Weapons Of Desperation – German Frogmen And Midget Submarines Of World War Ii
As the Third Reich headed for its inevitable destruction, German ingenuity in the naval field turned to unconventional weapons midget submarines, radio-controlled explosive boats, and various forms of underwater sabotage. Inspired by Italian, and later British successes with human torpedoes and X-Craft, the Germans set up an organisation called Kleinkampfverbande ( Small Battle Units ). Utilising an unusual range of devices, some barely beyond the experimental stage, this formation was unique in drawing its personnel from the Navy, regular Army and Waffen SS. Originally envisaged as an all-volunteer elite unit of special forces, it was increasingly diluted by draftees and even military defaulters posted to the K-verbande as punishment. Nevertheless, there was no collapse of morale, even as conditions in both the Mediterranean and northern European theatres became increasingly adverse. By the end, facing overwhelming odds, even their senior commanders regarded some of the attacks as little better than suicide missions. Judged by their effect on the Allied advance, their successes were slight, but the indomitable bravery of those involved makes riveting reading. Pieced together from fragmentary sources, it is a largely untold story, chronicling some of the most desperate operations of the war.