Beware Raiders!: German Surface Raiders in the Second World War

Posted: July 3, 2014 in Books, World War II

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Beware Raiders!: German Surface Raiders in the Second World War is the story of two German surface raiders and the havoc they caused amongst Allied shipping. One was the 8-inch gun cruiser Admiral Hipper, fast, powerful and Navy-manned: the other a converted merchantman, Hansa Line’s Kandelfels armed with a few old 5.9s manned largely by reservists, and sailing under the nom de guerre of Pinguin. Contrary to all expectations, the amateur man-of-war reaped a rich harvest and went out in a blaze of glory. Her purpose-built sister, on the other hand, was hard-pressed even to make her mark on the war and ended her days in ignominy.

Bernard Edwards emphasises the contrast between the conduct of Ernst Kruder, captain of the Pinguin, whose concern it was to cause as little loss of life as possible, and the callous Captain Meisel of the Admiral Hipper, who has scant regard for the lives of the men whose ships he had sunk.

Naval warfare is not exactly an area of military history that I know all that much about, but I found this an entertaining read, all the same. There’s a strong narrative throughout which guides you along – essential for any truly gripping historical book. There’s enough detail so that you feel involved, and yet not so much that you feel overwhelmed by the detail. Some core concepts are left unexplained, which may be a little confusing for people not already au fait with naval warfare. With that said, the battles are clear, concise and easy to follow so this is a minor flaw that is easily overcome.

Although Beware Raiders! may not be well suited to absolute newcomers, this is a great book for people who already have some knowledge of the theatre/era and are craving more detail without getting overwhelmed by the size of something Beevor or Massie would offer.

Beware Raiders!: German Surface Raiders in the Second World War by Captain Bernard Edwards is available now in paperback from Pen and Sword Books, priced £12.99

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