U-boat War Patrol: The Hidden Photographic Diary of U-564 Book Review

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U-boat War Patrol: The Hidden Photographic Diary of U-564

by Lawrence Patterson

Paperback, 208 pages, illustrated

Published by Chatham Publishing May 2006

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1861762879

ISBN-13: 978-1861762870

Dimensions: 7.9 x 10.1 inches

This is a book that almost wasn’t.  A shoebox of unwanted photographs was presented to the Postmaster of the small English town of Staintondale in April 2000.  Fortunately the postmaster was interested in history, and recognized the photographs were of a German U-boat crew.  Further inquiries lead to more pictures, 361 in all.  They had been “liberated” from the wreckage of the U-boat pens at Brest by a British serviceman, and had survived the passage of time.

The pictures were taken by an official photographer sent along with the U-564 on an Atlantic war patrol from July through September 1942.  U-564 was commanded by Reinhard “Teddy” Suhren, already a U-boat ace.  During this patrol she was to sink five Allied merchant ships, and was almost lost herself due to fire and a broken depth gauge.

The photographs offer a unique glimpse into the life aboard a U-boat, a little less than half the total are reproduced here.  All crew members are seen at their duties and going about their daily routines.  U-564’s logs survived the war, as did her commander who wrote an autobiography entitled Nasses Eichenlaub (Wet Oakleaves).  Coupled with the photographs, this information provides a detailed insight into a war patrol aboard a German U-boat.

My one criticism of the book is that as the number and quality of photographs are what makes this book unique, the publishers should have reproduced them in larger format on better paper.  Having said that, this is an excellent book and a good read.  I found it as a close out at Ollie’s for $1.99, money well spent.