THE SINKING OF THE LACONIA. A TRAGEDY IN THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC.

Grossmith, Frederick.


£40.00




Stamford, 1st.ed., 1994. Xx + 236 pp., 91 photographs, plans, facsimiles, drawings, etc. Pict. laminated boards ; 25 x 19cm. Nr.FINE. The story of this Cunard liner is one of the most heroic stories to emerge out of the Battle of the Atlantic but one that has hitherto received little attention from historians. Built in 1922, LACONIA was a frequent sight on the Mersey before the war. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a troopship, and in 1942 she was torpedoed and sunk in the shark-infested waters of the South Atlantic with 2,700 people on board – including 1,800 Italian prisoners of war. The U-boat commander, Werner Hartenstein, immediately launched a major rescue attempt, turning his U-boat into a hospital ship and exposing his command to great danger. Two further U-boats came to help, Italy sent another submarine, and the French sent three warships. The British could do nothing, and the Americans twice attacked the rescuers with a Liberator bomber, misunderstanding the situation. Donitz later issued the ‘Laconia Order’, forbidding U-boats to carry out such rescues in the future. Almost 2000 lives were lost aboard LACONIA. Includes hitherto unpublished material.


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