Originally published as a classified Battle Summary, Hitler’s Ghost Ships is a unique record written by naval officers during World War II, and soon after 1945. Stamped restricted as classified texts and held at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, South West England. These historical accounts also contain naval maps, plans and first-hand accounts. A substantial contemporary introduction by a naval historian and foreword written by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, a naval veteran of the highest order, provides new insights. Hitler’s Ghost Ships explores the use of disguised Auxiliary cruisers that could sidle up to merchant vessels undetected as they were flying a neutral flag, similar to 17th century pirate ships. The German Navy used disguise in attempting to oust the British fleet and isolate island Britain. The war mission of the German surface fleet included keeping the Royal Navy out of the Baltic, with the primary task of German submarines being to strangle Britain’s imports of food and war materials. From the German pocket battleship Graf Spee to the battlecruiser Scharnhorst, key units were sent into action. The major warships were supported by a fleet of auxiliary cruisers. These were merchant ships which retained their outward appearance but were fitted with heavy armament. Disguised as innocent trade vessels, they would approach Allied merchant ships sailing alone, then reveal their true identity. Hitler’s Ghost Ships unites three of the original Battle Summaries compiled by the Royal Navy in one volume, containing, word-for-word, the operations against Hitler’s commerce raiders, specifically: Battle of the River Plate the destruction of the Graf Spee, 1939 Operations against Disguised Enemy Raiders – 1940 1941 Battle of North Cape the sinking of the Scharnhorst, 1943.
HITLER’S GHOST SHIPS Graf Spee, Scharnhorst and Disguised German Raiders
One of a Scholarly series of previously restricted and classified documents, Bennett, expertly guides the reader through a level of detail that does not appear in post-war accounts, putting the summary in context. “Ghost Ships” were disguised Auxiliary cruisers that could sidle up to merchant vessels undetected as they were flying a neutral flag, similar to 17th century pirate ships.