They were the deadliest ships of World War II--nine German commerce raiders disguised as peaceful cargo ships, flying the flags of neutral and allied nations. In reality, these heavily armed warships roamed the world's oceans at will, like 20th-century pirates. They struck unsuspecting freighters and tankers out of the darkness of night or from behind a curtain of fog and mist. For almost three years they led the Royal Navy on a deadly chase from sea to sea, seeding Allied ports with hundreds of mines and, on one occasion, even bombarding a shore installation.
Masquerading as unarmed merchantmen, the raiders carried an awesome array of weapons cleverly hidden behind false structures and concealed inside empty packing crates on their decks. Seaplanes and motorboats helped them seek out their victims on the vast seas. They then fed off of these unsuspecting targets, pumping fuel from their prey into their own tanks and taking food from captured pantries to feed their own crews and the thousands of prisoners that they picked up along the way. These secret ships also acted as supply ships for U-boats, helping their fellow hunters remain at large for longer periods. At sea for months--or even years--those raider sailors lucky enough to survive were hailed as heroes when they returned home.
"...Provides a concise, but surprisingly comprehensive account of the raiders' operations, setting them within the larger context of the war. An interesting book for anyone interested in the war at sea." The New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
"Each ship's operations are stories of guile, courage, and audacious seamanship. Readers of this excellent book will enjoy the brisk writing style and action-packed encounters, reminiscent of centuries-old piracy on the high seas. " WWII History Magazine
"A fascinating account of a little-known facet of the German Navy of World War II--the fleet of nine warships that cruised the seven seas disguised as merchantmen, and sank or captured more than a million tons of allied shipping. Their stories are exciting reading and form a significant part of the naval history of World War II. Author Duffy tells them well, in these high tension accounts of adventure on the high seas. A valuable addition to any WW II collection." Edwin P. Hoyt author of 199 Days: The Battle for Stalingrad
"Nine German raiders roamed the oceans of the world, and before all but two of them were eventually lost in action, they destroyed more than a million tons of Allied shipping. Duffy's detailed research brings all these remarkable ships, their dauntless crews, and perilous engagements back to life, thereby making an important contribution to better understanding of the war at sea. His work is unquestionably one of the best books about World War Two in recent years." Frank Joseph author of The Last of the Red Devils
"Duffy provides detailed accounts of each raider, every engagement, even the various animals captured from the raiders' prizes. In the tradition of Jean Laffite, raider captains and crews displayed an almost 18th Century gallantry, the stuff of adventure films (after the war De Laurentiis produced Under Ten Flags, based on the exploits of the raider Atlantis). Captured crewmen and passengers were uniformly well treated, sharing the quarters, rations, and entertainments of their German capturers. These tales of raiders' and their crews are well told; Duffy paints richly colored portraits of Hitler's secret pirate fleet and these chivalrous corsairs." Dr. Frank J. Stech Colonel, USAR (ret.).
"This book is not for pirate fans per se, but for those who want to see how others took the tactics pirates used and implemented them during a war. Those interested in World War II naval operations will also want to read these accounts. Each chapter includes a map showing the location of where prizes were taken and short sidebars that relate events elsewhere." Cindy Vallar, Pirates and Privateers
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