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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Across the Ocean Blue

In which we learn boarding a submarine is not easy

Codename Memo: The Hunt for a Nazi U-Boat and The Elusive Enigma Machine by Charles Lachman

Stars: 4.5


With the 80th anniversary of D-Day this week and the Second World War in the news, it seemed like a good time for reviews of two books I listened to recently that covered the two major theaters of the war at sea. 

The first is about the battles in the Atlantic and the devastation caused by the German subs to Allied and merchant ships moving goods from Africa and America to Europe. I knew almost nothing else about U-boat other than the fear they caused in anyone attempting to sail across the Atlantic, not how they were commanded, how they worked, or even how one was captured. Lachman’s excellent book provides not only insight to the submarines but also a detailed look at one specific boat, U-505. Contrasting the examination of the German navy’s most feared weapon is the story of the US Navy’s Task Group 22.3, led by the carrier Guadcanal, commanded by Captain Daniel Galley, which was sent on the risky mission to capture a Nazi U-boat. Taking over a submarine is no easy feat and the capture of U-505 was the first time the Navy had boarded and seized a vessel since the war of 1812; that should tell you something.

I listened to the audiobook and I found it easy to follow and the action and tense moments made for an engaging and entertaining read. Narrator Qarie Marshall’s reading is excellent, he imbued just the right amount of drama into the relevant parts and conveyed Lachman’s spot-on insights into the men on both sides who were commanding their respective ships. 

This is definitely one you want to put on your TBR not only because it is fast-paced but it is important that we don’t forget the courage exhibited by the sailors who, due to the classified nature of the mission, did not get the attention and recognition that they deserved at the time of the capture. 

And bonus - U-505 has been refurbished and is now on display at the Griffin Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago


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