TORPEDO JUNCTION: U-Boat War off America’s East Coast 1942

Reviewed By: CDR Mark R Condeno

TORPEDO JUNCTION: U-Boat War off America’s East Coast 1942 by Homer H Hickam Jr., 432 pp, MMPB by Dell Books, Published April 1, 1991, (First Published by the Naval Institute Press, 1989) ISBN: 0440210275 (ISBN13: 9780440210276)

On 14 January 1942, U-130 under the command of Lieutenant Ernst Kals sunk two small freighters of New Foundland. PAUKENSCHLAG has commenced. “Paukenschlag or Operation Drumroll was conceived by Admiral Karl Donitz to station German Submarines off the American East Coast to attack allied convoys and Merchant Shipping.

Planned earlier it was rejected by his superiors, hence that priority should be given first to the British and Norwegian Operations. By early 1942, with 91 operational submarines, Five came free without tasks and Admiral Donitz again brought up
“Drumroll” to his superiors and finally getting approval with a condition that should U-boats be needed in an area Drumroll submarines would be diverted. The First to arrive of Americas coast were five submarines of the XI long range type under veteran U-boat Commanders.

As evidence of U-boats appeared off the American coast, the task of defense was given to a United States Naval Academy Graduate of Class 1901, RADM Adolphus Andrews USN and his staff made up of experts on Submarine, Anti- Submarine and Air Warfare. The only thing is they only had a handfull of vessels to fight off the U-boats. The force comprising Navy Destroyers, Coastal Patrol Craft and Coast Guard Cutters with air support from the Army Air Corps B-25 bombers flying ASW.

The story focuses on the cutters USCGC Icarus and USCGC Dione actions against the U-boats, Search and Rescue, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Tactics and Joint Operations with the Army Air Corps. One of the book’s strength is the ship to ship account of actions against the submarines and the ingenuity, courage, devotion to duty of the sailors involved.

Torpedo Junction is a classic and insightful account of the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard earlier days in battling the U-boats off America’s shores. It is well supported with photographs, maps and diagrams with locations of sunken U-boats and Merchant ships and a bibliography for each of the 26 Chapters.

The book is a must for those in the Submarine, ASW and Naval History Community.