View Full Version : Cowardly warfare

Keith at Tregenna
20th November 2010, 05:49 PM
Cowardly warfare

Stemming from: http://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/showthread.php?t=860

Thought I would see what everyone feels on Cowardly warfare

Keith, as I mentioned in a previous post it was a most cowardly way to wage war. What continues to amaze me, looking at footage of the convoy sinkings ,is the fact the Germans, having sunk the merchant ship, were never game then to engage the Roayl Navy rather choosing to then run for cover. Happy Daze John in Oz.


Hello John
I know it's a while since you posted your sentiment about u boats and the cowardly way they went about their business. ( I have been a member since October and I am still finding interesting stuff).Do you not think that modern terrorists have taken a leaf from their book ? They do not wear any marks of identification and disappear after the attrocity. The suicide bombers are a different element, they are poor misguided brain washed souls who are equipped by the real terrorists. It makes you wonder if we are the only ones left who attempt to play by the rules. I think these people just sit back and let us spend millions on security measures in the knowledge that they only have to get one big hit and they have cracked it. They really do take the p.ss. Pete

ps. I did wonder if this subject might be worth opening a new thread ?


21st November 2010, 04:24 PM
First time I have seen Submarine Warfare called cowardly and I am inclined to agree with you,to lay in wait for a merchant ship then torpedo her,I cannot see that as a brave act,having said that they did a job that had to be done,all nations at war did the same.

Keith at Tregenna
21st November 2010, 05:44 PM
Had we lost the last World War: If we were fortunate to be here now? Possibly we would be talking Saxon not just Anglo and be praising German efficiency not just for the trains etc but for our Luftwaffe and U. Boat that helped to continue an Aryan world.

The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture, in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or subrace of the larger Caucasian race. Belief in the existence of an Aryan race is sometimes referred to as Aryanism.

While originally meant simply as a neutral ethno-linguistic classification, it was later used for ideologically motivated racism in Nazi and neo-Nazi doctrine and hence also in other currents such as occultism and white supremacism.

Thankfully, there may be a god.

I am neither blonde or have blue eyes, did Hitler? Who was Austrian not German!

Life as we know it, could have been so different, "if we were here".


len mazza
22nd November 2010, 12:46 AM
Pray tell if my Uncle John who served in the Submarine Branch of the R.N in WW2 was a coward!.

You would get very short shift if you came near any of our family with that claim,

Proud Nephew.

Keith at Tregenna
22nd November 2010, 02:19 AM
I think the posting looks at the ENEMY U boats and the cowardly way they went about their business and those that would do us harm in a shoot them in the back way.

I am further certain that all on site are both saddened at our losses and fully support both our MN men and military.

Rear-Admiral Karl Dönitz s a U-boat commander in the First World War had witnessed first hand the appalling loses inflicted on British merchant shipping in that conflict, and since then he had devised new strategies which he was keen to try out.

Britain was not prepared for anti-submarine warfare, but she had learned one bitter lesson from the carnage of World War One. Unlike in that war when she had been slow to act, this time from the beginning Britain fought back against the U-boats and their deadly torpedoes.

During the summer and fall of 1940 it was so easy for the U-boats to pick off merchant ships at will, that their crews called this period the "Happy Time" I would call it murder.

Our merchant seamen faced the same dangers of war as the regular armed forces, but they did so as non-military citizens, or civilians. Their merchant ships were peacetime vessels which even if fitted with guns for defense, were not designed to withstand an enemy attack. Murder

During the early years of the war the U-boats, unless they were caught by surprise on the surface by an airplane or speedy destroyer, had little to fear from the Allies' fire-power. On the other hand even a well-armed merchant vessel which might have had some protection against an enemy aircraft or a surfaced U-boat, was still nothing more than a "sitting duck"


Sir your Uncle John and many more helped to end such loss of life and is a hero.


happy daze john in oz
22nd November 2010, 04:53 AM
I may be wrong on this one but I think it was the Germany navy and to some extent the Japanese who targeted merchant ships. The allies went for ships of war mainly.

Roger Dyer
22nd November 2010, 09:41 AM
Hello Keith and all shipmates.........I, unreservedly, apologise if my following comment should cause offence to any of you, but I would like to make this point. Firstly, I would like it known that like the rest of us, I still feel saddened by the huge loss of life suffered by our brother seamen during WWII and shall always revere their memory. In order to maintain the lifelines to Britain and the free world these brave men were to lose their lives in horrific circumstances. To my mind, every merchant seaman at that time was a hero. ..................Early in the war Germany surely realised that in order to gain a victory against Britain and her Allies she must destroy her enemies ability to import food and other essential commodities with which to prosecute the war. Anything less than this would then mean that a favourable outcome in the short-term was impossible and in the long-term doubtful. With a surface fleet that was no match for the Royal Navy, a greater reliance was placed upon her U-Boats to achieve the necessary results. Even though 65 - 70 years have elapsed it is, I think, understandable that we, as merchant seamen, still feel strongly about the seemingly callous way in which the U-Boats went about their business. Primarily, their given task was to sink merchant ships, not to engage in combat with warships in which they may have been at a disadvantage. Winston Churchill is on record as having identified the 'Battle of the Atlantic' as the single, most crucial, theatre of the war. Germany too must have, realised that her ability to stop the Merchant Navy (and her allied naval escorts) was crucial to the outcome of the war, and her U-Boat crews probably did what they felt was necessary to obtain victory. If the circumstances had been different, and German convoys had been the target, would British and allied submariners have acted any differently if they believed the freedom of Britain and the free world was at stake? Without wishing to sound uncaring , or flippant, if we generalise by calling U-Boat crews cowardly aren't we perhaps allowing sentiment to distort our perception of the truth. We should never be surprised at the inhumane acts that man will inflict upon his fellow man in times of war........Roger.

Neville Roberts
22nd November 2010, 01:48 PM
I would not call anyone who fought in wars a coward it does,ent matter what side you were on , most of them were called up ,so they had no choice and were sent any where that the services required them ,as for the subs ,watch das boot a very good look at what the gerries had too go throught too be hero,es of the reich,( alls fair in love and war) who said that. bloody nut job . USA is always talking of winning . there will be no winning in afganistan . they are still a tribal nation and change sides at will , :eek::eek:

Duke Drennan
22nd November 2010, 04:47 PM
It is worth noting that 70-80% of U-boat crews did not return from their missions. Undoubtedly, the German people believed them to be heroes.
Our bombing campaigns of innocents in Dresden was nothing to be proud of.

Keith at Tregenna
22nd November 2010, 05:05 PM
"For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good
people to do nothing." Edmund Burke

22nd November 2010, 06:10 PM
"Our bombing campaigns of innocents in Dresden was nothing to be proud of"

Neither was the blitz on Coventry by the Luftwaffe something to be proud of.
(Coventry is twinned with Dresden)


Duke Drennan
22nd November 2010, 06:44 PM
"Our bombing campaigns of innocents in Dresden was nothing to be proud of"

Neither was the blitz on Coventry by the Luftwaffe something to be proud of.
(Coventry is twinned with Dresden)


I agree Gulliver, but two wrongs don't make a right. Committing atrocity for atrocity today would be totally unacceptable.
Anyway, I suppose there are differing opinions on the U-boat issue, as Nev, I think says, "War is War". My thoughts on the subject don't, in any way, reflect on my sadness for our heroes in merchant ships during this time.

Keith at Tregenna
22nd November 2010, 10:01 PM
Between 1941 and 1945 the author, Herbert A. Werner, served on five different German submarines. He used his wartime notes and letters to compose Iron Coffins.

In his introduction to Iron Coffins, Werner wrote: “Because I was one of the few U-boat commanders who fought through most of the war and who managed to survive, I felt it was my duty to my fallen comrades to set the record straight. . . . This book belongs to my dead comrades, stricken down wholesale in the prime of youth. I hope it pays them the honor they deserve. If I have succeeded in handing down to the reader the ancient lesson that each generation seems to forget—that war is evil ... then I consider this my most constructive deed.”



Keith at Tregenna
22nd November 2010, 11:22 PM
“If it was a nightmare for the young naval sailors at action stations on an escort, it was 10 times worse for the Merchant Seamen. For the most part, all the captain could do was keep his station and hold steady against all his instincts. These men knew they were sitting ducks in a doomed formation. And when the U-boats attacked, all they could do was watch the blazing death of stricken ships, listen to the cries for help and wait for the next torpedo."

A quote from an ‘Western Approaches’ Royal Navy man - Cdr. Tony German R.N – in charge of convoy escorts in the Westedern Approaches.


Lou Barron
23rd November 2010, 02:54 AM
i had the misfortune to be sunk by the german raider the michel yhe way the attacked us was something callous he followed os all day he could have stopped us then but no at seven o clock on a pitch black night he attacked from the starboard bow and shot us to hell and hone he also set us on fire and shot all starboard life boats to bits then he had motor torpedo boat that attacks us on our port side with machine guns out of ten life boats they was only one got away then when the picked us up and lined us up on the deck of the raider they had guys with machine guns around what was we going to do fight them but i must say they did treat us ok a lot better than we was to get later on i lossed some good mates

happy daze john in oz
23rd November 2010, 08:44 AM
My comments about the sub war being conducted in a cowardly manner was not meant as a denigration of the British submariners. I was mearly pointing out the fact that for the most part the ships sunk bu the U boats were unarmed mechantmen. That to me is a cowardly act when the merchantman had no warning or nay means to fight back. Maybe buly would be a better term.

Dennis McGuckin
23rd November 2010, 03:47 PM
Fully agree John.

Keith at Tregenna
23rd November 2010, 08:34 PM
If it was today, guess old Adolf would have got a Social Worker etc and a let off because of drug addiction and so on. May be my opinion but the whole Nasty Nazi Regime was cowardly and all praise to all of the good men, women and children that stood up to them.

Had things gone awry then, most of us would not be here today, I have relatives that could never be known to me because of the Cowardly actions of the Wolf Packs. Such a devestating effect them and on the then family.

I am totally against all loss of life, but some do ask for it and force if not met with force would see defeat. How different this world now would be if we had caved in. The enemy then was overthrown and we rebuilt those countries, they would have murdered ours.

In memory of the fallen, the good guy's.


len mazza
24th November 2010, 04:43 AM
I have read many times that the Uboats where told to go for the Merchant Ships with their large cargos
of war materials,They were not to waste torpedos on small escort vessels,for most of the time that is all the
RN could fight back with.

Alarge contributen to the success of the Allies in N.Africa was the damage done to the enemy conveys by the submarines of theRN among other things.

Along time ago Iread the biography of a German Staff Officer of the Africa Corp.He stated that the staff did
an exercise to try and forcast the outcome of the war in N.Africa.Their conclusion was that they could never
win if they kept on losing shipping at the present rate.

I often wish that I had made a note of the title,and the mans name.
Len Mazza,R621945

len mazza
24th November 2010, 04:47 AM
Of course it was the mans autobiography,nothis biography,had a senior moment there.


Roger Dyer
24th November 2010, 06:05 AM
Hello shipmates...................Keith, John and Den, I have read your 'posts' on this subject and respect the views contained therein. Whilst I do share much of the sentiment expressed by you all (and shared by most of us, I'm sure), I cannot agree with the generalisation that German submariners were cowards......... Certainly, there were occasions when, having just torpedoed a ship, some U-boat captains showed no compassion whatsoever for the poor souls left struggling in the water. At other times, U-boat captains had been known to stop near lifeboats and advise the best course for the nearest land. Others also passed down a little food and water (keeping in mind that their own provisions were limited)........Although it grieves me to say this, Britain and Germany were involved in a struggle which was not pleasant - war never is. A merchant ship (although crewed by civilians and virtually defenceless) was considered a legitimate target by Axis and Allied forces alike. In an ideal world, perhaps, a U-boat captain would have come to the surface in daylight, contacted the target merchant-ship, advised them of his intentions and then waited for the crew to lower their lifeboats and clear away from the area before firing his torpedoes. That's in an ideal world, but of course in an ideal world there would be no war in the first place........ In reality, if able to,any Ship's Radio Officer worth his salt would have immediately tried to radio his ship's position, thus alerting any allied warships or aircraft that may have been in the vicinity. As callous as it may seem, after sinking a ship, was it really necessary for a U-boat to surface at all, other than to gain information from survivors or, on the few occasions they did so, for humanitarian reasons?. Also, would it have been reasonable to expect a U-boat commander to remain in the area longer than was necessary, thereby endangering the lives of his own crew and the safety of his vessel?. Would Allied submariners have acted any differently? I don't think so. Unfortunately, the age of chivalry ended long before the start of WWII...............Contrary to what many war films would have us believe, I think that most U-boat crew-members found themselves in a war that they would rather have no part of, but as puppets of a madman they had no control of their lives. I also believe that the majority thought they were fighting for their country rather than the bl---y Fuhrer and the rest of his evil clique..............Mates, I do understand your strong feelings regarding the activities of the U-boats, but cannot agree with the generalisation that U-boat crews were cowardly. As Davey and Duke have mentioned, perhaps, the same sort of thing could be said about the dropping of bombs on civilian men, women and children. Do we regard members of Bomber Command and the U.S.A.A.F as cowards, I think not and rightly so. After bombing they too tried to get away as quickly as possible and who can blame them? They simply did what was expected of them. Whilst I realise that it was the Luftwaffe that started the business of mass bombing on cities such as Coventry, London and Rotterdam etc., I expect there are many residents of Dresden and other German cities whose opinion of allied bomber-crews would tally with your own regarding U-boat crews. It was total war (whatever that means) and in my view WAR is the most evil practise of mankind...........Keith, when starting this thread, you asked for our opinions, well this is mine. I am not an apologist for the unterseeboot branch of the Kriegsmarine, but, as much as it galls me to say so, in the main (forgive the pun), I do not consider the U-boat crews of WWII to be a 'bunch of cowards'...............Roger.

happy daze john in oz
24th November 2010, 06:11 AM
Thankfully Roger it was the sacrifices of those brave souls that allows you to do what you are now doing, expressing freedom of speech. Had Germany or Japan won I wonder if you would be able to do that? You have the right, as we all do, to speak our minds, it may offend some but for me I would rather accept that offence than be in a community where it it was not allowed.

Roger Dyer
24th November 2010, 07:44 AM
Hello John,.........Couldn't agree with you more! As a child of the war with a memory of bombs falling in the near vicinity, I am so glad that my country was victorious in that long, long, struggle for freedom. God forbid that I should have grown up being made to eat saurkraut and speak German. Forgive me, but I thought that in my previous 'posts' I'd made it abundantly clear that I have the utmost respect for all men who served in the British and allied Merchant Navies during WWII. As far as I'm concerned, in my book every one of them was a hero. That over 30,000 of them should lose their lives was one of the war's great tragedies.......Having, again, repeated my feelings, I thought that the original idea of this thread was to garner opinions about the cowardice or otherwise of the U-boat crews during WWII. Forgive me again, for saying this, but in my view both you and Keith (the originator of the thread) have wandered away from the subject matter. Again, I don't want this to turn into a slanging match, neither do I seek to hurt the feelings of others and by the very nature of your last post John I suspect that you are somewhat incensed by the views I hold. If that is the case, then I'm sorry, but I make no apology for those views. In armed conflict, just because there are heroes on one side it doesn't necessarily follow that the other side must be cowards. I respect your right to an opinion about this and equally I ask that you extend the same courtesy to me. I'm sorry, but because I hold a different opinion to your own, I thought that your rebuke of me was neither fair or justified. To ensure that I ruffle no more feathers I will do everyone a favour and make this my last contribution to this thread. ............Roger..... (spitting dummy out - Exit Stage left)

Duke Drennan
24th November 2010, 11:25 AM
It is also worth noting that Erich Raeder, Grand Admiral of the German fleet (1928-43) was charged at the Nuremburg trials on 2 charges; one of waging an unjust war on Norway, which, by the way, he proved that Britain already had plans themselves to invade, and two, instructing Doenitz to direct U-boat captains to not pick up survivors of torpedoed ships. This charge was argued against by high ranking British and American naval personnel on the basis that they did exactly the same thing. The court disallowed the defence offered by the British and Americans. There was a lot of sympathy extended to Raeder when he was sentenced because the man was not a Nazi, did not allow SS officers on his boats and was known to hold his seamen in the highest regard. I mention this because, as always, there are differing perspectives on issues such as this and it's always been an interest of mine to read the history of the WW2, both the British and German viewpoints.

Ivan Cloherty
24th November 2010, 03:53 PM
Have read with interest all the comments of the previous postings.
As an "on the water" seamean as opposed to "under water seaman" I don't think any submariner of whatever nationality can be called a" coward", it took an awful lot of guts to join a tin can have a hatch closed above you and then have to rely on everything working properly to get back to the surface again, at least on a surface ship you had a better chance of survival in case of malfunctions.

Yes war is indescribably wrong and as Roger points out it was not conducted by Knights in Shining armour on any side, but it was war and atrocities do happen. We and our forefathers and some posting on this site in the Merchant service knew what we were up against and it didn't stop them from carrying out their duty as they saw it, and theres the rub, the German submariners carried out their duty as they saw it, as did the RN and USN submariners in the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres.

There were acts of kindness, as much as can be allowed by war shown by Allies and Axis alike, possibly fewer than can be expected, but a submarines commander the same as a Merchant ships captain's duty is the safety of his men on board. It was not always posible for either side to stop and give succour to those in the water or in lifeboats without putting their own crews in danger - that is the nature of war.

Yes submarine versus merchant ship was unfair and thanks to the bravery of our Merchant seamen and the sacrifices they made, we are here being able to comment upon it in a free society. In all branches of the services, no matter what nationality, in conflict the human factor becomes a negative you have to consider "targets" not humans, that happens on all sides.

Yes I have experience of WWII, not as a participant at sea, but we were bombed out three times in a short space of time, so should have little sympathy with the axis, but as my mother said, it is Governments who wage war not the services and no doubt there is truth in that, and we defend our country because we are what we are

Rgds Ivan

Keith at Tregenna
24th November 2010, 06:50 PM
Just got in from a hard days graft and read with interest all comments, initially would like to say that I rarely write or post much that I know little of, or cannot learn more from. Fortunately, this is a forum and some topics we can either join in, contribute or as said learn from:

I attempt all three on this one. Regarding a posting that looks at the enemy U boats and the cowardly way they went about their business. One agreed that It may be his outlook but agreed firmly that it was a most cowardly way to wage war.

And to be honest to lay in wait for a merchant ship then torpedo her, Cannot be seen as a brave act.

The mention of a generalisation that German submariners were cowards, had not entered into the post until later, I agree that there would have been some elements of bravery, but as they were the aggressor I could not see heroism, yet I can imagine that some heroic acts occurred in some way. Many may not agree.

Not certain if I recap or reiterate but: During the summer and fall of 1940 it was so easy for the U-boats to pick off merchant ships at will, that their crews called this period the "Happy Time" Does not help me feel good at our losses.

There is goood and bad in all, and we all err but was it not the Germany navy and to some extent the Japanese who targeted merchant ships. The allies went for ships of war mainly ?

Even though 65 - 70 years have elapsed it is understandable that we, as merchant seamen, still feel strongly about the seemingly callous way in which the U-Boats went about their business.

War is Evil!

Most would look at the fact that for the most part the ships sunk bY the U boats were unarmed mechantmen. That to me is a cowardly act when the merchantman had no warning or no means to fight back.

I understand that 70-80% of U-boat crews did not return from their missions. Undoubtedly, the German and some people believed them to be heroes. Also, that most of them were called up, so they had no choice and were sent any where that the services required them.

I fully understand it was a war, these things occur - But still agree it was a Cowardly warfare and a cowardly way they went about their business. This is no reflection on enemy crews of the fighting mechanism, but very anti the fanatics etc that would do all harm, though some may use more choice words. Our own also did what was ordered, but to both save us from evil and save a Nation if not the World.

"For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing." Edmund Burke

I have in these modern times a few German friends that are embarresed and saddenend at the past and are nice people, but kicked in the teeth twice, we should learn from the past and hopefully not allow it to happen again.

They may not have been cowards, never my words, certainly guilty of cowardly acts, orderered or not.

As said before, I hate the very thought of any wasteful loss of life.

Regards, K.

24th November 2010, 07:46 PM
If I may add my two pence.

“And to be honest to lay in wait for a merchant ship then torpedo her, Cannot be seen as a brave act”
No it can’t but it was not a cowardly act either. It was war and the u-boat crews were doing their duty right or wrong as we did when we torpedoed their ships.

“There is good and bad in all, and we all err but was it not the Germany navy and to some extent the Japanese who targeted merchant ships. The allies went for ships of war mainly”
No – all sides targeted merchant ships it was their duty to do so.

The Merchant Navy was always going to be targeted because they were our lifeline – that’s a fact. You cut of that lifeline and you win the war.
If you want to talk about cowardly acts at sea we must not generalise. I will give you a cowardly act at sea, the only one, I might add, that was ever proven. Heinz Wilhelm Eck who was tried, convicted, condemned and executed postwar for ordering his crew to shoot the survivors of a Greek merchantman [PELEUS] sunk by U-852 on 13th March 1944.

The Japanese on the other hand were brutal masters of total war and believed not only in taking the ship but also the crew - they were evil ********, no mercy from them.

When my father’s ship ‘CITY OF CAIRO’ was sunk in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean by U-68. The u-boat surfaced and gave the survivor’s directions to the nearest land. His parting words were “goodnight sorry for sinking you”. Had he not done that I may not be here to write this.
Another interesting read:



Keith at Tregenna
24th November 2010, 08:50 PM
As said, I was not there and learn much as we go along.

Hopefully a good conversation for a forum and not distressing to the many?

I intend no arguement or row.

Do wonder that the aggressor should bear most blame for much.

If not for the circumstance and the regime, many would have concuded different lives.

If the World can learn from the past, hopefully there may be a better future.


happy daze john in oz
25th November 2010, 05:07 AM
Roger in no way was I offended by your comments, I was just pointing out that we all still have the right to freedom of speech. Even if I did disagree with you I would stuill defend your right to expess without fear or favour your thoughts and comments.

Les Woodard
25th November 2010, 06:21 AM
Roger please do not take my title of dummy spitting away. I agree with all that you say as those sub mariners had a horrific short life span for most of them. I am of the view that there where a lot of cowardly acts done in the name of war and still goes on to this day. There was enormous loss of life and we still have not learnt from it. Not only did we have loss from them but also from our friends as well. One of my pet grievances is when ever there are ceremony''s for the fallen both past and present and those in power get all the media attention even when we know it is because of them that we ended up at war. Who is the first to deny that today's wars are not financially, politically and religiously based by a select few in power. This argument will carry on for years to come it will only be the dates that change. As an aside would you call it a cowardly act to drop atomic bombs on populated cities as happened WW11

alf corbyn
25th November 2010, 09:30 AM
my only comment is!! They started the war not us. alf

Neville Roberts
25th November 2010, 02:08 PM
:eek:everyone who has replied too this post should look at the movie (DAS BOOT ) its a german perspective of the sub war , and an anti war movie . best watched in a dark room too get the full afect of the confinement of the sub living in a metal tube for weeks on end :eek:

Duke Drennan
25th November 2010, 03:27 PM
I have it Nev, an excellent, if not, classic movie. Erich Raeder's autobiography is also well worth a read.

Keith at Tregenna
25th November 2010, 07:17 PM
Interesting reading alll on ths thread of Cowardly Warfare, possibly all wars may be cowardly, with many brave acts? who knows! Interested K.

Lou Barron
29th November 2010, 01:10 AM
yes les dropping the atomic bomb is a very debateble point but from my point it was a good thing it not only saved a countless lot of lives but i would not be hrer today and so would a lot of prisoners of war as the japs was getting ready for the allies to invade singapore they told us they would not surrender and would kill us all but anyhow i doubt that we could not have lasted very much longer

Les Woodard
29th November 2010, 03:39 AM
I agree with your sentiments Charles and the only winners you must admit for the outcome of wars are those that furthered their political and/or finances. An interesting point that I often contemplate is that German's where taken to task over their actions not only towards Jews but also POW's yet Japan I have yet to hear of facing the same courts of law over their actions. Makes one think as to who's benefit was it to take the soft option on this. I know that I was taught during my childhood to hate the German's and have since found that I missed out on finding really decent people since realising how we was manipulated by the politics and media of the day. I would go as far to say that there where Hero's and Cowards from all sides of the war's and still today it carries on. To get to the crux of the matter we have never learnt from past events as we still carry on doing it and send our youngest and dearest out there while we sit back and make medals and flags for their return one way or the other. All on account of those in power being unable to do the job that they are elected to do and that is to maintain a decent and peaceful outcome in potential conflicts.

happy daze john in oz
29th November 2010, 05:18 AM
I have often wondered how the world would have viewed Germany after the war had they not higlighted the Jews for total anialation. There were no such war crimes commissions after WW1 as far as I am aware. It does appear on the face of it that Japan got away a bit lightly when it came to punishment for war crimes but that may be as a result of the two bombs. Did the Americans and others think maybe they had suffered enough?

Louis the Amigo
30th November 2010, 12:28 PM
hi Keith my barry buddy, hi shipmates,Ref Cowardly warfare? "The Wolf packs that prey on our merchant navy in world war two, at the begining had it they way' but not for long !!! Donitz u boats as one of they Captains Kurt Baberg said Those who did not share our hardship will never know the strenght of bond which tie us together.The nature of the U-Boat warfare means that everyman has to have complete confidence in his fellow crew man, for the life of every man on board might depend at some point on any other individual memeber of the crew .An average of 48 men on a type vii ate slept and socialize in a tiny dark smelly steel tube in appalling weather in the North Alantic sometimes for months at a time??? Qoute winston Churchill The only that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-Boat Peril The germany crews were at the start , were volunteers' with techincal background not seamen just 17 to 23ysr ld Any one who was a submariner{ both sides} were heroes 70% + of german crews were lost at sea.

Keith at Tregenna
30th November 2010, 06:25 PM
Hello Louis my Amigo,

Long time since chatting!

Quite a long time ago, I wrote a piece on the UBoat personnel, it was based on what I had learned and knew, cannot say it was overly sympathetic and explained the devestation on family here at home etc and further tried to explain that these German crews also had parents, wives, loved ones etc.

I think I mentioned the conditions etc and my thoughts then on the loss of any life. I possibly released it to some and asked for comments and recieved a mixed bag.

I think I scrapped the idea of posting further as most recieved was delicate.

I respect your title: War is hell and no one is the winner

When I post anything, I tend to attempt not to be controversial or upset any apple cart. I tend hopefully to also put points for and against, that may in a forum assist the flow of the chat, but most importantly invite more reply and knowledge, that I / we all may learn more, rather than any form of antoganisation.

I do hope all that is penned by me may be accepted as it is meant.RE: The Wolf Packs the actions took hard effect within my family and countless others, I can say I am not overly impressed, but again do give much thought to all others.

Fortunately, I have not been in a situation where I have experienced actual murder and do see much as that, also I do understand it was war not a picnic. In a way I was raised with a forgiving nature and do have modern German friends but probably have some mixed and dubious feelings deep down of then and the regime.

I may have mentioned before that I do learn much from history and believe in twice bitten once shy. Hopefully, we have learned enough from the past not to let it happen again. But who really knows what comes next?

I do appreciate all replies response to the post Cowardly Warefare and hope from me in my writings, I may not have pursued any mention of Cowardly Men.

I will end and hope that all content is as said taken in the context that it is meant.


Lou Barron
1st December 2010, 12:58 AM
hi les you are dead right the japs did get away with a lot after the war but thats a long time ago and after all they ate no winners in a war lou barron

Ron Deegan
1st December 2010, 01:30 AM
Yesterday i saw a tv prog that stated that rn and usn subs sank eiight million tons of jap ships!!

Donald (Dan) Tarrel
5th December 2010, 11:48 PM
Spare me the sobs of outrage over the fire bombing of Dresden!! Have you forgotten Coventry,the Clydebank, and the Blitz of London ??? You can be very sure that I have not!!!

len mazza
6th December 2010, 02:31 AM
From memory Dresden was relitvely undefended,same as Bath was when it was attacked.that I think is what causes the controversy.


Ivan Cloherty
6th December 2010, 10:10 AM
From memory Dresden was relitvely undefended,same as Bath was when it was attacked.that I think is what causes the controversy.


I agree with Hiltonladdie, spare the outrage over Dresden, having been bombed out three times during the war I hold little sympathy for the crocodile tears over Dresden. Dresden had plenty of time during the progress of the war to defend the city by preparing installations, more time than London or Coventry were ever given and from records (rather than memory) shows that it had anti aircraft installations.

Yes we all feel sorry for the citizens of Dresden but they only suffered what their own German leaders had started " ye shall reap what ye sow" wasn't only meant in an agricultural sense.

War as always has no respect for the innocent, we are all collateral damage and just numbers on a political gameboard, part of lifes tapestry


7th December 2010, 03:56 PM
A good example of random bombing of civilians were the Baedeker raids, where the target for a bombing raid were picked from a holiday brochure.

Keith at Tregenna
7th December 2010, 05:37 PM
Although I learn much and by chance posted initially from a suggestion am pleased that as a forum all content either way is being discussed, I doubt if we can satisfy all and all are welcomed, my own feelings and thougthts are mixed. As said before my problem is with those then and a regime that would have done so much more harm.

Unfortunately, some actions in defence, saw the loss of many, but saved so many more from all sides?


Keith at Tregenna
9th December 2010, 05:23 PM
'Twas the night before Christmas': To long to really add here, I attach a copy of a version of the festive poem. Guess it was sent to me anom with a view to me posting, hence I am, this not to add any fuel to debate either way, but does make you think of the human side more at this time of year.


The Christmas Truce -
When Men Said No To War

On Christmas Day, 1914, in the first year of World War I, German, British, and French soldiers disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with "the enemy" along two-thirds of the Western Front. German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, "Merry Christmas." "You no shoot, we no shoot." Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man's land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang Chrismas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.

There is both a human and humane element in war, as said before I am not overly fond of the leaders and regime of the times.

Merry Christmas all.


Don Rafferty
9th December 2010, 05:36 PM
I'm too young to have had a direct experience of war, but my father certainly wasn't.

He was full of praise for the German doctor who bandaged his broken foot so he could march across Germany to a POW camp in Poland. He was less praiseworthy for the German soldier who broke it with a rifle butt!!

Keith at Tregenna
9th December 2010, 05:57 PM
My Great grandfather perished the day before Christmas 1917.

The SS Daybreak was sunk as a result of a torpedo fired without warning by a
German submarine on Christmas Eve 1917 near South Rock Lightship, Strangford Lough, off
the Ards Peninsula, Co Down.

Although a British ship registered in West Hartlepool on the North East coast of England, she
was defensively armed due to the state of hostilities and actually survived a U-boat attack in
the Arctic Ocean on November 1, 1916.

An eye witness, John Bailie of Newcastle, a boat contractor attending the South Rock Lightship, recalled the loss of the steamer one mile east. “I remember being on the South Rock as a temporary for 2/6 a day, feed yourself. On Christmas Eve 1917 at about midday, the Daybreak, loaded with maize, was torpedoed and 21 were lost. Her nose was cut clean off. It happened so quick her propeller was going round in the air as she sank. You talk about explosions, boilers were bursting one after another”.

On Christmas Day, the same U-boat 87 attacked a convoy in the Irish Sea but sank after being rammed by the sloop HMS Buttercup and British patrol boat PC56. All of its 44 crew perished.

A small tribute at:



9th December 2010, 08:08 PM
Aye,he was cheerfulness personified was oor Rabbie!
Many a Scottish Chief Engineer I sailed with reminded me of him.......

Och Aye...........

Keith at Tregenna
9th December 2010, 09:42 PM
A Carol from Flanders

by Frederick Niven (1878-1944)

A Scottish Poet

This poem recounts the story of the spontaneous 1914 Christmas truce
along the lines of the Western front.


In Flanders on the Christmas morn
The trenched foemen lay,
the German and the Briton born,
And it was Christmas Day.

The red sun rose on fields accurst,
The gray fog fled away;
But neither cared to fire the first,
For it was Christmas Day!

They called from each to each across
The hideous disarray,
For terrible has been their loss:
"Oh, this is Christmas Day!"

Their rifles all they set aside,
One impulse to obey;
'Twas just the men on either side,
Just men — and Christmas Day.

They dug the graves for all their dead
And over them did pray:
And Englishmen and Germans said:
"How strange a Christmas Day!"

Between the trenches then they met,
Shook hands, and e'en did play
At games on which their hearts were set
On happy Christmas Day.

Not all the emperors and kings,
Financiers and they
Who rule us could prevent these things —
For it was Christmas Day.

Oh ye who read this truthful rime
From Flanders, kneel and say:
God speed the time when every day
Shall be as Christmas Day.

Note: For up to two days, the guns of war fell silent as men who had been enemies only hours before, after defying officers, laid down their weapons to sing carols, exchange gifts, mementos, and traditions — and to bury the dead.

See also: http://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9508


Keith at Tregenna
10th December 2010, 12:09 AM
IN some areas the truce continued until January 10, but it couldn't last. At its simplest it was a triumph of the human spirit, when the ordinary soldier called off the conflict for Christmas, when the will for peace prevailed over the might of war. In the year that followed, poisonous gas was introduced, Zeppelins bombed London and one of the first U-boats sank the Lusitania.

When Christmas came there were numerous orders forbidding fraternisation. There was no truce in 1916 and a heavy military bombardment ensured no-one attempted one.

By 1917 friendly meetings were unthinkable. By 1918 the Armistice had been signed and the memory of the Christmas truce of 1914 slipped into legend, a moment from the forgotten golden age when even the participants suspected it never happened.

But it did happen - when man's fundamental decency surfaced briefly in the midst of hell - and should never be forgotten.

Neil Griffiths press officer of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

Source: Edinburgh News

"Mans Inhumanity to Man" may never be as severe without leaders and regimes?

I have not got any answers, still many questions!

I learn as I hope our world will.


happy daze john in oz
10th December 2010, 05:20 AM
There is a story I was told many years ago about war on the Western front and how Boxing day is supposed to have got the name. The story goes that after the first Christmas when both sides held a day of truce the King proclaimed that the following year all soldiers on the front were to recieve a parcel from the state. It was to contain tobbaco, chocolate, soap, socks and a few other bits and was to arrive in time to be distributed on Chritsmas day. The boxes were made up by the Red CRoss and duly sent, however rough weather in the chanel made the ship arrive late and the packages did not arrive at the front until december 26th. On return to U.K. soldiers spoke of the box they recieved from the King on Decmber 26th and it thought this gave the day it's name. After the war December 26th was declared as a public holliday and is only now celebrated by countries that were members of the commonwealth at that time.

Keith at Tregenna
14th December 2010, 12:35 AM
The Open Boat

When this 'ere war is done (says Dan) an' all the fighting's through,
There's some will pal with Fritz again as they've been used to do . . .
But not me (says Dan the sailorman), not me (says he) —
Lord knows it's nippy in an open boat on winter nights at sea!'

'When the last battle's lost and won, an' won or lost the game,
There 's some'll think no 'arm to drink with square-'eads just the same,
But not me (says Dan the sailorman), an' if you ask me why,
Lord knows it's thirsty in an open boat when the water breaker's dry.'

'When all the bloomin' mines are swep' an' ships are sunk no more,
There's some'll set 'em down to eat with Germans as before;
But not me (says Dan the sailorman), not me, for one, —
Lord knows it's 'ungry in an open boat when the last biscuit's done.'

'When peace is signed an' treaties made an' trade begins again,
There's some'll shake a German's 'and an' never see the stain,
But not me (says Dan the sailorman), not me, as God's on high, —
Lord knows it's bitter in an open boat to see your shipmates die . . .'

From RHYMES OF THE RED ENSIGN, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK, © 1919, p. 21-22; First published in Punch Magazine, Volume 154, February 20, 1918, p. 126.



Dennis McGuckin
14th December 2010, 03:48 PM
Great one Keith.
Add that on to my collection.

Donald (Dan) Tarrel
1st January 2011, 08:45 PM
It is worth noting that 70-80% of U-boat crews did not return from their missions. Undoubtedly, the German people believed them to be heroes.
Our bombing campaigns of innocents in Dresden was nothing to be proud of.

hi Drennan: no it may have been nothing to be proud of in your opinion ,but remember the London Blitz,the fire bombing of Coventry, and the bombing of the Clyde Bank!!! When I think of that in terms of the whole war it was the rule "Live by the sword,Die by the sword" as the Germans were given a full dose of their own medicine. As to the U-Boaters and our allied submariners,no one can honestly call them cowards,in fact ,theirs and ours, with their casualty rates , were surely as brave as any sailor. We lost three family members at sea ,two by U-boat torpedoes and one by Junkers bombers. I don't regard any of the attackers as less brave than my own family, not for a minute do I !!! That said I do regard the Nazis as racist nutbars who caused an unneccesary world war and they reaped in full measure that which they sowed!!

"They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind", which in turn comes from the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible. It was famously used by Bomber Harris in response to the Blitz of 1940.

Keith at Tregenna
9th January 2011, 12:55 AM
Catch up TV

Just caught up with the 3rd part of LACONIA, The documentary, so differing from the TV programme 1 and part 2.

Hopefully, apart from the technical side many more may be, at least more aware.


Captain Kong
9th January 2011, 04:43 PM
Our bombing campaigns of innocents in Dresden was nothing to be proud of.
Duke Drennan R809731

Hi Duke,
my Mother was blown up in the May blitz and many others around her, was she not an innocent???

WW 2 IN 8 DAYS OF BOMBING in the May 1941, Blitz, 1;746 Merseysiders were killed-1453 in Liverpool-and 1154 seriously injured. More than 41000 people were found ...
www.old-merseytimes.co.uk/WW11.html - Cached - Similar

The Germans started the Blitz we finished it, They should stop whinging. "Cie la Guerre" as the French say.
Brian R576086

Duke Drennan
9th January 2011, 05:32 PM
Captain, my comments on the Dresden bombings was in no way meant to undermine the bombings of cities in the UK or offend anyone. Irrespective of who started it, the acts themselves were grossly inhumane. I cannot even begin to empathize with those that lost loved ones, only those that suffered the losses know what it really feels like. I was merely pointing out that both sides commited horrendous acts of brutality. My only comment on the U boats was that I didn't consider them to be carrying out cowardly acts. The crews, just as with our forces, had no choice, they carried out their orders without question.

Keith at Tregenna
9th January 2011, 06:26 PM
I just wanted to say that this can possibly be a delicate topic and there are several schools of thought, I expected no real answers, but hoped and got much response for and against. This in a gentlemanly and friendly way. I appreciate all and have learned much without all degenerating. I can only commend all concerned for what has been an interesting discussion. I have certainly learned much.

I still could not see my relatives thinking as they were torpedoed any good thoughts of the enemy that killed them, or the family on recieving the news or even many others that would still condemn all. Yet, I point any blame more on the regime, the leaders and those orders.

Although I appreciate there is much good and bad in the world, I would not overly be best pleased with the crews, celebrating killing my kin in the so called "Happy Time", I am not anti German in anyway, but definately anti Nazi.

Guess the opposite of Cowardly is Bravery and I see the unarmed (generally) Merchant Seaman the hero.

In the main the thoughts of many may differ greatly, but thank you all for sharing those thoughts, like many today I was not there, I learn much by asking. I have no interest in adding fuel to fire or provoking, just to learn more.

Thank you all.


Captain Kong
9th January 2011, 08:13 PM
Hi Duke, I can appreciate what you mean, but sometimes a lot of people still do critisize Britain for bombing Dresden and at the same time they do not condemn the Germans for the Blitz, again against unarmed innocent civilians.After all they started the war against the civilian population with the blitz.
They had a lot of practice before the war during the Spanish civil war when they bombed many Spanish cities killing many thousands of Spanish civilians on behalf of Franco.

Duke Drennan
9th January 2011, 09:08 PM
"a lot of practice before the war during the Spanish civil war"
Exactly Brian, that's why they participated in that war. Anyway, as Keith say's, there are differing and similar opinions and voicing them is OK as long as no-one is offended by them. After all, they are opinions. Thanks to all for their understanding and keeping the banter civil. Just like the the messroom, eh !! Those were the days.

Captain Kong
9th January 2011, 10:12 PM
Cheers Duke, I guess we have had our say, nothing we say can change history, Maybe only the future, with a little bit of luck.

happy daze john in oz
10th January 2011, 04:54 AM
Wish that were true captain, but wars since the second world war have produced more attrocities than we could vever imagine. The attack on the jews almost pales into insignificance when you look at some of the ethnic cleansing thta has gone on in recent years. Pol Pot, Kosova, Dudan,Idi Amin to mention a few. No captain we have not learned.

Duke Drennan
10th January 2011, 10:34 PM
"Ethnic Cleansing", the term almost lends an air of legitimacy to murder in the name of power and greed, at times veiled by religous beliefs. It's a sick world we live in today.