F.d.U./B.d.U.'S War Log

1 - 15 May 1941


Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  The following are in position west of the North Channel:
U 123
from AL 23
to AL 34
AM 71
AL 98
  U 143 square AM 31 and upper half right of AM 33.
  U 147 square AM 33 south half and AM 35, upper and middle third.
  On return passage:  U 108 in Be 62
                                          U 101 in BF 41
                                      U 553 in BF 54
  On outward passage:  U 94 in BF 41
  In the area of the Shetlands:  U 141 and U 201.
  U 38 in ET 13
  U 103 in ET 29
  U 107 in EH 93
  U 105 in ES 54
  U 106 in GB 38
  J 4 in AL 1990
  J 6 on passage into new operational area, AK 58 to AK 67 and AK 82 to AK 91
  J 9 on passage into new operational area AK 39 to AL 19 and AK 65 to AL 44.
  J 3 in DT 63
  On return passage:  J   1 in DT 96
                                      J 10 in CG 27
                                      J   8 in AL 98.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  On outward passage:  J 20 putting out of La Pallice.
  At 1630 air reconnaissance reported an outgoing convoy in AM 2271, course 3100.   Orders were given to U 123, U 95, U 65, U 96 to form a patrol line from AE 8725 to AL 3285.  Air reconnaissance was requested for 2 May, concentrating on the suspected position of the convoy.  U 141 reported from this area N.W. of the Herbrides heavy patrol by aircraft and naval vessels.  She was assigned to the area W. of the North Channel, E. of 110 W., for attack
  U 98 put out of Lorient.
  U 97 put out of Kiel.
  U 556 put out of Kiel.
  U 124 put into Lorient.
  It was established that the air reconnaissance operating on 29 April on the convoy of U 123 could not be carried out, since the machine intended for this area was shot down before reaching the suspected convoy position.
  Air reconnaissance operated on the reported convoy with 3 FW 200 and 1 HE 111, but made no contact.  Further operations against this convoy, therefore, are hopeless.  The boats have been assigned new attack areas as N.S. patrol line N. of 56 degrees in the following squares:
  U 201 - AL 15
  U 94 - AL 16
  U 65 - AL 25
  U 123 - AL 26
  U 95 - AL 35
  U 96 - AL 36
  Naval War Staff have asked whether U 106 can effect escort of the vessel "Winduk"out of Santos.  After enquiry from the boat she has been ordered to take up position on the 5th May in GA 37 in order to carry out this second escort operation.  Refuelling has been ordered for U 107 and U 105 for the 3rd May from "Nordmark", for the 9th May from "Egerland" at Point Red.
  U 123 reported starting on return passage.  U 110 has been assigned her operational area (N.S. patrol N. of 560 in AL 26), since
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  she reported, on enquiry, that the traffic situation in her present operational area (AL 52 to AM 71) was unfavorable.
  U 552 reported heavy traffic and strong escorts in AM 52 to AM 43.  She sank in this area the vessel "Nerissa" (5,583 tons).
  At 2050 U 143 contacted a convoy in AM 3137.  The course given - 2200 was considered very unlikely, however, it was confirmed once more by the boat upon enquiry.  U 141 and U 147 were ordered to operate against the convoy.  Towards 0100 U 143 reported contact lost.
  U 93 put out from Lorient.
  U 106 reported escort operation carried out.
  The Commanding Officer of U 124 (Lt. Wilhelm Schulz) came in to give his report.  The boat had been operating in the west African area and in the Freetown area, and encountered a great deal of traffic.  The Commanding Officer carried out the operation efficiently and with success.  He sank 12 ships, 64,300 tons.
  The aircraft reconnaissance operating on the convoy of U 143 had no success.  The other boats also did not approach the convoy.  Only single merchant ships and warships were sighted.
  U 96 contacted in AE 8457 a convoy with course E.  She was ordered to attack.  U 143 and U 147 were to operate against the reported convoy, U 141 and other boats likewise, if their position was favorable.  Air reconnaissance was requested for the 5th MAy, concentrating on the reported convoy.
  The Commanding Officer of U 108 (Lt. Scholtz) came in to give his report.  She pursued tenaciously and finally sank the auxiliary cruiser "Rajputana" (16,644 tons).  The boat had been for a long time on the west coast of Iceland and off Reykjavik but observed no traffic apart from fishing vessels.  
  The Commanding Officer of U 101 (Lt. Mengersen) came in to give his report.  The operation was unsuccessful owing to unlucky circumstances, engine trouble and bad weather.
  U 96 gave further reports of contact until 0545 in AE 8572.  Since, during the day, no boat contacted the reported convoy, boats operating against this convoy were ordered to return to their former operational S.W. of the Faroes, with no limitation, in order to give them more freedom in this area if escorts were strong.  U 75 was assigned to operational area S. of 560 N, no limitation.  U 97 was assigned, as operational area, a N.S. patrol line N. of 560 N. in AK 36, i.e. in the area of the other boats.
  U 69 and U 98 put out from Lorient, U 111 from Wilhelmshaven.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  U 105 and U 107 reported having carried out refuelling from "Nordmark" in the vicinity of Point Red.  Since U 105 had only fired one torpedo, she again proceeded into the area off Freetown, and will proceed subsequently to Lorient.  U 107 has only one torpedo left, is to refuel on the 9th May from "Egerland", waiting therefore in the vicinity of Point Red.  U 105 reported having sunk the vessel "Ena de Larrinaga" (5,200 tons) on the 5th April in FD 16.
  The Naval War Staff informed me that the "Windhuk" could not be expected to leave Santos on the 5th of May.  U 106 was, therefore, ordered to return for refuelling to Point Red.
  According to an intercept message the British vessel "Suret" (5,529 tons) was torpedoed in ET 29.
  The Commanding Officer of U 553 (Lt. Thurmann) came in to give his report:  The patrol had to be broken off owing to engine trouble.  The boat sighted no enemy ships en route from Norway around the Faroes to St. Nazaire.
  For boats U 95, 96, 65 and 110 operational area have been extended to the S. up to 510 N.
  Experiences and observations just lately have led to the following conclusions:
1) Enemy traffic scatters up to about 250 W over the whole Iceland area up to a line North Channel - Porcupine Bank, and further to the S.W.   It is assumed that approximately between 250 and 300 W. there is the greatest spread on the whole route from America to England, while the greatest concentration in the west is approximately in the area of the Newfoundland Bank, in the east directly off the North Channel and the Faroe-Herbrides Passage.
  There is as yet no indication that a part of the traffic takes the route north of Iceland.
2) Scattering of traffic according to plan has not been observed up to now.  Traffic has been observed always in the whole area south of Iceland up to approximately 500.  Intensification of traffic, however, has been observed in the north at times.
3) In the operational area defence and escort by sea and air forces has been observed to an increasing degree, intensified in view of the increasing hours of daylight.  These defence measures have resulted in boats being driven off in various cases even though they managed to approach the convoy, and not being able to guide other boats which, apart from this, were themselves hindered in their movements by air cover.  There have, therefore, been no great successes.  No substantial result can be obtained with individual chance successes.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
4) Attempts at direct cooperation with the Air Force have been disappointing.  In no case has it been possible, with their aid, to guide U-boats on to the enemy.  The reasons for this are to be attributed to the inaccuracy in fixes by the aircraft, their low endurance and consequently short time of maintaining contact.
5) Little support can be expected from the Italian boats.  In spite of attempts to increase their abilities by constant influence, taking Italian Commanding Officers along on operational boats and training in the Baltic, they still remain unsatisfactory.  They sight nothing, report nothing or report too late, and their tactical knowledge is practically nil.  Taking into consideration these points, new methods must be tried to achieve success.  It is necessary to search out an area where traffic is less concentrated. This may occur in the east - nearer under the coast - and in the west.  The disadvantage against the east, however, is that here defence measures are stronger and the U-boat is therefore more restricted, and that operations against incoming convoys by several boats is quite impossible owing to the proximity of the land.
  On the other hand, towards the west defence decreases.  Scattering of traffic is at least no greater, in fact it may be expected to be less already at approximately 350 than in the present operational area, while the expanse of the area and the scanty defence allows of free operations.
  I have, therefore, decided that boats which have just put out and those putting out next, will proceed approximately into square AK to the S.W. border of the operational area.  The boats concerned are U 93, 94, 97, 98, 201 and 556, later U 109 and 111 from home waters and U 43 and 74 from French bases.
  The work of aircraft reconnaissance will remain general reconnaissance of traffic in the areas near England, which can at least give a survey of the areas used while direct co-operation is not possible.  In view of the unfavorable experiences in the last few months, it is possible also to do without close co-operation.
  The air reconnaissance will be made partly from Stavanger and partly in flights from Bordeaux to Stavanger and vice versa.  This will be settled in discussions with the Air Corps, Atlantic.
  The Italians will be assigned an area between 470 30' and 530 N and 150 - 250 W.  Here they cannot adversely affect the area of our own operations, and on the other hand, even if they are only sighted without achieving any success, they may help by diverting traffic into the area of our own boats.  Apart from this, they will operate, as they wish very much to do, with our own boats west of Gibraltar.
  Air reconnaissance reported at 0830 an incoming convoy in AL 3425, course 1200.  Shortly after, a second aircraft reported a convoy in AM 1275.  (Difference in fix 100 miles).
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  Both reports were almost completely the same as regards the strength of the convoy, course and escorts, so that it was assumed that they concerned the same convoy.
  Information was obtained from an intercept message that a convoy was in AL 3261 at 1700.  In view of the experiences with fix inaccuracy on the part of aircraft, this position was given to the boats as the most likely one.  At 1530 (only after landing) an aircraft reported having sighted a convoy in AL 3159, course S.W. at 0730.  Nothing can be done with regard to this.
  U 141 reported returning owing to engine trouble caused by enemy action.
  U 552 put into St. Nazaire.
  U 105 was assigned to operational area W. of Freetown.  SHe reported having sunk in ES 4449 the vessel "Oakdene" (4,225 tons).
  The boats were informed that air reconnaissance had sighted at 0920 in AE 9438 a convoy, course 1800.
  U 95 reported at 1040 a convoy in AM 2732, course 1200.  Boats could not be sent in to operate owing to the easterly position of the convoy.
  At 2118 U 94 reported a convoy in AE 7772 with course N.W.  She was ordered to attack if possible, if not to report contact.
  This frequency of reports on convoys and sightings in the last few days (air reconnaissance has also reported much traffic, even though this could not be exploited by U-boats) is significant.
  As the boats are not in a really different operational area nor has air reconnaissance been intensified, I am more than ever convinced that in April there was a certain curtailment of traffic.  
  U 106 requested refuelling on the 16th of May owing to fuel shortage and engine trouble.
  The Commanding Officer of U 552 (LT. Topp) came in to give his report.  This was a very hard operation, pluckily carried out.  The Commanding Officer utilized all his opportunities.  He reported very heavy defence and aircraft patrol west of the North Channel.  Sunk:  3 vessels and 1 escort, 24,319 tons.
  U 94 reported having sunk, during a daylight attack, 4 vessels - 26,000 tons.  She was pursued and depth-charged.  Contact was lost in AD 8966.  Among these 4 vessels there were probably the "Eastern Star" (5,658 tons) and "Jxion" (10,263 tons) reported by intercept messages to have been sunk in AE 7741.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  Air reconnaissance reported at 1000 a convoy in AM 4551, course 900.  Nothing could be done with regard to this, owing to great proximity to the North Channel.
  I am moving the operational area of the northern boats to the west for reasons fully set out on the 6th May.
  The following boats will be given new operational areas, spacing 20 miles:
  U 94 - AK 1715;  U 556 - AK 1815;  U 201 - AK 1935;  U 97 - AK 0135;  U 93 - AK 5135;  U 98 - AK 5315.
  The boats are to leave their former areas in such a way that the new areas are reached at the same time on the morning of the 12th MAy.  Radio silence is to be observed, except for important tactical messages.  This group will be termed the "West Group".
  U 97 sank 13,000 tons and torpedoed a Q ship.  Position BD 5536.
  At 2203 U 110 contacted a convoy in AD 8752, course west, speed 7 knots.  She was ordered to attack if possible and if not, to give reports of contact.  Other boats operating against the convoy were ordered to report position by means of a short signal.
  U 74 put out from St. Nazaire.
  THe question of safety in carrying out refueling in mid-Atlantic was again raised by the sighting of an enemy aircraft carrier by an Italian U-boat south of Cape Verden.  I have come to the conclusion that it is quite possible that such supply points might be discovered by an aircraft and have, therefore, ordered that refuelling be effected only by night.
  U 110 gave a further report of contact, according to which the convoy was in AD 8788.
  U 201 and U 556 gave their positions in AD 8752, and AL 11, i.e. that they were operating against the convoy.  U 210 also reported having sunk in AL 3160 on the 3rd May the damaged (probably by U 552) tanker "Capulet" (8,109 tons).
  Since U 110 had moved far to the N.W., in view of this convoy operation, she was ordered to join the West Group and was assigned as operational area AK 1525, spacing 20 miles.
  According to an intercept message the following vessels were torpedoed from the convoy of U 110:
Vessel "Empire Caribou" - (4,861 tons)?
  "Gregalia" - (5,802 tons)
  "Esmond" - (4,976 tons)
  "Bengore Head" - (2,609 tons)
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  Air reconnaissance reported at 0715 a convoy in AL 6674, course 2500.  The boats were informed accordingly.
  U 123 reported from BE 29 having sunk the vessel "Venezuela" as a result of operations.
  In view of operations by the boats on the last enemy reports and the departure of the "West Group" the operational areas ordered , N.S. patrol line W. of the North Channel, have become superfluous.  I have, therefore, ordered U 95, 96 and 65 to operate without limitation off N.W. England.
  U 93 and U 98 have been ordered to continue their passage into new operational areas so that they may be reached as ordered if no contact with the enemy is made until then.
  U 94 made contact at 1125 in AL 1284 with a convoy, course N.W., speed 10 knots.  She was ordered to maintain contact, and given freedom of attack.  At 1321 she reported from AL 1282:  "Am being driven off".
  In order to avoid mistakes and doubts, the boats of Group West were reminded that operations on a target intercepted by U-boats, in this case against the convoy of U 110 and U 94, has precedence over taking up the ordered operational areas at the right time.
  U 95 reported from AL 9246 return passage, vessel "Taranger" (4,873 tons) sunk.
  Return passage:  U 143, U 147 (both to Bergen) and U 75.
  U 556 reported at 0444 in AK 1490 a convoy, course 2100.  She was ordered to attack if possible, if not to maintain contact.  She later reported that the convoy has dispersed and she had sunk 3 vessels, 20,000 tons and 1 escort. 
   U 75 reported from AM 7250 no traffic since 28th April.  "City of Nagpur" (10,146 tons) sunk.
  U 201 sank 2 ships, 18,000 tons, from the convoy of U 110.  Strong escort.  This convoy, first reported by U 94 then by U 110, was therefore attacked also by U 201 and U 556.  From reports by the boats and according to intercept reports, the following sinkings are confirmed.
  U 94 - 4 vessels  
20,000 tons.
  U 201 - 2 vessels  
18,000 tons.
  U 556 - 3 vessels  
20,000 tons.
  Through intercept service (probably U 110)  
18,248 tons.
76,248 tons.
  U 147 reported from AN 1143 having sunk 1 vessel (3,000 tons).  The boat is proceeding to Bergen.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  An Italian U-boat (J-15) contacted at 0545 a South-bound convoy in AL 9735, but later last contact.
  At 1400 air reconnaissance sighted in AM 1239 an outward-bound convoy.
  From all these reports it must be concluded that the enemy does not keep to certain convoy routes but proceeds anywhere and scatters traffic.  It has also been confirmed once more that he does not on principle avoid areas in which sinkings have been made by U-boats.
  On the contrary, he may even reckon on the boats leaving these areas in the meantime. The decision to have the boats proceed into an area where concentration of shipping is as large as possible and to remain there, is, therefore, again confirmed as correct.
  U 110 gave no report of position as requested.  She must be considered lost.
  Air reconnaissance detected the following convoys in the course of the day:
1) An outward-bound convoy in AE 8788.
2) An incoming convoy in AL 6636.
3) A formation consisting of a battlecruiser, two cruisers, three destroyers and 1 transport in AL 0372, course 240 degrees.  The boats were informed accordingly.
  U 201 contacted convoy in AK 1864, course southwest.  She was ordered to attack as soon as other boats had approached, or in the dark.  The other boats of the "West" Group were ordered to operate against the convoy.
  At 1845 U 201 reported the convoy in AK 1849 and at 2300 in AK 1767.  COntact lost owing to fog.
  U 74 contacted in BE 51 a south-bound convoy.  She was given permission to attack but reported at 1930 from BE 54 pursuit broken off owing to the weather.
  U 147 put into Bergen.
  U 107 reported refuelling carried out.
  U 123 and U 141 put into Lorient.
  An Italian U-boat reported 3 vessels, escorted by destroyers, in AL 4251, course 900.  However, she soon lost contact again.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  U 69 reported from the area north of Cape Verden:  No traffic.
  Nothing further to report.
  For boats coming newly into the operational area, the following operational areas are ordered:
  U 111 - AK 1525;  U 109 - AK 5535;  U 74 - AK 6415;  Spacing 20 miles.
  U 111 reported having sunk a ship.
  U 557 and U 66 put out from Kiel.
  The Commanding Officer of U 123 (Lt. Moehle) came in to give his report:  The boat did not have any great success on this operation owing to scarcity of traffic.  Operations on the convoy on the 28th April also were unsuccessful owing to defensive measures.
  The Commanding Officer of U 141 (Lt. Schuler) came in to give his report:  The boat and Commanding Officer were on their first independent operation.  The boat gathered important experiences in the very heavily patrolled areas west of the North Channel, but did not have any success.  The operation had to be broken off prematurely in view of engine damage through aircraft bombs.
  Air reconnaissance reported at 0820 a convoy in AM 4268, course 2300.  The Italian boats are in a favorable position to this direction of advance.  They will be sent out from Bordeaux.  For the 15th May further air reconnaissance has been requested on this convoy.  Since I anticipate less defense west of the present operational area of the Western boats, and heavier concentration of traffic can be expected and since approach from the bases is not substantially further than to the present positions, I have ordered the Western boats to take up new operational areas in direction 2150, 240 miles from the former operational areas.  Since the boats are now outside the blockade area and there is a possibility of encountering enemy merchant vessels in neutral convoy, the boats have been ordered, following on discussions with the Naval War Staff, to proceed according to Standing War Orders and the following:
1) Only attack warships proceeding alone and as escort protection, if they are definitely recognized to be enemy vessels or when they are blacked-out or begin an engagement.
2) Enemy merchant vessels in neutral convoy may be attacked without warning.
3) Only attack merchant vessels recognized to be neutral ones if under enemy escort or when supporting enemy measures, however not when in neutral convoy.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
  The Commanding Officer of U 95 (Lt. Schreiber) came in to give his report:  Nothing special to remark regarding the operation.  Sank 1 vessel of 4,800 tons.
  The Commanding Officer of U 75 (Lt. Ringelmann) came in to give his report:  The boat and Commanding Officer were on their first enemy operation.  The Commanding Officer sank, after a lengthy and tenacious pursuit, a vessel of 10,146 tons.
  Several Italian boats contacted the convoy reported on the 14th May by air reconnaissance.  The Air Corps, Atlantic, sent out several machines to attack during the evening.  Aircraft, however, did not find the convoy again.  The Italian boats also lost contact towards evening.
  U 98 reported having sunk a British auxiliary cruiser of 20,000 tons, on the 13th May in AJ 3825.
  U 138 has been assigned operational area N.W. of the Herbrides, no limits.
  U 43 has been assigned operational area AK 4774, spacing 20 miles.
  U 201 reported returning, owing to a trace of oil.  26,000 tons sunk.
  The Italian Flag Officer commanding U-boats in the Atlantic, Admiral Parona, came for discussions in Kernevel.
  The Italian U-boats will be assigned, as laid down on the 6th May the following:
a) Area west of Gibraltar.
b) Area between 150 and 280 W and between 470 30" and 550 N.
  In addition, they will be permitted to operate also North of the area under b), and in the Freetown area, according to an earlier agreement.  In view of Communication 1, Naval War Staff Group Command 9648 of the 10th May, however, they were informed that they could not be permitted to operate in the Cape Town area as anticipated by them.  Subsequently the Italians were given permission to operate south of 470 30' eastward of 250 with the understanding that they might only attack convoys in this area (prize route).
  I based these measures on the following facts to the Italian Flag Officer commanding U-boats.
1) The traffic situation seems to indicate two main lines in the northern operational area:  that to the west and that to the south.
2) With numbers of boats increasing and for general reasons it seems practical to operate in one area only with boats of one nationality.
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Position, Wind, Weather
Sea State, Illumination,
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
3) The Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important.  Intensified operations against the Straits of Gibraltar, therefore, are called for.
                                          (signed):  DÖNITZ.
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