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Thread: U-Boot / Unterseeboot / U Boat

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    The U-Boats that Surrendered / U-Boots at Lisahally in Lough Foyle, near Londonderry, N. Ireland 1945 to 1949 by Derek Waller.


    1. In May 1945 the Royal Naval port at Lisahally, in Lough Foyle near Londonderry in Northern Ireland became a centre of activity for the receipt, processing and ultimate disposal of many of the German U-Boats that had surrendered elsewhere in Europe at the end of the war. The base at Lisahally had previously been used by the Americans during the war, but they had moved out in the autumn of 1944 and it had then been closed. However, in view of the need to accommodate the surrendered German U-Boats, the base was temporarily re-commissioned in May 1945 as HMS Ferret IV. The first Captain (Submarines), Lisahally was Captain R M G Gambier, RN, and he and his staff arrived on 9 and 10 May. The main office and Wardroom were located in Lisahally House, and the ratings were accommodated in the nearby old American camp. There were two jetties available for the U-Boats: the Admiralty Jetty and the American Jetty, and the first eight U-Boats arrived on 14 May. From then until February 1946, Lisahally was a hive of U-Boat-related activity before, after the sinking of 30 of the U-Boats off Malin Head, and the disposal of others to Russia, America and France, there were just six remaining. These six U-Boats had been allocated to the Royal Navy for experimental and technical purposes, but all the necessary trials had finished by the end of January 1946, and the six remained in the vicinity of Lisahally until early 1949, when they were declared as surplus to requirements and towed away to various ship-breakers yards in the UK for disposal as scrap later in the year.

    Planning for German Naval Disarmament

    2. UK plans for German naval disarmament were initially formulated in 1942 and 1943, and one of the prime objectives was to ensure the total elimination of the Kriegsmarine at the end of the war. It was assumed that Britain would occupy the north west zone in any division of Germany, and that the Royal Navy would become responsible for the main German naval bases. Thus the RN intended that, at the cessation of hostilities, all surviving German U-Boats would quickly be moved to the UK prior to their disposal. However, Allied agreement was necessary before any final decisions were taken.

    3. Despite this, the RN pressed ahead in the first half of 1944 with detailed planning for the post-war transfer of all the surviving German U-Boats to British ports. It was intended that the U-Boats would be moved temporarily to the naval port at Lisahally and to the naval anchorage in Loch Ryan in south west Scotland, whilst the UK sought Allied agreement for the wholesale scrapping or sinking of the U-Boats as early as possible after hostilities ended.

    The Surrender Process

    4. On 4 May 1945 the Kriegsmarine ordered all U-Boats to cease operations and return to Norwegian ports. Thereafter, the surrender of the U-Boats took place in two phases. First, there was the surrender of all German armed forces in Holland, Denmark and north west Germany, which came into effect on 5 May. Then there was the general German surrender which came into effect on 9 May. This led to the Allied order that all U-Boats, including those in Norwegian ports, were to surrender. Those at sea were to head for one of a number of designated reception ports, the prime one of which was Loch Eriboll in north west Scotland.

    5. Whilst 156 U-Boats surrendered to the Allies on both sides of the Atlantic at the end of the war in Europe, initial interest was focussed on those that were still at sea, and eventually 49 U-Boats put into Allied harbours or surrendered to Allied forces at sea on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Operation Pledge

    6. The Royal Navy’s Operation Pledge covered the transfer of the U-Boats which had surrendered in Europe in May 1945, either from sea or in port, to the anchorages at Lisahally and Loch Ryan. The first U-Boat to surrender from sea, the Type VIIC (U-1009), arrived in Loch Eriboll on 10 May and, between then and 18 May, a further 17 U-Boats arrived there. However, none of them spent long in Loch Eriboll. They were moved quickly to Loch Alsh on the west coast of Scotland, where the majority of the German crews were taken into captivity, and from there the U-Boats were moved to Lisahally to await final disposal.

    7. There was one exception to this process. U-532 which had surrendered from sea at Loch Eriboll on 13 May, and which was then taken to Loch Alsh, was moved to Liverpool for its cargo to be unloaded rather than being moved directly to Lisahally. However, this did not prove possible, and U-532 was sailed to Barrow for unloading prior to its transfer to Lisahally. Whilst in Liverpool, the U-Boat was inspected by Admiral Sir Max Horton in the Gladstone Dock on 17 May amid considerable publicity - thus giving rise to the oft-repeated, but erroneous, story that it had surrendered there.

    8. Additionally, Admiral Sir Max Horton arranged a public ceremony at Lisahally on 14 May, where he accepted the formal, but staged, surrender of the eight U-Boats which had been the first to surrender from sea in Loch Eriboll, and which were being transferred to Lisahally via Loch Alsh (U-293, U-802, U-826, U-1009, U-1058, U-1105, U-1109 and U-1305). These eight U-Boats were manned by skeleton German crews under the supervision of RN personnel and, as they sailed into Lough Foyle, they were escorted by warships from the Royal Navy (HMS Hesperus), the Royal Canadian Navy (HMCS Thetford Mines) and the US Navy (USS Robert I Paine) in recognition of their joint contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic.

    9. When the U-Boats arrived at Lisahally their senior officers, led by Oberleutnant Klaus Hilgendorf who had commanded U-1009, made a formal surrender to Admiral Horton on behalf of the German U-Boat fleet. As well as Admiral Horton, the official party at Lisahally included representatives of the Canadian and US Navies, and personnel from HMS Ferret, RNAS Eglinton (HMS Gannet), RNAS Maydown (HMS Shrike), the Army and RAF Ballykelly. There was also a representative of the Irish Defence Forces, Colonel Dan Bryan. His presence was an acknowledgement of the assistance given by the Irish government in the Battle of the Atlantic. This ceremony, which was given extensive press coverage, has been responsible for the long-held, but nevertheless incorrect belief that some of the U-Boats actually surrendered directly in Lough Foyle.

    10. On 16 May, a further 15 U-Boats were sighted off the north Norwegian coast whilst being moved to Trondheim from Narvik where they had surrendered on 9 and 10 May. The group was intercepted on 17 May, it was directed to Loch Eriboll, arriving on 19 May, and by midnight on 21 May, all of these U-Boats had sailed for Loch Alsh for onward movement to Lisahally.

    11. Once these U-Boats had been processed at Loch Eriboll, the reception organisation was moved to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands in order to process the remaining U-Boats that had surrendered and thus needed to be moved to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan. The process was given added impetus because by mid-May the Norwegian ports in particular were over-crowded with surrendered U-Boats. There was therefore an urgent need to clear the Norwegian and German ports and on 24 May the Admiralty, without telling the Russians, but with the support of the Americans, ordered that all seaworthy U-Boats should be moved to the UK as soon as possible.

    12. The first group of 12 U-Boats arrived at Scapa Flow on 30 May and, after processing, were sent to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan. Between then and 5 June, a further 52 U-Boats arrived from Norway at Scapa Flow, from where they too were transferred to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan. The 64 U-Boats which were processed at Scapa Flow remained there for a very short time, and they were then moved directly to either Lisahally (14) or Loch Ryan (50).

    13. After 5 June there were still 35 seaworthy surrendered U-Boats in Norwegian and German ports, and these were transferred directly to either Lisahally or Loch Ryan during June 1945. Finally, the two U-Boats that had surrendered from sea in Gibraltar and the three that had surrendered from sea in Portland were transferred to either Loch Ryan or Lisahally. Thus, by the end of July 1945, 137 seaworthy U-Boats had been transferred to Lisahally and Loch Ryan, one of which had been returned to the Dutch Navy. Also, a U-Boat that had been interned in Spain since September 1943 had been moved to Loch Ryan.

    The Potsdam Agreement

    14. After the German surrender in May 1945, discussions continued between the Allies concerning the final disposal of all the surviving German naval vessels, and it was decided that only 30 U-Boats would be retained, to be divided equally between Britain, America and Russia. This was the result of high-level political discussions between Marshal Stalin, President Truman and Prime Ministers Churchill and (later) Attlee at Potsdam near Berlin between 17 July and 2 August 1945. In respect of the U-Boats, it was also agreed to set up a Tripartite Naval Commission (TNC) to recommend the specific allocations to each country.

    The Tripartite Naval Commission

    15. The TNC began its work on 15 August 1945, and this included a review of the U-Boats moored in Loch Ryan and at Lisahally. The TNC’s staff visited Lisahally between 29 August and 3 September and, on 10 October, after inspecting the surrendered U-Boats there, as well as those in Loch Ryan, announced which 10 U-Boats were to be allocated to each of the UK, the USA and Russia. As a result, of the 135 U-Boats in the UK, eight were allocated to the UK, one to the USA and 10 to Russia. This therefore left 116 unallocated U-Boats in Loch Ryan and at Lisahally awaiting final disposal by the Royal Navy and, in respect of these, the TNC decided that they were to be destroyed by not later than 15 February 1946.

    16. In view of the onset of winter and the prospects of stormy seas in the North Atlantic, a number of prompt executive actions were necessary to implement these decisions, especially the transfer from Lisahally of the 10 U-Boats to Russia, and the disposal by sinking of the 116 unallocated U-Boats, 30 of which were moored at Lisahally.

    U-Boat Activity at Lisahally between May 1945 and February 1946

    17. Whilst the original transfer of the surrendered German U-Boats to Loch Ryan and Lisahally was supposed to be simply a means of ensuring their safe-keeping pending Allied decisions about their future, the U-Boats at Lisahally were nevertheless subject to considerable activity between their arrival and the implementation of the Potsdam Agreement in August and the subsequent TNC decisions in October.

    18. After the arrival of the eight U-Boats for Admiral Horton’s formal surrender ceremony on 14 May, other U-Boats continued to arrive in threes and fours practically every other day until, by 31 May, there were 37 at Lisahally. Also, during the latter half of the month, U-1009, which was one of those which arrived on 14 May, was sailed up the River Foyle to Londonderry where it was open for visitors.

    19. The other significant event at Lisahally in May was the arrival of the US Navy’s Submarine Mission to Europe (SubMisEu), the specific purpose of which was to locate and take to the United States some of the high-technology German U-Boats that had been identified by US Naval Intelligence. To this end, a small team was formed in the USA in March 1945, and its particular target was the German’s newly-developed, 1600 ton, high-speed, ocean-going, Type XXI U-Boat.

    20. After VE Day, SubMisEu was rapidly expanded from its initial small cadre, and the Mission, which was commanded by Captain George A Sharp USN, comprised some 150-200 US officers and men. It was formed at the US Navy Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut, and then flown to England. Initially it was based near Plymouth, before being flown to RNAS Maydown near Londonderry in late May 1945. The Mission was assigned a group of huts at Lisahally for both living quarters and administrative use, although the four most senior officers were allocated a large house in Clooney Park West in Londonderry.

    21. As no Type XXI U-Boats had surrendered from sea in America, it was clear that if the US Navy was to obtain the two Type XXI U-Boats that it required, they would have to be selected from the 12 examples that had surrendered and which were in Royal Navy custody at Lisahally. However, the agreed allocation process was unlikely to be completed before the end of 1945 and, as a result, the US Navy, with the full support of the Royal Navy, decided to take urgent, covert and unilateral action to transfer two of the Type XXI U-Boats across the Atlantic without informing the Russians.

    22. When the SubMisEu arrived at Lisahally at the end of May there were no Type XXI U-boats available for immediate hand-over to the US Naval party and so, for training purposes, they were given early access to a Type VIIC U-Boat, as well as to a Type IXC U-Boat (U-802). However, a number of Type XXI U-Boats arrived at Lisahally in early June, and one of these (U-2513) was quickly transferred to US Navy control. Then, during June further Type XXI U-Boats arrived from Norway, as did U-3008, which had sailed from Germany on 21 June and which arrived at Lisahally on 27 June. After that, the US Navy returned the Type VIIC U-Boat to Royal Navy control, and took over U-2506 and U-3008. SubMisEu then decided that the latter, along with U-2513, would be the two U-Boats to be moved to the USA, and that U-2506 would be used simply as a source of spares.

    23. June also saw much U-Boat activity at Lisahally, with more arriving from Norway, and some being transferred to Loch Ryan, and by the end of the month there were 58 U-Boats at Lisahally. At the same time, the Royal Navy was preparing to conduct trials with a number of the U-Boats, again without the knowledge or prior approval of the Russians. To this end, the Royal Navy’s Admiral (Submarines) held a meeting in London on 25 June to discuss the Royal Navy’s plans for early (and covert) Trials to be carried out in, and with, U-Boats and, as a result, the first two U-Boats involved - the Type VIICs U-1105 and U-1171 - were sailed to Holy Loch in Scotland on 29 June. Additionally, the large transport U-Boat, U-861, was moved to Pembroke Dock near Milford Haven on 10 June for the removal of 110 tones of tin, 30 tons of wolfram and 40 tons of rubber which it had been transporting from Japan to Germany before it had surrendered.

    24. On 5 July Captain P Q Roberts took over command as Captain (Submarines), Lisahally, and the month continued as a busy time for the U-Boats. No more surrendered U-Boats arrived, and by 31 July there were 51 U-Boats under British control and four under American control. Major events included the transfer of U-2326 and U-2502 to Holy Loch for Royal Navy trials on 6 July, and the return of the Dutch submarine (U-Boat) UD-5 to Dutch Navy control. It was re-named O.27 (which was its original designation before being captured by the Germans in 1940) and, under the command of Lt De Beer RNN, it sailed from Lisahally with a Dutch crew on 24 July.

    25. As far as the Americans were concerned, there were two significant events in the month. First, on 1 July, an American seaman almost lost his life when a fire broke out whilst he was removing an electrical switch from U-2506 for use in U-2513. He was however saved by a German petty officer who volunteered to rescue him from the smoke-filled compartment. The second event was the formation of a society called "The Forgotten Submarine Bastards of Ireland" (FSBI). Many of the Americans were homesick and frustrated by what they saw as unnecessary delays in returning home with their two U-Boats, and this was a way of easing the tension. Membership cards were printed, and the initiation ceremony involved being rubber stamped on the right buttock with a design of shamrocks and the letters "FSBI". Indeed, some even went as far as having it tattooed on, and very proud of it they were too.

    26. However, the main event of the month was the Royal Visit on 19 July, when their Majesties the King and Queen and HRH Princess Elizabeth passed through Lisahally en route to Londonderry. The Royal party arrived by car at the American Jetty, where the Lisahally ship’s company and officers were lined up, together with a US Navy Honor Guard. After being introduced to Captain Roberts, their Majesties walked past the Type XXI U-Boats, but did not go onboard. They then talked to a number of the officers and men from both the British and the American crews, before embarking in the yacht Hiniesta and continuing up river to Londonderry.

    27. August was another busy month for the U-Boats at Lisahally, with the Type XXI U-Boat U-2502 (commanded by the famous Lt J S (Jimmy) Launders DSO*, DSC*, RN), being returned from Birkenhead with a burnt out main motor which had prevented it being used for the planned RN trials. In its place, U-3017 sailed for Barrow on 8 August. Also, the two Type VIIC U-Boats, U-1105 and U-1171, which were already being used for RN trials paid short visits, and on 25 August the large cargo-carrying Type IXD U-Boat, U-875, was sailed to Birkenhead for the removal of its cargo of optical glass and mercury carried in its keel.

    28. The main event of the month was the departure of the US SubMisEu with their two Type XXI U-boats, U-2513 and U-3008, which sailed to the USA on 6 August escorted by the US Navy submarine rescue vessel USS Brant, which had arrived from Bremerhaven in Germany loaded with Type XXI spares. However, this was not before the Mission had returned U-802 and U-2506 to Royal Navy control, and a cocktail party to say farewell to Captain Sharp and his officers had been held in the Wardroom at Lisahally House on 4 August. The last significant event in the month occurred on 29 August, when the TNC party arrived to begin its 6-day inspection of the U-Boats, an activity that was conducted under a certain amount of tension, but which was eventually completed in a shorter time than had at first seemed possible. At the end of the month, there were 53 U-Boats remaining at Lisahally.

    29. September was notable for the transfer of 15 Type VIIC U-Boats from Lisahally to Loch Ryan in order to ease the congestion in Lough Foyle. This was effected by means of a daily shuttle service, with the U-Boats sailing, under escort, each morning, and the escort returning each evening with the U-Boat crews. On 12 September U-875 returned from Birkenhead having been unloaded, but on 19 September it’s sister U-Boat, U-874, was sailed to Birkenhead for dry docking and the removal of it’s keel cargo. There was a visit to Lisahally on 22 September by the Governor of Northern Ireland, the Earl of Granville, and his wife, the Countess of Granville, and they were accompanied by Flag Officer, Northern Ireland who inspected the accommodation to ensure its acceptability for the coming winter. Finally, on 30 September there were just 38 surrendered U-Boats remaining at Lisahally.

    30. Once the TNC allocations had been announced on 10 October, the main activity at Lisahally in the month was the work necessary to make the 10 U-Boats that had been allocated to the Russian Navy ready for their transfer. Additionally, on 15 October the Type XXIII U-Boat, U-2326, was returned from Holy Loch, having completed its planned trials, and on 21 October the Type XXI U-Boat, U-3017, was returned from Barrow after an on-board explosion and fire, which caused the Royal Navy to cancel all further trials with any of the Type XXI U-Boats. On 22 October U-874 returned from Birkenhead, having unloaded its cargo, providing a little bit of light relief in the process when (to quote Captain Roberts) while coming up river it made a spirited attempt to demolish the Longfield Light Pylon, owing to a failure of steering gear. Luckily, U-874 just managed to avoid the pylon, but instead succeeded in going aground alongside it at the top of the spring tide. However, after a day on the mud, the U-Boat was refloated on the evening tide without having sustained any damage. At the end of the month there were 40 surrendered U-Boats at Lisahally.

    31. On 1 November four more U-Boats arrived from Loch Ryan. Three of these were due to be transferred to Russia, and the fourth to the USA (although that transfer was subsequently cancelled). However, the principal activities of Captain (Submarines), Lisahally and his staff concerned the arrangements for the transfer of the U-Boats to Russia in Operation Cabal, which began on 23 November.

    32. December was mostly taken up with the preparations for Lisahally’s part in Operation Deadlight, which began at the very end of the month. The other significant events were the sailing of the last (delayed) U-Boat to Russia, U-3515, which departed on 6 December under tow by HMS Icarus, and the arrival on 31 December of three U-Boats from Loch Ryan (U-712, U-953 and U-2348), all of which had been allocated to the UK by the TNC for trials purposes, albeit that all the planned trials had then been completed, and that the Royal Navy had no further use for these U-Boats.

    33. January 1946 saw the completion of the main part of Operation Deadlight, with the sinking of 28 out for the 30 U-Boats planned for destruction being completed by 8 January and, by the end of the month, there were just 10 U-Boats remaining at Lisahally. Two of these were destined to be sunk in the final phase of Operation Deadlight, two were destined to be transferred to France in Operation Thankful, and six had been allocated to the Royal Navy for trials, but were no longer required.

    34. The busy work at Lisahally over the previous eight months in connection with the surrendered German U-Boats essentially came to an end in February 1946. The two U-Boats destined for France, U-2326 and U-2518, departed from Lisahally on 6 February, and the final two Deadlight U-Boats, U-975 and U-3514, were sunk on 10 and 12 February respectively. The six remaining U-Boats, U-712, U-953, U-1108, U-1171, U-2348 and U-3017, all of which had been formally allocated to the UK, were therefore left on the moorings at Lisahally awaiting Admiralty decisions about their future.

    Operation Cabal

    35. The move of the 10 U-Boats that had been allocated to Russia from Lisahally to the Russian-controlled port of Libau in Latvia was a major undertaking for the Royal Naval authorities in Lisahally. It involved seven of the U-Boats which were moored at Lisahally (U-1058, U-1231, U-1305, U-2529, U-3035, U-3041 and U-3515), and three which had been held in Loch Ryan, but which were transferred to Lough Foyle on 31 October (U-1057, U-1064 and U-2353), three weeks before they were due to leave for Russia. However, owing to congestion on the moorings at Lisahally and lack of accommodation, these three U-Boats were berthed at Londonderry instead.

    36. Operation Cabal, which was the code name for the move, and which was commanded by Captain P Q Roberts, Captain (Submarines) Lisahally, involved eight RN escort vessels, and each of the 10 U-Boats had a Royal Navy CO and crew. The escort vessels arrived in Lough Foyle on 18 and 19 November, and the 10 Russian naval officers who were to embark as observers, one in each U-Boat, arrived on 19 November. The original intention was that the 10 U-Boats should sail to Libau under their own power but, in the event, only five of the U-Boats were deemed to be capable of proceeding the whole way unaided, and it was decided to tow the remaining five.

    37. The transfer began on 23 November when four of the U-Boats that were to be towed (by HMS Riou, HMS Zephyr, HMS Tremadoc Bay and HMS Narborough) were moved down river to Moville where they were anchored for the night before sailing the following morning. On 24 November the five under power (escorted by HMS Garth, HMS Eglinton and HMS Zetland) sailed from Lisahally, though their departure was delayed until the afternoon by dense fog in the Lough. The tenth U-Boat was a late substitute because of a last-minute accident, and it did not sail (under tow by HMS Icarus) until 6 December.

    38. The five U-Boats which sailed under their own power had a relatively trouble-free journey to Libau. However, it was a different matter for those that were under tow. The four which set out on 24 November experienced considerable bad weather en route, including Force 10 gales, and all had problems with their towing gear. Indeed, only seven of the U-Boats arrived at Libau on 4 December. The remaining three had all suffered considerable delays due to a combination of poor weather, technical defects and towing problems, with the last one (together with HMS Icarus) not arriving in Libau until 2 February 1946.

    Operation Deadlight

    39. The Royal Navy’s Operation Deadlight was the executive action which led to the sinking of 116 German U-Boats off Northern Ireland between 27 November 1945 and 12 February 1946. Because the imminent onset of winter and its associated rough seas in the area to the north west of Loch Ryan and Lisahally would make the towing and sinking of the U-Boats a hazardous task, it was decided that the action should be initiated without delay. The formal order for Operation Deadlight, which was issued on 14 November, involved just 30 U-Boats from Lisahally. The Operation itself started on 25 November, but Phase 1 was concerned with the U-Boats from Loch Ryan. Phase 2 started on 29 December 1945 and, despite the relatively small number of U-Boats from Lisahally (only 26% of the total sunk), it was a major exercise which involved more Royal Navy and other vessels than the number of U-Boats themselves.

    40. The surface fleet, which included 19 destroyers and frigates - of which three belonged to the Polish Navy - and which was under the overall command of Captain St.J A Micklethwait, DSO**, RN, (Captain (D) 17th Flotilla) - was moored at Moville near the mouth of Lough Foyle. The arrangements were that each day during the operation, small groups of U-Boats would be brought down river from Lisahally by skeleton German crews, who would handover each U-boat to one of the surface vessels, disembark, and then be ferried back to Lisahally. The aim was that the U-Boats should then be towed (unmanned) to a designated position 130 miles to the north west of Lough Foyle, where they would be sunk. The prime method was to be by the use of demolition charges, however if weather conditions allowed, three were to be sunk by torpedo from the submarine HMS Templar. If any of these methods of disposal failed, then the U-Boats were to be sunk by gunfire.

    41. As expected, the weather was particularly bad in December 1945 and January 1946, and the planned disposal arrangements did not work on the vast majority of occasions, especially as far as the plans for sinking the U-Boats with demolition charges were concerned. There were also major problems with the towing of the unmanned U-Boats by vessels which were not suited to such activity. Comparison of the planned disposal arrangements for the 30 U-Boats from Lisahally with what actually happened shows the scale of disruption to the plans. Not a single one of the U-Boats were sunk by demolition charges, and only one was sunk by torpedo. Of the remaining 29, three foundered under tow and 24 were sunk by gunfire before they ever reached the designated scuttling area. The remaining two were sunk by gunfire in the scuttling area, as it was far too dangerous to follow the pre-planned demolition procedure.

    42. Of the 30 U-Boats from Lisahally sunk in Operation Deadlight, 28 were sunk between 29 December 1945 and 8 January 1946, and the remaining two, U-975 and U-3514, were sunk on 10 and 12 February 1946 respectively.

    The 30 U-Boats concerned were:
    U-244, U-278, U-294, U-363, U-516, U-541, U-668, U-764, U-802, U-825, U-861, U-874, U-875, U-883, U-901, U-930, U-975, U-1010, U-1022, U-1023, U-1109, U-1165, U-2336, U-2341, U-2351, U-2356, U-2502, U-2506, U-2511 and U-3514.

    43. Finally, during the course of Operation Deadlight local newspaper reporters were invited to view the proceedings, and on 30 December Mr A O’Doherty of the Derry Journal, Mr D J Ruddock of the Derry Standard and Mr M Cannon of the Irish News boarded HMS Zealous to witness the day’s events. There were however reporting restrictions in place, and the reporters were forbidden to publish any stories without first obtaining Admiralty approval.

    Operation Thankful

    44. Operation Thankful involved the transfer of the Type XXIII U-Boat, U-2326, and the Type XXI U-Boat, U-2518, from the Royal Navy to the French Navy in February 1946. At the end of the war, France had been keen to be allocated a number of the U-Boats that had surrendered, but though Britain had considerable sympathy with the proposal, it was vetoed by Russia. However, by the time the British share of the surrendered U-Boats was decided in late 1945, almost all the planned Royal Navy trials had been completed, and there was no further requirement for nine out of the 10 that had been allocated to the UK. The 10th (U-190) had surrendered in Canada, and had already been given to the Royal Canadian Navy.

    45. The Royal Navy had conducted trials on U-2326, but these had been completed in October, after which the U-Boat had been returned to Lisahally, and U-2518 had never been used following its transfer to Lisahally from Norway. The Royal Navy therefore decided that these two U-Boats, for which they had no further use, should be handed-over to the French Navy on long-term loan.

    46. Thus, almost the final episode of the story of the U-Boats at Lisahally began on 5 February 1946 when HMS Tremadoc Bay (Lt Cdr F D Cole) and HM Tug Bustler sailed from Lisahally for Molville at the mouth of Lough Foyle to await the arrival of the two U-Boats the following day. On 6 February they sailed for Cherbourg in France, with Tremadoc Bay towing U-2326 and Bustler towing U-2518. Both U-Boats were crewed by RN personnel. However, heavy weather in the Irish Sea, towing problems and defects caused a diversion into Dublin Bay on 7 February for three days. The transfer resumed on 10 February, and the group finally arrived in Cherbourg on 13 February where the two U-boats were handed over to the French Navy.

    The Russian Connection

    47. Lisahally played host to Russian naval officers on two occasions during 1945. The first was in August when the Russian delegation from the TNC arrived to inspect the surrendered U-Boats prior to decisions about their ultimate fate. The second was in November when a party of Russians arrived to assist with the transfer of 10 of the U-Boats to Russia in Operation Cabal. However, whilst personal relations between the naval officers of the three Allies in the TNC were surprisingly cordial, the same cannot be said of the experiences at Lisahally.

    48. By the time the war in Europe ended, the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, and the other members of the Navy Board had become very suspicious of the Russians. Indeed, this attitude was illustrated in the Admiralty’s Directive to the British Representatives on the TNC, which included such unequivocal statements as:
    It is, generally speaking, HMG’s policy not to give the Russians technical or other information except on the basis of strict reciprocity, owing to the almost complete failure of the Russians heretofore to make information available to the UK.

    You are accordingly to interpret narrowly the rights of inspection when applying it to the USSR.

    In general, you should be aware that the Admiralty and other Departments of HMG have learnt by bitter experience that it is useless to negotiate with the Russians in a spirit of reasonable compromise.

    49. It was therefore hardly surprising that the visits by Russian naval officers to Lisahally in August and November 1945 did not go as smoothly as might have been wished. It was clear before the TNC visit to Lisahally, which was scheduled to take place between 29 August and 3 September that, whereas the Russians desired to make a slow, thorough and meticulous inspection of each U-Boat, the Royal Navy preferred to see short and quick inspections. There were some 150 German naval vessels, including U-Boats, in the UK and the RN wished to see the whole inspection exercise completed in 11 days, whereas the Russian proposals could take several months. In the end, the Lisahally inspection did not exceed its planned 6 days, but there were some tense moments, particularly as Captain Roberts was not a man to be crossed. Nevertheless, after the inspection there were formal complaints by the Admiral who headed the Russian delegation to the TNC, including complaints about the hotel accommodation in Lisahally, the rudeness of certain Royal Navy officers, and the fact that much of the radio and radar equipment had been removed from a number of the U-Boats. Needless to say, these complaints were given short shift by the Admirals who were in the British delegation to the TNC.

    50. Similar problems arose in relation to the arrival in Lisahally of the Russian naval officers who were to accompany the 10 U-Boats to Libau. The Russians were determined to insist on a meticulous examination of each U-Boat, and proposed that all defects, however small, should be made good before sailing, even if this required any U-Boat to be docked. Again, however, these difficulties and delaying tactics, which included two requests for the transfer to be delayed, were given no credence by Captain Roberts, who also refused to delay the sailings. This resulted in a formal complaint from the Russian Naval Attaché in London, but again to no avail. The Royal Navy was not inclined to take instructions from the Russians.

    The German Connection

    51. There is no doubt that the U-Boat-related activities at Lisahally could not have been completed without the support and active participation of the German Navy POWs, most of whom co-operated actively, though there were some who were not so keen to assist. Almost all the U-Boats which arrived at Lisahally had some German crew members on board, both officers and other ranks, and to illustrate the size of the German POW contingent, the minutes of a meeting held in London on 25 June 1945, chaired by Admiral (Submarines), includes the statement that:

    Rear Admiral Creasy emphasised that …at the moment [June 1945] there were between 400 and 500 [Royal Navy] officers and men employed in looking after and maintaining the U-Boats [in Loch Ryan and Lisahally], together with about 1,200 German personnel.

    52. The prime task of the German POWs at Lisahally was the maintenance of the surrendered U-Boats pending decisions about their disposal or retention, and the Monthly Reports written by Captain (Submarines), Lisahally between June and December 1945 invariably included comments about the POWs. Each group of five U-Boats had a German maintenance party comprising an Executive Officer, and Engineering Officer and about 30 men, and these lived in one of the U-Boats in each group. The Captain’s June Report, for instance, records that:
    So far the German maintenance crews have behaved reasonably well, though there are signs at times that they are getting somewhat restive, especially being cooped up in such a confined space.

    53. In July, he reported that:

    The German crews continue to behave reasonably well although there have been one or two cases of German officers being unable to maintain proper discipline amongst their men. It is expected to move the German crews into camp accommodation early in August. While this should improve the cleanliness, it may react unfavourably on discipline when the ratings are accommodated together.

    54. In contrast to the very "proper" attitude that the Royal Navy adopted in relation to its German POWs, the US Navy SubMisEu took a slightly more relaxed approach. It was clear from the start that the US Navy would need assistance to ensure that their two Type XXI U-boats were fit for their Atlantic crossing, and the Mission wished to include German crew members for the crossing itself. To help with the task of getting all the U-Boat systems’ working, the Intellegence staff at Lisahally therefore selected a group of non-Nazi prisoners who were willing to co-operate with the Americans. The group comprised four officers and about 25 petty officers, all of whom have served in Type VII or Type IX U-Boats, although only a few had served any time in the Type XXIs. However, as reported by Lt Cdr Ira Dye, USN, who would become the CO of U-2513 for its Atlantic crossing:

    They proved useful to the point of being indispensable. A couple of the cleaner Type VII U-Boats were moved to our pier near U-2513 and U-3008 to serve as living quarters for them, and everyone, American and German, pitched in to get the two Type XXIs ready for their trip to New London.

    55. When the time to sail arrived, a number of the German POWs volunteered to help get the two U-Boats back to the United States and successfully operating thereafter. Thus Lt Schmidt and about 12 German petty officers were integrated into the U-3008 crew, and Lt Backer and another 12 German petty officers joined Lt Cdr Dye’s U-2513 crew.

    56. Captain Roberts was obviously keeping a very close eye on the situation with what he called The Prisoners, and his August Report said that:

    On the whole the Germans have given little trouble and continue to work moderately well, with the standard of cleanliness in the U-Boats slowly improving. The officers gave some trouble towards the end of the month, becoming obstreperous and threatening to go on strike; the removal of the blackest Nazi, firm action and a direct order to return to work proved effective. On 28 August the Camp accommodation ashore at last became ready for occupation and the German crews moved in during the day. In some respects their new quarters are considerably better than those occupied by British submarine crews in Lisahally Camp.

    57. He had nothing to say about the POWs in September, but his October Report records that:
    There has been no trouble at all with the German rating prisoners, but certain of the officers have given further trouble and five of them have been removed to a proper POW camp to undergo various sentences of detention. They had always been trouble-makers and they will not return here.

    58. Captain Roberts’ final words on the topic appear in his November Report:

    German prisoners have given no trouble and appear to be quite pleased at the forthcoming scuttling of their ships. The presence of numbers of Russian officers at Lisahally produced marked reaction.

    The End of the Lisahally U-Boat Story

    59. After the transfer of the 10 U-Boats to Russia, the sinking of the 30 U-Boats in Operation Deadlight, and the transfer of the two U-Boats to France, only six U-Boats remained at Lisahally. Of these, one (U-3017) had been earmarked for trials, but had been returned to Lisahally after an on-board explosion in August 1945, one (U-1171) had been used for trials between June 1945 and January 1946 before being returned to Lisahally, and the other four (U-712, U-953, U-1108 and U-2348) had never been used by the Royal Navy nor was there any further interest in using any of them for trial purposes. By then, the reason for which HMS Ferret IV had been set up and the purpose for which the Captain (Submarines), Lisahally had been established had ended, and HMS Ferret IV was paid off to care and maintenance on 19 July 1946.

    60. In September 1946 the Admiralty announced that these six U-Boats had been allocated to the Ship Target Trials Committee for use as target ships. However, even then they remained unused at Lisahally until 1947 when the Admiralty decided to re-commission the base as HMS Sea Eagle which would be a school for anti-submarine warfare training (the Joint Anti-Submarine School - JASS). At the same time the ex-Landing Ship-Tank (LST-3515), which had just been commissioned as HMS Stalker, was moved to Lisahally to act as the submarine support vessel for the Royal Navy submarines that were based there in support of the JASS. There was therefore a need to remove the six U-Boats from Lisahally, and so they were towed up the River Foyle for berthing at Londonderry. Each U-Boat was manned by a crew of three, including one officer, with one of them being commanded by Sub Lt Ron Cox, RNVR.

    61. Subsequently, at a Meeting in London on 1 July 1948, the Chairman of the Ship Target Trials Committee stated that there were no proposals for using the six ex-German U-Boats. As a result, they were authorised for sale as scrap in early 1949 and transferred from Londonderry to various ship-breakers yards around the UK for disposal action later that year. Thus the story of Lisahally and the surrendered German U-Boats in Lough Foyle, which had begun in May 1945, finally came to an end some four years after it had started.


    62. The Royal Naval port at Lisahally in Lough Foyle near Londonderry played a key part in the dispersal and disposal of the German U-Boats which surrendered at the end of the war, an activity which kept it’s Captain and his staff very busy from May 1945 until February 1946. The first U-Boats to arrive did so on 14 May 1945, and thereafter the moorings at Lisahally were host to large numbers of surrendered U-Boats throughout the year. There was a US Navy presence from May to August, which resulted in two U-Boats being covertly transferred to the USA, and Russian naval officers were in evidence at Lisahally in August and November. There was even a Royal Visit in July, followed by a visit from the Governor General in September. Lisahally then played the major role in the transfer of 10 of the surrendered U-Boats to Russia in November 1945, as well as making a significant contribution to Operation Deadlight, which was the sinking of all the surplus U-Boats in late 1945 and early 1946. Throughout this time, there were considerable numbers of German prisoners of war at Lisahally assisting with the maintenance of the U-Boats and, whilst there were a few who caused trouble and needed to be moved elsewhere, the majority co-operated in what was obviously a job well done by Captain P Q Roberts and his Royal Naval staff. Finally, by the end of February 1946 there were just six U-Boats remaining at Lisahally and, though these were then allocated to the Royal Navy’s Ship Target Trials Committee in mid-1946, they were never used as targets, being eventually broken-up for scrap in 1949.

    Page Record Details Second World War Online Learning PRONI

    There is no doubt that it was the breaking of the Enigma, the interception and decoding of highly-secret German naval communications codenamed "
    Ultra", by the British that enabled the Allies through England to win WW2.

    A sad end, to such a brave and glorious force the U-boat Kriegsmarine.

    U-Boats / Ireland


    There are only four (operational) WWI U-Boats sunk off the north coast of Ireland.

    One is the very large, popular and photogenic U89 in 61 metres, complete with two deck guns.

    Another – U110 sunk the luxurious British liner RMS Amazon and has yet to be found.

    Another – U45 which was sunk by HMS submarine D7 – again, yet to be found.

    That leaves UB124 – one of the Type UBIII Coastal Torpedo Attack Boats which was physically smaller than the others, (distinguished by having just one stern torpedo tube) and having taken over from UB64, finished the attack on the troop carrier RMS Justicia. At over 32,000 tons, the Justicia was the largest ship sunk by U Boat in WWI & the second largest vessel afloat in the world at the time of her sinking. Having sunk Justicia, she herself was destroyed by depth charges on 20 July 1918. This was the only ship she ever sunk.

    U-89 laying 25 miles off Malin Head, Donegal, Ireland has been in the open sea for nearly a century. U-89 was sunk by HMS Roxburgh when it suddenly emerged just 200 metres in front of the cruiser HMS Roxburgh, which with out hesitation, rammed U-89’s conning tower. Soon after, explosions were heard and U-89 was sunk with the loss of all 44 men.

    Roger Casement (1864-1916), Irish nationalist hero who was hanged by the British in mid-1916 for his part in working with Germany and the Irish nationalists in planning the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916 came back from Germany in a U-boat after arranging armaments for the 1916 Rising. There is no doubt that U-boats played some part in Irish history.

    There were plenty more U-boats operating around Malin and all the coastal waters of Ireland at this time. The vessels, U-30, U-43, U-44, U-57, U-60 and the U-64, helped sink the Justicia. The vessels, U-68, U-70,U-73, U-79 and the U-80, laid mines in Lough Swilly and caused the sinking of the Laurentic. The vessels, U-94, U-95, U-107 and the U-45, lie offshore near Donegal. UB-82 lies off Rathlin Island. UB-85 lies in Belfast Lough. U-110 lies off Malin Head. U-124, which also helped sink the Justicia, lies off the north coast of Donegal. UC-42 and UC-44 were sunk offshore at Cobh Co Cork. UB-65 lies near the Fastnet Rock. U-68 and UC-29 are located off the Coast of Kerry. U-83 lies offshore at Bullrock, Co Cork. That’s the list for WWI. There are many more U-boats off the coast of Ireland from WWII with the highest number of wrecks off the coast of Malin identified by Operation Deadlight (, an expedition which was the first attempt by technical divers to survey and identify the wrecks of German U-Boats scuttled by the Allied forces after WWII in the waters north of Ireland. It was a scuttling of 42 plus U-boats.

    U89 - Exploring U-boats in Ireland | X-Ray Mag 14 Jun 2019.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to jagdmesser For This Useful Post:

  3. #12

    Fregattenkapitän Otto Kretschmer

    Otto Kretschmer

    Fregattenkapitän (Crew 30)

    40 ships sunk, total tonnage 208,954 GRT
    3 auxiliary warships sunk, total tonnage 46,440 GRT
    1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,375 tons
    1 ship sunk, total tonnage 2,136 GRT
    5 ships damaged, total tonnage 37,965 GRT
    2 ships a total loss, total tonnage 15,513 GRT

    Born 1 May 1912 Heidau, Liegnitz
    Died 5 Aug 1998 (86) Straubing

    Otto Kretschmer

    1 Apr 1930 Offiziersanwärter
    9 Oct 1930 Seekadett
    1 Jan 1932 Fähnrich zur See
    1 Apr 1934 Oberfähnrich zur See
    1 Oct 1934 Leutnant zur See
    1 Jun 1936 Oberleutnant zur See
    1 Jun 1939 Kapitänleutnant
    1 Mar 1941 Korvettenkapitän
    1 Sep 1944 Fregattenkapitän

    U-boat Commands

    U-boat From To
    U-35 31 Jul 1937 15 Aug 1937 No war patrols
    U-23 1 Oct 1937 1 Apr 1940 8 patrols (97 days)
    U-99 18 Apr 1940 17 Mar 1941 8 patrols (127 days)

    Fregattenkapitän Otto Kretschmer - German U-boat ...

    Kretschmer, Otto, born 11-05-1912 in Heidau, Liegnitz. At the age of seventeen he spent eight months living in Exeter, where he learned to speak English fluently. He joined the Reichsmarine in April 1930, attaining the rank of Seekadet, naval cadet, after completing officer training courses as well as three months aboard the training ship Niobe. He then spent about a year serving aboard the light cruiser Emden. In the second half of 1932 he briefly served on the survey vessel Meteor for navigation training. In December 1934 he was transferred to another light cruiser, the Köln. Kretschmer remained aboard the Köln until he was transferred to the U-Boat force in January 1936, where he received extensive officer training and was promoted to Oberleutnant zur see.

    Kretschmer’s first command was the U-35, a Type VIIA U-Boat, in 1937. This appointment coincided with Germany’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War; the boat was ordered to patrol an area off the Spanish coast. U-35 returned to Germany after an uneventful patrol during which no ships were sunk. In September 1937, Kretschmer took command of U-23, a Type IIB coastal U-Boat. His most successful patrol occurred in November and December 1940 when U-99 sank three British armed merchant cruisers, HMS Laurentic , HMS Patroclus and HMS Forfar.

    Laurentic and Patroclus were attacked on the night of 3/4 November after they responded to distress calls from the 5.376 ton British freighter Casanare, which U-99 had mortally wounded about 250 miles west of Ireland. Forfar was sunk on 2 December while steaming to join up with and escort the outbound convoy OB-251. The three AMCs totalled over 46.000 gross tons. These three successes earned Kretschmer the number-one spot on the Aces list, and was never surpassed. Kapitänleutnant der U boat, U-521, Klaus Bargsten served aboard U-99 under Kretschmer, before being promoted to captain himself and becoming the sole survivor of U-521 on 02-06-1942. Siegfried von Forstner , he sunk age 33 on 13-10-1943 in the North Atlantic, was another of Kretschmer’s student officers aboard U-99 who later received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for sinking 15 ships as commanding officer of U-402.

    Kretschmer was meticulous in his conduct towards the crews of torpedoed ships. He earned the nickname “Silent Otto” both for his successful use of the “silent running” capability of the U-boats as well and for his reluctance to transmit radio messages during patrols When attacking lone merchantmen in the days before wolfpack, attack in tactics began in earnest, he had been known to hand down bottles of spirits and blankets into lifeboats and give them a course to the nearest land. On one patrol in September 1940, Kretschmer had also recovered a survivor of another torpedo attack who was alone in the Atlantic on a small raft and took him aboard, transferring him to a lifeboat after his next successful attack.

    On his last patrol in March 1941, he sank 10 more ships, but these were to be his last victims. On 17-03-1941, during a counterattack by the British escorts of Convoy HX-112, U-99 was disabled after repeated depth charge attacks by the destroyers Walker and Vanoc. Kretschmer surfaced and under fire from the British vessels, scuttled his boat. Three of his men were lost, but Kretschmer and the remainder of U-99 ‘s crew were captured. That same day the British escorts scored another success against the Kriegsmarine when the noted U-Boat skipper, Joachim Schepke, was killed, age 29, on 17-03-1941 aboard U-100, having being depth charged, rammed and sunk by Vanoc. Kretschmer’s usual standards of conduct were evident during the sinking of his boat; he signaled Walker asking for rescue for his men, taking care to ensure as many left the submarine as possible, and assisted some of his crew towards the rescue nets hung from the British destroyer. Kretschmer’s strength was evidently failing in the cold ocean; his own rescue was at the hands of a British sailor who climbed down the nets and plucked him from the water. Following his capture he spent almost seven years as a POW, prisoner of war, in the hands of the British and Canadians. In 1943, the German command tried to rescue him, in Operation Kiebitz, but that daring plan failed. In December 1947 he was allowed to return to Germany. Four of those years were spent in Canada at Bowmanville POW camp.

    Death and burial ground of Kretschmer, Otto “Silent Otto”.

    While on vacation in Bavaria in the summer of 1998, after an accident on a boat on the Danube, while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary, he stumbled and was unconscious, he died two days later, old age 86, on 05-08-1998. He was cremated in his hometown Straubing and his ashes were scattered at the Ostsea.

    Kretschmer, Otto "Silent Otto" - WW2 Gravestone

    Admiral Otto Kretschmer

    OTTO KRETSCHMER, of the German Reichsmarine, was the most successful submarine commander of any navy during the Second World War. In the first 18 months of the war he sank 44 ships totalling over 266,000 tons. His reward was celebrity status in Nazi Germany and he was awarded the coveted Ritterkreuz, the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

    His U-boat was decorated with a horseshoe symbol on the conning tower and he was very lucky indeed. In one month in 1941 three top submarine commanders were put out of action by the British. On 17 March 1941, in the North Atlantic, Kretschmer's vessel was caught by HMS Walker and badly damaged. Kretschmer was able to scuttle his submarine and lead most of the crew into captivity. Two other submarine "aces" were not so lucky. Joachim Schepke lost his life on the U-100. Gunther Prien, who had sunk the battleship HMS Royal Oak at Scapa Flow on 14 October 1939 with a loss of 883 British lives, went to the bottom in the U-47.

    Born in 1912, the son of a schoolteacher, Kretschmer sought a career in the small navy of the Weimar Republic in 1930. Although the navy was expanding slowly, and was involved in secret deals with the Soviet fleet, promotion was expected to be slow. In January 1932, with the rank of petty officer, Kretschmer was sent to serve in the pocket battleship Deutschland and the cruiser Emden. As an officer he joined the submarine service in 1934.

    The 1935 naval agreement with Britain gave Hitler's Reichsmarine the prospect of more rapid expansion and the submarine service was given due attention. Kretschmer spent the remainder of the pre- war years serving with the German naval patrol protecting Franco's interests during the Spanish Civil War.

    After sinking many merchant ships Kretschmer sank HMS Daring, a destroyer, off Norway on 18 February 1940. Thus he joined the select band of officers who had sunk an enemy warship. His war looked like being a good one.

    Kretschmer was a tall, polite man of gentle formality. He was known as a disciplinarian who punished his men for being drunk on leave. He was highly skilled and courageous and suffered with his men the cold, cramped conditions and poor diet of the submariners. Kretschmer nearly lost his life attempting to sink almost defenceless merchant ships.

    No doubt highly frustrated at being captured, Kretschmer carried on the war from his prisoner-of-war camp in Canada. He organised a two-way radio link to the German Naval High Command. A mass breakout was put in motion with a German submarine waiting as arranged at the St Lawrence River to pick up the prized submarine commanders. The plot was foiled by the Canadians at the last minute.

    In another incident, a German officer in the camp was ostracised for allegedly surrendering his submarine to the British. He argued that he had done so in order to save the lives of his men. He was threatened with a so-called "honour court" headed by Kretschmer and had to be relocated by the camp authorities. Kretschmer was returned to Germany in 1947. He was one of the handful of U-boat commanders to have survived.

    Kretschmer answered the call for volunteers in 1955 when the Bundesmarine (Federal Navy) was established. It was more like the navy he joined in 1930 than the navy he saw disbanded in 1945. The new force was seen largely as coastal defence. By 1965 it remained smaller than the Swedish navy, being made up largely of destroyers borrowed from the US and smaller vessels. The submarine arm consisted of only five craft as against 26 Swedish submarines.

    The Bundesmarine was different in other ways too. It could not get the recruits it wanted. In 1934, the German navy had been able to reject 9 out of 10 officer applicants; in 1964 the Federal Navy accepted 60%. Kretschmer and the other veterans had also to come to terms with the concept of servicemen as citizens in uniform. Many found this difficult. Flotillenadmiral (Admiral) Heinrich Gerlach, head of training, got into difficulties over his opinion that despite mistakes "much was excellent" in the Third Reich. On the other hand, Admiral Helmut Heye, responsible for ensuring servicemen were not abused, caused equal controversy when he attacked dangerous tendencies in the armed forces in 1965.

    In that year Kretschmer was promoted to Flotillenadmiral and he also served as Chief of Staff, Allied Naval Forces Nato Baltic Approaches. One of his last sad duties was to conduct an inquiry into the loss of the 232-ton submarine Hai with loss of 19 lives in September 1966. It had been heading for Scotland on a goodwill mission. Hai, a wartime U- boat, had been scuttled in 1945, salvaged and recommissioned 11 years later. Kretschmer found considerable technical faults and deficiencies in the training and command of the crew. The report did not gain him friends at the top levels of the navy.

    Kretschmer finally took off his uniform for good in 1970. West Germany had a new government, and the Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt, himself a wartime artillery officer, was the new Defence Minister. He wanted younger men in the highest ranks of the armed forces.

    In retirement Kretschmer retained his interest in all things naval and was happy to discuss the war with historians, former foes and more recent allies.

    Otto Wilhelm August Kretschmer, naval officer: born Heldau, Silesia 1 May 1912; married 1948 Dr Luise-Charlotte Mohnsen-Hinrichs (nee Bruns); died Straubing, Germany 5 August 1998.

    Obituary: Admiral Otto Kretschmer | The Independent

  4. #13

    The Sinking of RMS Leinster and SS Dundalk

    100 years ago this week, almost 600 people died in the Irish Sea when two ships were torpedoed by German U-boats. The attacks happened just weeks before the end of the War.the end of the war.

    NEWS • 20 Oct 2018

    On the morning of 10 October 1918, the Royal Mail Ship, Leinster, left Dún Laoghaire on its usual voyage to Holyhead. The mailboat was a central part of the economy of Dún Laoghaire and operated as a highly efficient floating postal sorting office and passenger ship - at a time when sea travel between Ireland and Britain was the only option for travellers. It was a model of efficiency. It was one of four sister ships named after the four provinces of Ireland.

    On that morning the Leinster carried about 180 civilians, 77 crew, some 500 soldiers and 22 postal workers. It left punctually at 09:00, as it normally did to avoid penalties for delayed sailings that affected the efficient distribution of post and parcels throughout Britain. Between 09:30 and 09:40 it had passed the Kish lightship – there was no lighthouse then.

    Breakfast had been served and the postal workers were busy in the sorting room. No one on board had any idea that the Leinster was sailing to its doom. Unbeknownst to them, the ship was now in the sights of U-Boat 123, commanded by Robert Ramm.

    In 1917, the Allies had begun concentrating their naval protection on ships in the Atlantic, leaving ships like the Leinster vulnerable. Some protection was thought to be offered by the ship's camouflage but it sailed into the Irish Sea unescorted.

    It was passengers on the upper deck who spotted the first torpedo, which missed. The second torpedo did not. It blew apart the postal sorting room. The ship altered course but a third torpedo then struck. The fate of Leinster and many on board was sealed. Crowded lifeboats and drifting wood used as rafts were the only option for survivors as the ship sank quickly.

    There were other ships nearby, but none could offer any assistance. Admiralty rules strictly forbad any ship attempting rescue less it would become another target for an enemy unseen beneath the waves. It was many hours before a rescue attempt could be organised.

    There are stories of heroism. William Maher was a Boer War veteran and a strong swimmer. Louisa Toppin and her daughter, Dorothy, aged 13 were among those whom Maher saved. As both mother and daughter slipped repeatedly from a raft, Maher dove again and again into the water.

    Both survived and Mrs Toppin went on to have Maher recognised with a parchment from the Royal Humane Society and a watch inscribed: "To William Maher from Dorothy Toppin as a small token of gratitude for saving her life. Leinster Disaster, 10th October, 1918".

    Maher died in 1953, aged 78. No headstone marks the grave in which he and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in Deansgrange Cemetery.

    There were many tragic stories too. Edward Lee of Blackrock had lost a son, Joe, at Gallipoli. His brother, Tennyson, was wounded there three days later. Now Edward Lee faced the dreadful task of writing to Tennyson in London to tell him his other brother Ernest had been on board the Leinster. Ernest had boarded the Leinster to rejoin the Royal Army Medical Corps in France.

    There is no account of him, dead or alive.....Oh the horror of it. Your poor mother is bearing up as well as can be expected but God alone knows the sorrow we feel. We fear the worst as we can get no news at all today. Mother and Ted join in unified love to our dear, dear boy. Your loving and affectionate Father, Edward Lee

    John Brophy of Phibsborough went to Dún Laoghaire to search for his brother Mathew's, body and later recounted seeing bodies in piles on the pier, "their heads hanging one to the left, one to the right". He did not find his brother. He subsequently arranged for an empty coffin to be buried in his father's grave in Glasnevin.

    His niece, Marie Comiskey, says when John Brophy became older and ill his decision bore heavily on him. "He wondered if he had done the right thing in telling his mother and sister-in-law that there was no body in the coffin".

    One hundred years on, the records of how many were on the Leinster are still being probed and the death toll updated. As of six weeks ago, the figure stands at 564.

    Robert Ramm and his young crew left the Leinster to its fate but theirs was also soon to be sealed. Shortly after, their U-Boat was mined off the Orkney Islands in Scotland. For many of the mostly teenaged crew, death was prolonged.

    Four days later another Irish ship, the SS Dundalk, would also become a target. The Dundalk was one of a number of ships plying the route to Britain. Livestock and horses for the war effort went one way, coal the other.

    On the night of 14 October, the ship left Liverpool with 32 passengers and crew on board. The Dundalk too was unescorted and an easy target.

    At about 11.10pm, as the passengers and crew were settling down for the night, a torpedo struck. The scene was similar to that of the aftermath of the Leinster. A sister ship, the SS Carlingford, passed afterwards but could offer no assistance because the U-Boat was still on the surface, its crew surveying the scene. The Carlingford's captain, Gerard Hughes, would endure much criticism and animosity on his return to Dundalk and subsequently emigrated to ship on the Great Lakes of North America. He paid a high price for following orders.

    Margaret Creegan, the only woman crew member, was among those who died. She had survived another torpedo attack on the Dundalk a year previously. This Sunday, those lost on the Dundalk will be remembered at a special service in the town's St Patrick's Cathedral, where a plaque records their names. The death toll in the Irish Sea for that week in October 1918 was almost 600. For them, the end of the war came just weeks too late.

    The Sinking of RMS Leinster and SS Dundalk -
    03 X 2019.

    What tragedy and it was happening all round.

  5. #14

    U-331 and HMS Barham

    The sudden loss of HMS Barham

    I saw water pouring into her funnels. There followed a big explosion amidships, from which belched black and brown smoke intermingled with flames. Pieces of wreckage, Hung high into the air, were scattered far and wide, the largest piece being about the size of my writing-desk.

    Captain C. E. Morgan commanding HMS Valiant described the final moments of the Battleship:
    Our battleships were proceeding westwards line ahead, with the Valiant immediately astern the Barham and with a destroyer screen thrown out ahead of the battlefleet. At 4.23 p.m., carrying out a normal zigzag, we turned to port together, thus bringing the ships into echelon formation.

    Suddenly, at 4.25, I heard a loud explosion, followed by two further explosions a couple of seconds later. Fountains of water and two enormous columns of smoke shot skywards. The smoke formed an enormous mushroom, gradually enveloping the whole of the Barham, except the after part, which was subsequently also blotted out as the ship slid into a vast pall of smoke.

    As the explosions occurred the officer on watch gave the command “ Hard to port,” to keep clear of the Barham.

    Fifteen seconds later I saw a submarine break the surface, possibly forced there by the explosion. Passing from left to right, the submarine was apparently making to cross the Valiant’s bows between us and the Barham. He was only about seven degrees off my starboard bow and 150 yards away, though he must have fired his torpedoes from about 700 yards.

    As the periscope and then the conning tower appeared I ordered “ Full speed ahead, hard starboard.” But, with the helm already hard to port, I was unable to turn quickly enough to ram him before he crash-dived only 40 yards away on our starboard side. The submarine was visible for about 45 seconds, and, simultaneously with our ramming efforts, we opened fire with our starboard pom-poms. He was so close, however, that we were unable to depress the guns sufficiently and the shells passed over the conning-tower.

    I then gave the order “Amidships” again to avoid turning into the Barham, which was still under way with her engines running but listing heavily to port. As we came up on her beam she heeled further about 20 or 30 degrees, and through the smoke I could see all her quarter-deck and forecastle. Men were jumping into the water and running up on the forecastle.

    The Barham was rolling on a perfectly even keel with neither bows nor stern sticking into the air. For one minute she seemed to hang in this position; then, at 4.28, she suddenly rolled violently, her mainmast striking the’ surface of the sea sharply a few seconds later.

    I saw water pouring into her funnels. There followed a big explosion amidships, from which belched black and brown smoke intermingled with flames. Pieces of wreckage, Hung high into the air, were scattered far and wide, the largest piece being about the size of my writing-desk.

    I immediately ordered “ Take cover ” as the wreckage started flying, and that was the last we saw of the Barham, which had run almost’ a mile since the moment she was hit. When the smoke cleared the only signs left were a mass of floating wreckage.

    The 35,000-ton ship disappeared with unbelievable suddenness; it was only 4 minutes 35 seconds exactly from the moment the torpedoes struck until she had completely disappeared.

    There is much more material relating to the ship at HMS Barham.

    HMS Barham was a Queen Elizabeth class battleship – the same as the historic [permalink id=10897 text=”HMS Warspite”] – for many great images of the Warspite and background to the Queen Elizabeth class see

    It was not until much later in the war that film of the loss of the Barham was made available publicly.

    The sudden loss of HMS Barham - World War II Today

    24 XI 2019.


    Sailing from Salamis on 12 November 1941, U-331 returned to the Egyptian coast. On 17 November she landed seven men of the Lehrregiment Brandenburg[6] east of Ras Gibeisa, on a mission to blow up a railway line near the coast, which failed.[7] On 25 November 1941, north of Sidi Barrani, U-331fired three torpedoes into the British Queen Elizabeth-class battleshipHMS Barham. As the ship rolled over, her magazines exploded and she quickly sank[8] with the loss of 861 men, while 395 were rescued.[9] U-331 returned to Salamis on 3 December, where her commander, Freiherr Hans-Diedrich von Tiesenhausen, was subsequently promoted to Kapitänleutnant and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

    German submarine U-331 - Wikipedia


    See the 3 ships hit by U-331 - View the 10 war patrols

    U-331 had signaled surrender to a British Walrus flying boat after being badly damaged by the attacks of the three Hudson aircraft. The boat was settling by the bow and could only move slowly astern towards the coast. The German crew was on deck and showing a white flag on the conning tower when the boat was attacked and sunk by the carrier aircraft. Tiesenhausen and the rest of the survivors were rescued by the Walrus and the British escort destroyer HMS Wilton which had been sent to the area to capture the U-boat.

    The Type VIIC U-boat U-331 - German U-boats of WWII ...

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to jagdmesser For This Useful Post:

  7. #15

    HMS Eagle British Aircraft Carrier

    HMS Eagle (94)

    British Aircraft carrier

    Name HMS Eagle (94)
    Type: Aircraft carrier (Eagle)
    Tonnage 22,600 tons (one of the largest ships sunk).
    Completed 1924 - Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Owner The Admiralty
    Date of attack 11 Aug 1942 Nationality: British
    Fate Sunk by U-73 (Helmut Rosenbaum)
    Position 38° 05'N, 3° 02'E - Grid CH 9119
    Complement 1087 officers and men (160 dead and 927 survivors).
    Convoy WS-21S
    History Laid down in 1913 for Chile as the dreadnought battleship Almirante Cochrane but work was suspended in 1914. The Admiralty purchased the ship on the slips in 1918 and finished it in February 1924 as the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (94).

    At 05.05 hours on 14 Jun 1942, the Italian submarine Giada (Cavallina) attacked the Harpoon convoy for Malta in 37°55N/06°12E. She fired torpedoes at HMS Eagle (94) (Capt E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and heard three detonations after 2 minutes 7 seconds. In fact, the carrier was not hit but it is possible that the fleet oiler Brown Ranger (3417 grt) was damaged.
    Notes on event At 13.15 hours on 11 Aug 1942, HMS Eagle (94) (Capt L.D. Mackintosh, RN) was hit by four torpedoes from U-73, while escorting convoy WS-21S(Operation Pedestal) to Malta. She sank 70 miles south of Cape Salinas, Majorca, Balearic Islands. Two officers and 158 ratings were lost. The commander and 926 survivors were picked up by HMS Laforey (G 99) (Capt R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lookout (G 32) (LtCdr A.G. Forman, RN) and the tug HMS Jaunty (W 30).
    HMS Eagle (94) (British Aircraft carrier) - Ships ... -U-boat


    Type VIIB
    Ordered 2 Jun 1938
    Laid down 5 Nov 1939 Bremer Vulkan-Vegesacker Werft, Bremen-Vegesack (werk 1)
    Launched 27 Jul 1940
    Commissioned 30 Sep 1940 Kptlt. Helmut Rosenbaum (Knights Cross)
    30 Sep 1940 - 10 Sep 1942 Kptlt.Helmut Rosenbaum (Knights Cross)
    1 Oct 1942 - 16 Dec 1943 Oblt. Horst Deckert (German Cross in Gold)
    15 patrols
    30 Sep 1940 - 31 Jan 1941 7. Flottille (training)
    1 Feb 1941 - 1 Jan 1942 7. Flottille (active service)
    1 Jan 1942 - 16 Dec 1943 29. Flottille (active service)
    Successes 8 ships sunk, total tonnage 43,945 GRT
    4 warships sunk, total tonnage 22,947 tons (lost aboard transport ships)
    3 ships damaged, total tonnage 22,928 GRT
    Fate Sunk on 16 December 1943 in the Mediterranean north of Oran, in position 36.07N, 00.50W, by depth charges and gunfire from the US destroyers USS Woolsey and USS Trippe. 16 dead and 34 survivors.
    WWII U-boats
    U-boat Type Commissioned
    U-73 VIIB 30 Sep 1940

  8. #16

    Möltenort U-Boat Memorial

    The U-Boot-Ehrenmal Möltenort (Möltenort U-Boat Memorial) in Heikendorf near
    Kiel is a memorial site belonging to the German War Graves Commission, commemorating the soldiers who died serving in U-Boat units during the Firstand Second World Wars, along with all victims of submarine warfare. The memorial also honours U-Boat soldiers from the Bundeswehr who have been killed in action since. The memorial site is an emblem of Heikendorf.


    The monument was built on the former Möltenorter Schanze (Möltenort Fieldwork) in Heikendorf and dedicated on 8 June 1930. After suffering structural damage, it was rebuilt in 1938. It consists of a 15.3-metre-high pillar, at the top of which sits a 4.8-metre-high eagle (designed by Fritz Schmoll). Extensive rust penetration was discovered in the internal steel supporting structure of the eagle in 2000, rendering renovation work necessary. Since 12 July 2001, the original eagle with its galvanised, copper-coated iron skin has been replaced by a recast bronze version similar to it (designed by the firm Noack from Berlin). The eagle was removed again in March 2012 for necessary reinforcement work after the detection of signs of fatigue in the supporting structure. The planned date of its return – initially scheduled to be six weeks later – was subjected to repeated delays thereafter; eventually, on 25 April 2013, the eagle was able to reassume its position.

    The U-Boot war badge is affixed to the pillar; until 1945 its position had been occupied by a swastika. This was made unrecognisable by the filling-in of the spaces between its arms – even today, however, it can still be made out behind the badge.


    In an arched gallery area, the names of fallen German U-Boat men of the German Imperial Navy and the Kriegsmarine, along with those of soldiers who died serving in the German Navy, are displayed on 115 bronze plaques.

    The number of fallen U-Boat men in the German Navy is stated on two plaques as follows:


    4.744 Gefallene
    200 verlorene U-Boote
    4,744 dead
    200 U-Boats lost)


    30.002 Gefallene
    739 verlorene U-Boote
    30,002 dead
    739 U-Boats lost)[1]

    Coordinates: 54.3794°N 10.1947°E

    Möltenort U-Boat Memorial - Wikipedia

    08 III 2020.

  9. #17

  10. #18

    Top 10 German U-Boat Aces of WWII

    Top 10 German U-Boat Aces of WWII

    The following is a list of the top ten U-Boat commanders in WW II. It is based upon the number of ships they sank and their impact on the war at sea.

    Georg Lassen

    Sinking 26 ships, totaling 156,082 tons, Georg Lassen caps the list of top German U-boat aces at number 10. He served in the Kriegsmarine from 1935 to 1945 and averaged 39,020 tons per patrol.

    On the night of 3-4 March 1943, Lassen, commanding U-160, sunk or damaged 6 ships. Two days later, he received word via radio that he had earned the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross. After his prolific career sinking enemy ships, in April 1945, Lassen began his command of Pretoria, a hospital ship.

    Günther Prien

    Günther Prien sunk 30 ships, totaling 162,769 tons. In less than two years, he spent 238 days at sea.

    Prien is famous for several reasons. He scored the second U-boat kill of the war, sinking the British ship Bosnia in September 1939. He was also the first U-boat commander to earn the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross when he slipped U-47 into Britain’s Scapa Flow and sunk the battleship Royal Oak. In one terrible incident, during the war, he sank the SS Arandora Star, which was carrying some 12,000 German and Italian citizens. Over 800 people died at sea.

    Kapitänleutnant Prien.

    Herbert Schultze

    At number eight on the list is Herbert Schultze, he sank 26 ships (169,709 tons). He received the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and was famous not just in Germany, but in Britain and America too.

    His fame sprang from an incident in his first patrol of the war on U-48, the most successful sub of World War II. When Schultze sank the British freighter Firby on September 11th, 1939, he radioed a message “cq – cq- cq – transmit to Mr. Churchill. I have sunk the British steamer ‘Firby’. Posit 59.40 North and 13.50 West. Save the crew, if you please. German submarine” (source:

    Karl-Friedrich Merten

    Karl-Friedrich Merten received his first U-boat command in early 1941. Prior to this, he had received years of intensive training ranging the entire field of naval tactics. Becoming a U-boat commander was another part of his varied naval career.

    His first patrol on U-68 lacked a single successful engagement. In his second, he rescued survivors from the cruiser Atlantis sunk by the British. On his third patrol, he sunk seven ships. During his fourth patrol, he sunk another seven and earned his first Knight Cross medal. In total, he sank 29 ships (170,151 tons).

    Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock

    Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (center) with Erich Topp

    Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, a highly decorated U-boat commander was the sixth best U-boat ace of World War II with 24 ships sunk totaling 179,125 tons. He spent the entirety of the war fighting on U-boats, receiving his first command in December 1939.

    The prime of his career was commanding U-96. It was with this sub that he earned all his medals and hosted the reporter Lothar-Günther Buchheim who wrote the book Das Boot about U-96, which was adapted into a movie in 1981. After the war, Lehmann-Willenbrock went on to captain several more ships in South America and then Germany again, including the first ever nuclear-powered merchant cargo ship.

    Viktor Schütze

    Viktor Hermann Otto Ludwig Paul Ferdinand Schütze rings in at number five. His official stats are 35 enemy ships sunk for a total of 180,073 tons. A former torpedo boat officer, Schütze started his career in U-boats in 1935.

    One stunning fact about Schütze is that he managed to amass his long list of ships sunk in just under two years. After that, he left front line service and eventually commanded training flotillas, but not before earning the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.

    Heinrich Liebe

    Heinrich Liebe commanded U-boats in the sinking of 34 ships, totaling 187,267 tons and all of this before being promoted to German Naval High Command in July 1941. He received many awards, including the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.

    On one patrol in the summer of 1940, commanding U-38, Liebe sank six ships West of Ireland and landed a German agent in Ireland. On his ninth and final patrol, again with U-38, before being promoted to the High Command office, he sank eight ships.

    Erich Topp

    With 35 ships sunk (197,460 tons), Erich Topp makes the top three. His first command was the U-552 on December 4th, 1940. He sunk the first U.S. ship lost in World War II, the destroyer USS Reuben James on October 31st, 1941. This caused a bit of a diplomatic dust-up with the U.S.

    Despite that history with the U.S. Navy, after the war, Topp served in Washington, D.C. as NATO’s Military Committee Chief of Staff. In the 1960s, Topp was recognized for rebuilding the German navy and his great efforts in building the transatlantic alliance. He died in 2005 at the age of 91.

    Wolfgang Lüth

    Wolfgang Lüth was a very close second in the list of best U-boat captains. In 15 war patrols and more than 600 days at sea, he sank 46 ships, totaling 225,204 tons of displacement. Like the one ace above him on the list, Otto Kretschmet, Lüth received many high honors, but, unlike Kretschmet, didn’t survive past 1945.

    During his service at the Mürwik Naval Academy in Flensburg in May 1945 (an area currently occupied by the British), Lüth was returning to the Academy very drunk and didn’t respond to the young German guard’s request for the password. He was mistakenly shot and received the last state funeral ever conducted by the Third Reich and the only one granted to a U-boat commander.

    Otto Kretschmer

    Otto Kretschmer celebrating his Knight’s Cross with his U-99 crew in 1940

    Otto Kretschmer was the Captain of U-99 for just a year and a half of World War II before his sub was disabled by depth charges and he was captured by the British Navy. Nonetheless, in that short time, he became the uncontested top ace below the waves in terms of tonnage sunk, which totaled 27,043 tons or an astounding 47 ships.

    During one patrol in the first two months of 1940, he sank three British armed merchant cruisers, two in one night. He was known for only taking one torpedo to sink his prey, exemplary conduct and helping the survivors of the ships he sank with supplies and given them bearings to the nearest land.

    Top 10 German U-Boat Aces of WWII - WAR HISTORY ONLINE04 XII 2020.

  11. #19

    U 27 sunk by Baralong and all German survivors including the Commander executed on the spot.


    On August 19, 1915, about 100 miles south of Queenstown, Ireland, U-27, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Bernard Wegener, stopped the British steamer Nicosian in accordance with the rules laid down by the London Treaty. A boarding party of six from the U-27 discovered that Nicosian was carrying munitions and 250 American mules intended for the use of the British Army in France. They ordered the freighter's crew and passengers into lifeboats, which soon pulled away, and prepared to sink the freighter.

    U-27 was lying off Nicosian's port quarter firing into it when Baralong appeared on the scene, sailing under the Stars and Stripes. When she was half a mile away Baralong ran up a signal flag to the effect that she was going to rescue Nicosian's crew. Wegener acknowledged the signal, ordered his men to stop firing, and took U-27 along the port side of Nicosian to intercept the Baralong. As the submarine disappeared behind the steamship, Herbert steered Baralong on a parallel course along Nicosian's starboard side.[1]

    Before U-27 came round Nicosian's bow, Baralong hauled down the American flag and hoisted the Royal Navy White Ensign, and unmasked her guns. When U-27 came into view from behind Nicosian, Baralong opened fire with her three 12-pounder guns at a range of 600 yd (550 m), firing 34 rounds, and U-27 rolled over and sank in under a minute.[1][2]

    Twelve men survived the sinking of the submarine; the crews of her two deck guns and those who had been on the conning tower. They swam to the Nicosian and clambered up her hanging boat falls and pilot ladder. Herbert, worried that they would try to scuttle the steamer or set fire to her, ordered his men to open fire with small arms, killing all except six who managed to board the Nicosian.[3][4][5] Wegener is described by some accounts as being shot while trying to swim to the Baralong.[4]

    Herbert sent a party of twelve Royal Marines led by Sergeant Collins aboard the steamer to hunt them down, and they were discovered in the engine room where they were shot on sight, an action which may have been spurred by motives of revenge. Earlier that same day, U-24 had sunk the White Star liner SS Arabic with the loss of 44 lives; the Baralong had been about 20 mi (32 km) from the scene, and had received a distress call from the ship.[2] Her Royal Navy crew regarded it as an atrocity on a par with the sinking of the Lusitania.[1]

    An alternative account has the Germans who boarded the Nicosian being killed by the engine room staff; this version apparently came from the officer in command of the muleteers.[6][2] However, doubt is cast on this by the fact that the crew had earlier been ordered into lifeboats preparatory to the U-27 sinking the Nicosian by gunfire.

    HMS Baralong,tsushima su

  12. #20

    How the Battle of the Atlantic and WW II was lost.

    book: GREY WOLF Dunstan and Williams:

    P 4 & 5

    ON THE EARLY MORNING of November 2, 1942 a convoy of forty-five ships designated SC – 107, heading eastbound out of New York, was approaching the ‘Black Pit’ – the seven hundred mile gap in the mid-Atlantic where shipping could not as yet be protected by Allied aircraft. Closing in on the convoy were thirteen U-boats of Gruppe Veilchen (Group Viola). At this time Allied naval assets had been diverted far south to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. ConvoySC-107 was protected only by Canadian Escort Group C4, with just one Destroyer and four corvettes. Under the cover of darkness and bad weather, two U-boats slipped through the widely stretched cordon of escorts and maneuvered into attack positions.Cdr. Baron Siegfried von Forstner’s U-402 fired a salvo of torpedoes at a range of four hundred yards and one struck the freighter SS Empire Sunrise amidship damaging it badly.It would later be finished off by Lt. Cdr. Horst Uphoff’s U-84. Lt. Cdr. Herbert Schneider’s U-522 also penetrated the escort screen and sank no fewer than four vessels. By dawn, Gruppe Veilchen had sunk eight ships and damaged two more. The U-boats then slipped away to avoid detection but had to remain on the surface in order to keep up with the convoy.

    Throughout the following day SC-107 tried to evade the wolf pack by changing course whenever fog or snowstorms provided any fleeting cover. Soon after the early sunset of November 3, U-89 (Cdr. Dietrich Lohmann) slipped into the centre of the convoy and launched five torpedoes. Two of them sunk their targets, including the convoy commodore’s ship, the 5,318 ton SS Jeypore, laden with ammunition. Around midnight, U-132 (Lt. Cdr. Ernst Vogelsang) unleashed a fan of five torpedoes towards the starboard flank of SC-107. Three ships were hit. Thirty minutes later one of these vessels, carrying munitions, exploded with such ferocity that surface ships some six miles away felt the blast and U-boats at depths of seventy metres were jolted by the shock wave – indeed U-132 and her crew were never heard from again. On November 5, a Royal Air Force B-24 Liberator long range bomber of No 120 Squadron arrived overhead and further naval escorts from Iceland rendezvoused with SC-107. When U-89 was damaged by air attack, Gruppe Veilchen broke off the battle. It had won a significant victory: in all, fifteen merchantmen out of forty two were sunk and four damaged, for a total of 107,958 tons of shipping lost.

    During the month of November 1942 alone, a total of 730,000 tons of Allied shipping was sunk. During the whole of 1942, the Allies lost an estimated 1,661 ships and 6.5 million tons of cargo to U-boat attacks. About 87 U-boats were sunk but 238 new boats were commissioned and that year saw Dönitz’s fleet increased from 91 to 212 boats. Winston Churchill wrote , “The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril. ” He declared, “On their defeat hung the outcome of World War II. ”

    P 13

    ON OCTOBER 30, 1942, a week before Allen Dulles arrived in Bern, the badly damaged U-559 (Lt. Cdr. Hans Heidmann) was abandoned by its crew under the guns of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Petard off the coast of Egypt. A British officer and two seamen swam across and risked their lives to clamber down inside. Two of them were dragged down to their deaths when the U-boat sank, but a sixteen-year-old canteen assistant named Tommy Brown survived – and with him, vital operating manuals for the latest four-rotor Enigma machine. This act of sacrificial courage won for Bletchley Park the means of breaking the codes that had defied the cryptanalysts since February. Their success was far from immediate and for months they could only decrypt U-boat signals after long delays, but by September 1943 they would be producing Ultra intelligence at their former speed. At the outset, the British were reluctant to share such sensitive information with their American counterparts in the OSS, but in time their cooperation gave birth to a massive signals intelligence-gathering organization that became one of the great Anglo-American achievements of the war.

    'Ultra' determined the outcome of WW II.

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