...The Life and Death of Germany's Last Great Battleship, from Fonthill Media
Author: Daniel Knowles
Publisher: Fonthill Media
A new book from Fonthill Media and author Daniel Knowles, looking at the career of theTirpitz, an equally famous sister ship to the Bismarck. The story is divided across 22 chapters plus a couple of appendices. Starting with the Origins of the Tirpitz it goes on through Plan Z, the German plan to rebuild the German Kriegsmarine. The Anatomy of the Bismarck class then provides detail of just how formidable these ships would be. It goes on through the Launch and the Fitting Out period plus the Sea Trials. Amidst this we get the story of the Bismarck and her battles with Hood and her eventual sinking. That helps illustrate the context that surrounds the story of the Tirpitz herself, as does the account of the Raid on St Nazaire and later the Battle of the North Cape. Lurking within Norwegian Fjords the simple threat of the Tirpitz plus supporting vessels remained a threat which clearly played on the minds of Churchill and the Admiralty, tying down significant resources for a number of years simply due to the threat of what the Tirpitz 'might' do. The chapter looking at the disaster of convoy PQ17 is a good indication of just what the threat of the Tirpitz could cause. It tells us the one foray out into action, when the Tirpitz took part in an attack on Spitzbergen but against a shore installation rather than Allied warships.
We also get the stories of the various attempts to attack the Tirpitz in her anchorages, with the attack by Human Torpedoes ('Chariots') which failed just short of the target, then the partially successful attack of the X-Craft miniature submarines and further air attacks from the Royal Navy and the RAF before it gets to the final attack when RAF Lancasters, a bomber with so much greater capability than the Wellingtons and Hampdens of the early war period were able to attack using the 12,000lb Tallboy bombs which led to the final demise of the Tirpitz. We see the details of the sinking and the large loss of life when she finally capsized, and how some trapped crewmen were rescued from air pockets by cutting through the upturned hull.
Even though I knew a bit about the story of the Tirpitz before reading this one, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book from Daniel Knowles, as not only did I learn a lot more but I found the story presented in a very readable style, supported by a good selection of archive photos that illustrate the story of the ship over the years.
Thanks to Fonthill Media for our review copy.