TPS: Lange handled the T-25 destroyer rescue effort competently. Peter Zschech gets the most attention in published sources because he committed suicide while the boat was under a severe depth-charge attack, but I think the commanders who bracketed him (Loewe and Lange) are more interesting. I think that comes out in this book in several of the chapters.
HJC: I think so as well. The Enigma-Intelligence chapter was packed with detail but flowed well. It can be a difficult topic to write about in-depth and yet keep a reader's interest. I did not know the intelligence story behind the capture of U-505.
TPS: Quite frankly, neither did I, at least to the extent presented by Mark Wise and Jak Mallmann Showell. Their chapter is called "Deciphering the U-Boat War." Essentially they examine, as you say, in great detail, the development of the various antisubmarine agencies, how they operated, tracked boats, and so forth, and how advancing technology coupled with equipment captures ultimately doomed U-505.
HJC: I have several of Jak Mallmann Showell's books. He has personal links to U-boats as his father lost his life on one.
TPS: Yes, I think it was U-377. It was the victim of a circular torpedo. Jak was great to work with. He is a superb researcher, a master of detail, and has done as much as anyone to preserve the memory of these men.
HJC: Can you tell me about Mark Wise? What is his background?
TPS: I like Mark a lot because, like me, he is a long suffering fan of the Minnesota Vikings [American football team], as is his wife! He graduated from the University of Minnesota and right now is in Africa someplace (I think on the Horn) working as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Naval Reserve. His contribution, which was brought to my attention by one of the other contributors (right now I can't recall if it was Rust or Mulligan) is grounded in his Master's thesis on naval intelligence in the Battle of the Atlantic. Without question it is the latest research on the subject. Like Mulligan with the crew study, I don't think anyone other than these two guys together could have written this type of article.
HJC: Jordan Vause. His chapter is very intriguing and rather suspenseful. He is one of my favorite authors. I liked his U-Boat Ace book, but his book Wolf — I forget the subtitle...
TPS: I think it is U-Boat Commanders in World War II...
HJC: Yes, I think that's right. In my opinion, that book shines a light into the U-boat community that is extraordinarily revealing. His article on the loss of U-505 is similar in style but different from all the other chapters in Hunt and Kill. It's not counter-factual, but... I am unsure exactly how to describe it.
TPS: Well, first, it is very different than all the rest, but it is definitely not counter-factual or a "what-if scenario." The chapter is entitled "Desperate Decisions: The German Loss of U-505." When Jordan proposed covering this topic, I jumped at the chance because I knew he would do a great job. What he does — and I believe it is the first article of its kind on this aspect of U-505's career — is examine the command structure and decision-making process inside the boat from the time it was discovered until its capture.
HJC: With its central focus on why the boat was not scuttled...
TPS: Yes, but I think it is much deeper than that. What he does is essentially say, look, what options does a commander have when he is forced to blow the ballast tanks to save his boat, but knows he will surface in the middle of a Hunter-Killer group? Most people don't think about this, but the options you have available once you surface are largely determined by what you do before, during and after you blow the ballast tanks. You have certain decisions you can make — certain options. Jordan explores those and follows the chain of command and decision-making, bringing in outside experts like Jürgen Oesten and Sigfried Koitschka, both former U-boat commanders and U-boat aces, and other former Kriegsmarine personnel, to evaluate the decisions made, and the decisions that were not made but could have been chosen. It is an intriguing — I think you used that adjective earlier — perspective. I think it will be well-received. At least, I hope so!
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