Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews

The Destruction of Convoy PQ-17

Irving, David

1968, Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0312911521
Paperback, 367 pages, 19 b&w photos

Type. General History book
Pros. Detailed and accurate narrative
Cons. Could be easier to read at times.

The Russia-bound convoy PQ-17 (you can read its full story here) was the worst convoy disaster of the war. This fascinating book covers the whole affair but from the German and the British side, both from shore and at sea.

It uncovers one of the worst allied naval blunders of the whole war. The British Admiralty mis-read the German plans for the battle fleet stationed in northern Norway, mis-read even the decoded German radio signals and quite simply abandoned the entire convoy. It then fell easy prey to the Luftwaffe bombers and the relatively few U-boats stationed there.

It's worth noting that before the convoy was ordered to scatter by the British admiralty, only 2 ships had been sunk, 22 were lost thereafter. Before the scatter the convoy had fended of an attack by 25 German Henkel torpedo bombers shooting down 2 aircraft and suffering only 3 torpedo hits.

This book also explains some of the German blunders in this battle such as that the 25 torpedo-bombers totally ignored the rather attractive cruiser force steaming only 10 miles ahead of the convoy. It also demonstrates the difficulties the Germans had to utilize the Tirpitz battle fleet against the Russia convoys.

David Irving, one of the most controversial historians today, has put together a convincing and detailed account of the ill-fated convoy and its operational parameters. The book has been highly acclaimed yet the British admiralty saw to it that it was banned for 20 years and in the process forced the publisher out of business. It was not until 1987 that this book saw daylight again. This is the only book to be banned by the Admiralty.

This book is a must read about the Arctic operations.

Review written by GuĂ°mundur Helgason.

Published on 17 Feb 1998.

This title is highly recommended.

Return to our main review page.