U-boat In New Zealand Waters is a book about 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 U-boats based in the Far East chosen in Berlin 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 New Zealand waters and conducted a war patrol along 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 in New Zealand waters remained 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 mainly on the First Watch Officer’s personal war diary and investigates in detail the war patrol of U 862 in New Zealand and Australian waters.
The author, Gerald Shone, was born in Gisborne in 1947 and trained as a medical laboratory technologist at Gisborne’s Cook Hospital. After qualifying, he worked in Nauru and Kiribati where he spoke to many people who had witnessed first-hand the Japanese invasion of their lands during WWII. During his time in the Pacific Islands he became interested in studying the Pacific War in greater detail.