Sunday, December 31, 2006

The End of the Cruise and the Return to Port

11 July 1942
9:38 local time
The constant patrols, by both air and sea, have made for a slow go; not to mention I have no torpedoes left and the seas are too heavy for any chance of using the deck gun. The destroyers have been easy to slip past, but it is the Sunderlands that scare me. Their radar detection sets lead them right to us in the somewhat clear weather and we have had a few close calls with their depth charge drops! I can tell the crew is getting a bit shaken and worn out by the monotony of running under the surface all day and the frequent crash dives during the half-light of the night while trying to charge our batteries.

12 July 1942
6:03 local time
Rain! Oh sweet rain! The reprieve from air cover has allowed us to stay on the surface and make a run for home at full speed. If this weather holds, and we do not run into too many surface patrols, we should be back in Brest within two days. The mood of the crew is definitely more upbeat today and the level of tension has subsided.

13 July 1942
8:51 local time
We passed the sou'west tip of Ireland during the night and are cruising across the English Channel towards France now. We should be coming up on a group of three type 34 destroyers soon. They are on station to provide the returning u-boats air cover and to warn of any approaching British ships.

13 July 1942
21:37 local time
We will be pulling into our berth shortly. I already feel a great sense of relief being under the protection of the base defenses and not out there alone on the Atlantic.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Patrol Zone Reached

6 July 1942
2:12 local time
At 00:57 we closed within extreme range of a British coastal merchant. Not wanting to discover whether or not she was armed, and hoping to get out of the area as quick as possible, we engaged her with the deck gun at 6000 meters. After a few ranging shots the rounds found their mark and I ordered the gunners to fire for full effect. Sr. Seaman Kals was finally able to use his gunnery skills for the first time in three patrols with this crew and did so with zeal. The merchant took nearly twenty rounds before exploding; likely magazine hit. I ordered a quick radio report and turned the boat around and resumed heading for the patrol zone at full speed.

6:52 local time
Within minutes of my last entry at least two Sunderlands came looking for us. We dove for cover and heard numerous depth charge explosions minutes later. Luckily, none of them were close to our position. An hour later a V&W destroyer made an appearance. I hid in the deep water as he came as close as 2000 meters searching for us. In such perfect weather conditions our single deck gun would not last long against such an opponent!

I fear that with all of the air traffic in the Atlantic our luck is going to run out sooner or later. We are very near our patrol zone and I cannot figure out any safer way to return home than the way we came here. The crew will have to remain as vigilant as always despite the continuing toll the constant enemy patrols have taken on our health.

7 July 1942
1:29 local time
Still perfectly clear weather, though heavy swells seem to indicate foul weather approaching soon. I decided to make as along a surface run as possible today to gain some distance towards our zone and to give the crew some fresh air. We had to be creative under the circumstances. I couldn't stop and let them out for a swim, so we had the men come up in pairs with buckets to wash the stick off of themselves with fresh seawater and some soap. This was the best luxury I could afford them at present and it did make a noticeable impact on moral. The fun lasted until nearly noon when a pair of Hurricanes were spotted in the distance. I was glad that we had managed to get everyone out on deck at least once this morning before having to retreat under the sea again.

8 July 1942
7:00 local time
We finally reached our patrol zone. I will only remain here for the required twenty-four hours, unless enemy traffic is spotted. I have no desire to linger here with such a long cruise ahead of us.

9 July 1942
23:55 local time
After completing our zone time, we plotted our course for Brest. A hour later three American sea planes came in very fast and dropped at least a dozen, probably more, depth charges that rocked the boat nearly on its side! We had several injuries from men and equipment falling over, but nothing too severe. The Americans must be flying out of Iceland now. We'll have to take a look at the charts and try to estimate their combat radius. The next 2100km just got a bit longer.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cruising the Atlantic in Search of Foul Weather

3 July 1942
4:15 local time
Rough seas and rain make for perfect sailing conditions lately. Two years ago I would have hoped to climb up the ladder to be greeted by sunshine. That dream has been dashed by the constant Allied air patrols of late. At least I'm blessed with a diligent watch crew who can give us enough time to get under cover of the sea when the Sunderlands and Hurricanes come diving upon us. For now we must find as much enjoyment in the rolling swells as is possible.

15:00 local time
We picked up a single warship contact just after 13:00 today. Being in shallow waters with nowhere to hide I decided not to engage, especially with air cover at the ready.

4 July 1942
4:23 local time
A beautiful morning, for anyone but an u-boat crew. The relatively warm summer breeze and calm seas are some relief to yesterday's rough ride, but there is always the constant nagging feeling of being spotted. We're keeping pace at a pretty good clip, 12 knots, so we can get under cover quickly. Today I'm also going to test our new radar system; the rough seas revealed a weakness with the exterior mounting that would cause it to blow out fuses every time a wave overtook the conning tower! We know the Brits can track our signals, but at the same time it can give us a greater warning and every second counts.

22:41 local time
A medium size destroyer was spotted heading directly for us at 4000 meters and closing fast. It may have been luck, but my guess would be that they picked up our radar signal. I quickly fired off a torpedo and dove. He evaded our torpedo and proceeded to lay down a string of depth charges near by. Luckily we had time to maneuver our of the area and he was not about to find us again. Bruno had spotted her at 4000 meters while there was no sign on the radar; some things just can't be replaced so easily.

5 July 1942
0018 local time
We picked up a tip from HQ on radio that a large convoy is heading in our direction. I've set a course to try to intercept them. With only two remaining torpedoes we'll have to see what damage we can do.

5:37 local time
We found the convoy in the still clear weather just before 2:00 and waited for them to draw near. They had a single destroyer out front wallowing back and forth as a picket. I lined up to be able to fire on the lead as well as the column of cargo ships directly behind. Luck wasn't in it. The first eel missed the destroyer and failed to find another target behind and the second struck a troop transport on the bow, but failed to even check her progress. With the perfectly clear weather, and the addition of deck guns on several of the merchants, we had no option other than to slip away silently. An hour later a pair of Sunderlands came in and dropped some depth charges in a few areas; apparently hoping for a lucky shot, but nothing close to us. We're running on the surface now to recharge our batteries and air out the cabins while we can.

23:20 local time
I've set a course to intercept a lone ship off the Irish coast. If the weather holds out, and she is not a large warship, we can use the deck gun. Hopefully we can avoid the air patrols long enough to close with her and get an ID.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Redemption in the English Channel

1 July 1942
3:30 local time
I need sleep. I've been awake for nearly a day now and am exhausted from last night's action. Letting two battleships and a heavy cruiser pass out of my reach has also weighed heavily on me for the past several hours; leaving me in a mood only matched by the foul weather. At least the heavy rain will give us enough cover to run on the early morning. We are resuming our original cruise towards the Irish coast.

12:53 local time
A radio message came in through the fog: there is a large convoy approx. 40km west of our position heading right towards us. We are currently west of Land's End and south of Ireland, the perfect spot for an incoming convoy trap. the trick will be to find them in this thick weather.

20:14 local time
We did it! Between the dive off of the adrenaline rush and the excitement my hands won't stop shaking! At 14:26 we intercepted the convoy; several contacts spread all across our heading. Fortunately for us they were moving slowly and we were able to sneak right into their midst. With less than 500 meters visibility we had to rely on stealth to move in close enough to identify our targets. After passing by two smaller merchants we spotted a troop transport followed directly by a large tanker. I sent two eels towards each ship and waited nervously, thinking back to my last failed attack. I was rewarded by two explosions that sent the troop transport nearly over on her side and a hit on the tanker. In desperation of losing sight of the tanker in the murk I sent the aft torpedo out but it passed by, striking another ship off in the distance. The transport was definitely sinking, her engine bays must be flooding.

As the crew frantically reloaded we dropped down to fifty meters in preparation for the escorts. I kept expecting a cruiser or smaller picket ship to show up but they didn't come for us; I can only guess they were too busy plucking survivors from the transport out of the sea as it slowly slipped beneath the waves. We came back up with three tubes loaded and found our tanker just barely in view. We closed the distance within minutes and launched one torpedo. A resounding impact was heard on the hydrophones; a dud! I let loose another fore and the aft eels. Fireballs leaped from her belly as she broke in two! As the heat wave hit us Karl wrenched open the door, 'Sir! I can hear a ship right behind us!" I swung the scope around to see yet another large tanker bearing down on us! In my excitement it had not occurred to me to keep scanning all around us. A sad day this would have been if the sonarman had not warned me! I retracted the scope and ordered us back down to fifty meters to reload.

After carefully stalking our new tanker on the hydrophones we surfaced directly behind her at just over 400 meters. I set two eels at different depths and sent them out. At least one exploded under her keel and broke her back! With three large ships heading to the bottom of the Channel I decided it was time to leave. We have four remaining torpedoes for the rest of our long patrol and may need them. We slipped out under cover of heavy rain and will attempt to bring in the two torpedoes from the deck as soon as the weather slackens. Happy sailing ahead.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All or Nothing

30 June 1942
6:47 local time
Iceland. I've been ordered to head out to grid AE89, southeast of Iceland. At least summer is upon us and it should take a bit of the edge off the freezing cold spray. We sailed out of Brest last night just before sunset to little fanfare and quiet waters. This morning brought heavy rain, which i have learned to welcome in the face of increased Allied air patrols and those damned Sunderlands. We'll see them soon enough though.

I plan to return to our favorite hunting grounds this patrol. We will cut across the Channel entrance and then skirt along the western Irish coast to our zone. If we're lucky we may find another convoy to ambush. The location of our patrol zone, NW of Ireland and SE of Iceland should also offer the opportunity to intercept traffic headed to the northern British ports.

1 July 1942
20:12 local time
It has been a busy day with little to show for the effort. At 9:47 this morning Karl picked up multiple warships contacts. Large warships! We tried for three hours in the rough weather to close with them but could not even gain a visual sighting. Exhausted for being up all night and morning I fell right into a deep sleep only to be awoken to the fact that we had run across our friends again.

At 14:52 we heard the distant rumblings of the battle group again. Definitely some heavy ships out there. Another three hours and we managed to gain some on them. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw two giant battleships and a cruiser in line out there. I managed to maneuver the boat within the trailing picket ship but the battleships were still at an extreme range and we were losing them fast. I shot off a homing torpedo from the aft tube towards the picket and then let loose all four forward torpedoes in a spread towards the center battleship at a range of nearly 5000 meters.

As we made our getaway two explosions were heard but that didn't inflict more than minor damage to the capital ship. By then we were well out of range and resumed our original course to the north. So close, but just out of reach. I can only hope that we will somehow run across the battlegroup again. I will send off a contact report when we surface for our night run so that some aircraft or another u-boat may have a chance at them.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Patrol # 2 Results

Patrol # 2
14 May to 1 June 1942
5 merchants sunk for 22416 tons

1 Sunderland shot down

Two crew lost in action

Awards: Iron Cross 1st class and Knight's Cross with oak leaves

Awarded Lt. jr. Adolf Carlewitz the Iron Cross 2nd class for his actions as part of the watch crew

Promoted Hermann Sander to Chief Seaman for his actions as part of the watch crew

Chief Sr. Seaman Heino Mannesmann will be qualified as a machinist before we leave port (he has been greatly helpful to my engineering crew during th epast two patrols and has learned much in the engine bay)

I managed to pick up two new crew already: Sr. Seaman Matthias Euler and Sr. Seaman Hartwig Abel to round out my crew. Word spreads quickly when a relatively successful boat enters port.

My boat is scheduled for some routine maintenance so we will have a few weeks of shore leave. We are scheduled to begin our third patrol on the 29th of June.

Heading Home

28 May 1942
10:00 local time
A radio transmission had my heart pounding until i took a look at the charts and realized we could never intercept the convoy that was reported. Of course with onyl one torpedo we may not have been able to do much except shadow them so that other captains might have a chance.
We are currently 1000km due west of Brest and laying low during the clear daytime weather.

17:43 local time
A small tanker was spotted just after 11:00 this morning. The blue skies benefitted us for once as the lookouts saw her at roughly 6000 meters. We had plenty of time to prepare for our attack and sent our last eel out on a perfect track. There was a large explosion and the tanker began to sink aft. I ordered the boat up to the surface to engage the target witht he deck gun, but the effort was unneeded. We sent out a contact report and slipped beneatht he waves before air support had time to arrive on the scene.

30 may 1942
6:12 local time
A British destroyer was spotted in the murky weather at 3500 meters just after midnight. We dove for cover but it appeared that he did not take any notice of us. A lone Hurricane was spotted at first light and didn't seem to notcie us., though a Sunderland came roaring in half an hour later forcing us below the surface yet again.

31 May 1942
1649 local time
After several hours of rain the weather broke to reveal three type 34 destroyers! Our friendly pickets there to welcome the u-boats back home. We were even happier to see them when a flight of hurricanes decended and the sky lit up with a flak barrage! One manage to drop a depth charge near us before succumbing to the deadly atrillery of our escort. With the approaching nightfall I've decided to ring up full speed ahead and make our final run for port!

1 June 1942
4:12 local time
We are home! The crew has just completed the docking procedures and it's time to set foot on dry land once again. Despite the long hours spent watching and waiting for anything to happen I just realized I have not had a chance to actually sit and think about the patrol. I guess the constant worry about keeping to schedules, overseeing the officers and crew, and the lack of sleep has kept me in a constant state of worry since we left this very same dock. or maybe I've been dreading the thought of the men I lost off the French coast not soon after this patrol began. I'll have some difficult letters to write after i see the boat tied up in her berth.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Patrol Zone Reached

21 May 1942
6:23 local time
Another cloudy day, rough seas. At least it will give us a chance to run on the surface and make up some lost time.

22 May 1942
5:48 local time
Yet another cloudy day, no traffic heard or spotted.

12:22 local time
We have finally arrived in our patrol zone. It is freezing cold and everything is damp. Spirits are still high from our convoy encounter but there is little else to smile about right now.

23 May 1942
14:02 local time
We have spent our required time in the patrol zone and are turning for home. With only a single torpedo in the aft tube and being out of any major traffic lanes I do not see any point in remaining here any longer. I plotted a course to take us further south on the return trip to try to avoid Allied air cover for as long as possible.

24 May
6:00 local time
Nothing new to report. No traffic and the usual overcast weather.

25 May 1942
5:55 local time
Rain moved in overnight and should let us have a good run on the surface since the waves aren't too bad; at least not yet. Gottfried informed me that the boat is down to 50% diesel, so I'll have to keep that in mind while we continue to cruise south. As I currently have our course we are roughly 2000km from Brest.

26 May 1942
7:51 local time
A lone Sunderland pounced on us from out of the cloud cover this morning. It was too close for comfort as a string of depth charges fly right past us and exploded off the port side. Some fragments hit the hull, but there are no signs of any damage; at least from what we can see from the inside. Looks like our turn east has brought us back into aircraft range. We'll lay low during the day for the rest of this cruise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lost cause

19 May 1942
6:00 local time
The weather has cleared and we are well clear of the convoy. The calm seas have given us the opportunity to load our external torpedoes before heading below the surface for our daytime run. The crew is clearly elated by our victory and had a certain rhythm to their work today.

22:40 local time
We picked up a visual contact in the distance; a large cargo ship roughly 6500 meters ahead. As we closed I noticed that she was armed with deck guns so, the seas being too rough to man ours, I ordered us down to periscope depth. A second ship, a small merchant, appeared behind her not long into our pursuit. I lined up a perfect shot and let loose my last two bow eels. The first connected with the small merchant and she began to sink while the other either missed or did not explode against the C3. I ordered my boat hard over to port to bring the aft tube into a decent firing angle as the ship began to move away and let go another torpedo. Karl said he distinctly heard it hit the side of the ship, but alas no explosion! With only one remaining torpedo, the deck gun unusable, and the merchant able to outgun us I had no choice but to give up the chase. At least we scored another small victory, but it pains me to have to let that meaty cargo ship continue her voyage to England!

20 May 1942
4:30 local time
Calm seas and clear skies this morning. We do not know if Allied air cover extends this far so we are keeping to the safe side and running underneath the waves today. Glancing at the charts we are 1000km west of our patrol zone and 1000km due south of Iceland. Not much out there but cold water. Hopefully we won't have any interference between now and when we reach our patrol zone since we are running a bit behind schedule.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Convoy Inbound

17 May 1942
1851 local time
A message came in from BdU detailing the location of an inbound convoy west of Ireland. A quick glance at the charts and I knew it was within reach! Only 250km northeast of our position! I plotted a course to intercept and rang up full speed ahead. We would have to backtrack a little from our intended destination, but if we can find that convoy it will be well worth the time.

18 May 1942
4:04 local time, West of the Irish coast
Carl called over to me as I lay napping in my bunk, "Excuse me sir, I can hear multiple contacts bearing 348; distant!" I took a few moments to gather my wits about me and put on the headset. Definitely a convoy; there was a whole confusion of noise spread out over a few degrees. taking note of the bearings I headed to the chart table to see our position and begin tracking their progress. We were definitely in a good position already, now I just needed to make a few minor adjustments to line up our course with the convoy's track and get the crew ready for an attack.

4:52 local time
Just a quick note to calm my nerves. The lead destroyer has just passed over us without giving any indication of detection! We're through the front door and ready to make our attack run. The weather is terrible, which is working to our advantage despite the difficulty in trying to identify ships with the periscope dipping under the waves. As long as the convoy doesn't change course within the next twenty minutes we should have a good shot at her middle column. We're coming back up to periscope depth now.

8:00 local time
Success! The central column had three large ships; a C3, a troop transport, and a T2 class tanker. We waited patiently while they plodded by and then launched our attack. I sent our aft torpedo to the lead ship, two towards the tanker, then my remaining two at the transport in the middle. Timing was perfect and multiple explosions erupted up and down the line! The tanker took a critical hit and broke apart amidst giant fireballs, both eels exploded on contact with the transport and the C3 took a hit. The men were already frantically reloading tube #1 as we began to slip towards the rear of the convoy.
We surfaced behind the trailing cargo ship in time to see the bow of the transport going under! I launched our remaining torpedo at the C3; it was a long shot and likely missed as the ships changed course. The lead escorts were already plucking survivors from the water while the other two were both wide of our position. I decided not to press my luck and ordered the boat deep to reload and slip out of the area before the destroyers had a chance to find us. I think my crew has made enough of a difference in the war effort for one day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Escort

15 May 1942
9:26 local time
Sailing into the western approaches to the English Channel we crossed paths with a type 34 destroyer. I took the opportunity of their cover to run on the surface and recharge our batteries. Within an hour the first Sunderland appeared and was promptly dealt with by the 34's arsenal of guns! Two Swordfish biplanes were also quickly dispatched. The sound of friendly artillery and watching the planes go down did wonders for the crew's morale, but the possibility of losing another sailor weighed heavily on my mind. When the third flight showed up we said our goodbyes and slipped silently under the sea, batteries fully charged and the men feeling better after the show of force.

16 May 1942
5:30 local time
The lookouts spotted a lone cargo ship at 3:12 this morning. We managed to close to within 2000m of the C3 by 4:22 undetected and fired two electric torpedoes at her. Only one hit, but that was not enough to slow her down. I fired the other two bow eels and was rewarded with two explosions that broke the ship's back. We surfaced to look for survivors but aircraft were already inbound on the radar. If anyone was left out there they should have help arriving soon. As for us, any relief efforts would be to our disadvantage. Estimated 8000 tons sunk with four torpedoes; not a good ratio, but we did get her in the end.

This morning we were greeted by typical foul Atlantic weather. Even a year ago I would curse having to stand watch in the stinging cold rain, but with the dramatic increases in British air cover this year a storm means cover for the u-boat force. We should have some reprieve from the constant crash dives of the past two days.

17 May 1942
6:00 local time
The storm has not left us yet. I'm chilled to the bone after spending only two hours in the tower, but the crew has been able to rest for a day. At least the ones who are not seasick from the constant motion of the boat. We've made some progress towards our patrol zone and are lying off the southwest corner of Ireland looking for any traffic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hurricanes Inbound!!!

14 May 1942
2:54 local time Brest, France
The British are getting bolder in their aircraft attacks! Just as we were slipping out of our berth two aircraft, presumably on a recon mission, flew overhead. The night sky lit up with AA fire from several ships lying at anchor. You have to admire a pilot who would take on such a mission with little hope of return.

20:58 local time
Two pairs of Hurricanes were spotted swooping down on our position breaking the peace of a warm Spring sunset. After the morning raid I was expecting more air traffic and had already posted men on the flak gun in case of attack. What I didn't expect was a flight of this size and speed. The first two came roaring in and our guns lit up damaging the leader and forcing him to peel away from his attack. His wingman pressed on though and unleashed the fury of his machine guns on us. The flak gun was knocked out and men scattered about the deck. We grabbed our wounded and hauled them inside as I ordered a crash dive; hoping that the hull had not been pierced.
To everyone's relief no depth charges had been dropped, though enough damage was wrought with their guns alone. Sadly, Sr. Seaman Egon Bahn, who was manning the flak, was killed. It is the price you pay in war, but nevertheless it stabs at your heart when one of your own men fall.
We surfaced for repairs under the cover of darkness to resume the long trek out to our patrol area.

15 May 1942
00:45 local time
Another aircraft was spotted, a biplane. The crew had the flak operational again and managed to take her down. Bittersweet vengeance for the sailor we had just buried at sea.

2:00 local time
The Swordfish pilot must have managed to send a message before going down. Two Sunderlands moved in on our position as we were completing repairs. The leader was able to drop a string of depth charges before we could all get inside and Sr. Seaman Axel Bauer was caught in the blast when one exploded too close to the boat. Another crash dive and some erratic manoveurs brouight us back to the relative safety of the dark sea. For a tense hour we all sat in silence listening to the explosions fade and diminish while reflecting on the two young men resting in the deep.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hard Work Paid Off

12 May 1942
10:58 local time
In light of our successful patrol, especially the sinking of three warships, my crew has been granted extended time off. This is mainly due to the extensive upgrades our boat has been undergoing. For nearly two months we have been enjoying our shore leave. Oh of course we still have plenty of work to do, but having your own warm bed to sleep in every night and three (or four) hot meals a day is as good a vacation as any of will ever find before the war is over.

On the technical side, U-588 has been thoroughly refitted for action. New batteries, regular engine maintenance, better hydrophones, sonar decoys, and upgraded active sonar. We are also going to be testing out some experimental equipment this patrol: radar and an exterior coating that should help prevent enemy detection. Anything to hide us from destroyers ranks high on my list! Sr. WO Gert Dobbert has been in training for the new hydrophone system and has earned his Radioman qualification. Now i have two qualified crew to rotate in the listening booth. I traded out two of my less reliable WOs a few weeks back to an outbound u-boat and managed to recruit two more experienced Sr. WOs to replace them. Hopefully Hessler and Mannesmann will mesh well with my already cohesive crew.

We sail in two days time, so I need to make the most of my comforts in between all the paperwork and loading provisions.

Patrol Number One Results

Patrol Number: One
U-Boat: U-588
1 April to 16 April 1942
Patrol Zone: AK57 North Atlantic
Merchant Ships Sunk: 3
Warships Sunk: 3
Gross Tonnage: 15674
Torpedoes Remaining: 1
Promoted to Lt. Sr. and awarded the Iron Cross Second Class
Promoted Herbert Reichmann to Chief Seaman

First Patrol Completed

12 April 1942
6:16 local time
With only one remaining torpedo and not a whole lot of fuel we've I've plotted a course to take us a bit south of the shipping lanes and back to Brest. This has been a highly successful first patrol as commander of my own u-boat and I want to get my crew back to port to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

15 April 1942
20:00 local time
We got a bit overzealous in our home waters tonight and surfaced a bit too early. At 19:10 we were cruising along, enjoying the relaxed swell and and warmer temperature when the lookouts caught sight of two Swordfish on patrol overhead! I kept a close eye on them through the observation scope while diving and saw them turn towards our direction, then drop into an attack run! Luckily I was already at full power and slipping steadily below the waves. i ordered a hard turn into them to close the distance quickly and retracted the scope. A depth charge exploded harmlessly a distance away; likely trying for a lucky shot. We laid low for quite a while after that just to be on the safe side. Too close a call so near to port!

16 April 1942
3:07 local time
Land always looks so beautiful after spending weeks, or even months, in a harsh sea and foul weather. I'm looking forward to a soft, dry, and warm bed and some fresh food! The crew has been frantically working to get everything in order for docking and you can hear the buzz of excitement in the air. Oh the fresh air! After being cooped up most of the night the breezes coming in from the land through the open hatches are most welcome! I can only hope to have at least a few days to rest before going back out there to face the mighty Atlantic again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Clearing the Path Home

9 April 1942
14:23 local time
We're heading for home with four eels left and a good amount of fuel in reserve. Hopefully we'll run across some merchant traffic. Nothing out there today except rain.

10 April 1942
6:12 local time
The weather finally cleared a bit during the night. I let the crew take turns up on deck to get a breath of fresh air. Being so close to British air cover we'll have to dive for the day.

11 April 1942
6:39 local time
Warships spotted! 5000m off the bow! The continued beautiful weather has given us a chance to find some prey. The ships were heading away from us and, luckily, we spotted them first being that we were still submerged. I identified them as two Black Swan frigates and two J-class destroyers. Our only chance of hitting them was to fire three of our last four eels. We were able to set a course to bring us just over 2100 meters from the nearest ship.

Two torpedoes hit the closest Black Swan and immediately began to flood. The rear torp scored a hit on a J-class, which burst into flames; a magazine hit! Time to run while the other ships turn to rescue their friends! We slipped out of the area and laid low all day, then made a run for it on the surface at night!

Patrol Zone Reached

6 April 1942
14:38 local time
With little likelihood of aircraft penetrating the dense rain and lightning; we stayed on the surface most of the day, except for periodic dips to listen in on the hydrophones and to let our stomaches settle. No signs of any activity today.

7 April 1942
16:40 local time
We reached the edge of our patrol zone today. Other than that nothing exciting to report.

8 April 1942
14:42 local time
We are nearly finished with our twenty-four hour patrol zone observation. I've been discussing the pros and cons of remaining in the zone or heading back to better fishing grounds with the other officers. The consensus is to leave as soon as our time is up here and see if our luckk holds out in the Channel on the way back to Brest.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Convoy Sighted!

5 April 1942
13:18 local time
I knew by the excited laughter coming from around the corner from my cabin what was about to happen. Carl ripped off his headphones, "Sir! I've picked up multiple contacts bearing 352! Sounds like merchants and I can hear at least one warship!" Time for action; at least a little.

We couldn't ask for a better scenario. Foul weather, no moon tonight, and deep water. Of course, things don't always work out as you think they should. We spotted the destroyer emerging from the fog just as he saw us! I would estimate that he was only about 3000m ahead and he began to fire just as our ballast tanks were filling for a crash dive. We spiraled down and away then went to silent running as we coasted to 168m. The weather was on our side tonight and he passed by us without a single DC drop.

We slowly came back up to periscope depth over an hour later near the rear of the convoy. We could make out at least a dozen ships, but I know there were more out there. There was one American liberty ship in the center of the group and instantly I knew my target. Firing solutions were quickly worked out (I have Frtiz Friederichs work them out separately to verify my numbers) and the order was given to let all four eels loose from the bow. We also fired off a quick solution for the stern torpedo in hopes of a lucky shot on a smaller cargo ship that was trailing behind.
At least two impacts were heard in the direction of the liberty and one on the smaller merchant as we slipped away. Raising the observation scope for a quick scan I saw the coastal ship breaking up and, to my relief, the liberty was in flames and going down by the stern!!! Now we just needed to get away!
The escorts seemed to be on the sides and front of the convoy, so we kept our nose pointed to the northwest and dove deep; surfacing only when the contacts were nothing but a faint memory.
Coastal merchant: estimate 2000 tons
Liberty Cargo ship: estimate 7000 tons
5 torpedoes expended, no damage, no crew injured. If we make it back to Brest I'm sure get get a promotion and, hopefully, pick up a few more experienced crew for my next patrol. I shouldn't think about hat though; no luck in it!


5 April 1942
10:37 local time
We have arrived at our best guess of a position to intercept the convoy. They must be heading towards the Channel, judging by the information we received, and we should be right in their way. Now the only thing we can do is sit, listen, and keep a few sharp sets of eyes looking for them. I have posted my best watchmen in the tower and my only qualified hydrophone operator has been listening intently.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Trial by Fire

3 April 1942
12:49 local time
The weather began to fail us as we sailed further into the Atlantic waters. The cold weather gear will be coming out for tonight's surface run. For now we are staying submerged to avoid the dense British air patrols. Just after noon we spotted a warship in the light fog; a British C class destroyer. I switched over to the attack scope and we waited, dead in the water, for him to come closer. As he presented his flank I launched two electric torpedoes so as not to give away the element of surprise. The first detonated under the screws and set her on fire, then the second slammed right into the side! As she began to list to aft we slipped away under 2/3 speed before any support could arrive to deal with us. Things are starting to shape up around here.

4 April 1942
5:16 local time, SW of Ireland
The seas have picked up. It has been a cold and wet night with nothing but lightening to provide illumination. I'm looking forward to getting out of these damp clothes and getting some coffee put on once we begin our submerged run.

5 April 1942
5:37 local time, W of Ireland
As we were preparing to climb back into the warmth of our quarters the XO yell up the hatchway that a radio report had just come in! I left the soaked lookouts up in the tower for a little while longer as I headed down to decipher the message. My hands were shaking as much from cold as from my excitement. I ran to the plotting table. Yes! We were within range to intercept a large convoy coming in from America! I plotted our new course and headed to my cabin to get what rest I could.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Rocky Start

1 April 1942
19:00 local time
Everything was more or less stowed away and the decks cleared as we sailed out of port. Even at this relatively late hour a group of well-wishers and the local military band gave us a rousing sendoff! While we slipped our moorings and made the turn out towards the channel one thing kept nagging at me: the number two flak cannon was still not operational. At least we have one working properly and hopefully we won't have a need for them anytime soon!

21:12 West of Brittany
The weather was perfectly clear and rather warm for this time of year as we sailed out into the Atlantic. We laid out a course to take us around the tip of Brittany and just southwest of Cornwall. Hopefully we will run across some merchants making their way to Britain's southern ports.

2 April 1942
8:29 Southwest off the tip of Cornwall
Two ships were spotted on the southern horizon so we turned to intercept. A third ship was spotted and we were glad to identify them as friends; the Hipper heavy cruiser and two Type 34 destroyers as escort. As we moved closer to salute several aircraft were spotted! Now I know why I had that uneasy feeling about the flak guns! I ordered a crash dive and kept our heading so as to put us right under the Hipper. Depth charges were heard exploding, but nothing too close for comfort. We poked our attack scope out a half hour later to find that the strike group had dealt with the planes. We bid our friends a heartfelt goodbye (not likely to see any more support where we are headed) and continued on our way towards the Irish coast.

19:56 South of Ireland
A small merchant was spotted heading southwest. We tried to close but she was moving at a similar rate, I took us on a perpendicular course at high speed once we had a good idea of her course. Nearly two hours later the lookouts made contact again; right where I suspected! We dove to periscope depth and stalked in closer under cover of darkness and found that she was indeed an enemy target! I let loose a single TI that exploded right under the keel. Buckling from the explosion she sank quickly. One can only hope that some of the sailors made it off safely. The air cover is too thick for us to stick around and offer a hand.

First Patrol

U-599 has been ordered to patrol southwest of Iceland for British and American convoys. We will set sail on the evening of April 1st from our home port of Brest, France.

I have been lucky in both provisions and men so far. In fact, this will be U-599's first patrol as she has just joined the 1st Flotilla after serving as a trainer. As well as being fully loaded with fresh food, plenty of fuel, and an upgrade to dual flak emplacements, a friend in supply managed to score me four new homing torpedoes. Hopefully I'll have a chance to use them!

I also managed to recruit a few experienced crew members to help keep things running smoothly. Lt. jr. Carlewitz will be serving as my watch officer and brings with him two senior watch officers to assist with watch and gunner duties. I also managed to snag three experienced torpedomen and two machinists. In all my crew is a bit top heavy, but that's the way i prefer it to be: 5 officers, 16 petty officers, and only 21 sailors.

Preparing for my first voyage

I am Lieutenant jr. Jurgen Trompetespieler. While preparing to embark on my first patrol as a uboat commander I thought it best to record the experiences of myself and the crew of U-599.

It is March 1942 and the war in the Atlantic is in full swing withthe Americans now devoting their full attention to producing and shipping men and materials. My job will be to do what I can to stop them before reaching the British Isles. But first things first; the crew roster must be sorted out and provisions stowed.