Tuesday, August 09, 2016

False Flags - A forgotten naval war now told in its entirety for the first time.


Disguised German Raiders of World War II

Stephen Robinson -  Exisle, $39.99



The vivid, freshly-told story of how Nazi ‘pirates’ brought WWII to our doorstep — attacking our harbours and sinking unsuspecting merchant ships, while masquerading as harmless freighters.

Many New Zealanders think of WWII as a conflict fought on foreign soil, and in remote oceans. False Flags turns that assumption on its head, telling the spine-chilling story of how disguised German raiders brought the war right to our doorstep.

From Hauraki Gulf to Cook Strait, and from Christchurch to the Chatham Islands, these pirate raiders went to extraordinary lengths to conceal their true colours. Terrorising the South Seas, they slipped breathtakingly close to shore, mining the approaches to our major harbours and shutting down shipping lanes while the New Zealand Navy and the Tasman Empire Airways flying boats Awarua and Aotearoa hunted them across the Pacific.

In 1940 the raiders Orion, Komet, Pinguin and Kormoran departed Germany on a mission to attack the British Empire’s maritime trade on a global scale. Their extraordinary voyages spanned the globe and are maritime sagas in the finest tradition of seafaring. The four raiders voyaged across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans as well as the Arctic and Antarctic. They sank or captured 62 ships in a forgotten naval war now told in its entirety for the first time. The Orion and Komet terrorised the South Pacific and New Zealand waters before Pearl Harbour when the war was supposed to be far away.

Their audacious exploits included mining the approaches to Auckland, Lyttelton and Wellington, and sinking two grand liners – the Niagara and Rangitane. The Pinguin sank numerous Allied merchant ships in the Indian Ocean before mining the approaches to five Australian ports and capturing the Norwegian whaling fleet in Antarctica. The Kormoran raided the Atlantic but will always be remembered for sinking the Australian cruiser the Sydney off Western Australia, killing all 645 sailors on board in tragic circumstances.

False Flags is also the story of the Allied sailors who encountered these raiders and fought suicidal battles against a superior foe as well as the men, women and children who endured captivity on board the raiders as prisoners of the Third Reich.

About the Author:  Stephen Robinson studied Asian history and politics before working at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Australia, researching British atomic weapons tests and as a policy officer in the Defence Department.  An officer in the Australian Army Reserve, he has also instructed at the Royal Military College in Canberra.


24 August, 5.30pm: Author event at NZ Maritime Museum, Auckland 

25 August, 12.30pm: Author event at Wellington Museum

25 August, 5.30pm: Author event at Vic Books (Kelburn Campus), Wellington

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