Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

The Enemy We Killed, My Friend

Jones, David C.

1999, Gomer Press
ISBN 1859026249
Paperback, 136 pages, maps, photos

Type. Personal narrative
Pros. Well-written, provides information about Werner Hartenstein
Cons. See below

David C. Jones narrowly survived the sinking of Quebec City, on which he was a merchant cadet officer, by squeezing out through a porthole. More than 50 years later, his memories of the encounter with the U-boat responsible prompted him to track down the fate of the boat's commander. This book tells the story of Jones' naval career, shipwreck, the research process he used to track down Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartenstein, and a great deal of information about Hartenstein himself and about U-156.

After Quebec City was sunk, Jones spent nine days in a lifeboat before reaching the Liberian coast. It seemed the difficulties of himself and his fellow survivors had only just begun, as they had fetched up in a small, isolated village with no prospect of getting back to civilization and to duty. They were marooned there for several weeks before they managed to attract the attention of an RAF patrol plane. Jones' description of his experiences with the friendly, but poor Liberians is quite interesting.

After sinking Quebec City, U-156 surfaced, and Hartenstein expressed concern for the welfare of the occupants of the lifeboat, showing them maps of their position. This chivalrous behavior intrigued Jones, and remained in the back of his mind for the rest of his life. Fifty years were to pass before he had time to investigate the identity of the U-boat and commander. Only then did he learn of the Laconia Incident, which had occurred immediately prior to the sinking of Quebec City, and that the latter was Hartenstein's last success, U-156 being sunk with all hands on her next patrol. Jones' adventure came full circle when he was invited to Hartenstein's birthplace to participate in a civic ceremony.

The only problem with the book is that its appendices are taken nearly verbatim from, with no acknowledgement given, although the author acknowledges in detail the sources of his other information. Probably this was an unintentional oversight, but it was somewhat disappointing to see this.

Overall this is an excellent personal account, and provides some insight into the life of Werner Hartenstein.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 5 Apr 2003.

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