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U-BOAT SINKING / H.M.S. FINDHORN / INDIAN OCEAN

Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.
Winston Churchill. This call and spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice was quoted by Churchill in his first broadcast as Prime Minister to the British people on the BBC - May 19, 1940, London.

D.S.M. in orig. box to E.R.A.3. J.G. WHITE, P/MX54903,
engraved as for the 1945 issue.
London. Gazette. 13.2.1945. (Page 876...anti U-Boat Ops.)
This was for sinking U 198 12.8.45 while aboard H.M.S. FINDHORN
(Frigate).

Unique Action.
The only U-Boat to be destroyed by a 'hunter killer' group in the
Indian Ocean.

Stacks Image 18541
HMS Findhorn (K 301)

Frigate of the River class

Navy:
The Royal Navy
Type:
Frigate
Class:
River
Pennant:
K 301
Built by:
Canadian Vickers (Montreal, Canada)
Ordered:

Laid down:

Launched:
5 Dec, 1942
Commissioned:
25 Jun, 1943
End service:

History:
Was to be built in Canada for the United States Navy but transferred to the Royal Navy under the lend-lease program.
Returned to the U.S.N. on 20 March 1946.





Type Frigate
Displacement 1370 BRT
Length 301 feet
Complement 140 men
Armament Original design;
2 x 4inch guns (2x1)
10 x 20m guns (2x2,6x1)
Max speed 20 knots
Engines 2 shaft Reciprocating (4 cyl. V.T.E.)
HMS Cam, HMS Chelmer, HMS Ettrick, HMS Helmsdale and HMS Tweed 2 shaft Geared Turbines

Power I.H.P. 5.500
HMS Cam, HMS Chelmer, HMS Ettrick, HMS Helmsdale and HMS Tweed S.H.P. 6.500

Notes on class Commonwealth frigates were specifically designed as anti-submarine escorts for trans-Atlantic convoys. River class frigates offered the size, speed, and endurance of escort sloops using inexpensive reciprocating machinery of corvettes. River class were designed for North Atlantic weather conditions and included the most effective anti-submarine sensors and weapons. HMS Rother and HMS Spey were launched in late 1941, and Canadian and Australian construction continued through 1944. Early River class units were available for the turning point convoy battles of the winter of 1942-43. River class frigates generally replaced the old Town and V&W class destroyers which had been assigned to ocean escort groups.
Ten River class frigates were built for the United States in Canada. Two were commissioned in 1942 as USS Asheville (PF-1) and USS Natchez (PF-2), they were armed with U.S.N. pattern 3\"/50 AA guns. The other eight were released under lend-lease for use by Commonwealth forces.
U-198

Oblt. Burkhard Heusinger von Waldegg

Born on 27 May, 1920 in Berlin-Schöneberg.
Crew 38. Oberleutnant zur See (1 Apr, 1943)
Died on 12 Aug, 1944, Indian Ocean, off Seychelles.
The U-Boat War in Indian Ocean

By mid January 1943 the Anglo-American naval blockade of Germany had reduced, step by step, the stocks of those strategical materials the German were already short of (namely rubber, tungsten, molibden, copper, vegetal substances, quinine and some kinds of oils) and which were absolutely necessary to carry on the war. All these goods, uncommon in Europe and whose production was rather difficult, were on the contrary largely available in the Asiatic regions conquered by the Japanese during the war. The Indonesian Archipelago, the large and rich former Dutch colony, invaded by the Japanese in the spring of 1942 after a rapid aeronaval offensive, could supply Germany and the Asis countries with the strategical materials they needed on condition that they were able to build ships fit for a voyage out and home on a very long and dangerous course.
The first naval missions

Since the beginning of the war several German vessels had managed to break the British naval blockade. Seventeen voyages had been made from 1940 to 1943 in order to connect the Japanese ports to the French basis of Brest and Bordeaux occupied by the Germans who had therefore been able to supply themselves with 104,600 tons of various goods and rare materials, The above figure, though not modest if related to the number of ship employed and to the difficulties met during the course, accounts only for 46% of the goods which had been forwarded from Japan. Twenty out of the thirty-seven German vessels employed to break the blockade had been intercepted, captured or sunk by the British fleet. The remaining 17 ships had managed to transport to Europe less than half of the 87,450 tons of rare rubber, 98,500 tons of copra and edible oils, 15,950 tons of non-ferrous metals and 24,475 tons of various goods (textiles, foodstuff, tea, coffee and pharmaceutical products such as opium and quinine) shipped from the Far East. n order to get an amount of precious goods a little over 100,000 tons, Germany had lost more than 50% of her ships and crews: a price which was estimated too high by Admiral Reader, commander in chief of the German fleet in those days. reassuring that experience, Reader thought it was necessary to workout a new and safer transport technique, which could reduce losses. However, several months were needed before a new plan was conceived by the Kriegsmarine so deeply concerned with a very hard military situation which kept it engaged on several fronts.

The employment of U-Boats

The problem of linking Europe with the Far East solved early in 1943 by Admiral Doenitz, the commander in chief of the German Submarine fleet. Doenitz suggested that U-boats having a long operating range should be employed, after being made suitable for transporting goods, to replace surface crafts which had proved unfit for such a mission. His U-boats, having a higher tonnage, had obtained good results in the Indian Ocean since 1942 by sinking several British ships. Thus the Admiral felt he could grant, though recommending a good deal of caution, a regular linking service between the French basis and the ones held by the Japanese in Batavia and Penang (Indonesia). According to Doenitz the inferior capacity of cargo submarines would have been balanced by a reduction of risk. Moreover a new fact had occurred in Germany by the end of January. Hitler had got a report from the Ministry of Industry which assured the discovery of new techniques enabling the production of a certain amount of synthetic rubber sufficient to meet, though at a very high cost, the national requirements. Since they were no more compelled to carry large quantities of rubber (the bulkiest and most required raw material till then) Doenitz's cargo U-boats were suitable for stowing a great deal of rare products (150 to 200 tons).
In 1943 the German war industry had divoured almost all the stocks of materials and strategic goods so that the shortage of tungsten, molibden (metals used to produce special steel) pewter, copper, vegetal fibers and quinine had become permanent. As a consequence there was the urgent need to employ the U-boats in order to face, at least in part, the supplying of the raw materials which were not available in occupied Europe. To solve the situation in a satisfactory way, on February 20th 1943, admiral Doenitz brought Hitler's attention on a plan for building 200 submarines mod. XX which had been specially conceived for carrying goods. These new vessels were totally unarmed but could contain in their holds an 800 ton cargo and had been built to have a fuel-distance of 13,000 miles at a speed of 11 knots. Hitler, at first, approved the plan and gave the order to build 199 submarines (from U-1601 to U-1800) but, as the war situation got worse and the consistence of Atlantic submarine fleet was reduced by increasing losses, the FЭhrer put off the plan supporting the production of a modern fighting model (U-XXI). At the same time, Hitler asked admiral Doenitz to find a cheaper solution to the Far East transport problem. Unwilling to remove from the operation theatre some good fighting vessels, admiral Doenitz turned to Italy and proposed an agreement to Mussolini himself in order to exchange a number of submarines. Seven Italian ocean-going U-boats whose base was at Betasom (Bordeaux) were, according to Doenitz, too large and unfit for modern fighting techniques but they could still be converted into cargo ships. Mussolini accepted the proposal and within few months seven Italian vessels were sent to the yards for a total refitting.

In the second half of May 1943, as soon as the hulls had been thoroughly refitted, the first Italian cargo submarine sailed from Bordeaux soon followed by some more (*), all awaited by a tragic doom. Two of them, in fact, (the Tazzoli and the Barbarigo) disappeared in the sea, soon after leaving, probably sunk by allied aero naval forces, while the Giuliani and the Torelli, caught by the armistice of September 8th, when they were still in Malayan port of call, were seized by German naval forces operating in that base.

The apparent misfortune of the Italian submarines gave, however, a good opportunity to the Japanese who could recover from the captured ships 355 tons of strategic materials shipped from Germany, that is 55% of the total cargo. On the contrary the 377 tons of rubber and the 184 tons of pewter which had already been stowed in the holds of the three Italian ships never got to Germany because the Germans didn't feel like using such worn out means of transport.

Towards spring 1943 the German navy could begin to rely on a good deal of new ocean-going submarines. They had a large fuel-range and were fit for linking Europe to the Far East without calling at ports. The vessels belonged to the IXD2 whose first models, deriving from the IXC series, had been put into service since the autumn 1942. Thus Doenitz decided to utilize a certain number of them. After their hulls had been modified in order to carry, in case of need, 315 tons of materials, the first submarines were ready for the long voyage in the spring 1943. In July of the same year the U-501 reached Penang where, in the meantime, Fregatten KapitДn Wilhelm Dommes (former commander of the U-178) had been appointed by Doenitz to the direction of the first south base for German submarines operating in the Indian Ocean. Dommes, who was a very good officer, made more efficient the activity of this faraway Kriegsmarine outpost trying to keep good relations with the harsh Japanese allied who always showed little sense of camradeship giving negligible help to the German officers work. Dommes had few means but he had a risky venture in mind. In fact he wanted to employ the U-boats coming from France not only to transport goods but also to practice privateering, on their return voyage, against the numerous and undisturbed Anglo-American convoys which needed to cross the Indian Ocean.

If he had managed to give a hard and unexpected blow to the allied traffic, the Anglo-Americans would have been forced to move to that sector lots of aeronaval crafts that had, till then, harassed the U-boats operating in the Atlantic. Admiral Doenitz as soon as he was informed about the plan, agreed to it and decided, in the meanwhile, to send to Penang 15 crafts of different models. The U-177, 196, 198, 852, 859, 860, 861, 863, 871 followed by IX D2 510, by IXC 537, 843 and by VII F 059, and 1062 sailed from Bordeaux and from Brest between January and June 1943. As a result of the increased air and naval control operated by the Anglo-Americans and South Africans 8 vessels were lost during the crossing to the East. However the 7 submarines succeeded in reaching Malaysia were able to unload a fairly good quantity of materials urgently required by Tokyo i.e. precious metals, industrial equipments, precision machinery, aircraft engines (even jet engines) and project of new military crafts, submarines included. The German ships were immediately provided with fuel, water, goodstuff and stowed with the usual products the German industry greatly needed. In these difficult conditions, with a limited number of vessels, short of torpedoes and relying only on the insufficient Japanese protection, Dommes flotilla began, in echelon, the return voyage in the hope of sinking some isolated enemy ships. Unfortunately things went in a different way and all the skill of German commanders was necessary to do the crossing towards the French Atlantic coast. In that period, in fact, the patrolling of the American aeronaval forces equipped with sophisticated sonar and radar plants had greatly increased even in the Indian Ocean. The first submarines wich got to Bordeaux by mid June 1944 were the U-178 (Dommes ship handed over in Penang to KapitДnleutnant Spahr) and Korvetten KapitДn Ludden's U-118. Reassured by the success he had obtained Dommes sent five more cargo U-boats VI to Europe. One of the first crafts, soon after sailing from Penang, had to rush back to the port because of a serious average while the other four were to face a beautiful voyage. During the summer 1944 the Allies, after landing in Normandy in June, had occupied the base of Bordeaux and almost all the French Atlantic coast depriving Germany of her safest naval bases on the Atlantic. The commanders of the German crafts, as they arrived in the Gulf of Biscay after an eventful crossing, had no choice left but had northwards, circumnavigate Great Britain and try to reach the distant Norwegian port of Bergen and then make for Hamburg: all that under the constant fire of the Allied planes and ships. Only one out of the five ships which took part in the enterprise reached the Scandinavian port early in April 1945, while the others were sunk or seized. However also the only surviving ship was going to meet her doom before getting back to Germany. In fact after leaving Bergen on April 5th she was intercepted on 9th by English planes in the Kattegat Strait and sunk with all her precious freight.

Though the military situation was worsening in the autumn 1944, two more submarines sailed from Saint-Nazaire (still in German hands) directed to Penang. The two crafts, the U-195 (mod IX D1) and the U-219 (mod U-XB did a terrible six months crossing arriving at the Indonesian base in January 1945. Soon after their arrival the Japanese military authorities invited the commaner in chief of the German base Dommes to have his ships moved to Djakarta (Java), together with the other six which were already at anchor, as Penang had become too unsafe because of the more and more frequent raids of the allied planes. From the base of Djakarta some submarines of Dommes'flotilla operated even in the Australian vicinities. Particularly, the Korvetten KapitДn Timm's U-862 left the base on November 17th 1944 and - sailing along the coast - reached the east coast of Australia, where it sunk on December 25th the cargo ship Robert J. Walker, 100 miles north of Gabo Island. Instead of coming back following the same route, Timm preferred to continue southbound through the Tasman Sea and circumnavigated the whole Australian continent, arriving in the Indian Ocean. While doing his long way back to Djakarta, he got the chance to sink the motor vessel Peter Silvester. The U-862 was the only German craft to violate the Pacific Ocean.

The epilogue

The tragical end was approaching. Dommes knew that he had to accept the advice which sounded like an order so he secretly summoned his officers to organize the return to Germany for all the remaining crews. The officer had already understood that the war was definitely lost for the Reich and didn't want his men to be taken to a prison-of-war camp either allied or Japanese. In fact Tokyo had broadcast in the previous days the news that, even in the case of Germany's surrender, Japan would go on fighting against the Allies till their total destruction. Thus a very short time was left. After he had overhauled the hull and the engines and shipped the nth and maybe useless rubber and pewter cargo, KapitДnleutnant Eick sailed his U-510 from Penang on January 6th 1945 and thanks to his skill reached Saint-Nazaire by the end of April with his tanks almost empty. The German submarine however couldn't manage to refuel for the last leap to Bergen.




The commander of the German garrison asked and obtained that Eick's men took part in the defense of Saint-Nazaire. The stronghold attacked by numerous American columns surrended on May 11th and, owing to a mocking destiny, lots of sailors - survived to a thousand dangers - fell on the field of this desperate battle. Just in those days KapitДnleutnant Oesten's U-861 which had also left penang by the end of January berthed at the wharves in the Norwegian port of Trondheim when, on March 8th, she was cut off when Germany surrended.



A similar fate was to strike Korvetten KapitДn Junker's U-532 which had also sailed from Penang soon after the U-861. Caught by the end of the hostilities while he was off the Irish coast, Junker committed himself to the Allies in a port of the island. At several thousand miles' distance the tragedy of the last German submarine belonging to kapitan Wilhelm Dommes' legendary South Flotilla was going to end. We are on the eve of Hitler surrendering. In the isolated and half destroyed base of Djakarta, bombed over and over agin by the Allies, Dommes and a handful of officers and sailors who had taken shelter there with KapitДnleutnant Schneewind's (oddly he was born in Djakarta in 1917) U-183 started a desperate enterprise. He embarked on the submarine as many men as he cold find among the ground staff coming from the former base of Penang then, after refuelling eith the scanty stocks allowed by the Japanese, Schneewind went out to sea at dusk on April 21st. Dommes, without the knowledge of the Japanese, had not loaded a single gram of material in order to leave more room to his sailors and at the end he decides to remain on the island with a few men. Only twenty-four hours after leaving, ad dawn, on the 23rd the U-183 ( stil sailing on the surface ) is torpedoed and split into two parts by the American submarine Besugo that lays in ambush at the mouth of the Sunda Strait.





U-boat relics are the most rare of all Third-Reich items from U-Boat 198.

This is a really exceptional piece of WWII history, probably made in a Kriegsmarine machine shop. We have never seen a finer and more historically important German nautical item that has such great historical provenance. The item belonged to the now-deceased machinist's mate Rudy Schnell, who was a member of the crew of the U-198, whose sailing motto was 'Westward Ho!' written in English. See the book Embleme Wafer Malings-Deutscher U-Boote 1939-1945 by Koehler. On page 87 the trifork insignia for the U-98 is clearly shown with its English motto or Vorwort. On page 88 it has a description of the history and exploits of U-198, for instance, the sinking of the British Frigate Findhorn and the Indian frigate Godavari, the captain was Kapitan Zur See Werner Hartmann. The Indian Ocean seemed to be the hunting grounds for these wolf-pack boats. The box measures 5 ╫ X 6 ╫ inches across its top and a little over one inch deep. The ornamentation of the box is incredible as can be seen in the pictures. Rudy's initials are riveted in the left-lower corner, while U-198 is shown in the left top.

The idea of stationing German U-boats in Penang or Sabang for operations in the Indian Ocean was first proposed by the Japanese in December 1942. As no supplies were available at either location the idea was turned down (although a number of U-cruisers from the first wave operated around the Cape at the time).

The idea was raised again in the spring 1943. Additionally, the Japanese requested 2 U-boats to be handed over for copying. Although Doenitz saw no point in such a handover, it was decided to give a type IXC boat.

As long as targets were available in the Atlantic, Doenitz considered sending U-boats on a large scale to the Far East as unprofitable. However, on 5 April, 1943 it was decided to send U-178 to Penang to establish the naval base there. U-511 sailed soon after to be eventually given to the Japanese in return for rubber:

boat: U-511
commander: Kptlt. Fritz Schneewind
sailed: France 10/05/43
returned: Kure 7/08/43

It is also reported that U-511 arrived at Penang around 17 July, 1943 as the first German U-boat to enter the base (before U-178).

U-511 scored some success while on the passage to Japan. The boat carried Vice-Admiral Nomura (the Japanese Naval Attache) and in September 1943 was recommissioned as RO-500. U-511's crew was to be a spare crew for the boats which were later to operate from the Japanese-held bases.

After the May 1943 crisis it was decided to look for less strongly defended areas and the idea of sending boats to the Far East was finally approved. Indian Ocean was the only region with almost peace-time shipping arrangement and still with U-boats radius of action.

As the result arrangements were made to replenish U-cruisers still operating around the Cape and to send a new wave of boats for the attack in the Arabian Sea. The latter was scheduled for the end of September 1943 - right after the monsoon period. Because of this the group was named Monsun. The group was to sail in June 1943 at the latest.

3.2 The first wave of Monsun boats

9 type IXC and 2 type IXD/2 boats were scheduled for the attack in the Arabian Sea and sailed as group Monsun:

(boat; commander; sailed; returned)
U-200; Kptlt. Heinrich Schoder; Norway 11/06/43; sunk 24/06/43
U-188; Kptlt. Siegfried Ludden; France 30/06/43; Penang 31/10/43
U-168; Kptlt. Helmuth Pich; France 3/07/43; Penang 11/11/43
U-509; Kptlt. Werner Witte; France 3/07/43; sunk 15/07/43
U-514; Kptlt. Hans-Jurgen Auffermann; France 3/07/43; sunk 8/07/43
U-532; Frgkpt. Ottoheinrich Junker; France 3/07/43; Penang 31/10/43
U-183; Krvkpt. Heinrich Schafer; France 07/43; Penang 27/10/43
U-506; Kptlt. Erich Wurdemann; France 6/07/43; sunk 12/07/43
U-533;; Kptlt. Helmut Hennig; France 6/07/43; sunk 16/10/43
U-516 Kptlt. Hans-Rutger Tillessen; France 8/07/43; France 23/08/43
U-847; Kptlt. Herbert Kuppish; Norway 29/07/43 sunk 27/08/43

Initially U-462 was assigned to the group for refuelling some 300 miles east of St Paul's Rock. A second replenishment was scheduled south of Mauritius from a surface tanker. However, U-462 did not break through the Bay of Biscay in 2 attempts being damaged by aircraft and returned for long repairs on 6/07/43. As most of the Monsun boats were already on the way another tanker, U-487 was assigned but she was sunk on 13 July, 1943 without refuelling Monsun boats.
U-200 was sunk south-west of Iceland while on the outward passage on 24 June, 1943. While in transit U-514 was sunk on 8/07/43, U-506 was sunk on 12/07/43 and U-509 on 15/07/43 - all by aircraft.

After the massacre of U-tankers in the summer 1943 emergency fuelling arrangements were needed for U-boats concentrated around the Azores (including Monsun boats).

It was decided to replenish Monsun boats by employing type IXC boats: U-155 and U-160. U-160 was initially diverted to transfer fuel to U-487 (which was short on fuel after numerous refuelling) but arrived too late and was sunk on 14/07/43 - a day after U-487. Eventually U-516 of the Monsun boats was diverted on emergency refuelling duties. The refuelling of the remaining Monsun boats took place 600 miles WNW of Cape Verde Islands between 21/07 and 27/07/43. U-155 transferred fuel to U-183, U-188 and U-168 while U-516 refuelled U-532 and U-533. Both boats came back to France in August 1943.

U-847 was damaged by ice in the Denmark Strait headed for France but it was decided to use her as a tanker. Between 12/08 and 24/08/43 she refuelled the following boats: U-66, U-415, U-230, U-653, U-257, U-172 and U-508. U-847 was a rather inexperienced boat on her first was cruise (having only sailed from Germany to Norway 6/07 - 20/07/43). An excessive use of radio was reported by commanders of refuelled boats. U-847 was sunk by aircraft on 27 Aug, 1943.

Of the initial 11 Monsun U-boats 4 were destroyed in transit and 2 diverted on emergency refuelling duties (1 of which sunk) so effectively only 5 boats managed to break through: U-168, U-183, U-188, U-532 and U-533. They reached the Indian Ocean without further trouble. Between 11/09 and 13/09/43 they took on fuel from the surface tanker Brake, sent from Penang. The rendezvous took place 450 miles south of Mauritius without incident. Meanwhile the Japanese already started operating in the Arabian Sea (August 1943) and certain arrangements were made to avoid incidents between U-boats and Japanese submarines (attacks on other submarines strictly forbidden). Eventually the Monsun boats were allocated as follows:

U-168 off Bombay (sank 1 ship)
U-183 between Seychelles and the African Coast
U-188 Gulf of Oman (sank 3 ships, also convoy attack)
U-532 south and west coast of India (sank 5 ships)
U-533 Gulf of Aden (lost there)

U-188 experienced torpedo failures due to the hot climate affecting torpedo batteries. All the remaining 4 Monsun boats (after the loss of U-533) entered Penang by the beginning of November 1943. The commanders of U-168 and U-183 had been affected by the strain of the long voyage and the commander of U-183 was later replaced by Kptlt. Fritz Schneewind of U-511.


3.3 Further Monsun operations

After sending the first wave of Monsun boats it was decided to send further boats to make up for the loses of the first wave:

U-219; Krvkpt. Walter Burghagen; Norway 22/10/43; France 1/01/44
U-510; Kptlt. Alfred Eick France; 3/11/43; Penang 5/04/44
U-848; Krvkpt. Wilhelm Rollman; Germany 18/09/43; sunk 5/11/43
U-849; Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze; Germany 2/10/43; sunk 25/11/43
U-850; Krvkpt. Klaus Ewerth; Germany 18/11/43; sunk 20/12/43

U-219 was due to lay mines off Cape Town and Colombo but was recalled as a tanker. U-848 and U-849 were destroyed off Ascension while U-850 off the Azores - all by aircraft. U-510 refuelled from U-219 and reached the Indian Ocean where in February and March 1944 she scored hits.
While in the Indian Ocean U-510 joined the boats operating from Penang:

U-178; Kptlt. Wilhelm Spahr; Penang 27/11/43; France 24/05/44
U-532; Frgkpt. Ottoheinrich Junker; Penang 4/01/44; Penang 19/04/44
U-188; Kptlt. Siegfried Ludden; Penang 9/01/44; France 19/06/44
U-168; Kptlt. Helmuth Pich; Penang 7/02/44; Jakarta 24/03/44
U-183; Kptlt. Fritz Schneewind; Penang 10/02/44; Penang 21/03/44

The first boat to operate from Penang was U-178, later joined by 4 Monsun boats and U-510 coming from France. U-178 and U-510 refuelled from the surface tanker Charlotte Schliemann on 28 Jan, 1944 stationed 100 miles south-east of Mauritius. U-510 achieved some success in the Indian Ocean. She attacked convoy PA-69 on 23 Feb, 1944 in the Gulf of Aden and scored hits.

The size of Penang flotilla was limited to 5 U-boats due to the dockyard capacity. The Monsun boats were so short of torpedoes that U-532, U-188 and U-183 were ordered to embark strategic materials and come home via the patrol areas in the Indian Ocean.

U-532 was also to refuel from Charlotte Schliemann but bad weather prevented that on 11 Feb, 1944 when 950 miles east of Madagascar. The tanker was then detected by the Allied while refueling U-532 and forced to scuttle. 41 survivors were captured by the British destroyer HMS Relentless and others rescued by U-532. She later was under depth-charge attacks for 3 days.

U-178 transferred some fuel to U-532 on 26 Feb, 1944 and left for France. U-178 was later attacked by aircraft on 8 March, 1944 off the Cape of Good Hope but survived. She was later to meet the eastbound transport UIT-22 but the latter was sunk by aircraft on 11 March, 1944. She arrived at Bordeaux, France with engines almost out of order.

The remaining 5 boats (4 Monsun from Penang and U-510) carried on operations. Another refuelling was scheduled from the tanker Brake in March 1944. This time U-532, U-188 and U-168 searched the area for some time before. On 12/03/44 U-188 and U-532 refuelled but bad weather again interrupted the operation. Later during the day Brake was detected and forced to scuttle. The survivors were rescued by U-168. The boats had to share fuel among themselves. Eventually U-168, U-532 and U-183 were forced to stay in the Far East due to the fuel shortage. Only U-188 could proceed back to Europe where she was paid off.

3.4 More boats sent to the Far East

One of the reasons for disappointing results was the quality and quantity of torpedoes available at Penang. They were derived from German armed merchant cruisers and blockade-runners and suffered badly from the long storage in the tropics. To make up for this special torpedo transports of type VIIF were sent with torpedoes and spares. Also further operational boats were systematically sent to the Far East:

U-177; Kptlt. Heinz Buchholz; France 2/01/44; sunk 6/02/44
U-1062; Oblt. Karl Albrecht; Bergen 3/01/44; Penang 19/04/44
U-852; Kptlt. Heinz-Wilhelm Eck; Kiel 18/01/44; sunk 3/04/44
U-1059; Oblt. Güter Leupold; Norway 12/02/44; sunk 19/03/44
U-843; Kptlt. Oskar Herwartz; France 19/02/44; Jakarta 11/06/44
U-801; Kptlt. Hans-Joachim Brans; France 26/02/44; sunk 16/03/44
U-851; Krvkpt. Hannes Weingärtner; France 26/02/44; sunk 03/44
U-181; Frgkpt. Kurt Freiwald; France 16/03/44; Penang 8/08/44
U-196; Krvkpt. Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat; France 16/03/44; Penang 10/08/44
U-537; Kptlt. Peter Schrewe; France 25/03/44; Jakarta 2/08/44
U-859; Kptlt. Johann Jebsen; Kiel 4/04/44; sunk 23/09/44
U-860; Frgkpt. Paul Buchel; Kiel 11/04/44; sunk 15/06/44
U-198; Oblt. Burkhard Heusinger v. Waldegg; France 20/04/44; sunk 12/08/44
U-861; Kptlt. Jürgen Oesten; Kiel 20/04/44; Penang 22/09/44
U-490; Oblt. Wilhelm Gerlach; Norway 6/05/44; sunk 12/06/44
U-862; Kptlt. Heinrich Timm; Norway 3/06/44; Penang 9/09/44
U-863; Kptlt. Dietrich von der Esch; Norway 26/07/44; sunk 29/09/44
U-180; Oblt. Rolf Riesen; France 20/08/44 sunk; 22/08/44
U-195; Oblt. Friedrich Steinfeldt; France 20/08/44; Jakarta 28/12/44
U-219; Krvkpt. Walter Burghagen; France 23/08/44; Jakarta 11/12/44
U-871; Kptlt. Erwin Ganzer ;Norway 31/08/44; sunk 26/09/44
U-864; Krvkpt. Ralf-Reimar Wolfram ;Bergen 5/02/45; sunk 9/02/45
U-234; Kptlt. Johann-Heinrich Fehler; 1/04/45; surrendered

U-852 sank the Greek ship Peleus on 13/03/44 and survivors were machine-gunned in the water. The commander and officers of U-852 were later captured and after a trial sentenced to death. This was the only proven case of machine-gunning survivors by a German U-boat.
Not all the boats were equipped with schnorkel. Those equipped include: U-180, U-195, U-219, U-863, U-864, U-234.

U-198 reached the Indian Ocean, scored some hits but was sunk by A/S vessels with aircraft assistance. U-859 also survived the Atlantic passage and the Indian Ocean patrol where she scored hits but was sunk by a British submarine off Penang.

U-843 was damaged by aircraft in the Atlantic but reached Penang.

U-859 was torpedoed by an Allied submarine off Penang after a 6 month patrol when she scored hits.

U-180 and U-195 were the only type IXD/1 boats with unreliable experimental fast-running diesel engines. They were completely converted to transports with new diesels. Together with U-219, a minelayer also adapted as a transport, they sailed as a part of the evacuation from French ports. They were bound for the Far East. U-180 was mined but the others reached Jakarta.

U-490 was sent to the Far East to make up for the loss of supply ships in the Indian Ocean.

U-861 initially operated off the Brazilian coast.

U-537 was refuelled by U-183 around 25/06/44.

Of the boats listed above U-852, U-198, U-181, U-537, U-196, U-862, U-861 and U-859 scored hits. The sinkings in the Indian Ocean started on 1/04/44 and ceased in September 1944 when all the boats were either in port or destroyed. The peak moment came in July and August 1944.

It can be seen that the effort was gradually shifted from combat missions to transport missions. Some of the boats were even permanently converted to transports like U-180, U-195, U-219, U-234 and others. How important the transport missions were can be judged from the fact that even in the spring 1945 U-boats were still sailing to the Far East. Some of them with interesting cargoes indeed - like well-known U-234. U-874 and U-875 were loading some 170 tons of mercury, lead and optical glass but never left European waters.

3.5 Operations from Penang

Very few patrols with the intention to return back to the Far East bases were attempted by the Monsun boats. U-168, U-183 and U-532 all made a patrol early in 1944 but in fact U-183 and U-532 were intended to sail to Europe. Further actions include:

U-183; Kptlt. Fritz Schneewind; Penang 17/05/44; Penang 7/07/44
U-181; Frgkpt. Kurt Freiwald; Penang 19/10/44; Jakarta 5/01/45
U-862;Krvkpt. Heinrich Timm; Jakarta 18/11/44; Jakarta 15/02/45

U-183 operated off the south coast of India. Around 25 June, 1944 she refuelled eastbound U-537. She sank just 1 ship. U-181 sank 1 ship (and arrived at Penang according to the evacuation orders given meanwhile to the Far East U-boat flotilla.

U-862 operated in the Pacific off Australia and actually penetrated Sydney harbour and sank the 7180-ton American steamer Robert J. Walker of 160-miles of the Australian coast on 24 Dec, 1944. U-862 was the only U-boat to operate in the Pacific.

German soldiers in Shonan. Led by Japanese officers as they climb 100s stairs to Tshu-rei to. It was raised by Japanese after their victorious battle. The fall of Singapore meant loss of Britain's strongest naval base in Far-East East

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Originally intended as a defensive weapon, the 88mm anti-ship cannon played a useful role in offense as well, where it was often used to sink lone merchants and stragglers. Mounted on most Type VII U-boats, the naval 88mm is totally unrelated to the famous 88mm of the German Army - to such an extent that they could not use the same ammunition.

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Numerous wartime documents reveal that the British, and especially Rodger Winn, discouraged the Americans from overtly using special intelligence to coordinate hunter-killer attacks against U-tankers and U-boats, such as in the capture of U-505. Like many of his superiors at the Admiralty, Winn worried that the Germans might realize that their codes and ciphers were compromised.



Throughout World War II, German naval leaders used radio communications extensively to maintain constant contact with the forces at sea. As a result, Allied radio intercept stations had almost constant access to the flow of signals being transmitted between U-boats and shore-based headquarters. At far left, a signalsman monitors the "Afrika II" Communication Circuit in the main radio transmitting and receiving center in the Commander of U-Boats headquarters near Lorient in occupied France.

Original German Submarine Badge

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Enigma and Ultra- the Cypher War

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It would not be until some thirty years after the end of World War II and the Battle of the Atlantic that details of the vital role played by Allied code-breakers began to be revealed.

Whilst many German military and naval communications were transmitted by normal media such as wireless and telephone, many of the messages of most vital importance were exchanged in code by means of the so-called "Enigma" machines.

The German "Enigma" machine was initially developed after World War I as a commercial encrypting device, but the military were quick to recognise its value, and developed it for their own uses. In basic terms, the "Enigma" resembled a typewriter, which scrambled the text typed into it by means of notched wheels or rotors. The messages could be unscrambled by a similar machine with its rotors adjusted to the same settings as the sender. German cypher experts refined the basic machine by adding plugs with variable electronic circuits, whose settings operators changed approximately every 24 hours, according to code books, listing the daily variations, with which they were issued.

With millions of possible code variations, the German High Command remained convinced until the end of the war that "Enigma" was unbreakable, and indeed, with the limited technology then available to Allied code-breakers, this confidence might have have been well-placed, had it not been for a series of mistakes committed by the Germans themselves.

The first "leak" came in 1931, when a German Defence Ministry official, Hans Thilo Schmidt, sold some manuals to French Intelligence. Neither Britain nor France recognised the significance of the material which Schmidt continued to sell them, and such progress as there was in the inter-war years in breaking "Enigma" was largely the work of the Polish Intelligence services, which had obtained an "Enigma" machine in 1929. They developed a type of primitive computer, known as a "Bomby", which had some limited success in deciphering "Enigma", although German refinements, such as the addition of extra rotors, prevented any major breakthrough.

In July 1939, as war approached, the Poles revealed their successes to British and French intelligence, and gave them replica Enigma machines.

Britain and France largely worked independently in attempting to pierce the secret of Enigma, and with France's defeat, the main burden fell on Britain.

The Battle of the Cyphers

During World War I Britain's code-breakers had known as ID 25 or more popularly, "Room 40". In 1920 they became part of the Secret Intelligence Service, and a few days before the outbreak of World War II changed their title from the Code and Cypher School to Government Communications Head Quarters. They were based at a large country house, Bletchley Park, whose extensive grounds provided space for the vast collection of huts erected to house a workforce which would eventually number several thousand.

A concerted drive was made to enlist the services of leading mathematicians from British universities, and, thanks largely to the pre-war work of the Poles, the Enigma codes used by the Luftwaffe were fairly quickly and comprehensively broken, as were some of those employed by the Wehrmacht. Those used by the Kriegsmarine, however, proved a much tougher proposition.

Thanks to the refined "bombes" developed by the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, the first complete "Enigma" message was deciphered in January 1940, and by April some messages were being read within 24 hours of despatch. The intelligence data provided by these and other means were given the codename "Ultra". The first significant breakthrough in reading the Naval Enigma came in February 1940, when, after U-33 was sunk off the Scottish coast, three rotor wheels found in the possession of survivors gave Bletchley a partial insight into the Naval Code. More captured enemy material was needed to progress any further, and this was provided in April 1940, when some "Enigma" documents were found on board the German armed trawler, "Polaris", taken off Norway. This enabled Bletchley to make its first, brief, reading of the Naval code, and provided Turing with material to work towards a more comprehensive breakthrough. Unfortunately, by the time that he made any real progress, new codes had been introduced, rendering messages once more unreadable.

The introduction by Donitz, from late 1940 onwards, of "wolf-pack" tactics, gave the "Enigma" codes still greater importance. In order to rendezvous U-boats had to signal their positions to Donitz's operations room. If these messages could be deciphered, it would be possible to divert convoys away from known ambushes. But it was becoming clear that little progress could be made without further captures of enemy material, itself a hazardous procedure, for if the Germans became aware that "Enigma" material had fallen into enemy hands, their whole cypher system might be changed.

On March 4th 1941, during a Commando raid on the Lofoten Islands off Norway, the Royal Navy captured the German trawler "Krebs", along with two "Enigma" machines and the current settings for use in home waters. This allowed another partial breakthrough, allowing some messages to be read. Donitz, whilst concerned by increased British naval successes, was assured by his cypher experts that "Enigma" was unbreakable, and tended to suspect that the problem was due to increasingly effective tracking by means of HF/DF signals.

It was in the spring of 1941 that Britain made an important breakthrough in the battle for "Enigma". Harry Hinsley, one of the Bletchley code breakers, realised that the network of German weather and supply ships currently operating in the Atlantic, would carry code information. The problem lay in capturing some of these without betraying to the enemy exactly what was going on. On May 7th, in a highly secret operation, Royal Navy ships intercepted and captured the weather ship "Munchen", seizing the code books to be used in June. Two days later, in one of the most dramatic episodes of the war at sea, depth charges fired by British destroyers forced to the surface U-110, whose commander, Lemp, had sunk the liner "Athenia" on the opening day of the war. Believing his vessel to be sinking, Lemp failed to destroy either his "Enigma" machine or its codes. Whilst sailors opened up on the U-boat crew with rifles and machine guns to panic them, and prevent any returning below deck, HMS "Bulldog" closed in and boarded U-110. Both machine and codes were seized. Lemp was not among the survivors of the U-boat crew, and once again the extent of their success remained a carefully guarded British secret.

The capture of U-110 was not in fact as decisive as sometimes claimed, but it provided useful additional information which would eventually be of considerable help in the breaking of "Enigma". More significant, in fact, was the capture next month of the German weather ship "Lauenberg", with the keys for June and July. This would enable Bletchley to break the German Home Waters code virtually until the end of the war, normally within 50 hours of transmission.

Once again the problem lay in how to make use of the information provided by the code breakers without arousing enemy suspicion. This almost happened during the comprehensive elimination of the German surface supply and weather ship network, which was intended to be a gradual process, but went rather too quickly when the Royal Navy stumbled across two enemy vessels by accident.

From the second half of 1941 onwards, information from "Enigma" was one of the key factors enabling the Royal Navy to divert convoys away from waiting wolf packs. Decoded messages went initially to the Royal Navy section at Bletchley Park, then, if relevant, were passed on to Submarine Tracking Room in the Admiralty and later to the HQ Western Approaches, in Liverpool. The German practice of changing their rotor settings every day or two meant that messages were often at least several days old when deciphered. Before sending them on, analysts would add notes on any significant content, such as the identities of persons mentioned. The gist of the information contained in the signals, carefully edited to conceal its source, was passed on to operational commanders, only a very few of the most senior of whom were let even partially into the secret of "Enigma".

The "Enigma" material, known as "Ultra", was, of course, combined with intelligence from a wide variety of other sources, including HF/DF and wireless intercepts and reconnaissance reports, into a body of information known collectively as "SIGINT".

The effect of the improved flow of intelligence information was apparent during the second half of 1941. Increasing numbers of convoys were being diverted away from waiting U-boats. In July, for example, not a single convoy was sighted by the Germans over a period of three weeks, and during July and August monthly sinkings went below 100,000 tons, the lowest for over a year.

Not all of this improvement could be put down to Ultra and SIGINT. Among other factors involved were the diversion of U-boats to the Mediterranean and Arctic, and increasingly effective Allied air patrols. It was also fortunate in the long term, if the Germans were to remain ignorant of Allied success in breaking "Enigma", that inability fully to understand a newly introduced code meant that not all merchant shipping could avoid U-boat ambush.

Even as it was, Donitz had recurring suspicions about the security of "Enigma", as, for example, when the U-570 was captured, and it seemed likely that some codes might have been taken. However German naval analysts eventually decided that only one codebook had been captured, providing insufficient material with which to penetrate "Enigma". His cypher experts assured Donitz that the Naval Enigma was "one of the most secure systems for enciphering messages in the world." Even so, the Royal Navy faced the constant dilemma of how much advantage to take of their knowledge without the risk of revealing their source to the enemy. Though every effort was made both to limit the circulation of information, and to disguise its origins, there were times that the breaking of "Enigma" came dangerously close to discovery.

Throughout the war there would be occasional breaks in the flow of information, when the Germans changed some of the cyphers, but these were usually solved either by the increasingly sophisticated "bombes", by the growing experience of the cryptologists, or by further captures of enemy material. Even so, such breaks could cause serious problems; one such temporary inability to decipher enemy signals played an important part in the heavy losses suffered by Arctic convoy PQ17.

A major crisis began on February 1st 1942, when a new rotor was added to the machines used on the Atlantic U-boat network. Known to the Germans as "Triton", and to the Allies, with sinister aptness, as "Shark", this additional refinement allowed 26 times as many different code combinations. The introduction of the new rotor coincided with greatly increased shipping losses due to the German "Happy Time" following the entry into the war of the United States. Though dire in other respects, the slaughter which the U-boats were making along the eastern seaboard of the USA at least prevented German Naval Command from linking their increased success to the refinement of "Enigma".

The British Admiralty had always been reluctant to share "Enigma" derived information with the USA, mainly, it appears, because of fears of security breaches. But in the current crisis, it was recognized that potentially much greater US resources, in for example, the construction of "bombes", would be invaluable. However no US "bombes" would be online before May 1943, and in the meantime the level of sinkings threatened to become unbearable.

Once again the situation was saved by captures from the enemy. In October 1942, the British destroyer HMS "Petard" commanded by the slightly crazy Commander Mark Thornton, depth-charged to the surface U-559, and, although two British seamen were lost when the U-boat sank, captured the latest code books. These provided invaluable aid in penetrating "Shark", aided as on previous occasions, by German carelessness and lapses in security.

A further break in deciphering occurred in the spring of 1943, but in March, again in the nick of time, more captured codes enabled "Shark" to be broken again. The crisis of the Battle of the Atlantic came in May. By then, although reading "Enigma" messages remained important, the greatly increased numbers of sea and air convoy escorts, with better detection equipment, were playing an increasingly predominant role in the defeat of the U-boats.

Though there would be other short breaks in the ability to decipher the Naval "Enigma", by now the worst of the U-boat threat was over. None of the interruptions lasted for long. One such difficulty was resolved on June 4th, 1944, when the USS "Pittsburg" captured and boarded the U-505, taking her code books. Unlike some previous occasions, the U-boat crew were aware of the failure to destroy "Enigma" material, and as a result they were denied access to the International Red cross, or any contact with their families. Kept in isolation in the US, they were not released until 1947. Ironically the commander of the Us naval task group involved was almost court-martialled by Admiral Ernest King, who feared, groundlessly as it proved, that the failure to sink the U-505 might have alerted the Germans to the breaking of "Enigma" on the eve of D-Day.

By the time of the D-Day landings, the Naval "Enigma" was being broken almost instantly by the improved knowledge of the codes and the greater number of "bombes" available in the UK and USA. Only in the very last days of the war did the Germans introduce another code variation which threatened Allied supremacy in this field, and by then it no longer mattered.



Britain had 54 serviceable submarines at the outbreak of WWII, including 12 H and L class boats which were of 1914-1918 vintage and of riveted construction. The H class boats were used operationally in 1940 but were withdrawn soon afterwards, following two early losses in the Bay of Biscay. An emergency submarine building programme was instigated and 164 boats were contructed in UK yards during the war.

British Royal Navy submarines were responsible for sinking 15 U Boats, 3 Japanese submarines and 17 Italian submarines. Six battleships were sunk, sixteen destroyers and 119 smaller vessels. In addition, 493 merchantmen were destroyed of about 1,800,400 gross registered tonnage. Total tonnage of all ships accounted for by H. M. Submarines was probably in the region of 16,000,000 grt.

Britain's war at sea and use of the submarine was substantially different in strategy from the U Boat offensive. The Royal Navy sought to protect the trade and raw material import routes and to clear the seas of hostile warships. This strategy was eventually successful and led to freedom of the seas in the run up to the Operation Overlord.