Print this Page

About this Book

Hans Goebeler is known to history as the man who “pulled the plug” on U-505 on June 4, 1944, in an effort to keep his beloved U-boat out of the hands of the Allied Task Group 22.3. Steel Boats, Iron Hearts is his no-holds-barred account of his life aboard a frontline combat U-boat. It may well be the only detailed full-length memoir by an enlisted U-boat sailor. Hans made every patrol made by U-505.

Using his own experiences, log-books, and correspondence with other members of the Kriegsmarine, Goebeler offers rich and very personal details about what life was like in the German Navy under Hitler. Because Hans’s first posting was to U-505, and he served throughout its career until its capture in June 1944, his perspective of the crew, its various commanders, dozen war patrols, and varied experiences paints a vivid and complete portrait unlike any other to come out of the Kriegsmarine. When he was not at sea Hans and his comrades were soaking in the pleasures of shore life in occupied France, which offered U-boat men a wide variety of pleasurable options.

In 1944, when the chances of surviving a U-boat patrol were slim indeed, U-505 left Lorient for a combat patrol in the west central Atlantic. During its return to France the boat was discovered by Daniel Gallery’s Task Group 22.3. Trapped by a hunter-killer group, the boat was depth-charged to the surface, strafed by machine gun fire, and eventually boarded and captured by the American Navy. Salvage crews managed to keep the damaged submarine above water long enough to tow it to Bermuda. U-505’s crew, meanwhile, was kept in isolation and had no knowledge that their boat was captured.

Steel Boats, Iron Hearts was originally published as a paperback for private distribution. This revised and expanded edition includes a Foreword letter to Hans from Axel-Olaf Loewe, the boat’s beloved first commander, corrected and revised text, and additional photographs, many of them previously unpublished.