Hitler's Forgotten Flotillas...


...the Kreigsmarine security forces, from Pen and Sword


Title: Hitler's Forgotten Flotillas

Author: Lawrence Paterson

Publisher: Seaforth Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-4738-8239-3

From Seaforth Publishing, a division of Pen and Sword, comes a new book I found particularly interesting.  Many of us are familiar with the stories of the German Navy capital ships, the U-boats and the E-boats in WW2, yet this one covers to stories of less well known craft, the minesweepers, submarine hunters, minelayers, barrage breakers, landing craft, freighters, trawlers and the riverine craft that were used to patrol the Danube.  Maybe not as glamorous as the likes of the U-boats, Bismark or Tirpitz etc but still a vital part of their war effort and a story about which little has been done before.

Within a Glossary at the beginning of the book is a list of Flotilla types, and these in themselves give a good idea of the variety of units that feature in this book.  These include Artillery , River gunboats, Harbour protection, Escort, Landing, Minesweeping, Barrage Breaker,  Submarine Hunters and Patrol Boats.  The 10 main chapters start by looking at the Development of Naval Mine Warfars and the auxiliary ships used in the Kaiser's Navy, and then Defending Germany's Coasts (Minesweepers, Patrol Boats and Sub hunters).  Third is Expanding Horizons with the German victories in Norway and the Fall of France.  Next comes Establishing the Security Divisions, then Sun and Steel, as they moved to cover North Africa and the Soviet Union.  For chapter 6 there is War in the North and West, the various flotillas used around North West Europe and the Baltic.  When it moves on to 7, War in SOuthern Russia, this is when they needed to cover the Black Sea during 1942-44.  On to chapter 8, The Inland Seas it looks at those units involved in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean seas between 1942 and 1943.  The Med, Adriatic and Aegean all feature again in chapter 9 but this time the period from Jan 1944 through to May 1945.  The final chapter see the Elimination, the Allied operation against the Flotillas.  The end of the war wasn't quite the end of the story, as many of the shops and crews of the minesweeper units were kept in service after the war, minus their old uniform badges, as a multitude of mines remained to be cleared and to make the waterways safe for peace time.

There as a number of maps which illustrate the various areas of operation, along with a number of diagrams, such as explaining the Oropesa mine sweeping arrangement and plenty of photos throughout the book, showing the ships and the men and their uniforms.  From purpose built vessels, to converted merchant ships and commandeered Trawlers, there is such a great variety of hundreds of these minor vessels which were employed by the Kreismarine throughout the war.  Add to all this the inclusion of plenty of stories about how operational events turned out, there is lots in here to enjoy, and certainly for me, to learn.