Periscope View, George Simpson

Periscope View, George Simpson

George Simpson was the commander of the 10th Submarine Flotilla based at Malta from 1941 until 1943, a period that included the worst of the Malta Blitz and the most effective phase of the German and Italian blockade of the island.

Simpson is a very engaging author, never afraid to make controversial statements. He was particularly angry about the overall British strategy on Malta, which he believed exposed the island unnecessarily to heavy air attack at a time when a large number of fighter squadrons were available in Britain while the Luftwaffe was pinned down in the Soviet Union. Whether his opinions are entirely valid is another issue, but it is refreshing to read a memoir from a senior officer that is so honest (this starts from the very beginning - his views on the First World War navy were very unflattering).

The 10th Submarine Flotilla had a very impressive track-record, accounting for 648,629 tons of Axis shipping sunk and another 400,480 damaged, a total of 1,049,109 tons out of an Allied total of 2,600,000. This success came at a heavy cost, Simpson's flotilla losing half of its submarines, but it played a crucial role in preventing supplies from reaching Rommel in North Africa.

Simpson's account helps to explain how his men maintained their morale and high level of performance while under such intense pressure, and provides a fascinating and invaluable look at an often under-appreciated aspect of the British war effort in the Mediterranean - if Malta was an unsinkable aircraft carrier it was even more an ideally placed naval base, and Simpson's submarines its most effective offensive weapon.

Author: George Simpson
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 315
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2010 edition of 1972 original


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