unless you have kept a record of who, what and where. Observations made by my father are included two or three times but there is no indication about who he was or why he was able to comment. You find out that he wrote a book if you check the bibiography. In general I find that I am distressed by what seems to me now to be a terrible waste of life, as we read of the many boats (submarines are really the only ships you an call boats) which were lost, and the German, and Italian ships torpedoed. Tim Clayton does not shrink from documenting the cockups of which there were many. The one which sticks most in my mind was the loss of some midget submarines due to the inadequate towing equipment. But that may be because I have been captain of a ship which did quite a bit of that sort of thing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Fear

    This is a book constructed for the most part from memoirs. Like the curate's egg it is good in parts. The best sections are those on the Mediterranean, the worst that on the X boats. Sadly, perhaps because of how it is constructed, there is very little sense of the overall submarine strategy, or its success, during the war or comparison with the Kriegsmarine's use of submarines. Both of these pop up in the last chapter, but i would have liked a lot more in this respect. Not a bad read and one wh This is a book constructed for the most part from memoirs. Like the curate's egg it is good in parts. The best sections are those on the Mediterranean, the worst that on the X boats. Sadly, perhaps because of how it is constructed, there is very little sense of the overall submarine strategy, or its success, during the war or comparison with the Kriegsmarine's use of submarines. Both of these pop up in the last chapter, but i would have liked a lot more in this respect. Not a bad read and one which has given me a lot more things to read, but not quite as good as I'd hoped it would be.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tristan 2017-1-L

    I think that this book was an amazing thriller in that it goes into detail about what people had to experience in world war 2.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Monty Milne

    The focus is on the memoirs of those who fought, which gives freshness, atmosphere, and immediacy. The drawback is a certain lack of focus on the overall picture - although this is to some extent remedied in the final chapter, which gives a pretty good strategic assessment. But this is not the book for a detailed chronological survey. The author is fair minded, recording incidents of failure and even war crimes, and giving their due to the bravery and effectiveness of the Italian sub chasers and The focus is on the memoirs of those who fought, which gives freshness, atmosphere, and immediacy. The drawback is a certain lack of focus on the overall picture - although this is to some extent remedied in the final chapter, which gives a pretty good strategic assessment. But this is not the book for a detailed chronological survey. The author is fair minded, recording incidents of failure and even war crimes, and giving their due to the bravery and effectiveness of the Italian sub chasers and escorts. Interesting to learn that 38% of British submariners perished, compared to 7% in the rest of the Royal Navy. That statistic alone is a powerful testimony to the bravery of those who volunteered and the sacrifice made by so many.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julian Walker

    History bought to life with colourful characters amidst the different political machinations of war and peace. I hadn't really considered this subject matter before, other than accepting submarines as part of the navy, and this well written and researched book really takes you into another world. Some of it is a little 'matter-of-fact' in tone, however, overall it is an enjoyable and informative read about people whose daring and courage played a huge part in me being able to read this book on a h History bought to life with colourful characters amidst the different political machinations of war and peace. I hadn't really considered this subject matter before, other than accepting submarines as part of the navy, and this well written and researched book really takes you into another world. Some of it is a little 'matter-of-fact' in tone, however, overall it is an enjoyable and informative read about people whose daring and courage played a huge part in me being able to read this book on a holiday.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt Farthing

    I love to read about military history, and submarines do have an air secrecy around them which made me look forward to getting into this book. The research and detail regarding the crews and their movements was very in depth, which though a positive on one hand, made following the story lines and the individual characters challenging. An enjoyable and enlightening read overall

  9. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

    The book was really unique. Due to the fact that U boats were hard to work in. The submarine was a great thing to have during the war. U boats were very hard to track due to radiation engineering. The book was very informal and is a must read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason Blackwell

    Interesting narrative history full of fascinating anecdotes and stories from real WW2 submariners... Only lacked a sense of the factual bigger picture and some technical information about the submarine war

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tony Scott

    The author tries to cram too much in, and as a result the story is lacking. It tries to cover all of the submarines, all of the crews, and all of actions. This means that there are missed opportunities to tell some specific stories and actions more deeply. Interesting, but could be better.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andy Donaldson

    Very informative book on Britain's WW2 submarine effort.it jumps around a bit and spends a lot of time talking about pre war and appears to skip over some areas but it gives gripping accounts of what it must have been like in the claustrophobic world of submarines

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Braid

    Gripping and highly enjoyable.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Flanagan

    Tim Clayton has bought the World War II story of British Submarines alive in this extremely well written book. A perfect balance of fact and first hand accounts makes this book a pleasure to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    iain meek

    Massive detail of who met whom and when. Not much clarity on any strategy involved. Interesting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Baco

    verry good reading and verry wel researched.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    A good combination of memories / history about British submarines in WW2.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim Mcphillips

    Full of facts showing the tragedy of the great loss of life and the bravery of those who served in the British Navy submarines during the war.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Col Todd

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jj Heath-Caldwell

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Lewis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Wulfsohn

  23. 4 out of 5

    Will Bruns

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mr S Broyd

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alister

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bingboingbushbosh

  27. 4 out of 5

    Middlethought

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott Bruce

  29. 5 out of 5

    Malachi Noe

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Fuller

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