Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

Shadows on the Horizon

The Battle of Convoy HX-233

Haskell, Winthrop A.

1998, United States Naval Inst.
ISBN 1557508879
Hardcover, 192 pages, 61 b&w photos, 2 facsimiles, 2 maps, 2 diagrams, 2 drawings

Type. General History
Pros. Very well-researched
Cons. None to mention

This book presents the story of one convoy, HX-233, from beginning to end. Extremely well-researched and documented, it was written by a participant in the convoy, who sailed on the G Harrison Smith. A large portion of the book concentrates on U-175, following the U-boat from her construction to her sinking, and her crew through three missions and into captivity.

The book starts with a brief overview of the convoy system, then moves on to an analysis of the various developments in anti-submarine warfare from the beginning of the war up to the time of HX-233's crossing, including the relatively slow realization on the part of the Allies of the immense advantage air cover could lend to their convoy operations.

The author, veteran of many convoys, selected this one for his study for several reasons. First, it had not as yet been fully studied in any other book. Second, it occurred at a critical time during the battle of the Atlantic - April 1943, the month that marked the start of a decline in U-boat successes against convoys. Finally, some chance elements in the interactions of U-boats and convoy, as well as some friction between various members of the combined British-American-Canadian escort group, simply made this encounter an especially interesting opportunity for in-depth exploration.

One of the most valuable aspects of this book (besides the detailed coverage of U-175, mentioned above) is that the author wherever possible uses official documents, eyewitness reports and war diaries from all sides (German, Canadian, British and American) to render as complete and accurate a picture of events as possible. The 15 appendices, glossary, and list of sources, as well as a foreword by Prof Dr J├╝rgen Rohwer, combine to set the final seal of excellence on this book.

Review written by Tonya Allen.

Published on 15 Mar 2000.

This title is highly recommended.

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