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Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany’s Last Great Battleship

Daniel Knowles

Referred to by Winston Churchill as ‘The Beast’, Tirpitz was Germany’s last great battleship and was one of the largest and heaviest warships ever constructed by a European navy.
Sister ship to the infamous Bismarck, Tirpitz was referred to as ‘The Lonely Queen of the North’, a floating fortress that was built to dominate the seas. Laid down in 1936 and commissioned in 1941, Tirpitz spent most of her operational life lurking amongst the fjords of Norway. Such was the threat posed to the sea lanes and the Allied war effort, and so obsessed were Churchill and the Admiralty with her destruction, that twenty-four operations, ranging from the foolhardy to the ridiculous, although all were brave, were undertaken against her. It was in November 1944 that the Tirpitz was finally sunk, not by the Royal Navy, but by Avro Lancasters of RAF Bomber Command.

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Referred to by Winston Churchill as ‘The Beast’, Tirpitz was Germany’s last great battleship and was one of the largest and heaviest warships ever constructed by a European navy. Sister ship to the infamous Bismarck, Tirpitz was referred to as ‘The Lonely Queen of the North’, a floating fortress that was built to dominate the seas. Laid down in 1936 and commissioned in 1941, Tirpitz spent most of her operational life lurking amongst the fjords of Norway. Such was the threat posed to the sea lanes and the Allied war effort, and so obsessed were Churchill and the Admiralty with her destruction, that twenty-four operations, ranging from the foolhardy to the ridiculous, although all were brave, were undertaken against her. It was in November 1944 that the Tirpitz was finally sunk, not by the Royal Navy, but by Avro Lancasters of RAF Bomber Command. Using a variety of sources, Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany’s Last Great Battleship looks at the military and political situation in Nazi Germany, which led to its commissioning and analyses the demise of Hitler’s iconic naval powerhouse.

ISBN: 9781781556696
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Daniel Knowles
First Publishment Date: 10 May 2018

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  1. The author however gets into his stride when he looks at her career and the extraordinary measures and resources brought into play to remove the last of Hitler’s chess pieces from the game. review by Patrick Boniface on 30/07/2018

    The common image of the battleship Tirpitz is of a lonely survivor trapped in a frozen world scared to venture to sea, and for much of her career this was true for Tirpitz. Winston Churchill’s crusade against the battleship he called ‘the beast’ would be a long one, such were the German defences put in place to keep Tirpitz safe from harm.

    In this book Daniel Knowles recounts some very well-trodden territory as he describes the Z plan to create a fleet to rival the Royal Navy and the French fleets. The text goes into some detail about how the great battleship was designed and constructed. The author however gets into his stride when he looks at her career and the extraordinary measures and resources brought into play to remove the last of Hitler’s chess pieces from the game.

    There are sections on the ill-fated Arctic Convoy PQ-17, the Raid on St. Nazaire, the X-Craft Raids, the Battle of North Cape and of course the successful Royal Air Force Lancaster bomber raid by Squadron 617 (known unofficially as the Dambusters) loaded with Tallboy bombs that finally sank her on 12 November 1944. The book is replete with an excellent selection of images, but sometimes the text is written quite academically – not too surprising as the author graduated from Northumbria University in 2016 with a dissertation on the changing perceptions of the wartime role of RAF Bomber Command.

    Patrick Boniface

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