THE SINKING OF THE LACONIA AND THE U-BOAT WAR: Disaster in the Mid-Atlantic
Publisher: Praeger Publishers; PB: University of Nebraska Press
Duffy discusses in rich detail the dire and dramatic true story of the sinking of the British Liner Laconia by the dreaded U-Boat 156, a vessel crowded with 1800 Italian POWs, 103 Polish soldiers, and 463 officers and crew. As Laconia went down, U-156 surfaced and sent a signal that brought two other U-boats, an Italian submarine, and three Vichy French warships to assist with rescue operations. But on the morning of September 16, a U.S. bomber flew over U-156, now packed with several hundred Laconia survivors. The crew unfurled a large Red Cross flag. Nevertheless, the submarine was attacked. The Laconia survivors were ordered over the side into lifeboats. Damaged, U-156 left the area as other U-boats commenced rescue operations.
In the wake of the incident, German Admiral Karl Donitz issued the Laconia Order demanding that all attempts to rescue Allied survivors of merchant ships be ended. The order provoked an international outcry against inhumane treatment of survivors stranded at sea. In the aftermath of the war, Donitz was charged and acquitted of war crimes in connection with this order.
"In the process of telling the grim story of the Laconia, he (Duffy) gives us a look at the 1914-1918 submarine campaign in the Atlantic and the opening rounds of the 1939-1945 war, noting that outright atrocities were rare (filmdom not withstanding). An excellent look at the history of the U-boat war, this will prove rewarding reading for anyone interested in the Second World War or submarine operations."New York Military Affairs Review
"Duffy is an author and military historian, and he documents the controversial 1942 sinking of the British liner Laconia and the rescue operations that were initiated by the same German U-Boat that fired the torpedoes. Written for military and history buffs, this book details the moral and procedural complexities of confrontations between military and merchant forces, especially in regards to ships such as the Laconia that were transporting POWs and operating under the flags of the Red Cross. The consequences of the sinking, which resulted in indictments at the Nuremburg Trials, are also analyzed." Reference & Research Book News
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