His Majesty's Submarine Unbeaten was last heard from via a signal sent to Flag Officer Submarines on November 1, 1942. The signal simply stated: "Operation Bluestone completed". After this date the 58-meter British U-Class submarine inexplicably disappeared. Unbeaten was fully operational for just over two years. During its short tenure, Unbeaten successfully returned to war-torn Malta many times, symbolically flying its Jolly Roger. Being Silent They Speak endeavors to highlight the varied triumphs, tragedies, events and sacrifices of submarine life during World War II. This meticulously researched true story follows Unbeaten through its build at Vickers of Barrow, its war deployment to Malta and back, and then on to the submarine's final departure from Holy Loch. The crew of Unbeaten were the last to see the legendary British submarine HMS/M Upholder before commanding officer Lt. David Wanklyn VC and his indomitable crew also disappeared forever.
Several submarines have had books written about them. Unbeaten's activities were no less daring than those of Upholder or any other submarine taking part in World War II.
Exactly 70 years on, this compelling and revealing book encompasses all of Unbeaten's war patrols and expands on its final clandestine tasking in November 1942. The account of this secret operation concludes with an extreme twist of fate, which could leave the final chapter open forever and the last crew of Unbeaten still on patrol.
©2012 David J.B. Smith (P)2015 David J.B. Smith
being heavily interested in submarine warfare, I came across this book in
the belief that it would give the reader a vivid, visceral and detailed
account of life aboard the HMS Unbeaten during its patrols in the second
world war. However, unfortunately, this is not quite what I got in this
read. The book itself is well researched and written but the mistake I made
by assigning this book a greater level of expectation was soon realized.
I had made the assumption that this book
would be largely made up of diary entries and memoirs from those that left
the boat before its demise and would provide a more immersive telling of the
exploits of this British submarine during its various war patrols.
To be fair, the book does make use of first hand accounts and very limited
diary entries but for the most part is put together more from a third
persons research than a first person set of accounts. We don't really find
anything of major interest until chapter 6 I believe but the author is
diligent about the history and construction and other peripheral aspects of
the story of HMS Unbeaten and to this end does a thorough job of providing
the casual reader with an overall view of this submarine and its part in the
war. There is a lot of information about who was in command pier side and
some of the politics of the command chain and sadly rather less of the more
gripping first hand accounts I had thought the book would comprise. This
misreading of the way the book would be presented was further compounded by
the captivating and evocative prose heard in the audio sample which was part
of the opening pages of the book that I found later to be purely fictional
in nature and the authors vivid imaginings as to what could have happened on
the fateful night of the loss of HMS Unbeaten. Had these visceral prose been
found elsewhere drawn from diaries and logs over the course of her career
then this would've been a more engrossing read. As it was, the book did
offer insight and some very interesting stories - especially in the later
chapters, and the best of which was the rescue of a German sailor from a
U-Boat sunk by HMS Unbeaten. Other than that the accounts are fairly dry and
focus rather too much on the general rather than the specific.
Again, I must stress that this is not a bad book as it gives the reader the
essential framework regarding the career of HMS Unbeaten but the more
personal and compelling narrative is in the minority here. This is not
something that should necessarily put someone off this book and the fault I
did not get what I had expected was mine now that I see this is not a work
based on rich personal sources of information on day to day life aboard a
Royal navy submarine during that time. In future I will be more careful to
focus my interest more on those accounts based on memoirs or more heavily
from first hand knowledge.
A good high level history of the submarine and some of its crew but not
quite enough gritty elements for my liking.
"an ok story, not terribly exciting"
overall it's not a bad tale, but also nothing particularly exciting ether. It's a shame the book Iron Coffins is not available, that is an exciting and captivating book.
one thing in particular that stands out is that the author constantly refers to the Captain as just " Teddy Woodward ". I'm not sure of English tradition, but having been in the US Navy, we would never have referred to our Captain the way, no matter how familiar he might have been. To me it suggests he's just a civilian casually ij charge of a submarine and just one of the guys...terribly disrespectful in my opinion.
I think I could have better spent my credit on another title. Red Star Rogue is a good pick. Pick this up on sale, not at full price and not for a valuable credit. Sorry.
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