Recommended Books on Werner Hartenstein, the Laconia Incident and World War II

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This website is run by a volunteer on a tight budget and financed entirely from private resources. If you are interested in reading more about Werner Hartenstein, U-156, the Laconia Incident, and the life stories of people associated with these events, you can help meet some of the costs involved in running this site and promoting the name of Werner Hartenstein by making your purchases through our associates programme.  They pay 15% commission for sales of books we link directly to and 5% on other items you buy.  But ONLY if you purchase following a direct click from this site to theirs.

If you go away and think about it then log on to again directly later, we don't get a penny unless you visit this site again first and click on our Amazon links again.  If you purchase more than one book at a time, please buy each one directly from the links on this site, not via the internal Amazon links or suggestions.

Thank you and happy reading.


Click on a book cover or text hyperlink to order.

In Deep and Troubled Waters
Tony Large, In Deep and Troubled Waters.
The story of a South African at war who survived the sinkings of both HMS Cornwall and the troopship Laconia in 1942 (2001), £19.95. Info on this book  
Buy this book

The Sinking of the Laconia
Fred Grossmith, The Sinking of the Laconia, a Tragedy in the Battle of the Atlantic
(1994).£14.95 ordinary hardback edition, £29.95 limited signed edition bound in cloth. Publisher's info on this book  
Buy this book

The Forgotten Tragedy: The Story of the Loss of the HMT Lancastria
Brian Crabb, The Forgotten Tragedy. The Story of the Loss of HMT Lancastria
(2002). £19.95.
The Laconia element here is that the surviving captain and crew transferred to Laconia after their rescue. The loss of Lancastria was the worst British maritime disaster, the loss of Laconia was the second-worst.   Buy this book

NB If you try to order one of the above three books from, you may well be greeted with the message below:

"Availability: usually dispatched within 4 to 6 weeks. Please note that titles occasionally go out of print or publishers run out of stock."

However, I am in regular contact with Shaun Tyas, the publisher, who assures me that "I turn round most orders on a daily basis."


The Enemy We Killed, My Friend

David Cledlyn Jones, The Enemy We Killed, My Friend (1999)
The autobiography of Captain David Cledlyn Jones, a survivor of the Quebec City, a ship sunk by Hartenstein one week after the Laconia. Jones describes how the Quebec City survivors made land after receiving assistance from U-156.  He then takes us through his own distinguished merchant marine career and recounts how, in retirement, he researched Werner Hartenstein, the man who had first torpedoed then rescued him.  This led to his attending a Hartenstein commemoration in Plauen in 1999.  Read a review here.   In November 2002 Captain Jones became President of a newly formed U-156 society.  Read about it here Buy this book


Memoirs: Ten Years and Twenty Days

The way the U-boat campaign was waged, as told by the man who invented U-boat tactics - Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz The book covers Dönitz's early career with submarines in WWI and follows both his, and the U-Boat arm's, successes and failures through WW2. Full details of the U-Boat campaigns during WW2 are included as well as opinions, ideas and commentary on the period by Doenitz. Of particular interest are the comments regarding British and American conduct during the War.   Buy this book


Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien of U-47, the hero of Scapa Flow

U-boat Commander
The autobiography of Günther Prien (1908-1941) Commander of U-47.  Prien became famous for his daring 14 October, 1939 sinking of the British battleship HMS Royal Oak in the heavily defended British North Fleet main harbour at Scapa Flow. Churchill himself wrote about this outstanding feat of arms. Prien was the first U-boat commander to win the Knights Cross.   Buy this book


Kapitän zur See Wolfgang Lüth, the most successful U-boat commander of world War II

U-Boat Ace: The Story of Wolfgang Lüth
by Jordan Vause
The biography of the top U-boat Ace of World War II, Kapitän zur See Wolfgang Lüth (1913-1945).  Credited with sinking 47 ships for a total of 225.756 tons, Lüth was one of only two U-boat officers and one of 27 across all branches of the armed forces to receive Germany's highest military honour - the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and DiamondsLüth also led U-181 on the second longest patrol in U-boat history - 205 days to the Indian Ocean and back.  In September 1944 Lüth became the youngest commander in history of the German Naval Academy.  He survived the war, only to be shot dead in the dark by a German sentry in the unoccupied north of the country four days after the end of hostilities on 13 May, 1945,when he failed to identify himself or give the password.  He was only 29.  Lüth's was the last state funeral of the Third Reich   Buy this book


Oberleutnant zur See Herbert A Werner, Commander of U-415 and U-953.

Iron Coffins: A U-boat Commander's War...
Iron Coffins - Werner, Herbert A.
A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II

Of 842 U-boats launched 779 were sunk, ‘iron-coffins’ to 28,000 men.  Herbert Werner is one of the few U-boat commanders to have survived the war and is still alive today, residing in the united States.  This book tells the story of his wartime career as an officer on U-557 and U-230 then later as Commander of U-415 and U-953. 

He tells of his life onboard, the cramped conditions, the extreme cold and unbearable heat, the camaraderie and fear, the loss of his friends, the sinking of allied shipping, depth charge attacks, surface attacks from fighters.  He makes you feel as though you were onboard!   Buy this book


Berlin: the Downfall, 1945

Anthony Beevor's best-selling account of the death throws of the Third Reich - young boys, old men and foreign SS volunteers battle desperately for the capital against the rapacious advance of the Red Army whilst Wehrmacht armies once separated by the three thousand miles between the eastern and western fronts now only one days' march apart.  This book deals particularly well with the period from January to March 1945, especially the fall of East Prussia and the Soviet advance into Pomerania and Silesia. Also interesting details on the French volunteers of the SS Charlemagne battalion.  Buy this book

The Last Battle

The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan
This older (1966) and significantly cheaper book is the definite account of the fall of Berlin.  Dealing exclusively with the last three weeks of World War 2, Cornelius Ryan's gripping, 576 page masterpiece deals in huge detail with the Battle of Seelow Heights on the Oder, the rapid American and British advance from the west, the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, the life and death struggle of General Busse's trapped German Ninth Army in the Spreewald and its fighting westward advance (retreat?) through the rear of Marshall Koniev's First Ukrainian Front towards their rescuers of General Wenck's Twelfth Army near American lines on the Elbe, the madness of Hitler's bunker plus the street by street advance of the Red Army towards the Reichstag, shooting and raping even Jews and German Communists along the way. There is the astonishing tale of General Karl Weidling, falsely condemned to death for allegedly abandoning his 56th Panzer Corps, only to be appointed the last Commandant of Berlin 24 hours later. Also eye-opening is the crucial role played by the little known Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici. This is a superb book. The finest war history I have ever read.  Buy this book.


German Fighter Ace Erich Hartmann the...
German Fighter Ace Erich Hartmann:the Life Story of the World's Highest Scoring  Ace
A 300-page pictorial biography.  Buy this book.

The Blond Knight of Germany
Major Erich Hartmann's authorised biography.  With 352 kills, Hartmann was the greatest fighter ace of all time.  Buy this book.


Donatello Bellomo Prisoners of the Ocean - The Tragedy of the Laconia
Italian-language book.  Historical novel published September 2002 by Sperling & Kupfer, 2002.  In 2000 the author interviewed the second-in-command of the Italian submarine Cappellini involved in the Laconia rescue.
Further information here.  This book is not available through Amazon.

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