The Royal Navy believed they had sunk the U-Boat that had torpedoed HMS Ark Royal when U-433 was sunk late on the 16th November in the Eastern Mediterranean.
U-433 fired four torpedoes at the Flower class corvette HMS Marigold but missed, apparently the camouflage pattern on the corvette led the captain to believe he was firing at a much larger target.
The tracks from the torpedoes gave away the U-Boats position and HMS Marigold put in an immediate depth charge attack. After this first attack HMS Marigold turned of her engines and waited. Once again Naval Intelligence pieced together what happened next by interrogating the survivors:
Below water in “U 433” Ey and his officers had been completely deceived by “Marigold’s” movements. In anticipation of the first pattern of depth charges the U-boat’s hydrophones had been switched off, but, as no further pattern followed immediately, they were again switched on. It was reported that propeller noises could be heard, but they were fading in the distance.
The next half hour was spent by Ey and his officers in consulting as to the next step. Ey apparently was in favour of surfacing and making use of the cover of night to effect an escape, a course which appears to have been against the wishes of the crew who later blamed their commander, among themselves, for throwing away his U-boat.
As no further noises were reported by the hydrophones, however, Ey decided that he could safely carry out his plan. Accordingly, orders were given to surface. “U 433” rose to 60 ft., where she was checked for listening purposes.
What happened next is best described in the words of a midshipman prisoner:
“All of a sudden there was a terrific sound of propellers to starboard. The devil had been lying in wait quite close to us, with engines stopped. We put our nose down to dive again, and she came directly over us. We could hear her propellers inside the boat – we weren’t very deep and she probably saw our wake. She then dropped depth charges. They were terribly close.
The U-boat heeled over and plunged deeply; there was a leak forward, and everything imaginable was damaged. The high pressure air whistled through the boat, the switchboards of the main motors were smashed and the gyro-compass overturned. Everything in the W/T room was wrecked. The forward spare torpedoes had broken adrift from their stowage. You never saw such a mess on board. It was then, I believe, that the order “Put on life-saving apparatus” was given. We were steadily going down; the boat was breaking up and sinking very slowly.”
In fact U-433 was not responsible for sinking the Ark Royal, as the British were soon to learn from German propaganda. The full report can be read at UboatArchive.