submarines

May

9

1942

USCGC Icarus sinks U-352

9th May 1942: USS Icarus sinks U-352

At 1709 the submarine surfaced, down by the stern. The ICARUS immediately opened fire with those machine-guns which were bearing and then turned to the right to head for the submarine. The 3” gun and all other machine-guns opened fire as they could be brought to bear. The first round from the 3” gun was short but ricocheted through the conning tower. The next round from the 3” gun was over and thereafter, all shots were either hits or close misses.

May

7

1942

U-boat escapes depth charges off Florida

7th May 1942: U-boat escapes depth charges off Florida

After several attacks the captain thought we were on the bottom, unable to move. He tried to obtain an oil sample but gave up, not daring to stop the ship. Then his Asdic located us about 3,000 metres ahead ofthe oil slick. The current was two knots and the depth was 91 fathoms or about 160 metres. This was beyond the effective depth of his charges which at the most exploded at 120 metres whatever adjustments were made.

May

1

1942

Surviving a U-boat patrol in the Barents Sea

A tremendous weight forced us onto our knees and tore at all our limbs. Above us a bright-green watery vault foamed and hummed before gradually subsiding. It became brighter and brighter while we fought against the draining water, spitting, choking, and cursing. A glance at other comrades and short smiles from salty red faces gave us comfort that all was okay again.

Apr

14

1942

First U-Boat kill by U.S. ship

13th April 1942: First U-Boat kill by U.S. ship

A barrage of eleven depth charges was laid by use of racks, Y-guns, and K-guns, based on an eye estimate of the submarine’s location plus an excellent sound contact. The bearing of the submarine remained almost constant and the speed was negligible. Wreckage could not be detected because of the darkness. On two occasions this ship passed near the survivors, but the fact that German submarines frequently work in pairs made the conduct of any rescue work before daylight far too dangerous to risk.

Mar

19

1942

‘Typical Examples of Performance of His Majesty’s Ships’

19th March 1942: ‘Typical Examples of Performance of His Majesty’s Ships’

In an annex to the weekly Naval Military and Air Reports on the progress of the war, there was was a brief summary of the huge serviceability issues that arose from from warships being at sea for extended periods of time:

Mar

4

1942

HMS Torbay slips into Corfu harbour for sneak attack

4th March 1942: HMS Torbay slips into Corfu harbour for sneak attack

0734 hours – Fired two torpedoes at the destroyer / torpedo boat which unfortunately ran under. At this moment one torpedo struck the first ship fired at. Torbay went deep and turned at full speed to 145º. This was the direct course for the South channel. Cdr. Miers thought it was now time to get out and not to overstay their ‘welcome’.

Feb

6

1942

Torpedo attack on a convoy in mid-Atlantic

6th February 1942: U-boat wolf pack makes torpedo attack on a convoy in mid-Atlantic

Another explosion and the tanker on the starboard stern received hers. The Lieutenant had remained on the stern gun to personally take charge in the event the sub might appear. Among the faces of the crew were some puzzling looks as we all watched with eagerness to fight if we had to. Five minutes later all was quiet, until another ship – which happened to be a Liberty – was hit as the flares pierced the sky once more.

Feb

2

1942

The unpopular U-boat officers from U-581

It was said of him that on one occasion, when a British destroyer had been sighted, he had excused himself with the remark: “I’ve got to go to the lavatory for a moment,” despite the entreaties of his junior officers to take offensive action. When he returned the destroyer was not in a favourable position for attack. Such lack of enthusiasm had a depressing effect on his crew, who were not slow to show their dislike of returning to port with no pennants flying, whereas other U-Boats would usually fly several, one for each ship claimed sunk.

Jan

25

1942

U-boat versus merchantman in mid Atlantic gun duel

25th January 1942: U-boat versus merchantman in the Atlantic – Hardegen’s U-123 sinks British ship CULEBRA with deck gun

Deck gun ready and opened fire. The first shots hit the stern, then one each under the bridge and in the engine room. Steamer mans the gun and fires. The firing pin of our MG C30 is broken, so we fired with the deck gun at his gun. Several hits underneath, but he continues to fire until a direct hit struck the pivot. Gun crew out of action, the barrel can’t be moved anymore. We received 5 hits, which did not penetrate the pressure hull. Because they hit very low, I assume that they fell short, burst on the surface and only the splinters hit our hull. Some shots passed between conning tower and deck gun, one could hear them whistling past.

Jan

17

1942

U-Boats move to the U.S. east coast

Fired stern torpedo. Target angle 90°, distance 750 meters. Running time 57 seconds. A very heavy detonation, strong, dark black smoke plume. Hit bridge. The steamer sinks immediately. As the smoke from the detonation cleared, only the masts were still visible above the water, and shortly thereafter sank. Water depth of 45 meters. I depart at maximum speed eastwards because the day is dawning and I need some more water under our keel during the day.