A long time ago I read Das Boot (which is the collection of experiences as war correspondent in a U-Boat, it contains also more gruesome depictions never mentioned in the movie).

I would like to know if there are similar (well-known ?) autobiographical depictions for the allied side (submarine, destroyer).

I do not want propaganda kitsch or "we-are-so-tough", but a truthful account what a seaman experienced on board on those ships.

  • 3
    I did not know that Great Britain who lost the majority of sailors is contained in Upstate NY. Oct 15, 2016 at 18:23
  • @ThorstenS. I guess that's why they call it New England? :P
    – Schwern
    Oct 15, 2016 at 20:12
  • Sorry...I must admit to having talked to more than one survivor. My bad... Oct 15, 2016 at 21:02
  • 2
    Generally we discourage reference requests - they are subjective and authoritative answers are difficult.
    – MCW
    Oct 15, 2016 at 21:54
  • 3
    @MarkC.Wallace I think there's few enough examples of what the OP is requesting that it won't get out of hand. I can only think of one. I'm very interested to know about more.
    – Schwern
    Oct 15, 2016 at 22:47

3 Answers 3


I think you're looking for a book about the Allied side of the Battle Of The Atlantic, but if you're interested in WWII submarines I highly recommend One Of Our Submarines by Edward Young.

It's the autobiographical account of an RNVR officer from joining the submarine service through being a British submarine captain in the Pacific. He even escapes a sinking submarine. It's a technically accurate and very well written book. It benefits greatly from Young having been a publisher before the war.

The book makes you very much appreciate how complicated and delicate WWII submarines were. His experiences will resonate with what other submarine captains experienced everywhere in the war.

  • It also covers the Pacific theatre instead of the Atlantic one, but I found George Grider's War Fish a very interesting read. Grider was active through the whole war, and covers different roles on board as he makes it from 3rd officer to CO of his own sub.
    – Mopper
    Dec 28, 2016 at 13:05
  • I read the book now and it is in fact a crucial difference. First I was a very critical because the officers were unbelievably forthcoming; I suspected kitsch until I realized that the submarine RNVR had such a shortage they did everything to get a recruit (The Germans had no shortage). Second point was that German submarines were glued to the surface: always having a full battery for escape and searching for convoys. Submerged = trouble. In contrast British submarines had no problem to operate a longer time under water, especially in bad weather. Mar 29, 2017 at 20:39
  • The third thing is that I got the impression that it was much more dangerous to be on the German side. The British submarine was always able to slip away after while the British planes and destroyers were portrayed as very dangerous: insidious and tenacious, using any trick to get the drop on the U-Boat. Mar 29, 2017 at 20:44

A Bloody War by Lieutenant Hal Lawrence.

I read this in the 1980's in paperback form. It is a narrative by a Canadian officer serving in the Royal Navy in various anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic, to include the capture of a German submarine. It is very well written, and describes in good detail the challenges of convoy operations and the difficulties of anti submarine warfare.


Although strictly speaking fiction, how about "The Cruel Sea"? A novel based on the author's WW2 experience of Atlantic convoy escort duty.

From Wikipedia, The Cruel Sea

Nicholas Monsarrat - The Cruel Sea

Country: UK & US

Language: English Genre Second World War Novel Publisher Cassell & Co, London Knopf, New York Publication date 1951 Pages 416 (Cassell) 509 (Knopf)

The Cruel Sea is a 1951 novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. It follows the lives of a group of Royal Navy sailors fighting the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War. It contains seven chapters, each describing a year during the war.

The novel, based on the author's experience of serving in corvettes in the North Atlantic in the Second World War, gives a matter-of-fact but moving portrayal of ordinary men learning to fight and survive in a violent, exhausting battle against the elements and a ruthless enemy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.