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Diary of a U-Boat Commander

Sir Stephen King-Hall

Book Overview: 

Captain Karl von Schenk of the Kaiser’s Navy is a stereotypical German nobleman – supremely self-confident, touchy about the divisions of class and any infringement on his place. He thinks he is handsome, has a suitably manly physique, an excellent singing voice, and a facility with writing. His wartime service related in his diary is a series of triumphs over harrowing circumstances, bringing his boat back in spite of the best efforts of the Royal Navy to stop him.

His one vulnerability is a young lady he meets on leave in Bruges, Belgium. Although she is the trophy girlfriend of a German colonel who could cause him much harm if he were to find out, von Schenk pursues his Zoe with Teutonic straightforwardness. And both he and the reader are entirely blind-sided by the unexpected thunderclap that puts an end to the sweet affair.

Stephen King-Hall, a Royal Navy officer during the war and writing as “Etienne”, penned this book as if he had simply discovered it on a surrendered submarine. In fact, some editions of the book list the author as “anonymous.” King-Hall’s knowledge of naval affairs lend authority to this yarn of men that go to the sea in ships that sink… on purpose.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .hat the land was obscured was favourable from the point of view that we were not worried by coast watchers, but unfavourable from the standpoint that we were unable to take bearings of anything and so ascertain our exact position.

The importance of this point in submarine mine-laying is obvious, for, owing to our small cargo of eggs, it is quite possible that we may be sent here again, to lay an adjacent field, in which case it is highly desirable to know the exact position of one's previous effort.

We were somewhat assisted in our efforts to locate ourselves by the fact that a seven-fathom patch existed exactly where we had to lay. We picked up the edge of this bank with our sounding machine, and steering north half a mile, laid our mines in latitude--No! on second thoughts I will omit the precise position, for, though I shall take every precaution, there is no saying that through some misfort. . . Read More

Community Reviews

No one seems to know if this story is fact or fabrication. No one knows if its fiction or not. Check out the literature surrounding it--no clues. Check out all the reviews--no certainty. The author is sometimes listed as Karl von Schenk, the captain of said U-boat, and sometimes as William Stephen R

Is it a true story or fiction? No one seems to know. But for me, the question was quickly lost as I entered into the world of an arrogant young U-Boat commander fighting for the Germans in World War One.

At the start of the book we see a headstrong almost narcissistic man who is ready to die for the

An underwater experience as documented by a German U-Boat Commander. Very heartwarming yet an underlying tragic, true story of love and the miseries of war.

Being the diary of a World War One U-boat commander I didn't expect antisemitism, although a single reference describing a tailor as an oily Jew, I was still surprised to see it in this diary.
Commander Karl Von Schenk, the writer of the diary, was a scoundrel in every way from my own opinion, the ty

The Great War broke out in 1914 as a result of a complex set of circumstances: European Great Power competition characterized by especially aggressive imperialism, a rigid alliance system, mediocre political and diplomatic leadership, and an ongoing arms race on a grand scale. Deeper forces, however

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