In the waning days of World War II, a little-known battle took place under the frozen seas off the coast of Norway . . . and changed the course of the war.
In February of 1944, Germany and Japan devised a desperate plan to escape defeat. The Germans would send Japan a submarine—boat U-864—packed with their most advanced rocket and jet aircraft technology. Japan could then reestablish air superiority in the Pacific, drawing the attention of Allied forces long enough for Germany to regroup.
Meanwhile, British code breakers, working with the Norwegian underground, had discovered the plan. But even though they were unable to stop the submarine from embarking, the British submarine HMS Venturer was waiting for it at sea. In a cat-and-mouse battle beneath the waves, they hunted one another, each waiting to strike. The Venturer won the game, becoming the only submarine in history to sink another sub in underwater combat.
This is the dramatic, action-packed account of one of the greatest unsung victories in military history, and of a historical moment in the annals of naval warfare.
On February 9, 1945, the German U-boat 864 sank in the North Sea off the western coast of Norway. The undersea battle of U-864 and the British Navy’s HMS Venturer is the only recorded instance of one submarine stalking and sinking another while both were submerged. In 1944, with the Allies closing in, Hitler’s desperate stratagem was “sidetracking the Americans by racheting up the pressure in the Pacific,” sending German engineers, parts, and blueprints to Japan in order to jump-start production there of Germany’s advanced secret weapons. One of the items onboard was mercury, used in explosive detonators. Yet surveillance by the Norwegian underground resistance movement of coast watchers and dockyard spies sealed U-864’s fate. Today, leakage of toxic mercury from the sunken sub off Norway’s coast is an environmental threat. With suspense surfacing amid the military intrigue, this latest by Preisler and former submariner Sewell (co-authors of All Hands Down: the True Story of the Soviet Attack on the USS Scorpion) reads like a tense thriller, but the authors also keep a steady course on the human aspect of their tale as they reconstruct the events behind this little-known WWII incident and its aftermath. Photos, map. Agent: req (July 3)