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.

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