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Sailors’ Journey into War

Military History



The mighty battle action fought between an American destroyer and a German U-boat north of the Azores Islands in late October, 1943, has been called the most spectacular surface battle since the days of John Paul Jones. Robert A. Maher was a young sailor who served on the Navy destroyer USS Borie DD215 in that battle, and his personal account of the war culminates in this decisive battle.

As leading fire-controlman and gun director pointer, Maher was stationed immediately above the bridge, where he had a clear view of events throughout the battle. In this nighttime action, the Borie rammed the German U-boat and became lodged across it. The crews of both ships opened fire at point-blank range with small arms and machine guns. The Americans were victorious, but the Borie was badly damaged and had to be abandoned.

Sailors’ Journey into War is also the story of young men taken from the comfort of their families and hometowns and cast into a war of unimaginable proportions. Like other young servicemen, they learned their jobs and went into combat with determination and often great courage. The book opens a window into the daily lives of Navy enlisted men and accurately reflects their attitudes both as raw recruits and as seasoned sailors at the end of the war.


Robert A. Maher is retired from the technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Together with James E. Wise, Jr., he received the 1993 U.S. Naval Institute’s “Distinguished Author of the Year” award for the two-part article “Stand By for a Ram!” published in Naval History.

Captain James E. Wise, Jr., USN (Ret.) has served as a naval aviator, intelligence officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS America, and commanding officer of various naval intelligence units. His publications include Shooting the War: Memoirs of a World War II U-Boat Officer; Sole Survivors of the Sea; and Stars in Blue.