“On this day in history” German submarine U-200 sunk, 1943

“On this day in history,” 24 June 1943, German Type IXD2 submarine U-200 (KrvKpt. Heinrich Schonder) sunk with depth charges by a Liberator aircraft from No. 120 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command.

Amazingly, a photograph of the attack is in the IWM archives.

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Dept charge attack on U-200 (IWM C3763)

The Liberator (serial 120/H) was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Alexander Fraser, Royal Australian Air Force, operating from Reykjavik, Iceland. As you can see from the photograph, Fraser caught U-200 on the surface and his two depth charges straddled the U-boat perfectly.

Fraser was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross for his “magnificent example of determination to destroy the enemy in the face of opposition.”

U-200 was lost with all hands. The figure of 67 dead includes not only the U-boat’s crew, but also a 7-man German special forces unit of Brandenburg commandos. The Brandenburg unit was in transit to South Africa, where they were to be landed and make contact with anti-British sympathizers in the Boer community.

 

“On this day in history” RAF Coastal Command sink U-417, lose aircraft, dramatic rescue

“On this day in history” 11 June 1943, Type VIIC Unterseeboot U-417 (Oblt. Schreiner) sunk during depth charge attack by Fortress Mk II aircraft from No. 206 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command. All hands (46) lost.

The B-17 (serial FA 704 R) caught the U-boat on the surface and, despite a successful depth charge attack, damage from the U-boat’s anti aircraft guns forced the pilot (Wing Commander R Thompson) to ditch in the Atlantic. The 8-man crew spent 3-days in a single life raft while rough Atlantic seas prevented rescue.

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Fortress Mk II (FA 704 R) of No. 206 Squadron RAF.

On the third day, Squadron Leader Jack Holmes of No. 190 Squadron RAF finally landed a Catalina flying boat and rescued the downed airmen. The DFC citation for Holmes reads:

In June, 1943, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to search for a dinghy containing the crew of an aircraft. After a flight of some 400 miles over the water the dinghy was located. Although a heavy sea was running, making the task of alighting the aircraft extremely hazardous, Squadron Leader Holmes skilfully came down alongside the dinghy and its occupants were hauled safely aboard the aircraft. This officer displayed superb airmanship and great determination throughout.
London Gazette, 17 August 1943

OTDIH 2nd August 1943

70-years ago today…

The U-boat war continued:

On 2 August 1943 there were 85 U-boats at sea. Of these, 17 boats (20%) would be lost during their patrol.

U-218 (Kptlt. Richard Becker), a Type VIID U-boat on its fifth war patrol, was attacked by a Wellington bomber from 547 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command. The U-Boat was damaged and 6 crew members were wounded during the attack. The mine-laying patrol was abandoned and the boat returned to Brest. (U-218 was scuttled, post-war, during Operation Deadlight. The wreck was explored by Innes McCartney in June 2001.)

U-653 (Kptlt. Gerhard Feiler), a Type VIIC U-boat on its seventh war patrol, was attacked by an American B-24 Liberator bomber east of Trinidad. The air attack was unsuccessful and the U-boat survived without damage.

The British merchant City of Oran was torpedoed and damaged by U-196 (KrvKpt. Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat), a Type IXD2 U-boat on her first war patrol (225-days!), in the Indian Ocean, approx 100 nm northeast of Memba Bay, Tanganyika. The rescue tug HMS Masterful picked up 86 survivors and scuttled the City of Oran with gunfire.

Arriving on the field of battle:

HMS Begum (D38), an Ameer-class escort carrier, formerly the USS Bolinas (CVE-36), was commissioned into the Royal Navy, Capt. John Egerton Broome, DSC, RN commanding.

And a future President of the United States began his legend:

PT-109, an ELCO ’80 torpedo boat, (Lt jg John Fitzgerald Kennedy, USNR commanding) was rammed and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in Blackett Strait, Solomon Islands. JFK would be played by Cliff Robertson in the movie PT-109.