Sunday, May 26, 2013

Patrick Bishop's "The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship"

Patrick Bishop was born in London and went to Wimbledon College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Before joining the Telegraph he worked on the Evening Standard, the Observer and the Sunday Times and in television as a reporter on Channel Four News. He is the author with John Witherow of Battle for the Falklands based on their own experiences and with Eamon Mallie of The Provisional IRA which was praised as the first authoritative account of the modern IRA. He also wrote a memoir of the first Gulf War, Famous Victory and a history of the Irish diaspora The Irish Empire, based on the TV series which he devised.

Bishop applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, The Hunt for Hitler’s Warship, and reported the following:
My book would probably fail the page 99 test as it describes what was essentially a sideshow in the Tirpitz story. It rounds off the chapter telling the story of the commando raid in 1942 on the French Atlantic port of St Nazaire. Tirpitz was not in the harbour at the time. The operation which cost the lives of 169 of the 611 men who took part was mounted to destroy the giant dry dock there just in case Tirpitz ever decided to put in there for repairs. As she was now tucked snugly inside a fjord in Norway with every appearance of staying there for the duration, this seemed rather unlikely. However the episode was an example of the spell that Tirpitz cast over the Allied planners, and demonstrated the lengths they were prepared to go to destroy her or at least thwart her. As such it supports one of the themes of the book. As well as telling the many amazing stories of the many attacks on the battleship, I am endeavouring to say something about the peculiar dynamics of war when logic often flies out of the window to be replaced by more basic and atavistic considerations. The commandos lives would have been better spent trying to sabotage the submarine berths from where U-boats sallied out to lay waste to the Atlantic convoys.

I write:
The St Nazaire raid demonstrated imagination and cunning, great intelligence in the way that difficulties were foreseen and overcome, patience and thoroughness in the preparations and ruthless determination to see the plan through. The question was whether the target was worth it. As far as the Germans were concerned the [dry] dock was of secondary value. Their chief concern was the submarine pens, and on the morning of 28 March they stood unscathed.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Bishop's website.

--Marshal Zeringue