The Grey Wolves of Eriboll
David M. Hird
2010, Whittles Publishing
Paperback, 160 pages
David M. Hird takes on one of the most obscure aspects of the U-boat War - the surrender of the German U-boats at the end of the war. Obscure not just because the spotlight is usually on the famous commanders, battles or incidents but also because the story itself is full of repeated mistakes in various sources.
This site, as most other publications, has had its share of mistakes in reporting where the boats surrendered and when. At the time of this writing uboat.net is totally overhauling the entire U-boat surrender database, a job that started prior to the release of this title under review. This title has helped in that regard as far as the boats that surrendered at Loch Eriboll, Scotland go.
The following boats are discussed as having surrendered or being brought to Loch Eriboll; U-244, U-255, U-278, U-293, U-294, U-295, U-312, U-313, U-318, U-363, U-427, U-481, U-516, U-532, U-668, U-716, U-764, U-802, U-825, U-826, U-956, U-968, U-992, U-997, U-1009, U-1010, U-1058, U-1105, U-1109, U-1165, U-1231, U-1305 and U-2326. Also are mentioned boats that are sometimes mentioned to have been at Loch Eriboll, even for a short stopover to another location: U-291, U-720, U-868, U-2529, U-3017 and the former Dutch submarine UD-5 (O-27).
Each of the surrendered boats is given a roughly half a page to describe its history, circumstances of capture and its fate after the surrender. Hird also discusses the post-war discarding of the unwanted boats during Operation Deadlight in which vast majority of the surrendered boats in the book were scuttled north of Ireland.
One of the strongest aspects of the book is the many photos, some have been seen elsewhere before but many I did not recall seeing. They really help telling the story - along with a few maps explaining the situation at Loch Eriboll. Another interesting chapter is the one where a naval reporter tells the story of his dealings with the German officers in May 1945, how he could hardly understand their motives and the Germans being steadfast in their duty, even at surrender.
Near the end of the book there is a very cool 16-page chapter called "As the Scotsman saw it" displaying loads of period news clippings from the national Scottish newspaper documenting the surrenders. Great idea and very interesting to read.
One unfortunate aspect I could not overlook is that the emblems of the boats shown in the book are of much poorer quality than the ones uboat.net could have provided to the author at no cost. We don't have all of them but the emblems we have are clearer and much better suited for printing.
This book should be a welcome addition to the library of any serious U-boat war reader.
Review written by Guðmundur Helgason.
Published on 2 Sep 2010.
This title is highly recommended.
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