U-47 - 2nd War Patrol

Translation by Jerry Mason with the help of Ken Dunn

Days at Sea
8 October 1939
17 Oct 1939


Click the icon to download a KMZ file displaying the U-boat track, significant events and locations for this patrol.  You must have Google Earth loaded on your computer to view this file.  Download Google Earth here


Ships Hit
KTB Time
14 Oct 39
01.49 - 02.18
41°53'N, 63°48'W
 Total = 29.150
Note:  The positions in the table above and in the Google Earth patrol summary are derived from the KTB and in many cases do not match those set forth in authoritative references such as Jürgen Rohwer, Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two or the Uboat.net website.  The goal here is to present the picture relative to the U-boat and not the absolute position that the ship was attacked or sank.

                                                         Copy No.__4__  
                                      K  r  i  e  g  s  t  a  g  e  b  u  c  h  
                                     = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  
                                            Unterseebootes " U 47 "  
                             Kommandant:  Kapitänleutnant    P  r  i  e  n  
                             Beginning:                     15 September 1939  
                             Concluding:                   21 October 1939.  
                             Enclosures:  1.    
Copy No.
7. U-Flottille
- " -
B.d.U. Op.
- " -
- " -
        © U-boat Archive 2014  - all rights reserved  
Click the flag to view the above page from the original German KTB
- 1 -
    15.09. - 08.10.39 Kiel Boat returned from the first war patrol on 15.09.39 at 00.14 hours and laid in Kiel at the Tirpitz Mole to offload torpedoes and prepare for shipyard period.  
      From 16 September to 2 October shipyard overhaul in the Germania Werft, Kiel.  Dry docked from 26 September to 28 September.  
    03.10.39   Torpedo loading.  
    04.10. - 07.10.39   Outfitting.  
    11.00 Deutsche Bucht Put to sea for special operation in accordance with North Sea Operations Order No. 16 through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, the Deutsche Bucht and Route I.  
      SE 1, cloudy  
      Exact position information cannot be given, because by special order all secret items were destroyed before executing the order.  
      South of the Dogger Bank Put the boat on the bottom.  After the beginning of darkness surfaced and continued transit.  Met quite a few fishing vessels.  
      SSE 4-5, overcast, very dark night  
      North of the Dogger Bank Put the boat on the bottom by day, proceeded at night.  
      ESE 7, overcast    
      Devils Hole As on the previous day.  
      ESE 7-8, overcast    
Sun and Moon Data 08.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 09.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 10.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 11.10.39
- 2 -
      SE 7-6, overcast Put the boat on the bottom by day east of the Orkneys.  Surfaced in the evening and approached the coast to fix the ship's position.  From 22.00 to 22.30 hours the Englishmen are kind enough to turn on all the coastal navigation lights for me, so that I obtain the most accurate ship's position! Despite the fact that since departing from Route I there was no possibility for a navigation fix, so that I had to proceed by dead reckoning and soundings, the ship's position agreed to within 1.8 nm.  
      East of the Orkney Islands At 04.37 hours the boat was put on the bottom in 90 meters of water.  Rest for the crew.  At 16.00 hours general wake up.  After breakfast at 17.00 hours preparations for attack on Scapa Flow.  2 torpedoes are brought to quick loading position before tubes I and II.  Explosive devices are brought out in the boat in case of demolition.  
      NNE 3-4, lightly cloudy, very bright night, Northern Lights across the entire northern horizon  
        The morale of the crew is excellent.  








The visibility is quite horrible. On land everything is dark, high in the sky are the flickering northern lights so that the bay, which is surrounded by quite high mountains, is lit up directly from above, the block ships stand as spooky theater

Surfaced at 19.15 hours.  After a warm supper for the entire crew began the transit to Holm Sound.  Everything goes according to plan until 23.07 hours when it is necessary to submerge before a steamer.   In spite of the very bright night and the burning lights I cannot make out the steamer in either of the periscopes.  Surfaced again at 23.31 hours and proceeded in Holm Sound.  Incoming tide.  On getting closer, a sunken steamer can clearly be seen in Skerry Sound, so that at first I believe that I am already in Kirk sound and proceed so.   However, the Quartermaster determines we have turned too early on the basis of his plotting, while I recognize the error at the same moment because only one steamer lies sunk in the strait.  The imminent danger is eliminated by hard turning hard to starboard.  A few moments later Kirk Sound can be seen.  Now my learning the chart ahead of time by heart proves itself, because the break through takes place at incredible speed.  Meanwhile, I had decided to pass the block ships to the north.   On course 270° passed by the 2-masted schooner which lies on course 315° before the real boom, at a distance of 15 meters.  
Sun and Moon Data 12.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 13.10.39
- 3 -
      sets in the straits In the next moment, the boat is turned to starboard by the current.  At the same instant I recognize the anchor cables of the northern block ship at an angle of 45° ahead.  With port engine stopped, starboard engine slow ahead and hard port rudder the boat at first turns very slowly, touches bottom. The preflooded ballast and reserve fuel oil tanks and ballast tanks are blown, the boat veers, continues to turn.  The boat's stern still touches the anchor cable.  The boat is free, it is pulled around to port and can only be brought on course again by hard fast measures, but:  
    00.27   We are in Scapa Flow  !!!  
        It is disgustingly light.  The entire bay is marvelous to survey. Nothing lies south of Cava.  I run even closer.  To port I recognize the Hoxa Sound patrol to which the boat must appear as a target in the next seconds.  With that everything would be lost, particularly as to the south of Cava there are still no ships to identify, although otherwise, at the furthest distances everything is clearly recognizable.  




00.16 ?


Therefore I decide: nothing lies to the south of Cava, therefore, before every prospect of success is risked, attainable success must be executed.   Accordingly turned back to port.  Ran to the north off the coast.  There two battleships lie, further inshore destroyers at anchor.   Cannot make out a cruiser, attack on the two fattest.  Range 3000 meters.  Set depth 7.5 meters.  Impact detonation.   One shot taken on the northern, two shots on the southern.  After a good 3-1/2 minutes a torpedo detonates on the southern battleship, of the other two nothing is seen!  About face!  
[notes in pencil]
Question time:
00.58     ø (Repulse, xxxx,
              ø (Royal Oak
    01.21 ? 01.02 Stern shot, in the bow room two torpedoes are loaded up!   
    01.23 01.22 3 bow shots.  Just under 3 minutes after shooting detonations on the closer ship.  There stupendous rolls, bangs, bumps and rumbling.  First water columns, then pillars of fire, chunks fly through the air, the harbor comes alive.  Destroyers have lights, Morse signals from every corner, on land, approximately 200 meters away, cars rush on the streets.  A battleship is sunk, another is damaged and three torpedoes have gone to the devil.  All tubes are emptied.  I decide to depart, because:  
        1.)  I cannot make a submerged attack with my periscopes. See entry experience.  
Sun and Moon Data 13.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 14.10.39
- 4 -
    14.10.39   Entry experience.  
        2.)  In the bright night I can no longer move about unseen on the calm water surface.  
        3.)  I must assume that I have been seen by the driver of an auto, that stopped abeam of us, turned, then drove off to Scapa at high speed.  
        4.)  I cannot go further north, because there, well hidden from my sight against the land, lie destroyers which were made out faintly before.  
    01.28   At Ahead 2 x "HF" came to departure course.  At first it is easy to Skaildaquoy Point.  Then it starts again.  The water level has fallen, incoming current.  I attempt to get out at "LF" and "KF".  I must go to the south in the narrows because of the water depth.  The swirling starts again.  On course 58° and at "LF" = 10 knots I am standing still.  Squeaked by the southern block ship at "HF".  The helmsman performs magnificently.   At 2 x "HF", finally at "GF" and "Ahead AK" we are free of the ship barrier, before me a mole!  By hard rudder maneuvers we are also around and at 02.15 hours we are again outside.  It is a pity that only one was destroyed.  
        The torpedo failures I explain as either a gyro or speed failure or as a deep runner.  In tube IV a tube runner.  
        During the operation the crew proved itself quite well.  During the morning of 13 October water (7-8%) was found in the lubricating oil.  In feverish work everything was done to drain and exchange the oil, and to isolate the leak.  The torpedo personnel reloaded the tubes at remarkable speed.  The boat was in such good shape that I could afford to switch to charging mode and to compress air while in the harbor.  
    02.15   Ran off on southeastern courses for return transit.  I still have 5 torpedoes for possible merchant ship warfare.  
    06.30 φ = 57°58'N Put the boat on the bottom.  The light glow of Scapa is seen for a long time, apparently they are still throwing depth charges.  
      λ =   1°03'W  
    19.35 ENE 3-4, lightly cloudy, isolated rain showers, Visibility towards land poor, otherwise good Continued on course 180°.  This course is chosen in the hope of catching one off the coast and to avoid "U-20".  
Sun and Moon Data 14.10.39
- 5 -
    06.00 φ = 56°20'N Dived and put the boat on the bottom at depth 72 meters.   
      λ =   0°40'W From 10.00 hours depth charges are thrown from time to time at a great distance. 32 bombs are counted with certainty.  Therefore, I remain lying on the bottom until darkness.  
    18.23 NE 5, Sea 4, long swell from the NE, cloudy, Vis. good Surfaced.  The Norwegian steamer "METEOR" lies before the boat on surfacing.  As a result of an error the radio room reports radio traffic from the steamer.  Therefore I allow a shot to be delivered far ahead of the steamer which already lies stopped.   The steamer is bound for Newcastle on Tyne, has 238 passengers.   Steamer is immediately released.  Delay duration about 12 minutes.   The radio room later reports that the steamer has not transmitted.  
    07.02 φ = 54°57'N General course 120°.  
      λ =   2°58'E Dived on the Dogger Bank.  Three drifting mines sighted at φ = 54°58'N  λ =   2°56'E  
      NNW 2-3, Vis. good  
        Proceeded submerged by day.  
    18.56 φ = 54°51'N Surfaced.  Proceeding on Route I on course 128°.  
      λ =   3°21'E    
      NW 2, lightly cloudy, Vis. good    
        Passed Route I.  
    04.04   From 04.04 to 04.47 hours hunted patrol fishing trawler No. 808, at the same time sent recognition signals eight times without answer.   This bird only reacts at range = 500-600 meters and when we bring out the portable searchlight!   With such patrol vessels an occurrence like my operation can happen to us.  
    11.00   Entered Wilhelmshaven Entrance III.   
    11.44   Made fast at the U-boat base.  
    15.30   Crew flown to Kiel and Berlin.  
Sun and Moon Data 15.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 16.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 17.10.39
- 6 -
    16.00   Return of the crew.  
    18.30   Departed for Kiel.  
    23.30   On the transit between Elbe I and the Elbe II an armed steam trawler is found lying at anchor with set anchor lights.  I drive past him dimmed at 40 meters, apparently he notices nothing, because no recognition signal call takes place.  
    01.20   Made fast in the Brunsbüttel lock.  
    13.00   Made fast in the Holtenauer lock.  
        Transfer ended.  
Sun and Moon Data 20.10.39
Sun and Moon Data 21.10.39

Appendices to U-47's KTB - click on the text at left to proceed to the documents
Chart A Track chart covering entire war patrol                8 October to 17 October 1939
Chart B Combat sketch for the period in Scapa Flow
Chart C Combat sketch for the period in Scapa Flow

Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the U-boat KTB page