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REPORT OF INTERROGATION OF SURVIVORS OF "U 574," A 500-TON
 
                U-BOAT, SUNK AT ABOUT 0425 ON 19th DECEMBER, 1941, IN
 
 
                POSITION 38° 15' N.  AND 17° 16' W.
 
 
 
 
___________
 
 
 
 
I.  INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
 
     
          "U 574" was one of three U-Boats sunk while attacking Convoy HG 76, home bound from Gibraltar.  "U 574" was sunk in the early morning of 19th December, 1941, in position 38° 15' N., 17° 16' W.;  "U 434" on the morning of 18th December, 1941, in position 36° 08' N., 16° 02' W.;  "U 131" at midday on 17th December, 1941, in position 34° 30' N., 13° 45' W.  In addition, survivors from "U 574" were convinced that a fourth U-Boat was sunk, possibly on 15th or 16th December, 1941.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  This may have been the U-Boat sunk by H.M.S. "Nestor" on 15th December, 1941, in position 197° Cape St. Vincent, 35 miles.)  
 
        In order to simplify and expedite publication of reports on the interrogation of survivors from "U 574," "U 434" and "U 131," it was decided that as these three U-Boats were closely related in their activities and were largely involved in the same episodes, reports on "U 574" and "U 434" should contain only such matter as concerns these U-Boats, while all general matter should be collected and included in the report on "U 131."  In doing this is is to be regretted that "Stork's" stirring account of the defence of convoy HG 76 cannot appear in full in any one report.  This report on "U 574" contains such extracts as concern the sinking of this U-Boat, and similar extracts appear in the reports on "U 434," C.B. 4051 (37) and "U 131," C.B. 4051 (39).
 
          The single success scored by "U 574" on her war cruises was the torpedoing of H.M.S. "Stanley" some minutes before she herself was sunk.  It is clear from prisoners' statements that the sinking of the auxiliary aircraft carrier "Audacity" on the night of 21st December, 1941, and of the S.S. "Ruckinge" on the early morning of 19th December, 1941, was the work of another U-Boat which unfortunately escaped.  According to German wireless broadcast statements, Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Bigalk, "U 751," was responsible for sinking "Audacity."  
     
 
II.  CREW OF "U 574 "
 
     
          The complement of "U 574" totalled forty-three in all and consisted of six officers, three Chief Petty Officers, eleven Petty Officers and twenty-three other ratings, of which only four Officers, four Petty Officers and eight ratings survived.  The survivors arrived at the Interrogation Centre on 27th/28th December, 1941.  
          Little is known of the Commanding Officer, Oberleutnant zur See (Lieutenant) Gengelbach, who did not survive, and no details are available regarding his previous U-Boat experience.  This officer, about twenty-seven years of age, belonged to the 1934 term, and served in the torpedo boat "Jaguar" in 1938.  His crew considered him an able officer and a good navigator, which, a Petty Officer stated, is unusual at this stage of the war among U-Boat Commanding Officers, who are relying more and more on the navigational abilities of their Chief Quartermasters, particularly if these have had lengthy experience in the merchant service.  At the same time prisoners leave little room for doubt that Gengelbach was more feared than respected.  He preserved very strict discipline, and, on one occasion, shortly before the sinking of "U 574," sentenced one of his Midshipmen to five day's detention on board for not sighting an enemy aircraft before he had done so himself.  Gengelbach frequently overrode the counsels of those about him, and was constantly involved in bitter arguments, which proved damaging to morale on board.  At the last, when "U 574" was within seconds of being hopelessly lost, Gengelbach appeared to prefer to allow the boat to sink with her entire crew rather than risk capture by surfacing, which attitude was entirely in accordance with the orders of Vice-Admiral U-Boats.  He was dissuaded from this course of  
     
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  action by Oberleutnant (Ing.) (Engineer-Lieutenant) Lorenz after a fierce exchange of words.  According to one prisoner's statement, Gengelbach had no intention of saving himself, was seen on the bridge without a life-belt, and then, as "U 574" was sinking, he threw himself into the conning tower and went down with his ship.
          The First Lieutenant and Torpedo Officer, Leutnant zur See (Sub-Lieutenant) Eckart Joost, was born in 1919 in Hamburg, his father being a business man in that city.  He belonged to the 1937 term, and, during 1938, as a cadet, made a cruise in the "Emden."  In 1939 he continued his training at the Naval College at Mürvik, and became a Midshipman.  He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in May, 1940.  He was judged to be a good type of officer, but extremely reticent.  He was regarded by members of the crew as a "true comrade in arms."  One Petty Officer survivor stated that, while he had had quite enough of U-Boats, he would not mind serving in one after the war with Joost, should he ever be given his own boat.  It may be added that Joost had contemplated the possibility of drugs to induce freer speech being employed, and for this reason he slept badly whilst in captivity.  
          The Junior Officer, Leutnant zur See (Sub-Lieutenant) Fritz Prinz, born in 1911, whose home is Mecklenburg, is an ex-merchant navy officer, having sailed with the Hansa Line.  He was a reservist, and was called to the German Navy at the beginning of the war.  He was uncommunicative about his first years in the Navy, but he stated that he had not taken part in the Norwegian campaign, and that "U 574" was his first U-Boat.  He stated that his primary duty in "U 574" was navigation, of which he had considerable experience.  He had travelled extensively, and was accordingly more enlightened than the regular U-Boat Officer.  He was not without a sense of humour.  
          Oberleutnant (Ing.) (Engineer-Lieutenant) Erich Lorenz, who was alleged by prisoners to have committed suicide by shooting himself after an altercation with Gengelbach while "U 574" was sinking, was of the 1936 term.  In 1938 he was promoted to Leutnant (Ing.) (Engineer Sub-Lieutenant), and was then attending the officers' course at the Naval College at Kiel.  Nothing is known of his service since that date.  He was possibly at Memel in June, 1940, when a notice announcing his engagement appeared in the local newspaper.  He was married at Kiel on 8th April, 1941.  Lorenz was well liked by prisoners, one of whom stated that those who survived owed their lives to him, as it was he who insisted that Gengelbach should surface the U-Boat when all seemed lost.  According to prisoners, Lorenz remained behind after the order "Abandon ship" had been given, and shot himself after opening the flooding valves.  At the time of sinking he was known to have been suffering great pain from stomach ulcers, which had developed during the cruise; for some days he had been unable to eat any food at all.  
          "U 574" carried two Midshipmen for training, Fähnrich zur See (Midshipman) Rau and Fischer.  Rau was born in 1922, and joined the Navy in October, 1940, as a volunteer.  He spent three months' training at Stralsund, and then joined a minesweeper flotilla, with which he remained until May, 1941.  He was then drafted to a midshipman's training school, but he refused to say how long he was there, or where the school was situated.  Rau had been a member of the Hitler Youth, and was a typical product of that unsavory organisation.  He was of immature intellect, obstinate and conceited.  His conversation offered nothing apart from the customary trite propaganda phrases, and he was callow enough to remark that his greatest grief following the sinking of his U-Boat was the loss of "so many beautiful gramophone records."  
          Fischer was born in Bielefield, Westphalia, in 1922.  His father, who was a Protestant pastor, had apparently fought and lost an unequal battle with the Party authorities over his son's education.  Fischer proved extremely Hitler-minded.  He had joined the Navy in 1940, but refused to give any details of his service.  He was security-conscious and obstinate to a degree, and was useless for interrogation purposes.  He seemed lacking in professional ability, and, being about 6 ft. 4 in. tall, may have outgrown his strength.  
          Of the four Petty Officers who survived, a Boatswain's Mate, who was an ex-merchant seaman, had served some months in a concentration camp, as well as a term in prison, both for suspected treasonable activities.  This man professed his innocence of the charges brought against him, but he proved more talkative  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
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  than the rest of the survivors, and there appeared no doubt that he still bore a grudge against the Party authorities.  An account of his experience while in prison and concentration camp will be included in the report on "U 131," C.B. 4051 (39).
          None of the surviving Petty Officers had been in the U-Boat service earlier than December, 1940.  Some of the Petty Officers expressed the opinion that Atlantic U-Boat warfare was becoming less profitable, due to more effective counter-measures being taken and they were perturbed at the increasing losses of U-Boats.  
          The rest of the crew bore out an observation made recently by Interrogating Officers that it is now the more experienced ratings who are becoming communicative, and the younger men, fresh from the Hitler Youth, who are the more stubborn and intractable.  This is a recent trend which is considered of some interest.  The survivors were noticeably more pessimistic than those captured as recently as six months ago.  One rating went so far as to state that the war would last two years, when Germany would be defeated, and that he and his fellow prisoners would be castrated when they arrived home, and be sent to Siberia.  
          Prisoners spoke well of the treatment they received aboard the British warships which brought them to England.  Interrogating Officers had no reason to complain that the prisoners had been spoilt for intelligence purposes, but it was obvious that they had received the customary detailed security training, as to how to conduct themselves should they be made captive.  German naval authorities continue to pay much attention to such training.  
          Recent prisoners have referred frequently to their rights as laid down by the Geneva Convention, according to which they are only obliged to divulge their names and official numbers.  Due to their privileges under the above Convention and to the oath binding them to secrecy which they have repeatedly been required to take, the majority of prisoners have refused to answer even the most innocent questions.  
     
 
III.  EARLY HISTORY OF "U 574"
 
     
          "U 574," a 500-ton type VIIC U-Boat identical with the captured "U 570," now H.M.S. "Graph," was built at the Blohm & Voss Yards at Hamburg.  "U 574" was commissioned about the 15th June, 1941, exactly one month after "U 570."  It is therefore probable that "U 574" was launched approximately one month after "U 570," the date of launching of the latter boat being 15th April, 1941.  Both these U-Boats belonged to the series "U 551" to "U 643," the first of which were laid down during the latter half of 1940.  
          As a rule Blohm & Voss-built boats are commissioned every Thursday.  This yard has had under construction the series ""U 551" to "U 643," of which, boat up to "U 603" have probably already been completed.  The boats up to and including "U 573" are known to have been commissioned on consecutive Thursdays, "U 573" on 5th June, 1941, so that "U 574" might have been expected to have been commissioned on Thursday, 12th June, 1941.  
          A prisoner stated that ten stokers were drafted to "U 574" on 6th and 7th April, 1941, to stand by the U-Boat during the final stages of her construction.  Other members of the crew came on board as from 1st May, 1941, until on or about 15th June, 1941, the date of commissioning the total complement was made up.  According to prisoners, "U 574" left Hamburg almost immediately for Kiel, which was to be her base for initial trials.  At Kiel, representatives of the U-Boat Acceptance Commission came on board and under their supervision, "U 574" spent about 14 days carrying out acceptance trials, proceeding to sea nearly every day.  After this period "U 574" was docked at Deutsche Werke, Kiel for a further two weeks while under-water fittings were overhauled.  
          On about 15th July, 1941, "U 574" left Kiel for tactical exercises and torpedo trials.  The firing of torpedoes was carried out as is customary, off Warnemünde, "U 574" being alone at this time.  It was alleged that torpedoes were only loaded while the U-Boat was on the surface.  After just over 14 days at sea "U 574" returned to Kiel, where she put into the Germaniawerft or the Deutsche Werke where further adjustments were made.  Prisoners differ as to the length of  
     
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  this stay in Kiel, and as to the nature of trials which immediately followed.  One prisoner stated that "U 574" docked again and on 2nd August, 1941, for two or three weeks, and then carried out further torpedo firing off Danzig; a second maintained that after a few days at Kiel "U 574" left for Horten, Norway, where there were other U-Boats, and where "U 574" practised diving exercises for about 14 days.  It was agreed by prisoners that in September, 1941, "U 574" was back at Kiel.  Towards the end of September, or early October, 1941.  "U 574" left Kiel for Pillau, calling at Gotenhafen for two days en route.  She remained two weeks in this area, were more diving trials were carried out and eight torpedoes were fired, and then proceeded to Königsberg, where overhauls were effected while the U-Boat was lying at the Elbing Werft.  From Königsberg "U 574" returned to Kiel, arriving on, or about, 8th November, 1941.
          One prisoner stated that while in Kiel minelaying was exercised, two mines being loaded into each tube.  No mines were later carried in the U-Boat during her war cruises.  
          In the early days of November, "U 574" embarked stores and 14 torpedoes, 12 being electric (these were stowed within the boat) and two air torpedoes (these were housed in the upper deck containers).  Here in Kiel "U 574" also completed with oil fuel.  
     
 
IV.  FIRST WAR CRUISE OF "U 574"
 
     
          "U 574" sailed from Kiel on her first war cruise on, or about, 13th November, 1941, at 0600.  She proceeded to the North Sea via the Skagerrak, escorted by two patrol vessels, believed to be converted trawlers, and headed northwards, hugging the Norwegian coast.  Prisoners stated that when three days out they put into a Norwegian fjord, possibly that leading to Christiansand, where they lay for one night.  The U-Boat had no contact with the shore whatsoever, nor with any other ship.  Proceeding north, "U 574" was again accompanied by two patrol vessels which escorted her past what appeared to one prisoner to be the entrance to a Norwegian harbour.  
          Arriving at the latitude of Bergen "U 574" turned west and reached the Atlantic, passing between the Shetlands and the Faroes on 18th or 19th November, 1941.  It would appear from prisoners' statements that "U 574" was bound on a special mission, accompanied by other U-Boats, one of which eventually proved to be "U 434."  The purpose of this mission was alleged to be the destruction of a convoy assembling off Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Approaching to within 24 hours of Newfoundland, "U 574" ran into very bad weather, which had, in fact, impeded her all the way across the Atlantic.  Shortly afterwards orders were received from Vice-Admiral U-Boats that the proposed attack was to be abandoned, and that the U-Boats involved were to return to French harbours with the exception of "U 574," which had not expended any torpedoes, and which was first to make for an operational area off the Azores before proceeding to Brest.  This pleased the crew, for they imagined they would easily reach land in time to be home for Christmas.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  It was subsequently ascertained that "U 434" also proceeded direct to the Azores.)  
          On 24th November, 1941, "U 574" put about, and on 28th November, 1941, had arrived off the Azores.  Here "U 574" received a report from Vice-Admiral U-Boats of the presence of a south-bound convoy in the immediate neighborhood.  
          For two days she attempted to approach this convoy, but was driven off by a destroyer and forced to dive between 1800 and 2300 on the second day.  After this incident "U 574" had a surface meeting with "U 434," Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Heyda, on 2nd December, 1941.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  This convoy was O.S. 12, which was approaching the Azores on 29th November, 1941.  "Londonderry" and "Sennen," whilst rounding up stragglers astern of the convoy on 30th November, sighted a number of U-Boats in the vicinity of the Azores.  "Londonderry" managed to cause two of these to dive by her gunfire, the last at about 1600, but no closer contacts were made.)  
          A prisoner stated that on this occasion "U 574" received a secret communication, which was floated across from "U 434" in a life-jacket towed by a light line, this method being employed owing to adverse weather conditions.  According to  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
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  a reliable Petty Officer prisoner this message contained instructions for "U 574" to proceed to Vigo, where she would receive oil and fuel and supplies from a German ship moored in Vigo Bay.  She was then to return to the Azores and remain at sea for a further six weeks if she had not meanwhile expended all her torpedoes.  This prisoner said that the effect of this message on the crew was "deplorable."  The battering they had received in the North Atlantic had already been more than enough for inexperienced ratings on their first cruise, and the majority were sick and ill.  In addition, everyone had been looking forward to Christmas at home.  A possible ten weeks at sea in the Atlantic in mid-winter in miserably confined quarters would have been enough to exhaust the stamina of even the most hardened crew, and the Petty Officer could only explain the necessity of blaming the lack of available U-Boats for use in Atlantic patrols.  There appear to have been some murmurs of dissent which were rigidly suppressed by Gengelbach, who had at once headed the U-Boat towards Vigo.  At this stage the voyage fuel had run so low that "U 574" was not able to proceed at more than 5 knots on the surface, using only one Diesel.  "U 574" used territorial waters off the Azores , where Gengelbach allowed the crew on deck to view a mountain, and again when traveling up the Portuguese coast.  While in Portuguese territorial waters "U 574" sighted two merchant ships, which were shadowed and would have been attacked, had they not proved to be Spanish.  "U 574" arrived at Vigo on, or about, 13th December, 1941, at 2200.
          "U 574" entered Vigo Bay under cover of darkness, and made fast on the seaward side of a German merchant ship, which herself was moored parallel with the shore.  Thus screened, "U 574" was out of sight of land.  According to prisoners' accounts, a Spanish destroyer was also in the Bay, together with a few patrol vessels.  It was stated that it was a general practice for U-Boats to dive should any patrol vessel approach too near when the clandestine operation of transferring supplies was being carried out in Vigo Bay.  
          Prisoners were uncertain as to the identity of the German vessel, the name being painted over, but according to an engine room rating, she was the "Bessel," a small but modern ship, belonging to the Neptune Line.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  The "Bessel," 1,878 tons, belonging to the Neptune Line, is known to have been lying in Vigo Bay at this time.  On 27th November, 1941, she received three lorry loads of provisions.)  
          It was generally believed by prisoners that "Bessel" had been at Vigo since the outbreak of war, and there appears to be no doubt that she has been used by U-Boats on a number of occasions.  One prisoner, who stated that he had visited  the "Bessel" at Vigo whilst in another U-Boat, alleged that the Master periodically scoured Spain for provisions, adopting the guise of a civilian corn chandler for such excursions.  The Master was reputed to be in close contact with the Gestapo.  Another prisoner declared that the German Ambassador to Spain was present in the "Bessel" when "U 574" arrived for supplies.  The main items transferred were fresh meat, vegetables and fruit.  In addition, it was stated that "U 574" completed with 100 cubic metres (about 90 tons) of fuel oil.  
          Prisoners stated that the crew of "Bessel" who wore overalls, were not allowed on board "U 574."  They learned, however, that the merchant seamen were allowed ashore daily, but were ordered to catch the last liberty boat which left Vigo pier at 2330.  Failure to catch this boat meant stoppage of pay and leave for 14 days.  
          According to one prisoner's account, Gengelbach, who anticipated that he would receive fresh orders to proceed to the Mediterranean, requested a complete set of appropriate charts from "Bessel" as he had none suitable on board his U-Boat.  One prisoner actually boarded "Bessel."  
          As a parting present, each man of the U-Boat's crew received a bottle of beer.  
          At 0330 on 14th December, 1941, "U 574" cast off from "Bessel" and proceeded to sea, having remained alongside for approximately five and a half hours.  The shortness of this stay was obviously dictated by the urgent necessity to clear Vigo Bay before dawn.  
     
 
V.  LAST CRUISE OF "U 574"
 
     
          Leaving Vigo, "U 574" proceeded to the Western Approaches of Gibraltar, where she intended to remain for a short period before making for an operational area off the Azores.  She had been advised by Vice-Admiral U-Boats that a British  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
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  cruiser was shortly to leave Gibraltar harbour, and she had orders to attempt to torpedo this warship before proceeding.  The spirits of the crew were still downcast and listless.  On 15th December, 1941, "U 574" received a signal from a Focke-Wulf Kondor aircraft that a homeward bound British convoy had reached a position just west of Gibraltar.
          (N.I.D. Note.  This convoy proved to be HG 76.)  
          According to a Petty Officer prisoner, this signal was received direct from the aircraft and not through the agency of Vice-Admiral U-Boats.  The evening heard of the presence of the convoy, and were proceeding to intercept.  On 16th December, 1941, two further signals giving the position of the convoy were received, one from a Kondor aircraft and one from "U 131," Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Baumann, who had apparently first sighted the convoy, and was in touch, without attacking, in order first to draw other U-Boats to the scene.  Both members of the crew stressed the perfect co-operation between aircraft and U-Boats on this occasion.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  If this prisoner's testimony is correct, it would appear that the methods of communication between Kondor aircraft and U-Boats, and between "shadowing" U-Boats and other U-Boats known to be near enough to join in the attack, have been modified.  (See C.B. 4051 (31), Chapter XVI).)  
          According to one prisoner it was first noticed at about this time that a U-Boat, believed to be one of 750 tons, had ceased to signal.  The only explanation those on board "U 574" could agree upon was that this U-Boat had definitely been sunk.  Prisoner was unable to definitely state the number of this boat or the name of her Commanding Officer.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  This boat may have been the U-Boat sunk by H.M.S. "Nestor" on 15th December, 1941, off Cape St. Vincent.  There were no survivors and the number of this boat is therefore unknown.)  
          According to prisoners "U 574" first came up with convoy HG 76 on the morning of 17th December, 1941.  Of this day, "Stork" reports that at 1247 "Stanley" sighted an object on the horizon bearing 130°, Stork believing that this was "the U-Boat dealt with next morning."  
          (N.I.D. Note.  It would appear that this U-Boat was, in point of fact, "U 574."  The U-Boat sunk on the morning of 18th December, 1941, proved to be "U 434.")  
          "Stanley's first report was, however, shortly followed by a second "Submarine on the surface bearing 060°," and attention was concentrated on this U-Boat (which later proved to be "U 131," and was referred to by "Stork" as "U-Boat A"), "Blankney," "Exmoor," "Stanley," "Stork" and "Pentstemon" proceeding at full speed to attack.  At 1307 a relief fighter flown off from the auxiliary aircraft carrier "Audacity" (in company with the escort) to whom the U-Boats' position had been given, dived on the U-Boat and was shot down.  This incident was observed by "U 574" shortly before she submerged.  A prisoner stated that at the time Gengelbach and a Midshipman named Fischer were on the conning tower, and that Gengelbach sentenced Fischer to five days' detention on board for not sighting the British aircraft before he himself had done so.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  Operations which immediately followed, and which led to the destruction of "U 131," Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Baumann, are contained in the report on that U-Boat.)  
          "U 574" had dived during the attack on "U 131," and remained submerged throughout the afternoon while "Exmoor" and "Blankney" searched for her in the position first reported by "Stanley."  According to a prisoner, "U 574" again surfaced at 1800 on 17th December, 1941, and sighted the convoy in the distance, but lost contact almost immediately, due to a rain squall.  In making towards the expected position, look-outs suddenly sighted a corvette, and "U 574" dived again, and was unable to regain contact until the following evening.    
          Prisoners of "U 574" apparently knew nothing of the destruction of "U 434," referred to by "Stork" as "U-Boat B," on the morning of 18th December, 1941.  (See C.B. 4051 (37).)  They stated that their next contact with the convoy was at 1600 on 18th December, when they sighted a large freighter.  They pursued on the surface and after a short time noticed that a 750-ton U-Boat, of which they did not know the number, had also joined in the chase.  They were about to fire  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
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  torpedoes, at approximately 1700, when the freighter suddenly altered course, making an approach from a difficult angle necessary.  They were carrying out this maneuvre when two corvettes were sighted steering towards.  Allowing for the discrepancies in German and British time, it is possible that "U 574" was the U-Boat sighted at dusk on 18th December, 1941, by "Pentstemon," eight to ten miles on the port beam of the convoy (then in position 37° 15' N., 16° 57' W.) which she was ordered to attack with "Convolvulus."  "Stanley," who had been investigating a merchant ship nearby, joining in on her own initiative.  It was reported by "Stork" that the U-Boat was chased and later dived, the force being ordered to remain in the vicinity as long as there remained any chance of sinking her, and then to rejoin.  The search was abandoned at 2136, "Stanley" ordering the forces to rejoin.  During the search torpedoes had been fired at "Convolvulus."  Prisoners from "U 574" stated definitely that these torpedoes were not fired from their boat.
     
 
VI.  SINKING OF "U 574"
 
     
          According to prisoners, "U 574 had surfaced at 1900 hours, German time, on 18th December, 1941, and followed convoy HG 76 until 0200 on 19th December, 1941, when a number of ships came into sight.  After approaching close, "U 574" dived and maintained contact with the convoy, aided by the large number of propeller noises recorded by the hydrophones.  Shortly before 0400 "U 574" rose to periscope depth, but as Gengelbach was unable to see anything at all, he ordered "U 574" to surface.  To the general consternation of the U-Boat's crew, they now found that, owing to a miscalculation, they were in the closest proximity to the convoy, "much too close for comfort," as one prisoner said.  According to a Petty Officer prisoner a number of merchant ships passed to starboard, followed by two warships which he learnt later to have been "Stork" and "Stanley."  This prisoner stated that they first wished to torpedo "Stork," but she was traveling too quickly, and altered course at the critical moment.  "Stanley" came next within range, estimated at approximately 1,200 yards, and a salvo of three torpedoes was fired from the first, third and fourth bow tubes.  There followed what was described as a terrifying flash of flame, which "set the sea on fire," silhouetting "U 574" against the night.  Prisoners stated that they heard two detonations which may have been either from two torpedoes, or from one torpedo and a boiler explosion.  "U 574" turned away, proceeded at full speed on the surface for about five minutes, observed that she was being chased by "Stork," and dived to a depth of 360 feet.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  From the evidence of the hunt, it is plain that "U 574" remained at a shallow depth, and this statement appears to have been made in a deliberate attempt to mislead.)  
          "Stork," in her report, states that "Stanley's" position at the time of the attack was right astern on the outer screen.  At about 0345 on 19th December, 1941, "Stanley" had made by R/T "Submarine in sight."  Having very little idea of her exact position, "Stork" ordered her to indicate her whereabouts by illuminant, but she shortly afterwards amended her signal by R/T to "Torpedoes passing astern."  "Stork" sighted "Stanley" shortly afterwards about 1-1/2 miles on her port quarter; she made her pendants twice by light, and "Stork" was replying when "Stanley" went up, literally in a sheet of flame, several hundred feet high.  It was reported later that torpedoes had passed astern of "Stork" at about the same time.  Prisoners alleged that they did not know whether any other U-Boats were in the vicinity at this time, but they were quite certain that only three torpedoes were fired from "U 574."  
          "Stork" reported that "Stanley" was torpedoed at 0409.  "Stork" turned 16 points to port at full speed, ordered escorts to carry out a 36th Escort Group operation, "Buttercup Astern," and when abreast the wreck to commence dropping depth charges in accordance with that order.  A/S contact was quickly obtained fine on the port bow, and "Stork" went in to attack at 15 knots, and dropped five depth charges set at 50 feet; these were dropped slightly late, owing to a last-minute decision to fire a pattern instead of single charges.  "Stork" then ran out for about a thousand yards, turned and attacked again, this time with a ten-charge pattern, settings 50 and 140 feet.  This attack appeared excellent from the Asdic point of view.  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
12
 
   
          In "U 574" depth charges, dropped during the second attack, exploded immediately above the U-Boat and were considered fatally accurate.  Both main electric motors were put out of action, the port motor temporarily, but the starboard one permanently, as fuses were blown, causing a short-circuit which burnt through vital cables, and a small fire broke out in the Control Room.  One group of compressed air bottles was shattered, a rib supporting the pressure hull fractured, and the torpedo angling gear came adrift aft.  A certain amount of water entered the boat.  According to prisoners there followed an altercation between Gengelbach and Lorenz, the Engineer Officer.  It was apparent to Lorenz that the U-Boat was doomed, and that, if anyone was to come out alive, it was imperative to surface immediately.  Gengelbach, however, remained obstinately stubborn, and it seemed that, rather than risk capture, he was prepared to allow the U-Boat to sink to the bottom, carrying the entire crew with her.  Prisoners who witnessed this tense scene stated that Gengelbach's attitude infuriated Lorenz who shouted:  "Either you leave the boat or I do.  I cannot take any more responsibility."  This outburst had the desired effect, and Gengelbach then ordered the crew to put on life-saving apparatus, and blow the tanks.  With her remaining compressed air "U 574" reached the surface.  Gengelbach's first intention was to attempt to escape above water, as the Diesel engines had suffered no severe damage, but a burst of star shells and "snowflakes" greeted "U 574" as she broke surface.  "Stork" opened fire immediately, and it was soon obvious to the U-Boat that they could not hope to steal away undetected.  Gengelbach then gave the order to abandon ship, whilst proceeding on her Diesels.  A number of reliable prisoners stated that Lorenz remained below, and after opening the valves to scuttle the U-Boat, picked up his revolver and shot himself.
          A Petty Officer prisoner who was one of the last to leave the U-Boat stated that although the bridge was raked by machine-gun fire, no one was hit as they jumped overboard, which statement is contrary to "Stork's" report.  This prisoner and other stated that Gengelbach made no attempt to save himself, did not bother to put on a life-saving jacket, and finally threw himself in to the conning tower hatch, and went down with his ship.  
          According to prisoners at least 26 men were drowned, some being so panic stricken that they forgot to open the air valves of their life-saving gear, and were therefore dragged down by the weight about their chests.  Others were undoubtedly blown to pieces by depth charges intended to sink the U-Boat, as she was circling after being abandoned.  One prisoner, who was further away from the depth charges, remarked that when they exploded he felt as if he was swimming in soda water.  
          Of the last stages of the sinking, "Stork" reported that she had just opened out for a third attack with depth charges set to deeper setting, and had turned and was running in, when the U-Boat surfaced about 200 yards ahead.  She increased to full speed to ram and set a ten-charge pattern to 50 and 140 feet.  The ensuing chase lasted 11 minutes, and there was later surprise to find by plotting that "Stork" had turned three complete circles.  The U-Boat appeared to be turning continuously to port inside "Stork's" turning circle, at a speed only two or three knots less than the latter's best.  She was kept illuminated by "snowflakes" - which were quite invaluable for this unusual action.  Some 4-inch were fired from the forward mountings until the guns could not be sufficiently depressed, after which the gun's crews were reduced to fist shaking and roaring curses at the enemy who several times seemed to be a matter of feet rather than yards away.  
          A burst or two of 0.5 inch M.G. were fired when these would bear; but the prettiest shooting according to "Stork," was made by the first Lieutenant with a stripped Lewis gun over the top of the bridge screen; he quickly reduced the conning tower to a mortuary, for at this time no men were seen to be leaving the U-Boat.  
          Eventually "Stork" managed to ram, just before the conning tower, from an angle of about 20° on her starboard quarter, and rolled the U-Boat over.  She hung for a few seconds on the bow, and again on the Asdic dome, and then scraped aft, where she was greeted by a ten-charge pattern (nine only fired) at shallowest settings.  Commanding Officer of "Stork" was informed:  "A Boche in the water holding up his arms and crying 'Kamerad' received the contents of the starboard thrower in his face instead."  Position at time of sinking was 38° 15' N., 17° 16' W.  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
13
 
   
          "Stork" proceeded to search for "Stanley's" survivors, and very soon heard cries for help which sounded English.  At the time it was thought highly improbable that there could be any U-Boat survivors, but five were later picked up by "Stork's" boats and thirteen by "Samphire."  "Stork" reported:  "As soon as these were identified as Boches, I hoisted boats and proceeded at full speed to the estimated position of 'Stanley's' wreck."  There appeared to be little hope of finding any survivors, judging from the immensity of the conflagration, but cries from the water were shortly heard and twenty-five were rescued, one of whom died later.  "Samphire," who was picking up Germans, was called to assist, and was then left to search until after daylight, while "Stork" proceeded to rejoin the convoy.
          Only one further incident in this convoy's unusually eventful cruise directly affected the crew of "U 574."  At 0517 on 22nd December, 1941, "Deptford" collided with "Stork," striking the port side of the quarter deck.  "Stork" reported:  ""Deptford's stem walked straight into the temporary prison, and two of the five Boches were pulped, literally, into a bloody mess."  
          Included in "Stork's" summing up of the adventures of Convoy HG 76 is the remark:  "Of all the U-Boats encountered during the period (in which three and possibly four, were sunk), 'U-Boat C' (U 574) was the only one which showed a vicious spirit of offence.  The remainder were of the tip-and -run variety."  
     
 
VII.  TECHNICAL DETAILS OF "U 574"
 
     
          "U 574" was a 500-ton U-Boat, Type VIIC, one of the series Nos. "U 551" to "U 643," built at the Blohm & Voss yards, Hamburg.  The captured "U 570," now H.M.S. "Graph," was also of this series, and "U 574" can therefore be considered identical with "Graph" in all main features.  The following details are, however, considered of interest:  
     
  (i)  Torpedoes  
          "U 574" carried 14 torpedoes in all, 12 being electric and two air.  The two air torpedoes were stowed in upper deck containers forward; the 12 electric torpedoes were distributed - four in the bow tubes, four in housings in the forward bilges, two on the floor plates in the bow compartment, one in the after tube, and one on the floor plates aft.  A prisoner claimed some knowledge of the red and green markings on torpedoes.  He said that the markings referred to the weight of the head, those with the red ring being stated to have the heavier head.  The prisoner added that those torpedoes marked with a red ring would have as "verstärkte Tiefeneinstellung," which probably indicated an increased depth-setting, whereas those with green ring were stated to have an "unverstärkte Tiefeneinstellung," i.e, unincreased or normal depth-setting.  It was stated that when firing salvoes the interval of firing was between two and three seconds.  
     
  (ii)  "S-Gerät"  (Detector Gear)  
          "U 574" was stated to have been fitted with a form of "S-Gerät," which could be inclined 80 up and down and also sideways.  This S-Gerät was stated to have a range of 400 metres, and to be used only for detecting nets or minefields.  Prisoners stated that a visual indicator (Mattscheibe) was employed; it was not often used for fear of betraying the U-Boat's position.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  S-Gerät appears to cover all forms of transmitting detector apparatus.)  
     
  (iii)  "Echolot"  
          "U 574" was stated to use two kinds of echolots.  The one used in depths up to 300 metres, graduated in metres, indicates directly on a depth gauge, is operated electrically, and can only be used vertically.  The second echolot has no limit for depth; it operates acoustically, and is also capable of being used vertically.  
     
  (iv)  Listening Gear ("Horchgerät")  
          "U 574's" listening gear comprised two sets of microphones, one on each bow.  
          (N.I.D. Note.  This is evidently the G.H. Multi-Unit Hydrophone, and was probably the same as that in "Graph.")  
     
 
 

 

 
 
 
14
 
   
  (v)  Wave Lengths
          A Petty Officer Telegraphist stated that three different groups of wave lengths were employed, each group being referred to as a "Schaltung" (Group), and carrying a special name, such as "Greenland," "Iceland," or "Ireland."  Each group (Schaltung) was able to use five different wave lengths, including one of the longest.  "U 574" had used "Ireland" group in the four weeks of preceding her sinking.  Vice-Admiral Commanding U-Boats signals which group each boat shall use, and the date on which this group is to come into operation.  Codes are supplied for a duration of two months.  
     
  (vi)  Connection between S-Gerat (Detector Gear) and Feuerleitung (Firing Installation)  
          It was stated that there is no connection between the detector gear and the firing installation.  Hydrophones were employed to obtain the bearing of the enemy ship, and her speed was estimated by the revolutions of the enemy's propellers.  It was usual to aim with one degree additional ahead of the target.  A chief Petty Officer responsible for this form of attack had been awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class.  
     
  (vii)  Depths  
          "U 574's" depth gauges were stated to be graduated to a maximum depth of 200 metres, with a danger mark at 180 metres.  
     
  (viii)  Counter-measures against British Asdics  
          The Petty Officer Telegraphist stated that tests had been carried out on a U-Boat with a rubber coating over the whole boat, the rubber being stated to have been 1/2 inch thick.  These tests had not proved successful, as the rubber covering had considerably decreased the speed of the boat.  
     
  (ix)  Underwater Sound Apparatus (U.T. Anlage)  
          A prisoner stated that "U 574" was fitted with an underwater sound apparatus (U.T. Anlage) giving an effective range of 15 metres.  It was stated that transmitters and receivers were fitted on both sides of the ship, and when commencing communication both sides are used until the ship with which they wish to communicate is located, when one side is cut out.  The frequencies employed for this apparatus in "U 574" are not accurately known, but may have been the same as those employed in H.M.S. "Graph."  
     
  (x)  Binoculars  
          A prisoner stated that U-Boats carry two types of binoculars, one with a magnification of 7 (as found in H.M.S. "Graph"), and one pair for night use with less magnification, the power of which was not known.  These binoculars were stated to be manufactured from a light metal, and were not of normal Zeiss manufacture.  Some prisoners stated that aircraft could be spotted up to a distance of six miles, others stated that they could be seen up to the distance of the horizon, but this depended weather conditions.  Prisoners added that the glasses became wet and required continual cleaning.  Look-outs usually have a 90° sector for observation.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 

 
 

15
 
APPENDIX
 
 
 
___________
 
 
 
 
List of Crew of "U 574"
 
 
 
 
(i)  Survivors:
 
 
 
 
Name.
Rank.
English Equivalent.
Age.
Joost, Eckart Leutnant zur See Sub-Lieutenant 22
Prinz, Fritz Leutnant zur See Sub-Lieutenant 30
Rau, Rolf Fähnrich zur See Midshipman 19
Fischer, Horst Fähnrich zur See Midshipman 19
Wedekinn, Karl Bootsmann Chief Boatsawin's Mate, 2nd Class 27
Werz, Wilhelm Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class 23
Bodenstein, Kurt Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class 25
Fleischer, Paul Funkmaat P.O. Telegraphist, 2nd Class 28
Welter, Hermann Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class 21
Gansweid, Heinrich Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class 21
Kittelmann, Kurt Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class 21
Schwerdtner, Herbert Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class 20
Aretz, Hans Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class 21
Denner, Heinz Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class 20
Klingenheben, Heinz Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class 20
Hartwig, Heinz Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class 19
 
 
 
 
Officers . .
4
Chief and Petty Officers . .
4
Men . .
8
  Total
16
 
 
 
 
(ii)  Casualties:
 
 
 
 
Name.
Rank.
English Equivalent.
Gengelbach Oberleutnant zur See Lieutenant.
Lorenz Oberleutnant (Ing.) Engineer Lieutenant
Klein Obersteuermann Chief Q.M., 1st Class.
Eichmüller Stabs Obermaschinist Staff Chief Mechanician, 1st Class.
Paschenda Obermaschinist Chief Mechanician, 1st Class.
Schönberg Bootsmannsmaat Boatswain's Mate, 2nd Class.
Kerf Bootsmannsmaat Boatswain's Mate, 2nd Class.
Olrich Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class.
Linder Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class.
Drückler Maschinenmaat Mechanician, 2nd Class.
Grebe Mechanikersmaat P.O. Artificer, 2nd Class.
Frenzel Funkmaat P.O. Telegraphist, 2nd Class.
Radt Matrosenobergefreiter Able Seaman
Knuth Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class.
Kallipke Maschinenobergefreiter Stoker, 1st Class.
Grohe Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class.
Weyers Matrosengefreiter Ordinary Seaman, 1st Class.
Holland Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Gockeln Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Baumann Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Krüge Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Oberlander Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Massen Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Elsinghorst Maschinengefreiter Stoker, 2nd Class.
Komuth Funkgefreiter Ordinary Telegraphist, 1st Class.
Möller Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class.
Laner Matrose Ordinary Seaman, 2nd Class.
 
 
 
 
Officers . .
2
Chief and Petty Officers . .
10
Men . .
15
  Total
27
 
 
 
 
                                        Total Crew:
 
 
Officers . .
6
Chief and Petty Officers . .
14
Men . .
23
  Total
43
 
 
 
 
(C43925)    325  2/42
 
 
 
 
 

 


 

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