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

16 - 31 May 1941

PG30289

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
16.5.
  West Group boats are in the following positions:
  U 111   AJ 6386
  U 94   AJ 6678
  U 556   AK 4487
  U 97   AK 4876
  U 93   AK 7275
  U 98   AK 7385
  U 74   AK 8486
  U 109   AK 8312
  The following are west of the North Channel:
 
  U 65   AL 2848
  U 96   AL 6346
  In the area S.W. of the Faroes:
 
  U 138   AE 9775
 
  Outward bound:
 
 
  U 43   BE 7585
  U 46   BF 5499
 
  On return passage:
 
 
  U 201   BE 2365
 
  In the southern area, off Freetown:
 
 
  U 107   EJ 74
  U 105   ET 49
 
  In the supply area:
 
 
  U 106   ER 53
  U 38   ES 44
  U 103   ER 39
 
  On passage to operations area:
 
 
  UA   DS 63
  U 69   EJ 41
  4 Italian boats (J 11, J 15, J 6, J 25) in patrol line from BE 1525 to BE 2415.
  On return passage:
 
  J 20   BE 2865
  J 4   BF 4699
  From the southern area:
 
  J 3   CG 44
  The order given to the Western boats on procedure in the blockade area has been altered as follows on the instructions of the Naval War Staff:
           
 
 
- 73 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  Immediate action is permitted outside the blockade area:
1) In accordance with Standing war Order No. 101 paragraph II 4 b - d and 5.
2) Against enemy merchant ships in neutral convoy.  Warships sailing outside the blockade area, independent or as convoy escort, are only to be attacked if they are identified as enemy for certain or if darkened or if they take action first.
   
  U 105 reported as sunk:
 
  "Benwrakie"
(6,434 tons)
FD 36
  "Bienvenue"
(5,920 tons)
ET 72
  "Rodney Star"
(11,803 tons)
ET 47
  The boat has one man wounded owing to a tube runner.  She has orders to hand over the wounded man to EGERLAND at point ROT and to refuel for return passage to Lorient.
 
   
 
17.5.
  U 43 has been allocated as attack area the position vacated by U 201 in the disposition of the Western boats.  These boats are to form a patrol line from square AJ 6385 to AK 8485.
 
   
 
  At present they are:  U 111, 94, 556 (43), 97, 93, 98, `09, 74.
 
   
 
  U 65 has again been ordered to report the weather and again failed to reply.  There is grave concern about this boat.
 
   
 
18.5.
  U 38, 103 and 106 reported supply carried out.  EGERLAND's torpedo stocks are thus used up except for 6 torpedoes.  A request has been made for another supply ship to be sent to the southern area for U-boats and approved by Naval War Staff.
 
   
 
  U 66 reported 620 N. passed.
   
  U 201 entered Lorient.
   
  Air reconnaissance observed a convoy inward-bound at 1030 in AM 4842, course 700.  An escort unit reported the aircraft at the same time and gave the position as AM 4831, course 730.  U 128 and 96 were informed.  Another convoy was observed by aircraft in AM 1618, course 1600 at 1700.
   
19.5.
  U 96 reported that she was returning and had sunk a 9,000 GRT tanker from a convoy and other tankers totaling 24,000 GRT from U 123's convoy.
           
 
 
- 74 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  The British S.S. Piako, 8,253 GRT, was torpedoed in the Freetown area P.M. on the 18th.
 
  Aircraft reported one inward and one outward bound convoy in North Minch.
   
  The Italian U-boat OTARIA reported a convoy, course 700, in AL 8855 at 1000.  U-boat BIANCHI and BARBARIGO were in the vicinity.
      Radio intelligence indicates that S.S. Starcon, 4,662 GRT was torpedoed in this area.
 
   
 
  U 94 made contact with a convoy in AJ 6636 at 1655, course N.  She was ordered to stick to it.  All Western boats were ordered to operate and U 94 not to attack until other boats had arrived.
 
   
 
20.5.
  At 0050 U 94 reported the enemy on a course of 3100, about 15 steamers and one auxiliary cruiser.  Further shadowers' reports showed that visibility was beginning to deteriorate.  It was thought that no other boats had reached the convoy and U 94 was ordered to make beacon-signals.  At 0400 she was given permission to attack.  She sank a 6,000 GRT ship, but then lost contact at 0545 in a fog. She pressed on and regained contact at 0905 in AJ 3773.  At 1026 U 556 requested beacon-signals and must therefore have been nearby.
 
  By 1300 U 93 and by 1504 U 98 had reached the enemy.
 
  Radio Intelligence reported 5 ships torpedoed.
 
  At 1930 U 94 reported contact lost.  Convoy apparently dispersed.  She later added that the convoy's last course observed was 00 and that the auxiliary cruiser and the fast ships had made off independently.  Besides these she had observed a group of 5 probably slow ships.  U 98 and 556 started on their return passage, the former because of fuel shortage, the later because she has used all her torpedoes.  According to Radio Intelligence the following ships were torpedoed from the convoy, which had not yet dispersed.:
 
 
Tanker SAN FELIX
13,037 GRT
 
Tanker BRITISH SECURITY
8,470 GRT
 
S.S. ROTHERMERE
5,356 GRT
 
S.S. JOHN P. PETERSEN
6,128 GRT
 
S.S. DARLINGTON COURT
4,974 GRT
 
 
  According to reports so far received from boats the following has been sunk:
 
 
U 94 1 ship
6,000 GRT
(not included in Radio Intelligence figures)
U 94 J.P. Petersen
6,128 GRT
 
U 556 2 tankers
22,000 GRT
 
U 556 1 ship
5,000 GRT
 
                       
 
 
- 75 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  6 ships totaling 43,965 GRT torpedoed, of which, according to boats' reports, 5 ships totaling 39,128 GRT sunk.
 
  U 556 reported the total results of her patrol 7 ships totaling 49,900 GRT.
   
  U 46 has been allocated a position in the disposition of the Western Group.
   
 
  U 73 left Lorient for enemy patrol.
 
   
 
21.5.
  U 93 made contact with a convoy at 0200.  She first reported 10 ships, later 18.  Course N.E., 10 knots.  This was probably a part of the scattered convoy, or the convoy itself.  The number of ships was greater, but this could be due to an error on the part of this boat or U 94.  Later U 93 reported 5 destroyers with the convoy.  She was given freedom to attack as soon as other boats did so and made shadowers' reports until 2100.
 
   
 
  U 98 started on her return passage, having used all her torpedoes and sunk altogether 35,356 GRT.
 
   
 
22.5.
  No further reports were received of the convoy.  All boats were ordered to report if they had reached it and, if they had no contact to make their position by short signal.  Position reports were received from U 46, 66, 557 and 94.  They therefore had no contact.  U 74 reported serious depth-charge damage and was forced to return (W. France).
 
  Boats were ordered to move off to the S.W. to square AJ 60.
 
   
 
  U 69 reported sinking S.S. EXMOOR, 4,999 GRT and TEWKESBURY, 4,601 GRT.
   
  U 105 had supplied.
   
  At 1710 U 111 sighted the convoy, apparently strongly escorted.  This confirmed my opinion that it was best for the boats to break off the attack now.  While all the boats were making for their new position, dummy radio traffic was started to deceive the enemy into believing that the attack was going on.  U 111 made dummy signals.  Radio messages were received from U 93, showing that she had not pursued the convoy and that her transmitter had been temporarily out of order, but was now working again.
  The attack on the convoy was then concluded.  All boats taking part reported afterwards and according to these reports the results were:
 
U 94 1 ship unidentified
6,000 GRT
 
U 94 JOHN P. PETERSEN
6,128 GRT
 
U 556 2 tankers, unidentified
22,000 GRT
 
U 556 1 ship, unidentified
5,000 GRT
 
           
 
 
- 76 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
 
U 98 1 ship unidentified
10,000 GRT
 
U 98 ROTHERMERE
5,356 GRT
 
U 109 1 ship, unidentified
7,000 GRT
 
U 93 1 ship, unidentified
10,000 GRT
 
 
Total:
71,484 GRT
 
 
  U 96 entered St. Nazaire.
  U 48 left St. Nazaire.
   
23.5.
  U 111 reported that her fuel stocks were down to one third.  There are several supply ships in the Northern area, taking part in a Fleet operation, which are also equipped to supply U-boats.  A request was made for one of these to refuel U 111 and the supply was arranged for May 25.
 
   
 
  U 106 reported:  No traffic observed for 4 days.
 
   
 
  The tanker BRITISH GRENADIER was torpedoed S.W. of Freetown, probably by U 103.
 
   
 
24.5.
  U 204 left Kiel.
 
   
 
  In the early morning hours enemy units made contact with the BISMARCK and PRINZ EUGEN, which was breaking out through the Denmark Straits.  There was an engagement with enemy battleships during which HOOD was sunk.  Western Group boats were informed of this and that further enemy operations were likely.
 
  It was considered whether anything could be done at once with these boats to give support to the BISMARCK group, but it was decided to wait until C-in-C. Fleet's intentions were known.  I telephoned C.-in-C. West and placed all the U-boats at his disposal regardless of the war against merchant shipping and he confirmed my view.  He would make his requirements known as soon as he heard from C.-in-C. Fleet.
 
  As operations proceeded, C.-in-C. Fleet requested that Western Group U-boats be concentrated together in square AJ 68, he intended to lure the enemy units which were still shadowing him into the U-boat's positions A.M. on the 25th.  At 1613 an order was given for U 94, 43, 46, 557 and 66 to form a patrol line to run N.W. to S.E. through the square. U 93 and 73, which were further away, were to take up positions N.E. of this patrol line.  In preparation for the event of the Fleet's returning, U 48, 97, 98, on passage in Biscay, were ordered to attack areas in BE 6420 to 6620, at the request of Group Command West.  U 138 was to have occupied the position adjoining those to the East, but could not carry out her orders owing to lack of lubricating oil.
                       
 
 
- 77 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  U 556 (on her return passage without torpedoes) was ordered to join this group.
U 73, on outward passage, which should have been about half way between the Western and Biscay groups, was ordered to make her position, after which she was to to be allocated to one or other group.
  U 108 and 552 were also to leave Lorient and St. Nazaire respectively P.M. on the 25th to join the Biscay group.The Flotilla S.O. had, of his own accord, given orders for U 552 to be ready to sail.
  All available forces had then been mobilized.  By evening it was known that the Fleet's intentions were changed:  the 2 ships were to separate, PRINZ EUGEN to move away to the S.W. and BISMARCK probably to enter St. Nazaire.  Boats concentrated in AJ 68 were then dispersed and, on Group Command's instructions, ordered to form a patrol line from AJ 6115 to AK 7215.
   
25.5. (Night)
  When news was received that BISMARCK had been torpedoed by an enemy carrier-borne aircraft it seemed more than ever likely that she would put into St. Nazaire.  The question of screening the inward-bound battleships came into the foreground.
 
  The disposition in Western Biscay was reinforced by U 73, which was nearer to this group than the Western Group, and U 74.  Although she had been badly hit by depth-charges and was on her way back, U 74, realizing the seriousness of the situation, had reported of her own accord that she could reach a position near the Biscay Group by next morning.
 
  This meant that at least 6 boats were disposed along BISMARCK's inward route, although 2 of them (U 556 and 98) had no torpedoes and one (U 74) was badly damaged.
 
  The Western boats in patrol line were ordered to proceed E. at cruising speed to intercept the enemy units (aircraft carriers) which were following the battleship.  Contact with our own ships was lost at 0213 and apparently not regained.
 
   
 
25.5. (A.M.)
  At the request of Group Command West the boats in Biscay were given the following order:
 
  "U 73, 556, 97, 98, 48 to form a patrol line from BE 6155 to BF 7155, depth 20 miles.  U 74 to make for BE 5350 as attack area".
 
  As soon as it could be assumed that our own units were sufficiently far south, the Western Group was ordered to resume their original positions in patrol line.  
 
   
 
  U 147 left Bergen and was allocated the area N. of England to west of the North Channel.
 
                         
 
 
- 78 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
26.5.
  U 103 reported 11 ships totaling 56,245 GRT sunk so far.
 
  BISMARCK's return passage proceeded according to plan.  She was unobserved until 1050, then picked up by an enemy aircraft and shadowed.  Surface forces then came up.  She reported her position at 1844 in BE 53, course 115, 24 knots.  She was being shadowed by a Sheffield class cruiser.  The situation was now clear, the enemy was to be expected from the N.W.  BISMARCK passed E. of the U-boat line.  U 48, who was then not expected to encounter the enemy in the south, was ordered north by radio.
  U 556 reported T.O.O. 2010:  BE 5332 KING GEORGE, ARK ROYAL, air activity.  She lost visual contact with the enemy at 2035 and at 2240 also her hydrophone contact which had been maintained until then.  
  Towards 2130 information was received from Group Command West that BISMARCK had been hit by 2 more torpedoes and was no longer maneuverable.  Her position was BE 6192.  All boats in Biscay which still had torpedoes, i.e. U 74, 48, 73, 97, were ordered at 2141 to make for this position at maximum speed.  Task:  protection of BISMARCK.
  No further reports were received from or of BISMARCK and at 2319 the boats without torpedoes, U 556 and 98 were also sent to BE 6277, so as to make contact with the battleship, to bring up the torpedo carriers and provide better cover for this area, which must now be the main scene of events.
 
  After consultation with Group Command West, square BE 6279 was, on the basis of all available information (including a number of Radio Intelligence reports from enemy shadowers) taken as BISMARCK's most likely position.  
 
  The U-boats' operations were greatly hampered by the heavy weather (wind 7 - 9).  Use of armament was hardly possible.  
 
  U 98 could not carry out her orders owing to lack of fuel  She was ordered to remain in her position as long as possible.
 
   
 
  U 111 reported supply completed.  She returned to the Western boats' patrol line.
 
   
 
27.5.
  oo15 U 73 sighted BISMARCK and enemy forces in BE 6155.  At 0042 the U-boats were ordered to search the area BE 6277 to BE 6192.  BISMARCK was to make beacon-signals to assist them.
 
  U 73 reported at 0231:  "Last observation:  Gunnery action between 3 units BE 6119.  No further hydrophone bearing".  A situation report of 2345 from C.-in-C. Fleet (which contained no position) showed that the battleship was surrounded by enemy forces.
 
  At 0300 U 556 obtained a bearing of 2000 from BE 6153.  She observed a gunnery action at 0340 bearing 2300 15 miles off from BE 6164 and herself made beacon signals.  At 0430 she reported gun flashes bearing 2300 from BE 6164 left bottom.  No more D/F/ bearings of BISMARCK.
 
  At 0631:  Starshell bearing 2700 from BE 6192.
                       
 
 
- 79 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  At 0700 C.-in-C. Fleet requested that his War Logs be fetched by a U-boat.  U 556, which was probably the nearest, was ordered to do this.
After all data had been re-examined, the U-boats were informed that BISMARCK's position was believed to be BE 6150.  This was Group Command West's assumption.  I myself believed it to be further N.W. and I informed the boats of this possibility.
  At midday U 556 reported that she would have to return because of lack of fuel.  U 74 received orders to fetch the War Log instead of her.
  As no further news was received which helped to clarify the situation, all U-boats taking part in the operation were ordered at 1326 to report their last sighting of BISMARCK and any other observations made by them.
  U 73 and U 74 reported, but their observations were old and inaccurate.
  At 1400 the battleship had to be presumed lost in view of English broadcasts and the situation in general.  The boats were ordered at 1416 to search N.W. from BE 6150 for survivors.
 
  This search was unsuccessful and at 1954 they were ordered to cover the following areas:
 
 
U 108
- BE 6110  
U 97
- BE 6150
U 48
- BE 6120  
U 73
- BE 6190
U 74
- BE 6140  
   
 
  At 2059 U 74 rescued 3 survivors in BE 6142 and according to their statements the ship must have been sunk at about 1000 in BE 5330, i.e. N.W. of BE 6150.  This agreed with B.d.U.'s assumptions.
 
  All boats were ordered to join U 74 and to search from there to BE 5330.  It was intended to form a searching line the next day at 0800 from BE 5330 with U 73, 74 and 48, direction 1400, speed 6 knots.  
 
   
 
  The present disposition of the Southern boats was designed mainly to intercept convoys, but the boats have not picked up a convoy for 8 - 9 days.  I therefore decided to redistribute them in new attack areas with the object of concentrating on single-ship traffic.  (U 107 had reported another 3 ships totaling 21,000 GRT sunk).  The new attack areas are:
 
  U 103 and U 38 south of line Freetown bearing 400
 
  U 107 and UA (which is supplying today) north of this.
 
  All boats are to remain N. of 50 N., E. of 300 W., and S. of this E. of 250 W.
 
   
  Supply was requested for U 93 for May 29 in the Northern area and approved.
   
28.5.
  U 97 is returning because of the fuel situation.
                 
 
 
- 80 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
  U 108 made her passage report, according to which she was still 200 miles off the position of sinking at 2100.  At 0925 U 48 reported a number of floating corpses, a paravane and wreckage in BE 6141.  The Biscay boats were ordered at 1041 to search the area around BE 6141 and to leeward of this.  The homeward bound Italian U-boat BARBARIGO was to take part in the search according to her fuel stocks.
According to a report of 1320 from U 48 there was wreckage in BE 6141 southern half and in 6142.
  At 1348 U 74 reported wreckage in BE 6145.
  After consultation with C.-in-C. West the search was broken off at dusk on the orders of C.-in-C. Navy, no further reports of successful rescue operations having been received by evening.
  U 73 and 74 reported:search unsuccessful.
  The boats continued on their passage.
 
   
 
  U 101 left Lorient.
 
   
 
29.5.
  The trawler SACHSENWAL rescued another 2 survivors after midnight in BE 6150.  Group Command West then requested, on the orders of Supreme Command of the Navy, to order U 48, 73, 101 and 108 back to square BE 61 to continue the search.  The decision to search the area again carefully means that the boats will be occupied in this for at least 3 days.  Boats which have been at sea for some time (U 73, U 48) will by then have used a considerable amount of their fuel.  I requested that they be refueled at sea by a tanker intended for the Fleet.
 
   
 
  The Western boats have not picked up any enemy convoys in their patrol line since May 22 and have orders to form a new patrol line from AJ 9855 to BD 1855 by June 1.  They are at present:  U 93 (which should have supplied by then), U 111, 43, 46 and 66.  
 
   
 
  U 94 reported that she was returning.
 
   
 
  U 557 was ordered to supply in AJ 21 on June 1.
   
  U 75 left St. Nazaire, U 77 Kiel.
   
  U 109 entered Lorient, U 98 St. Nazaire.
   
  The Commanding Officer of U 109 made his report:  It was the boat's first patrol.  The crew was almost entirely new.  Result was a 7,000 GRT ammunition ship.  The general impression made by the Commanding Officer was one of uncertainty and worry.  The boat sank to a great depth during a depth-charge hunt and was only just saved by the presence of mind of an experienced Petty Officer who blew the tanks of his own accord without waiting for orders.  There was already considerable doubt about the suitability of this Commanding Officer during his training and this doubt has been confirmed by this general conduct on this patrol.  I have therefore found it necessary to relieve him at once.
           
 
 
- 81 -
 
     

 

     
 
 
 
Date
Position, Wind, Weather
 
and
Sea State, Illumination,
Events
Time
Air Pressure, Moonlight etc.
 
 
 
 
30.5.
  Entered port:  U 74 and 97 St. Nazaire, U 556 Lorient.
 
  U 74 was unsuccessfully attacked by an enemy submarine with a quadruple fan in BF 5534.  This boat sank nothing, as she was severely damaged by enemy anti-submarine forces during her first contact with the enemy, owing to unfortunate circumstances.  She then had to return, but took part in the BISMARCK action for some time.
   
  U 556:  An excellent, intelligently executed patrol, with the high result of 8 ships totaling 48,000 GRT.
   
 
  Commanding Officer of U 98 reported:  A good patrol, executed with ability and determination.  Result:  3 ships totaling 13,000 GRT sunk, 1 ship of 5,000 GRT damaged.
 
   
 
  UA reported supply completed.
 
   
 
31.5.
  U 141 left Lorient for an operation in the Scilly Islands area.  According to the results of air reconnaissance there should be constant traffic off the coast here.  This patrol will show what chances a small boat has here.  As far as can be foreseen prospects are favorable.
 
   
 
  Supreme Command of the Navy abandoned further search for BISMARCK survivors as hopeless.  U 108, 73, 48, 101 and 75 were ordered to make for square BD 13.
 
   
 
  U 93 reported that she had not yet found the supply ship.  An attempt is being made to bring the 2 together with the aid of beacon-signals.
 
   
  U 38 requested supply as soon as possible and reported her success so far as 44,000 GRT.
   
  U 107 reported 2 more ships, totaling 9,412 GRT, sunk.
   
   
   
                                         (signed):  DÖNITZ
   
       
 
     
 
- 82 -
 
     

 


 

Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the B.d.U. KTB/War Standing Orders page