U-boat in New Zealand Waters

U 862's war patrol off Gisborne and Napier in 1945

by Gerald Shone



U-boat In New Zealand Waters reveals the story of the farthest U-boat patrol of World War Two, – a journey which brought the ultra-long-range submarine U 862 to New Zealand’s East Coast in January 1945.

U 862 was one of three German U-boats chosen for operations against merchant shipping off the Australian coast in 1944. After sinking the US Liberty ship Robert J. Walker south of Sydney on Christmas Day, 1944, U 862 headed for the East Coast of the North Island.

Looking for ships to sink, U 862’s Commander Timm made a daring entry into Gisborne harbour at midnight on 15 January and the following night chased and fired a torpedo at a merchant ship in Hawkes Bay.

These operations remained secret, known only to a small number of Allied codebreakers, until 1992 when the First Watch Officer of U 862, Gunther Reiffenstuhl made his personal diary available to the German U-boat Archive in Cuxhaven-Altenbruch. In 1997, the author met and interviewed Gunther Reiffenstuhl as well as the medical officer aboard U 862,Dr Jobst Schaefer and radio operator Gunter Nethge. The book is based on the First Watch Officer’s personal war diary and reveals in detail the activities of U 862 in New Zealand and Australian waters.


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