HJC: That is about all you ever read on U-505 . . .
TPS: Yes, most readily available published accounts repeat the same few things over and over. In reality, U-505 had a remarkable three-year war history, had some solid successes, left on many patrols with equipment that was probably sabotaged by French workers in Lorient, and its postwar odyssey that finally ended in Chicago is almost as interesting as its war years. On one of my visits to the boat in the late 1990s it struck me that there was a much deeper story waiting to be told.
HJC: Your brief to the contributors of Silent Hunters was to write about a successful but lesser known commander. The subject matter of Hunt and Kill is focused on one boat in particular, U-505. Given this narrower focus, did you need to assign topics to some writers, or were they all given a free hand?
TPS: What a good question. A little of both, actually. I explained to everyone that U-505 was our topic, I offered a few general guidelines, and they started floating ideas for contributions. My job was to accept, reject, or mold each chapter idea in such a way that the entire puzzle would fit together when a reader picked it up for the first time. These guys are all professionals, and most of us have worked together before, so we have a good idea how to operate as a team. In the end there was one particular gap that needed filling, and Lawrence Paterson agreed to fill it, which is why he has two contributions.
HJC: Speaking of Paterson, I would like to ask you to comment on the individual chapters and authors. Let’s start with Eric Rust’s piece “No Target Too Far: The Genesis, Development, and Operations of Type IX U-boats.” I don’t think many people really fully appreciate the scope or contribution Type IX boats made to the German war effort. This chapter puts it all together.
TPS: It is indeed exhaustive and well written. Basically Dr. Rust presents an overview of Type IX boats and their place in the war. It is vintage Rust — detailed and absorbing without losing sight of the big picture. If you have read his outstanding Crew 34: Naval Officers Under Hitler (Praeger, 1991) or his contribution to our earlier Silent Hunters, where he wrote about ace Friedrich Guggenberger, you will find the same thing.