HJC: I enjoyed Rust’s chapter greatly. Perhaps my favorite chapter is Tim Mulligan’s “A Community Bound by Fate: The Crew of U-505.”
TPS: I can’t tell you my favorite, because I want to work with all these guys again! Tim’s is also outstanding. I don’t think there is anyone else working today who could have written it — and I am not kidding. . .
HJC: That’s very high praise.
TPS: And completely well deserved. He is such an outstanding writer, but an even better researcher. He knows more about German crewmen and the background of the individuals who served in the Kriegsmarine than any other scholar.
HJC: His book Neither Sharks Nor Wolves was on this very topic.
TPS: Yes, and of course Dr. Mulligan works with captured German naval records in the National Archives, so he knows all the sources and how to mine them. “A Community Bound By Fate” is an examination of who crewed U-505. Of course he discusses in some depth many individuals by name, but he goes much deeper than that by examining the diversity of the crew in terms of where they came from, educational backgrounds, and so forth. If you have any particular stereotype in mind of the men who manned these boats, you won’t when you finish. It is a very satisfying piece.
HJC: Lawrence Paterson’s essay “From Lion’s Roar to Blunted Axe: The War Patrols of U-505” was well done. I thought it pulled together many of the sources well into one coherent story line and filled in a lot of the gaps in the boat’s history. He cites an article by Hans Decker, which I now must find and read also!
TPS: Hans Decker was a machinist aboard the boat and he wrote a rich memoir of his 404 days aboard U-505 in Naval Institute Proceedings forty or so years ago. That piece, together with Hans Goebeler’s outstanding memoir Steel Boats, Iron Hearts (Wagnerian Publications, 1999) helps flesh out a lot of the details of what was going on inside U-505. They add personality to what otherwise would be by-the-numbers history, which is of course what we have for most boats. As I alluded to earlier, Lawrence wrote two of the chapters in Hunt and Kill, one on the boat’s first eleven patrols and the other covering just the last patrol up to the moment the boat is forced to the surface. It is called “Collision Course: U-505 and Task Group 22.3.”
HJC: Yes, I realized that the very next chapter examines what happened next from the German perspective.
TPS: We thought that would be a rather clever way to handle that. I hope it works with readers. . . .