Above us the Waves: The Story of Midget Submarines and Human Torpedoes

Above us the Waves: The Story of Midget Submarines and Human Torpedoes

by James Benson, C E T Warren


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It was the Italians who pioneered the use of two-man human torpedoes or ‘chariots’, and their attacks on ships of the Royal Navy in Alexandria Harbour in 1941 caused Winston Churchill to write to the Chief of Staffs committee to enquire what was being done to emulate these daring attacks. The result was the development of British ‘chariots’ which were regarded as stop-gaps until the X-craft or midget submarines could be deployed.

The book is divided into five parts. The first covers the development, training, growing pains and the attempt on the Tirpitz, the second and third to Mediterranean and Norwegian operations, while the fourth deals with the coast of Fortress Europe and the Normandy Beaches. Part Five considers the special preparations for the Far East and the exploits achieved in the fight against the Japanese. There are several appendices and an index to complete an absorbing record of a novel and important innovation in warfare.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844154401
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 10/06/2007
Series: Pen and Sword Military Classics Series , #77
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

The authors both served in the special submarine branch about which they write; C E T Warren was one of the first two men to ride a human torpedo. James Benson commanded the last midget submarine in commission off British shores at the conclusion of European hostilities.

Table of Contents

Home Waters
Safely in Harbour     15
An Idea takes Shape     20
Scotland and Portsmouth     25
Depot-ship Number One     31
The First X-craft     45
Attempt upon Tirpitz     49
Progress of Arthur     56
"We walked across Norway"     65
The Mediterranean
To Malta     74
First Blood     77
"Great Guys in Rome"     84
Tripoli     94
Sicily     104
The Shore-bases     109
Depot-ship Number Two     115
Success in the North     122
Tail-clutch     140
Practice and Theory     150
Bergen     158
The Coast of Europe
No Better Charioteers     171
Sailors Ashore     182
D-Day: First Across     195
The Far East
Depot-ship Number Three     202
Preparations at Home     209
America and Australia     215
"Little Guys with a Lotta Guts"     220
Hong Kong: Saigon     228
Paying off     234
Historical Background     240
Awards     242
In Memoriam     245
Glossary     246
Index     248

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