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Posted on Jul 14, 2011 in Armchair Reading

September 2011 Mailbag on the Web

By Armchair General

Envelope submitted by David Brackney of Buckeye, Arizona.

Envelope art sent in by a reader.

* * *

– A comment posted at

I am very ill-at-ease to see the German submariners praised as “Great Warriors” in the July 2011 issue by Jerry D. Morelock. The article comments on their suffering, endurance, effectiveness and their casualties in a tone that sounds a lot like admiration and to me.

Few of history’s Great Warriors have endured worse fighting conditions and heavier losses than did the U-boat crewmen of World War II.”


What the article completely forgets to mention is that these men targeted civilian shipping indiscriminately and almost never made any effort to help the crews of their victims if they were lucky enough to get to the life boats. (Later in the war Dönitz would expressly forbid them to do so.) Their operational doctrine pretty much amounted to: “be cruel to the weak and cowardly towards anyone who can fight back” – the exact opposite of any decent warrior’s ethos. Neither does the article mention the purpose of what they were doing: to starve Britain into submission to the Nazi regime. They served this horrid purpose with skill, dedication and enthusiasm. There was almost always cheering when they successfully sunk a civilian craft – cheering at civilians dying and suffering.

In my opinion you disqualify yourself as a Great Warrior when you serve such a blatant evil as the Nazi regime. There is nothing good or laudable in that they did so enthusiastically, skillfully and with great endurance – it only makes them more effective in their evil. There is nothing admirable and certainly nothing great in being effective in evil.


  1. First of all: Nice Envelope!! Did you draw that yourself?

    Now, you do have good points regarding the questionable pratices of the U-Boat Crewmen, but I personally consider them great warriors.

    I ask you this question: wouldn’t your reasoning imply that the allied bomber crews were not great warriors because they bombed population centers? Not to justify ether act, they were both horrible things to do, but the efforts of both the Uboat Crews and the Bomber crews qualify them for great warriors due to thier enduring of horrible conditions, and the critical contributions they made to the war effort for thier respective countires.

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  2. Also, not all German servicemen in WWII were fully commited to the Nazi cause. Many fought for Germany itself, not Hitler. One noteable example is the great Erwin Rommel. You should also look at the article: Who Really Sank The Bismarck? in the March 2011 issue which further supports my point.

  3. If you are going to vilify the U-Boat men, then, perhaps you really need to examine the US navy’s Submarine Service in the Pacific…particularly after 1943, when they’d resolved the defective torpedo issues. It would seem the same things could be said for our guys as well, particularly with the merchant fleet (The ships with the suffix “Maru”) of the Empire of Japan. Many fewer of those Japanese sailors survived. Personally, as a former sailor in the US Navy, I can only describe the courage of any Submarine sailor, theirs or ours, as “Great Warriors”. Let’s see how well YOU would hold up to 24-48 hours of depth charge attack. Rotsa Ruck, Chollie!!!

  4. Congratulations to Edward Miller on “The Battle of Singling ” study. You could smell the tank exhaust, main gun cordite and blood and gore on that one.
    Two Questions.
    1. I don’t understand why Capt Jimmy Leach would deploy the 105mm gunned M-4 down with his 75 mm M-4s in the village. Given that the role of that tank was to provide indirect fire support to armor units with its M-2 105mm howitzer, it was artillery manned, and incapabe of defeating much in terms of enemy panzers by way of direct fire and its slow moving round. Explanation?

    2. The Armored Infantry in Armored Divisions rode to and sometimes in battle on half tracks. Why did LT Belden put his 42 riflemen (3 x wayyy understrength platoons) in exposed posaitions on the tanks, and leave his tracks, with their better protection and 50 cal MG behind?
    NOTE. I understand that he probably converted the mortarmen and machine gunners of his weapons platoon into rifflemen given the essentially combat ineffective strength of his rifle company.
    Wayne Long, COL, USA (ret)
    909 Auckland Way / (443) 249-3583

    • Wayne, There is a lot to be desired with this article. The errors with just the ID of the tanks pictured leaves a person of knowledge to question the entire write up. It seems to be written with poor imformation and/or understanding of that imformation. I produce scale models of the WWII era, and its is right or its wrong, there is no mabe. The same holds true for history, it is true or it is someones idea of what is true. I find the article to be very poorly written and researched. Paul

  5. German U Boat Crews as valient Warriors.
    1. Adm Doenitz ordered Uboats not to help survivors in the water after two boats surfaced following a sinking, declared their position to the Brits, and took survivors on board while surfaced, waiting for Brit rescue. Why? Because our British cousins promptly bombed both the boats and the survivors once the Germans had openly announced their position.
    2. After the War, Doenitz was cleared of all charges of crimes against humanity at sea based on testimony of his American and British foes – he fought a clean war.
    3. The machine gunning of survivors was a Japanese trick, not German. That’s a Hollywood myth. It happened everytime the Japanese sank a merchant. It happened once with a German sub, and the skipper was both condemned by Doenitz, and tried for his crime after the war.
    4. Oh by the way, American sub skippers machine gunned survivors of Japanese sinkings by the dozens – many skippers.
    4. As for sinking commercial ships without warning, every nation with a sub force in that war did that – US, Brits, Soviets, Germans, Italians, and Japanese.
    So bottom line, like it or not, maybe the Germans fought the cleanest fight in the sub wars of WWII.
    Wayne Long
    909 Auckland Way
    Chester, MD 21619

  6. Hey guys, get it right. The Sept issue has errors that are important to history people like me. Page 22 and 23, these are not M4 Shermans. They are either M4A3(75)W or possible M4A3(76)W Shermans. Best chance they are the M4A3(75)W which is a late model Sherman with 75mm gun, wet ammo storage, 47 degree front, large hull hatch, late turret with raised bussel and with the loaders hatch. The picture of Abram’s tank on page 27 is a M4A3(76)W with early 76mm gun turret having a split-hatch for the loader and a gun barrel without a sleeve thread protector on the end. The M4A3 was powered by a Ford V-8, The M4 (and M4A1) was powered by an air-cooled radial (aircraft) engine, under normal conditions they would not be found in the same company because of maintence, ie parts, etc, differences. The Sherman was built in six different models,… M4, M4A1, M4A2, M4A3, M4A4, M4A6. To lump them all together as a M4 short changes true history. Keep up the good work.

  7. I really enjoy your magazene and been reading it and WW2 for 10 years. I have not seen any stories on the Vient nam war in either of the two magazenes. I was wondering why??