US Navy Balao-class submarine USS Hardhead (SS-365) entering Valletta, Malta, 1970

USS Hardhead Arriving in Valletta Harbor, August 12, 1970. Photographer: James Jackson. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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OTDIH 9 October 1943

70-years ago today…

U-244, a Type VIIC u-boat, was commissioned into the Kriegsmarine, Oblt. Ruprecht Fischer commanding. The boat conducted 4 war patrols before surrendering at Loch Eriboll in 1945.

Ruprecht Fischer, Kriegsmarine crew photo.

U-616, a Type VIIC u-boat, Oblt. Siegfried Koitschka commanding, sunk the American destroyer USS Buck (DD 420) with a G7e acoustic torpedo off Salerno, Italy in position 39.57N, 14.28E. The destroyer lost 150 dead and there were 97 survivors. Koitschka was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz (in gold) on completion of his patrol.

USS Buck (DD 420)

U-645, a Tupe VIIC u-boat, torpedoed and sunk the US merchantman SS Yorkmar (5,612 GRT) during an attack on convoy SC-143 approx. 475 miles south of Iceland. The ship sank by the stern after 15-minutes. 13 crew members were lost and 54 survivors were picked up by HMCS Kamloops (K176) and HMS Duckworth (K351).

Type VIIC U-boat.

U-737, a Type VIIC u-boat, Kptlt. Paul Brasack commanding, came under fire from a shore battery at Barentsburg, Spitsbergen. The u-boat managed to dive before it sustained any damage. (The moral of this story is that littoral combat is bleedin’ dangerous, chum!)

Barentsburg, Spitsbergen.

The Battle of Atlantic was most decidedly not over. It continued apace. Indeed, on this day 70-yrs ago (9 October 1943), Großadmiral Dönitz had 95 U-boats at sea.

And yet the Allied naval forces continued to grow in strength…

USS Sand Lance (SS-381), a Balao-class submarine built at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, was commissioned into the United States Navy, Cdr. Malcolm Everett Garrison, USN. Garrison would win the Navy Cross twice while in command of Sand Lance and retire from the US Navy as a Rear Admiral.

HMS Goodson (K480), a Captain-class frigate built under Lend Lease at the Boston Navy Yard, was commissioned into the Royal Navy, Lt.Cdr. Frank Brown Allen, RNR commanding.

HMS Stratagem (P234), an S-class submarine built at Cammell Laird, was commissioned into the Royal Navy, Lt. Reginald Lewis Willoughby, RNR commanding.

HMS Stratagem (P234).

USS Kingfish (SS-234), a Gato-class submarine, Lt.Cdr. V.L. Lawrence, USN commanding, torpedoed & damaged the Japanese fleet oiler Hayatomo (14,050 GRT) in the Sibitu Channel, Borneo.

USS Wahoo (SS-238), a Gato-class submarine, Cdr. Dudley W. “Mush” Morton, USN commanding, sank the Japanese army cargo ship Hankow Maru (2,995 GRT) off the Oga Peninsula, Japan.

USS Puffer (SS-268), a Gato-class submarine, Lt.Cdr. M.J. Jensen, USN commanding, torpedoed & damaged the Japanese tanker Kumagawa Maru (7,508 GRT) in the Makassar Strait, Borneo. Japanese escorts damaged Puffer with depth charges and the submarine was forced to abandon its attack on the tanker.

Kumagawa Maru auxiliary oiler.

USS Rasher (SS-269), a Gato-class submarine, Cdr. E.S. Hutchinson, USN commanding, torpedoed & sank the Japanese army cargo ship Kogane Maru (3,131 GRT) about 30 nautical miles west of Ambon, Maluku Islands.

OTDIH 21 August 1943

70-years ago today…

The U-boat war encounters the age of sail:

U-596, a Type VIIC U-boat on its 7th war patrol, Oblt. Victor-Wilhelm Nonn commanding, sunk 3 Allied vessels: the sailing ship Lily (132 GRT) sunk with eight shells from U-596’s deck gun about 20 miles north-northwest of Beirut; the sailing ship Namaz (50 GRT) sunk with thirteen shells from deck gun; the sailing ship Panikos (21 GRT) sunk with twenty-five shells from deck gun. During her 12 war patrols, U-506 would sink 41,411 GRT of Allied shipping. At the conclusion of her final patrol in 1944, U-596 was damaged by Allied bombing while in port. She was scuttled on 24 September 1944.

Cross section of a Type VIIC U-Boat.

From the shipyards:

USS Batfish (SS-310), a Balao-class submarine built by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, was commissioned into the United States Navy, Lt. Cdr. Wayne Rucker Merrill, USN commanding. After 26-years of service, Batfish was struck from the Naval Register in 1969. She is currently preserved as a war memorial in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

USS Batfish Memorial Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma.

USS Bunch (DE 694), a Buckley-class destroyer escort built by Defoe Boat and Marine Works, Bay City, Michigan, was commissioned into the United States Navy, Lt. Cdr. Alfred Alan Campbell, USNR commanding. After serving as an Atlantic escort, Bunch was converted to a high-speed transport (APD) and served in the Pacific, receiving two battle stars for her service. Placed in reserve in 1946, she was finally stuck from the Naval Register in 1964 and sold for scrap.

USS Bunch (DE 694) during sea trials, 1943.

And an accidental torpedoing:

HMS Belvoir (L32), a Hunt-class escort destroyer, Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC, RN commanding, accidentally torpedoed the American merchant Cape Mohican while escorting convoy MKF-122 in the Mediterranean. The convoy escorts had apparently sighted two darkened ships steaming ahead of the convoy and made their torpedo tubes ready, at 22.55 hours when they were trained to port for the second time a torpedo was fired accidentally by HMS Belvoir. She then immediately went to the assistance of Cape Mohican and escorted her to Malta.

HMS Belvoir (L32) Hunt class escort destroyer.

OTDIH 31 July 1943

70-years ago today…

The bloody U-boat war dragged on:

U-572 (Oblt. Heinz Kummetat), a Type VIIC U-boat on its ninth war patrol, repelled an Allied air attack east of Trinidad.

U-199 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus), a Type IXD U-boat on its first war patrol, was sunk by a US Navy Martin PBM Mariner aircraft from VP-74 in the South Atlantic east of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are 12 survivors from the crew of 61 and these are picked up by USS Barnegat (AVP-10).

HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C. H. Brooks, RAN commanding) picked up 6 survivors from the British merchant ‘Cornish City’ that had been torpedoed and sunk on 29th July.

In the Pacific:

USS Pogy (Lt. Cdr. George Herrick Wales, USN commanding), a Gato-class submarine on her second war patrol, torpedoed and sank the Japanese aircraft transport Mogamigawa Maru (7469 GRT) northwest of Truk.

USS Saury (Lt. Cdr. A. H. Dropp, USN commanding), a Sargo-class submarine on her seventh war patrol, was rammed by a Japanese escort in the Philippine Sea and, sustaining damage, was forced to return to Pearl Harbor.

HMCS St. Catherines (K 325), a River-class frigate built at Yarrows Ltd in Esquimalt, British Columbia was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy, Lt. Cdr. Herbert Coates Reynard Davis, RCNR commanding.

USS Aspro (SS-309), a Balao-class submarine built at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine was commissioned into the United States Navy, Lt. Cdr. Harry Clinton Stevenson, USN commanding.

USS Young (DD 580), a Fletcher-class destroyer built at Consolidated Steel in Orange, Texas was commissioned into the United States Navy, Lt. Cdr. George Bernard Madden, USN commanding.

USS Young (DD 580) off Charleston, South Carolina, 18 October 1943.