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.