U-433 sunk by HMS Marigold

A Flower Class Corvette of the same type as HMS Marigold (K-87). The distorting camouflage pattern can be seen here although it is much faded.

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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor November 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm

@Pete

Sorry Pete forgot to add the reference. Best answered by quoting a bit more …

“Marigold” reported that almost immediately after the explosions of the last pattern of depth charges “U 433″ was seen to surface dead astern. Helm was put hard a starboard and orders given to the 4 in. gun, the Lewis guns on the bridge and the pom-pom to train on and open fire. Tracer bullets were observed hitting the conning tower immediately. The 4 in. gun could not be depressed enough as range was too short, but it was kept firing.

The crew of the submarine were heard screaming and as “Marigold” passed close to the target, men were seen and heard in the water and it was clear that the U-boat was being abandoned. The hissing of blown tanks was heard and engines were still running as the U-boat proceeded on the surface, steering a zigzag course, making it impossible to board her.

Close contact was kept with the submarine and fire maintained until at midnight, after two explosions, presumably scuttling charges, were heard aboard, she sank.

Prisoners stated that when giving the order to abandon ship Ey also ordered his ship to be scuttled. These preparations consisted in fixing scuttling charges, timed to explode in 10 minutes, next to the torpedoes remaining in the bow compartment, ordering full speed ahead on the one functioning Diesel engine and in opening the vents. This task was supervised by the Engineer Officer in accordance with a prearranged routine. After these preparations were completed the entire crew were ordered into the water.

No person remained on board “U 433″ who ploughed her way through the men as they were swimming and possibly ran one or two down. Shortly afterwards the crew watched their boat sink, following two explosions believed to have been caused by the warheads of torpedoes detonated by the scuttling charges.

Prisoners stated that at least two of their number, an engine-room petty officer and an engine-room rating had been foolhardy enough to strike out for the Spanish coast which, they judged, was at least thirty miles away. They, themselves, after a lengthy immersion, were chilled and numb and no one could possibly have survived a swim which under ideal conditions, even if it were possible, would have demanded exceptional endurance. They added that six men in all were lost.

Pete November 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Was U-433 sunk by HMS Marigold, or did U-433′s crew scuttle her?

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