This record was kindly provided by the generous assistance of Tony Cooper

 
 

   
 
 
     
     
 
U. 5 5 8
 
 
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INTERROGATION   OF   SURVIVORS
 
 
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September, 1943
 
 
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C O N T E N T S
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I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
       
II. DETAILS OF U.558
 
(i)
  Type
 
(ii)
  Displacement
 
(iii)
  Armament
      (a)  Guns
      (b)  Torpedoes
      (c)  Torpedo Tubes
      (d)  Torpedo Pistols
 
(iv)
  Propulsion
      (a)  Diesels
      (b)  Superchargers
      (c)  Fuel
      (d)  Main Motors
      (e)  Switchboard
 
(v)
  Compressors
 
(vi)
  G.S.R.
 
(vii)
  Radar
 
(viii)
  S.B.T.
 
(ix)
  Rubber dinghy
 
(x)
  Badge
 
(xi)
  Patron Town
 
(xii)
  Naval Postal Address
       
III. LAST PATROL OF U.558
       
IV. SINKING OF U.558
       
V. GENERAL REMARKS ON U-BOATS
 
(i)
  "Curly" torpedoes
 
(ii)
  G.S.R.
 
(iii)
  Flak
 
(iv)
  Vibration Dampers on U-boat Engines
 
(v)
  Depth Charges
 
(vi)
  U/T procedure
 
(vii)
  German U-boat policy
       
VI. BASES
 
(i)
  Brest
 
(ii)
  St. Nazaire
       
VII. MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS
 
(i)
  Political Views
 
(ii)
  Sabotage a French occupied bases
 
(iv)
  Reimbursement of Objects lost through Enemy Action
 
(v)
  Disciplinary Excesses
       
  APPENDIX "A" - EARLY HISTORY OF U.558
       
  APPENDIX "B" - PREVIOUS PATROLS OF U.558
 
(i)
  First Patrol
 
(ii)
  Second Patrol
 
(iii)
  Third Patrol
 
(iv)
  Fourth Patrol
 
(v)
  Fifth and Sixth Patrols
 
(vi)
  Seventh Patrol
 
(vii)
  Eighth Patrol
 
(viii)
  Ninth Patrol
 
                                                                                                                    (contd.)  
     
 
 

 

 
 

   
  APPENDIX "C" - COMPLEMENT OF U.558
 
(i)
  Commanding Officer
 
(ii)
  First Lieutenant
 
(iii)
  Second Lieutenant
 
(iv)
  Engineer Officer
 
(v)
  General
       
  APPENDIX "D" - NOMINAL ROLL OF U.558
 
(i)
  Survivors
 
(ii)
  Casualties
 
(iii)
  Total Crew
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 

 

   
REPORT ON INTERROGATION OF SURVIVORS FROM U.558, A 500-TON U-BOAT, SUNK ON 20th JULY, 1943, BY U.S. LIBERATOR "F" OF 19 SQUADRON.
___________________________________________________________________________
   
I.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.  
   
        U.558, a 500-ton U-boat commanded by Kapitänleutnant Günther KRECH, was sunk at 1313 on 20th July, 1943, in position 45032'N., 009026'W., by U.S. Liberator "F" of 19 Squadron.  Two officers, including the Captain, and three ratings were picked up from a rubber raft by H.M.C.S. "ATHABASKAN" at 1930 on 24th July.  All the survivors were suffering from exposure, and the Commanding Officer was in addition wounded in two places.  
     
          The prisoners are either comparatively ignorant or else security-conscious, and little information of value could be obtained.  
     
          U.558 was sunk whilst returning to Brest from her tenth patrol.  Kapitänleutnant KRECH had won the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross whilst in command of U.558.  
     
          Equivalent Royal Navy and German Naval ranks used in this report are:  
     
 
Korvettenkapitän
-
Lieutenant Commander
Kapitänleutnant
-
Lieutenant.
Oberleutnant zur See
-
Sub-Lieutenant.
Leutnant zur See
-
Junior Sub-Lieutenant.
Oberfähnrich zur See
-
Senior Midshipman.
Fähnrich zur See
-
Junior Midshipman.
 
     
          Also Baurat = Constructor-Lieutenant (a civil servant in naval employ).  
     
          The suffix "(Ing.)" after a rank denotes Engineer Officer and corresponds to the Royal Naval suffix (E).  
     
          The suffix d.R (= der Reserve) denotes a reserve officer.  
     
II.
DETAILS OF U.558.  
     
 
(i) Type: VII C.  (Builders:  Blohm and Voss, Hamburg.)
     
(ii) Displacement: 500 tons.
     
(iii) Armament:  
     
  (a)  Guns: One 88 mm. (3.46") forward.
     
    Two twin M.G.'s on the bridge, for which 12,000 rounds were carried.  4,000 of these were stored on the floor-plates on the starboard side of the bow compartment.  One 20 mm. (0.79") on the bandstand; two 20 mm. on extra gun-platform abaft the bandstand; 80 magazines were provided for the three latter mountings.
     
  (b)  Torpedoes: Twelve were carried.  It was said that "Curlies" were among the torpedoes embarked on the two last patrols.
     
  (c)  Torpedo Tubes:    Four bow, one stern.
     
  (d)  Torpedo Pistols:    On the penultimate patrol of U.558 a few torpedoes were carried
    which were fitted with the Pi.2 magnetic pistol about 3 ft. long.
 
   
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 2 -
 
 
 
 
(iv)    Propulsion:
 
 
 
 
        (a)  Diesels:  Germania Werft.
 
 
 
 
        (b)  Superchargers:  Kapsel (Rootes type).
 
 
 
 
        (c)  Fuel:  The total capacity was stated to be 129 m3 (about 110 tons).  The normal daily fuel consumption was given as 1.6 m3 (about 1.36 tons); the maximum as 2.4 m3 (about 2 tons).
 
 
 
 
        (d)  Main Motors:  Siemens.
 
 
 
 
        (e)  Switchboard:  Siemens.
 
 
 
 
(v)    Compressors:  One Junkers free piston type and one electrically-driven.
 
 
 
 
(vi)    G.S.R.:    Carried both Metox 600 R. and Grandin, with the "magic eye", and the new built-in drum type aerial.  She had no Southern Cross aerial.
 
 
 
 
(vii)    Radar:    Carried.  The aerial (Matratze") was housed in a rectangular box 80 x 45 cm. (2'8" x 1'6"), which was fitted on the bridge.
 
 
 
 
(viii)    S.B.T.:    Fitted on the starboard side of the motor room.  Three types of pill were carried:  noise, bubble, and a third which was probably oil slick.
 
 
 
 
(ix)    Rubber dinghy:    A rubber dinghy to carry three men was stowed forward on the upper deck.
 
 
 
 
(x)    Badge:    The badge of U.558 was the head of a man in profile with the forefinger laid alongside the nose, and the inscription underneath "Holzauge soi wachsam", which could be interpreted "Keep your weather eye open."  On the man's head was a flat, or "Roman" hat as worn by the French ecclesiastics.  The reason for this was that a new officer joining the flotilla went through an initiation ceremony during which the Surgeon-Lieutenant, clad in a cassock and wearing an ecclesiastical hat, "inoculated" the neophyte by discharging into the latter's mouth the cognac with which the former had filled an enormous hypodermic syringe.
 
 
 
 
(xi)    Patron Town:    Thought to be Leverkusen-Küppersteg.
 
 
 
 
(xii)    Naval Postal Address:    M.35167.
 
 
 
III.
LAST PATROL OF U.558.
 
 
 
 
        U.558 left Brest on her last patrol early in May, 1943.  By the 20th July, when she was sunk, U.558 had effected no attacks and no sinkings during the entire patrol.  A Chief Stoker admitted that U.558 had once been in position to attack a large eastbound Atlantic convoy; she had chosen her target and had maneuvered to attack from ahead at a range of about three miles.  At this juncture a destroyer located U.558 and began to hunt her so persistently that she abandoned her proposed attack and withdrew without firing a single torpedo.
 
 
 
 
        In addition U.558 had sighted during this patrol three independently routed neutral merchantmen, two Irish and one Swiss.
 
 
 
 
        The Second Lieutenant said that during her last patrol U.558 was attacked on four occasions by aircraft.  The dates were July 11th or 12th (a Halifax), 13th (a Liberator), 15th (a Mitchell) and the 20th (the actual sinking).
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 3 -
 
     
          The remaining prisoners were unable to give information on attacks prior to the sinking.  
     
          U.558 was already returning to her base when she was sunk.  
     
IV.
SINKING OF U.558.  
     
          At noon on 20th July, 1943, U.558 was proceeding on the surface.  Visibility was poor.  She was surprised by an aircraft, which immediately attacked in the port bow at a height of about 600 feet.  
     
          The ship's company of U.558 had finished their dinners before the attack began.  The alarm bell had not been sounded and no order had been given to dive; the hands were at day defence stations and not expecting any attack; the G.S.R. was manned, but the W/T operator then on watch stated that no contact was received.  
     
          The Officer of the Watch, on sighting the aircraft, ordered "hard a-starboard, utmost speed!"  Owing to panic engendered by having heard the aircraft overhead, the ratings concerned, instead of obeying the order, stopped both engines completely.  The alarm was then sounded and an effort made to use the motors, which, however, would not function.  An attempt to change back to Diesels also proved unsuccessful.  
     
          The aircraft attacked from dead ahead and no guns could be brought to bear until it was actually passing over the conning tower.  Prisoners thought four depth-charges had been dropped, which all fell just ahead and very close to U.558; they stated that the nearest fell about ten degrees on the port bow at a distance of fifty feet.  
     
          As the aircraft was attacking an attempt was made to man the 20 mm. (0.79") gun on the bandstand and, in spite of the difficult angle of fire, one or two hits are believed to have been made, for flames were seen coming from the aircraft.  The 20 mm. gun on the lower bandstand was also manned and a few bursts were fired as the aircraft broke away over the U-boat, making a wide left hand evasive curve.  
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  U.S. Liberator "F" of 19 Squadron on A/S patrol, obtained an S/E contact at 1213 on 20th July, 1943.  At 1215 a U-boat was observed on course 090 degs. speed 10 knots.  The pilot immediately went in to attack, approaching from the port quarter.  The U-boat was seen to have altered course to starboard, and as the run in was made, intense and accurate light 'Flak' was encountered from at least two guns abaft the conning tower.  The navigator opened fire with the front gun scoring some hits on the U-boat and as the aircraft approached at an angle approximately 160 degs. Red to the U-boat's track, the top turret and waist gunner secured numerous hits on the decks and conning tower.  The aircraft was hit in several places, particularly in the port inner engine and the left waist gunner was wounded.  
     
          At 1218 the Liberator released a stick of seven Torpex Mark XI depth-charges, Mark IVI pistols, set at 25 feet, at a speed of 180 m.p.h.. giving a true spacing of 54 foot from 100 feet.  The U-boat had again altered course to starboard and the stick of depth charges were seen to burst along the port side of the U-boat at an estimated angle of 170 degs. Green, the last of the depth-charges estimated to be a few yards ahead of the stern.  
     
          As the aircraft flew over the tail-gunner opened fire and hits were estimated on the U-boat's hull.  More 'Flak' was also encountered as the aircraft circled to port.  The pilot intended to make a second attack, but at this point the port inner engine cut out and could not be feathered.  Just at this moment, too, a Halifax was seen approaching.  
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 4 -
 
     
          The U-boat was not doing a tight circle to port, rolling heavily, bow and conning tower visible, apparently down by the stern.  Fire at the U-boat was again opened and at 1235, the pilot having been relieved by the Halifax, set course for base.)  
     
          At the time of the attack, U.558, had her telegraphs at "stop", but still had way on and was proceeding at about seven knots.  Resulting from the depth-charge explosions, serious leaks had occurred and the U-boat could no longer dive.  
     
          A second aircraft then appeared on the scene and attacked with machine gun fire.  This aircraft was kept at a distance by the U-boat's 'Flak' fire, until the latter's ammunition supply was exhausted.  In the meantime, water had entered the U-boat's batteries and the chlorine gas thus generated was the cause of the death of many of the ship's company.  All who could do so immediately came up on deck.  
     
         U.558 was now crippled beyond saving; she was down by the stern, unable to submerge and without ammunition on deck, nor could any more be brought up from below on account of the chlorine.  The aircraft dropped depth-charges and continued machine-gun fire until all hands had abandoned ship.  
     
          The rubber dinghy was launched, six men got aboard and there were about thirty more holding on to it.  
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  Halifax "E" of 58 Squadron on A/S patrol, sighted a Liberator at 1-1/2 miles distant on the port quarter at 1225 on 20th July.  At 1226 a fully surfaced U-boat was sighted 45 degs. Red, distance 2-1/2 miles on course 200 degs, speed 9 knots, and the aircraft dived to attack.  Fire was experienced from the after cannon of the U-boat.  "E" of 58 Squadron returned the fire and broke off the attack.  The U-boat altered course to starboard, towards the aircraft.  The aircraft turned back to circle the U-boat at 1,500 yards and the U-boat altered course to port and continued circling in tight circles.  The aircraft maintained station at 1,500 yards on the starboard beam of the U-boat, both exchanging short bursts of fire.  
     
          At 1245 hours the crew of the U-boat were seen to be climbing on to the deck forward, until in a row of about twenty.  Fire was opened on them by the aircraft and several were seen to fall into the water, the remainder regaining the conning tower.  At 1248 the U-boat was observed to be settling rapidly by the stern.  Fire from the boat having ceased, the aircraft immediately pressed home the attack.  The U-boat was losing way and the final run up was made from the starboard bow of the U-boat.  Just before the aircraft reached her a dinghy was seen just clear of the U-boat and about 15 yards to port of the aircraft.  The aircraft passed over the target, straddling it with eight 250 lb. Torpedo Mark XI depth-charges, Mark XVI pistols, released from 50 feet, depth setting 25 feet, spacing 60 feet.  The U-boat was seen heeling over on its port beam and the bows emerged suddenly from the water, before being obscured by the spray of the exploding depth-charges.  About six men were seen in the dinghy and others clinging to it.  About 40 bodies, dead and alive, were spread over an area of 1/4 mile square.  Position was given as 45032'N., 009026'W.)  
     
          During the course of that day most of the survivors clinging to the dinghy disappeared or died, the greater number the result of the chlorine gas to which they had been exposed.  On the next day there were only eight men left.  They hoped to reach Spain.  
     
          On 23rd July, one of the six then surviving members of the ship's company died as a result of drinking sea-water.  Very soon afterwards the five survivors recovered a canister of fresh water, which an unidentified U.S. aircraft dropped for them.  
     
          On 24th July these five men were picked up at 1930 by H.M.C.S. "ATHABASKAN."  
 
 
 
 

 

Click this text to view photos taken during the attack by Halifax "E" of 58 Squadron

 

 
 
     
 
- 5 -
 
     
          During the five days between the sinking of U.558 and the rescue of her survivors, the latter sighted one allied destroyer and innumerable allied aircraft of several different types.  On the other hand, they only saw one German machine during the whole of this period, a Focke-Wulf 200.  This disparity appears to have made a considerable impression on the extent members of U.558's ship's company.  
     
V.
GENERAL REMARKS ON U-BOATS.  
     
  (i)    "Curly" torpedoes:  
     
          The Second Lieutenant who had often attacked with "curlies", stated that the attacking position is always from ahead of the convoy on either bow.  He flatly denied that the firing position is ever astern as mentioned by the sole survivor from U.301, a midshipman.  (See C.B. 04051 (69), Page 3).  
     
  (ii)    G.S.R.:  
     
          This same officer stated that there was continuous trouble with the cable leading from the aerial through into the boat.  The cable is not longitudinally water-tight when the U-boat is on the surface, nor is the aperture perfectly water-tight when the U-boat is submerged.  The water runs down the cable and causes breakdowns in the apparatus itself.  
     
  (iii)    Flak  
     
          U-boat officers are agitating for automatic or semi-automatic gun sights.  
     
          It was stated that the flak policy in the German Navy had been so hurried that proper training measures had not yet been developed.   
     
          The following information on U-boat anti-aircraft armament was given:  
     
          20 mm. (.79" gun)  (C.30 and C.38).  
     
          The C.30 is a 20 mm. (.79") gun almost identical to the 20 mm. C.38.  The C.38 probably has a rate of fire slightly higher than the C.30.  The C.38 has a cocking toggle above the gun which makes access to the breech easier and so simplifies clearance of stoppages.  The C.30 on the other hand has a cocking handle on the right side of the gun and access to the breech practically means stripping the gun.  
     
 
        20 mm. "Quadruple" mounting.
 
 
 
 
        This quadruple mounting is arranged so that the guns can be fired either two or four at a time by means of a pair of pedal triggers.
 
 
 
 
        M.G. C.34.
 
 
 
 
        This gun is an ordinary rifle calibre machine gun with magazine feed;  it is probably going out of service.
 
 
 
          M.G. 15.  
     
          This is a G.A.F. Observer-type free gun with spectacle magazine feed, each magazine holding 75 rounds.  
     
          Both single and twin types exist, but the twin belt-fed type is the most likely, as this gives a phenomenally high rate of fire of between 1200 and 1500 rounds per minute per barrel.  
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 6 -
 
     
          Sights.  
     
          The ordinary ring and bead gun sight appears to be standard, but some form of semi-automatic speed bar is almost certainly in use with the quadruple gun.  
     
  (iv)    Vibration Dampers on U-boat Engines.  
     
          An E.R.A. discussed the quill type vibration dampers fitted to their G.W. Diesels and said that they were always troublesome due to all 36 groups of springs becoming pressed solid.  
     
          He also stated that their vibration meter was always out of order.  
     
          A Leading Stoker from U.459 also spoke of exactly the same defects on their MAN engines and Siemens vibration meters.  
     
  (v)    Depth Charges.  
     
          The greatest depth to which U.558 ever submerged was 258 meters (844 feet).  The maximum setting of any depth-charges used against them was estimated at 160 meters (525 feet).  The usual R.A.F. depth charge setting was thought to be about 60 meters (197 feet).  
     
  (vi)    W/T procedure.  
     
          In general signaling by W/T is discouraged.  By exception sightings and aircraft attacks are always reported.  Also when a U-boat is about to scuttle herself a signal is made.  It is hoped thus that the survivors may be picked up by other U-boats in the vicinity, instead of by the enemy.  
     
  (vii)    German U-boat policy.  
     
          It was thought that U-boats might return to attacks in American waters as it was considered that a U.S. convoy was more easily attacked than a British one; ("a difference like that between night and day").  
     
 
        The "wolf-pack" tactics were stated to be nowadays out-of-date, largely on account of the presence of escort-carriers.
 
 
 
 
        The Second Lieutenant said that the best thing Grossadmiral DÖNITZ could do would be to recall all U-boats and give them two months in their base to be fitted with "better equipment".  By this expression he implied the hypothetical discovery of some "better equipment" such as yet does not exist.
 
 
 
 
        He gave the figure of 100 German U-boats actually in operational area at any given time.
 
 
 
 
        There is no fixed limit in the Bay of Biscay or Atlantic at which diving must commence.  Each commanding officer did in this respect as he thought best bearing in mind the endurance of his batteries.
 
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  U.558 has not been at base since early May.  Prisoners from other U-boats which left bases on later dates stated that they thought there was a new order making diving compulsory east of 18 degs. W., except for the time necessary to recharge the batteries.)  
     
          The prisoner stated that U-boat Commanding Officers did not greatly fear depth-charge attacks made by surface craft, but that the dreaded attack from the air, particularly at night by aircraft fitted with searchlights.  No special anti-glare glasses have been issued or even heard of.  On one occasion an aircraft switched on her searchlight when about 2000 yards distant from U.558.  The Commanding Officer ordered his boat to crash-dive immediately.  
     
          In the same prisoners' opinion U-boats only remain surfaced to engage aircraft if the latter are already too near to permit diving.  Evasive action was always taken if there was time to reach a safe depth before the aircraft (with a searchlight) would be over them.  
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 7 -
 
     
          U-boats were stated to rendezvous off Finisterre and return to Brest in groups of four or five, depending  on the numbers returning at the same time.  Groups formed in line ahead, distance between boats being about 100 yards.  Communicating is by signal pistol; if the S.O. so decides he can thus cause all the boats in the group to dive at once.  
     
          This method is thought to give additional anti-aircraft protection, without increasing danger of being detected by A.S.V. as even one U-boat is very easily detected.  
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  It should be borne in mind that this prisoner had sailed early in May and that his boat was sunk on 20th July.  He was therefore not in a position to speak of more recent practice.)  
     
VI.
BASES.  
     
  (i)    Brest:  
     
          The port is stated to have suffered less from air attacks than the other bases on the French Atlantic coast.  
     
         Brest, the home of the 1st and 9th U-boat Flotillas, is considered the pleasantest French Atlantic base.  
     
  (ii)    St. Nazaire:  
     
          The immense damage to everything except the U-boat shelters is confirmed.  
     
VII.
MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS.  
     
  (i)    Political Views.  
     
          The Second Lieutenant considered the Italians as an impediment to Germany's war effort.  He hates the Japanese.  This officer thinks that the Axis will lose this war, and that amongst the victor powers, the U.S.A. alone will benefit.  He believes that the next war will be waged by Japan and the U.S.S.R. against the rest of the world.  
     
 
        He considers German propaganda regarding U-boat successes causing hunger, etc., in Britain to be greatly exaggerated.
 
 
 
 
(ii)    Victualling in U-boats.
 
 
 
 
        The supply of fresh provisions is no longer abundant, e.g. there is neither white bread nor eggs.  As far as tinned produce is concerned, German U-boats still enjoy the best luxuries occupied Europe can offer, such as peas, asparagus, strawberries, chicken, etc.
 
 
 
 
(iii)    Sabotage at French occupied bases.
 
 
 
          U.558 had had her engines sabotaged.  In another boat saboteurs had tampered with the H.P. air system.  All these activities were ascribed to French dockyard workmen.  
     
  (iv)    Reimbursement of Objects lost through Enemy Action.  
     
          The German Government has undertaken to replace watches and wedding rings belonging to naval personnel, but no other private effects.  
     
  (v)    Disciplinary Excesses.  
     
          Prisoners referred to the excessive number of cases to known to them where naval ratings had either been reduced in rank, or had under-gone terms of imprisonment on account of trivial misdemeanors.  Sample punishments can be cited:  
     
 
        One rating sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for procuring
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 8 -
 
     
  himself a piece of copper by cutting it out of a copper plate on board.  
     
          One rating sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment for depredations in a victualling store.  
     
          One rating sentenced to 4 months' imprisonment for appropriating a tin of sardines.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 9 -
 
     
 
APPENDIX "A"
 
     
  EARLY HISTORY OF U.558.  
     
          Very little is known of U.558's early history; only one of the five survivors had served in her any appreciable time, and he was unintelligent.  
     
          U.558 was built by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, commissioned in February, 1941; she then went the the Baltic for working-up until late July or early August, 1941.  
     
     
 
APPENDIX "B"
 
     
  PREVIOUS PATROLS OF U.558.  
     
  (i)    First Patrol.  
     
          Left Kiel at the end of July or early in August, 1941.  Did not put in at any of the Norwegian ports.  Sank nothing.  Arrived at Brest in September and was attached to the 1st U-boat Flotilla.  
     
  (ii)    Second Patrol.  
     
          Left Brest, probably late in October, 1941, and returned to the same base before Christmas.  No sinkings.  
     
  (iii)    Third Patrol.  
     
          Left Brest early February, 1942, and returned mid-March, 1942.  This was the second best patrol (after the seventh) for the tonnage sunk.  
 
 
 
        (N.I.D. Note:  The German High Command announced on 26th February, 1942, that German U-boats had sunk seven ships out of a strongly protected convoy in mid-Atlantic, totaling 52,000 tons, including two large tankers.  Another six large ships, including one tanker, were so badly damaged that their loss was taken as assumed.  It was stated that Krech's U-boat had participated.  See C.B. 4051 (42), page 13, for attacks on Convoy ON.67, which was attacked on the nights of 21st/22nd and 23rd/24th February, 1942.  Six ships were torpedoed, of which one managed to reach harbour.  U.558 may have sunk S.S. "EMPIRE CELT" and the tankers "EIDANGER" and INVERARDER"; it is not possible to identify which other vessels were her victims.)
 
 
 
 
(iv)    Fourth Patrol.
 
 
 
 
        Left Brest in mid-April, returning in June, 1942.  Several sinkings.
 
 
 
 
        (N.I.D. Note:  An article in the "Berliner Börsonzeitung" of 5th June mentions that an unnamed U-boat not Krech's boat somewhere in the Atlantic, when the latter was apparently homeward bound after sinking 32,000 tons of shipping.
 
     
          The British S.S. "TROISDOC" was sunk by gunfire in 18015'N., 079020'W. at 1131/21st May, by a U-boat with the conning tower badge described in Section II of this report.  
     
          The other ships sunk by U.558 cannot be identified, but were probably amongst those sunk south of Cuba in May.)  
     
  (v)    Fifth and Sixth Patrols.  
     
          Both very short.  (in both patrols stern glands in the pressure hull were damaged.  
 
 
 
 

 

Click this text to view photos of the tanker William Boyce Thompson attacked by U.558 on May 21, 1943

 

 
 
     
 
- 10 -
 
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  According to information obtained in June, 1943, from survivors of another U-boat, the boat commanded by Krech was at one time forced to return to harbour owing to damage by depth-charges.  At this time U.558 was one of three boats in company off Greenland.)  
     
  (vi)    Seventh Patrol.  
     
          Left Brest in August and returned in October, 1942, after a seven weeks' patrol, during which U.558 was refueled twice.  Some sinkings are claimed for this patrol.  
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  On the 19th September it was announced that the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross had been awarded to Krech.  He was said to have sunk sixteen vessels totaling 84,800 tons, nearly all in convoy.  It was alleged that on one occasion he had sunk three ships from a Gibraltar-bound convoy.)  
     
          Following this patrol, U.558 spent seven weeks refitting in dock.  
     
  (vii)    Eighth Patrol.  
     
          Left Brest in early January, 1943.  On 11th February U.558 met U.202 north-west of the Canaries, and fired a salvo in honor of the promotion to Kapitänleutnant of U.202's Captain, Günter Poser.  U.558 returned to Brest at the end of February and spent a very short time in dock.  
     
  (viii)    Ninth Patrol.  
     
          Left Brest in March, 1943, and returned in April.  During this patrol U.558 sank one 9,000 ton merchantman by a torpedo fired from her stern tube.  Two hits were also scored on other ships, using torpedoes with Pi.2 pistols, but neither ship sank.  U.558 was at this time in "Group Rochen", which consisted of U.202, U.435, U.439, U.558, U.569 and seven other unidentified U-boats.  
     
          (N.I.D. Note:  Convoy HX.229 was attacked on 16th March, 1943 in position 50049'N., 033055'W., six ships being torpedoed.  Two more ships were torpedoed in position 53039'N., 028005'W. and one more on 19th March in position 54023'N, 023034'W.)  
     
          During her ninth patrol U.558 was refueled once.  
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 11 -
 
     
 
APPENDIX "C"
 
     
  COMPLEMENT OF U.558.  
     
          The complement of U.558 consisted of five officers, nine Chief Petty and Petty officers and 31 other ratings.  In addition one Silberling" (civilian official in naval employ), who was responsible for the maintenance of the new anti-aircraft armament was carried.  Two officers, one Stoker Petty Officer and two ratings survived.  
     
  (i)    Commanding Officer.  
     
          Kapitänleutnant Günther Krech, who is a prisoner, is 29 years of age and of the 1933 term.  He served as a cadet in the cruiser "KARLSRUHE" in 1934.  In 1935 he joined the Naval Air Arm, and was trained as a pilot and as an observer.  At the outbreak of war he was transferred to the U-boat service, in which he remained ever since.  After a period as First Lieutenant to Kapitänleutnant Schepke, in U.100, he obtained his own command, U.558, in March, 1941.  
     
          Krech was a cool, efficient, serious commanding officer, and greatly respected by his men.  His behavior in the rubber boat for five days, while suffering from two wounds (one in the spine and one in the upper thigh), was described as typical of his cheerfulness and sangfroid.  
     
          In September, 1942, he obtained the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross, having sunk 130,000 tons of shipping.  This officer is security conscious, and sorry he is not able to continue fighting.  
     
  (ii)    First Lieutenant.  
     
          Oberleutnant zur See der Reserve Claus Honnig, who did not survive, was promoted from the lower deck having been advanced from Petty Officer to Leutnant on March 1st, 1941.  He was about 26 years old.  He had resided two years in Britain before the war, working, it was thought, for the B.B.C.  
     
          He was a man of strong personality, but easy to get on with when one knew his foibles.  This was to have been his last patrol before undergoing the Commanding Officers' course.  
     
  (iii)    Second Lieutenant.  
     
          Leutnant zur See Jürgen Scheller, also a prisoner, is 21 years of age, and of the 1940 term.  
     
 
        As a Midshipman he had made two patrols with Korvettenkapitän Neitzel (stated by prisoner to have been in command of U.510)  and then one with Korvettenkapitän Zahn (stated by prisoner to have then been in command of U.69).  He was promoted to Leutnant 1st January, 1943, and joined U.558 in time for her ninth patrol, i.e. early March, 1943.  He had spent 230 days on operational patrols.
 
 
 
 
        This officer is a typical conservative anti-Nazi.  His family came from Potsdam, and the milieu in which he lived seems to hold the National-Socialist regime in the utmost contempt.  Leutnant Scheller speaks good French and tolerable English, and possesses an active and cultured mind.  He was friendly and talkative in the presence of English naval officers, and very cheerful, considering he had just passed five days in the Atlantic in a rubber boat without provisions, and, except for the fifth day, without fresh water either.
 
 
 
 
        In U.558 he was one of the watchkeeping officers, and in addition, signal officer and in charge of the victualling.  He stated that the messing in the Canadian destroyer which rescued him was definitely superior to the food on board his U-boat.
 
 
 
 
        Scheller did not believe in the possibility of an ultimate German victory.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 12 -
 
     
  (iv)    Engineer Officer.  
     
          Leutnant (Ing.) Christoph, who did not survive, is not in the German Navy List.  He is said to have been a pleasant but "rather temperamental" young man of about 20 years old.  He was on his second patrol.  
     
  (v)    General.  
     
          The three ratings who survived did not seem to be of a very high standard of intelligence, nor to have any wish to preach National-Socialist political doctrines.  The senior of the three, a stoker Petty officer openly stated that he was glad to be out of the war.  
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
     
 
- 13 -
 
     
 
APPENDIX "D"
 
     
 
Nominal Roll of U.558.
 
     
  (i)    Survivors:  
     
 
Name. Rank. English Equivalent.
Born.
     
KRECH, Günther Kapitänleutnant Lieutenant
21. 9.14.
SCHELLER, Jürgen Leutnant zur See Junior Sub-Lieutenant
21. 8.22.
KELCH, Ernst Obermaschinist Acting Stoker P.O. & Engine Room Artificer 4th Class
27. 9.16.
KAISER, Martin Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman
1. 7.21.
WAGNER, Kurt Matrose II Stoker, 2nd Class
10. 3.22.
 
     
 
Officers:
2
Chief and Petty Officers:
1
Men:
2
 
5
 
     
  (ii)    Casualties:  
     
 
Name. Rank. English Equivalent.
     
HENNIG, Klaus Oberleutnant zur See Sub-Lieutenant
CHRISTOPH, Leutnant (Ing.) Junior Sub-Lieutenant (E)
BRÜNE, Baurat Dr. "Silberling" Civilian technical Officer in naval Service
TORNAU, Fähnrich zur See Junior Midshipman
KEIBLING, Stabsobermaschinist Staff Chief Stoker & Chief Engine Room Artificer 1st of 2nf Class
REINER, Obermaschinist Chief Stoker & Chief Engine Room Artificer 1st of 2nf Class
MENNER, Obersteuermann C.P.O. (Navigation)
ROTH, Obermaschinenmaat Acting Stoker P.O. & E.R.A. 4th Class
LOOTZE,           do.           do.
HAGER, Oberfunkmaat Acting P.O. Telegraphist
STARCK,           do.           do.
GIERLOFF, Obermechanikersmaat Acting P.O. (Leading Torpedoman)
MEYER Bootsmannsmaat Leading Seaman
DIETZE,           do.           do.
SPRENGEL,           do.           do.
BATTA, Maschinenmaat Leading Stoker & E.R.A. 5th Class
PLANERT,           do.           do.
KUHNKE,           do.           do.
CHRIST, Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman
WINZER,           do.           do.
FRISCH,           do.           do.
BAUMGARTNER, Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class
MÄNZ,           do.           do.
MEINECKE,           do.           do.
REIMANN,           do.           do.
BUCHWALDT           do.           do.
BECKER,           do.           do.
NIELSEL,           do.           do.
PIENTAK, Funkobergefreiter Telegraphist
JASKULSKI,           do.           do.
PETERMANN, Mechanikergefreiter Able Seaman (S.T.)
MARKOWSKI, Matrosengefreiter Able Seaman
BRINK,           do.           do.
UNTERMANN,           do.           do.
NIEMAND,           do.           do.
BREIER,           do.           do.
NEUGEBAUER Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 1st Class
VOGEL,           do.           do.
JANETZKI,           do.           do.
BÖKER, Matrose I Ordinary Seaman
STEINKAMP, Matrose II Stoker, 2nd Class
 
     
 
Officers (including one "Silberling"):
4
Chief and Petty Officers:
8
Men:
29
 
41
 
 
 
 
(iii)  Total Crew:
 
 
 
 
Officers (including one "Silberling"):
6
Chief and Petty Officers:
9
Men:
31
 
46
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 

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