30 April 2016

The Sinking of the Laconia - A Tragedy in the Battle of the Atlantic

This book tells one of the most exciting and heroic stories of the Battle of the Atlantic, yet it is one which is unjustly neglected by naval historians.

In September 1942 the Laconia, built in 1922 as a cruise liner but requisitioned by the Admiralty as a troop carrier, was torpedoed and sunk in the shark-infested South Atlantic while carrying over 2,700 people, including 1,800 Italian prisoners of war and 80 civilian passengers. The U-Boat Commander responsible, Werner Hartenstein, immediately launched a major rescue attempt, turning the U-156 into a hospital ship and exposing her to great danger. The Germans sent two further U-Boats to help, the U-506 and U-507. The Italians sent another submarine, the Cappellini. The French sent three warships, the Gloire, Ammanite and Dumont-d'Urville. The British could do nothing, and the Americans, in the fog of war, twice attacked the rescuers with a Liberator bomber.

After the attacks, the U-Boats did their best to continue their mission, taking survivors to the rendezvous point with the French ships, but Admiral Dรถnitz then issued the 'Laconia Order', forbidding his submarines carrying out further rescue attempts. This was a major turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic and in the general history of sea warfare, for the Laconia Order has since been standard practice in submarine attack. 

In all, nearly 2000 people lost their lives in the Laconia incident, victims of torpedoes, sharks, struggles to get into the lifeboats, bombs or thirst. Two lifeboats were missed by the rescuers. They drifted slowly towards Africa, most of their passengers dying en route. One survivor, Doris Hawkins, wrote a graphic contemporary account of this journey, most of which is included in The Sinking of the Laconia.

This book is constructed from survivor's own stories, contemporary accounts and official documents and includes much hitherto unpublished detail about the ship and her tragic fate.

Available from:
Paul Watkins Publishing

25 April 2016

Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov - World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond.

Attorney and author Larry Loftis examines international spy and double agent Dusko Popov’s life in Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov: World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond.

Dusko Popov had a storied past, starting with his expulsion from prep school as a young man. Years later he was arrested and banished from Germany for making derogatory statements about the Third Reich. And when World War II ensued, Popov became a spy, eventually serving three networks as a double agent: the German Abwehr, the British MI5 and MI6, and the US FBI. He also had a reputation for living an extravagant lifestyle and cavorting with lots of beautiful women.

On August 10, 1941, the Abwehr sent Popov to the United States to construct a spy network and, specifically, to gather information on the defense installations at Pearl Harbor. What they didn’t
know was that Popov was actually working as a double agent for the British.  Upon arrival in New York, Popov contacted the FBI and warned them that the Germans wanted this information on behalf  of Japan, and that an attack was imminent.  The FBI ignored this, and then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who did not trust him, succeeded in blowing his cover.  While MI5 desperately needed Popov to deceive the Abwehr about the D-Day invasion, they assured him that a return to the German Secret Service Headquarters in Lisbon would result in torture and execution. He went anyway.

Into the Lion's Mouth is the account of one man’s globe-trotting entanglement with espionage, murder, assassins, and lovers - including enemy spies and a Hollywood starlet. It is a story of subterfuge, seduction, patriotism, and courage - themes that Ian Fleming would incorporate into the tales involving his iconic hero, James Bond.

Find out more at the Author's website - www.larryloftis.com

Available from:
Penguin Random House

21 April 2016

Letter from Frank: An Unlikely Second World War Friendship

On the last day of the Second World War, Frank and Russ fought each other. In the days after, they became friends.

This is the remarkable tale of a long-forgotten letter. It was written from Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War to a Canadian in a peaceful Southern Ontario town. Both had been soldiers and had met on a German battlefield. The letter lay unseen for years and was found by the Canadian’s son long after the old soldier’s death. This book tells how that faded letter led to the discovery of the one-time German paratrooper who became his father’s friend in the immediate aftermath of the war.

A Letter from Frank is part war story and part biography, following the lives of Russ Colombo, the Canadian soldier, and Frank Sikora, the German paratrooper. One grew up during the Depression in Ontario, the other was a German in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. This non-fiction narrative also chronicles author Stephen J. Colombo’s struggle to come to terms with a father haunted by the war.

Their recollections provide insights into the events that shaped the generations that forged a modern Canada and rebuilt Germany after its near-total devastation. In a surprising twist, this book also provides previously unknown historical details of later NHL president Clarence Campbell at war (Campbell was Russ Colombo’s commanding officer).

Available from:
Dundurn Books