U-49 sunk off Norway

HMS Bulldog, the same class of destroyer as HMS Brazen

On the morning of the 15th of April H.M.S. Fearless and Brazen were ordered to proceed ahead of a British troop convoy passing through Andfiord, and hunt a U-Boat reported by a military outpost to be north of Andorja Island. Passage through Topsundet was made at 25 knots, and Vaags Fiord was entered at 1026, Brazen being then moved out to 1 mile on the port beam, speed being reduced first to 18 knots then to 12 knots at 1040, and course was shaped to pass close to Andorja Island.

Eight minutes later Fearless, then quite close to Andorja Island, gained contact ahead at 1,700 yards. When this had been reduced to 1,400 yards, the echo was confirmed as a submarine and Fearless increased to 20 knots to attack. A single pattern of five charges was fired, throwers set to 250 ft. and traps to 350, 150, and 350 ft. The first depth charge exploded under the bows of the U-Boat and had little effect, but the second exploded close to the conning tower, and this seems to have been the fatal one. As one rating described it, ” the boat leapt in the water.” All lights were extinguished and everything was in confusion. A third depth charge exploded by the stern and the remaining two astern. The last explosion had barely subsided when the U-Boat shot to the surface in the middle of the pattern, trimmed horizontal.

The Captain apparently lost his head, for he gave the order to blow the tanks, then changed the order to flood the tanks, but, realising this was hopeless owing to the inrush of water, once more gave the order to blow the tanks. The ballast tanks were stated to have been destroyed and the periscope was wrecked. Orders had been given to release the Marx buoy raft, but owing to the panic this was not done.

The first members of the crew to appear on deck made for the gun, but were speedily discouraged by a few rounds of 4.7 in. from Brazen and Fearless, one shot passing through the conning tower. The Germans then took to the water with the exception of the Captain and one Petty Officer who were seen on the bridge putting papers and confidential books into a bag. Fearless opened fire and they also took to the water. The papers were obtained, dried, and sent to H.M.S. Aurora. . The U-Boat did not appear to be much damaged on surfacing, but she sank very quickly and there was a minor underwater explosion shortly after she had submerged.

Survivors were picked up by whalers from Brazen and Fearless and transferred to Aurora, and later to Valiant. After some 10-15 minutes in the water the entire complement of 42 was rescued with the exception of one rating. One other rating was wounded and subsequently underwent an operation in HMS Valiant for the removal of a shell splinter from the stomach. On this last cruise U.49 had carried 14 torpedoes, none of which were expended.

From the subsequent Naval Intelligence analysis: TNA ADM 199/205

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