SERIAL NO. 5
U-94 SUNK BY U.S.N. PBY Plane and H.M.C.S. Oakville 8-27-42
DIVISION OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
SERIAL No. 5
REPORT ON THE
INTERROGATION OF SURVIVORS FROM U-94
SUNK ON AUGUST 27, 1942
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1942
Serial No. 02488116
O. N. I. 250 SERIES
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations,
Washington, October 25, 1942.
1. The O. N. I. 250 Series – Post-Mortems on Enemy Submarines – consist of intelligence obtained from the sinking or capture of enemy submarines. The suffix G, I, or J indicates whether the submarine is German, Italian, or Japanese.
2. In preparing this series of pamphlets, of which it is hoped there will be many, all information considered to be of value or interest to the naval service is included. While all the material does not relate directly to enemy submarine operations and personnel, it is in effect the intelligence which has been gathered in the course of antisubmarine operations.
3. This publication, like those which are to follow, is Confidential. Many of the data were formerly classified as Secret. But, the classification has been lowered in order that the service at large may benefit from the information collected and presented herein. While no accountability is required, attention in invited to the fact that the intelligence contained in this series must be safeguarded in accordance with the strict and literal interpretation of its classification. The information compiled in this series can be of too great assistance in our operations at sea to hazard the loss of a source at once so important and so irreplaceable.
H. C. Train,
Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy,
Director of Naval Intelligence.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Chapter||I. Introductory remarks||1|
|II. Crew of U-94||2|
|III. Early history, first and second war cruises||5|
|IV. Third war cruise||7|
|V. Fourth war cruise||8|
|VI. Fifth war cruise||9|
|VII. Sixth war cruise||10|
|VIII. Seventh war cruise||11|
|IX. Eighth war cruise||12|
|X. Ninth war cruise||13|
|XI. Tenth and last war cruise||14|
|XII. Sinking of U-94||15|
|XIII. Details of U-94||43|
|XIV. Other U-boats||20|
|XV. General remarks on U-boats||24|
|XVI. U-boat bases||27|
|XVII. U-boat training||30|
|XVIII. Other ships||31|
|XIX. Naval officers||32|
|XX. Mine Fields||33|
|XXI. Commando raid on St. Nazaire||34|
|XXII. U-boat building yards||35|
|XXIII. Miscellaneous remarks||36|
|Appendix.||List of crew of U-94||37|
|B. Those who did not survive||38|
|C. Total number of crew||38|
Chapter I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
U-94, commanded by Oberleutnant (Lieutenant (j.g.)) Otto Ites was sunk August 27, 1942., at 2300 E. W. T. in approximate position latitude 17°54′ N. and longitude 74°36′ W. by combined action of a U.S.N. PBY plane and H.M.C.S. Oakville.
U-94 preparing to attack a convoy, of which Oakville was one of the escorts, when she was discovered and attacked by the naval plane operating from Guantanamo, Cuba. Depth charges from the plane crippled the U-94and thereafter she was rammed three times, fired upon, and sunk by Oakville. Five survivors were picked up by Oakville and 21 were rescued by U.S.S. Lea. All survivors were landed at Guantanamo the following afternoon, August 28. Interrogators from Washington arrived at Guantanamo on August 29 and departed for the United States with 24 members of the crew on August 31. The commander of U-94, suffering from bullet wounds in the leg as well as a broken leg, and machinist Gunter, who had received a shot through the stomach during the action, were brought to the United States later.
Although the crew of U-94 was well trained and experienced, several of them appeared not to have received recent instruction in security, and responded readily to early interrogations.
Chapter II. CREW OF U-94
Of the total complement of U-94, presumed to be 45 in all, 1 officer, 1 senior midshipman, 9 petty officers, and 15 enlisted men survived.
Oberleutnant Otto Ites was born in 1918, in Norden, Ost Friesland. He belonged to the 1930 naval term. As a Fähnrich he reported to the Marineschule at Mürvik on May 1, 1937, and was at the disposition of the Commander of U-boats as Leutnant (Ensign) on October 1, 1938. The same year he qualified as torpedo officer for U-boats. He subsequently served as executive officer on U-48 under Korvettenkapitäne (Lieutenant Commanders) Hans Rösing, Herbert Schultze, and Hans Bleichrodt. Ites said that when he left the U-48 she had sunk 58 ships, all of which he had seen go down with his own eyes – a total tonnage of more than 300,000. He said he knew the names of all but 3 of these 58 ships. Ites said that after he left U-48, Schultze sank 11 more ships, raising U-48‘s total to more than 400,000 tons, making her by far the most successful individual U-boat. Ites stated that he had served in U-boats since the outbreak of the war, but that the thousand or more depth charges which he had heard explode around him never had affected his nerve. After taking command of U-94Ites made five war cruises.
During the attack by Oakville, Ites received two gunfire wounds, one of which fractured the left fibula, so that it was necessary to place him in a hospital as soon as he reached shore.
Ites was one of the outstanding U-boat commanders of 1942. Upon returning to St. Nazaire in the first week of April 1942, after his third war cruise, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The citation credited him with sinking 11 armed merchant ships totaling more than 100,000 tons. Radio Paris, announcing the award on April 8, revealed that Ites was the first native of Norden to receive this distinction.
A German High Command communique of May stated: “The U-boat under command of Oberleutnant Ites was especially distinguished by successes against the British-American Navy in the North Atlantic.” He was praised in an official communique of June 18, 1942.
Ites’ success was particularly noteworthy in view of his youth. Youngest of the “star” commanders at 24, his control of his boat and his men were belied by his ingenuous appearance. In conversation with his captors he was amiable and courteous but adamantly security-minded. His success as a U-boat commander could be at-
tributed to several factors, not the least of which was the ability to keep his crew relatively intact over an extensive period, despite the practice of the Commander of U-boats (B.d.U.) of combing returning crews for candidates for officers’ and noncommissioned officers’ schools, and for experienced hands to man new U-boats. Prisoners said that Ites always had at least one experienced man on each watch. Ites’ apparent favor with the B.d.U. enabled him to have two of his petty officers commissioned, and to regain them after their schooling.
Daring and nerveless, he was admired by his crew as a fighter. Friendly and talkative, he made himself one of his men, who referred to him as “Unser Otto” and “Onkel Otto.”
The executive officer, Leutnant (Ensign) Walter Schmidt, did not survive the sinking of U-94. According to a prisoner’s statement, Schmidt was about 34 years old. He served as Steuermannsmaat (Quartermaster 3d class) until U-94‘s fifth cruise, when he became Steuermann (Quartermaster 1st class). He became “second watch officer” after attending officers’ school, and later was made executive officer. His progress was facilitated by the fact that he had been an officer in the Merchant Marine prior to entering the German Navy.
U-94‘s “second watch officer” was Oberfähnrich (Senior Midshipman) Kurt-Rolf Gebeschus, son of a U-boat officer who lost his life in the last war. Gebeschus’ mother later married his father’s brother, who now is a Kapitän zur See (Captain) stationed at the Naval High Command in Berlin.
According to Gebeschus, his stepfather, as a prisoner of war in England during the last war, was put in the penitentiary for a year as a reprisal for Germans reportedly having put British officers in the penitentiary. The matter eventually was straightened out and he spent the rest of the war in a regular camp for prisoners of war.
Gebeschus, who is 24 years old, studied “Germanistik” – German literature, history, and related subjects – with the intention of becoming a foreign newspaper correspondent. He received his diploma from the Gymnasium in Potsdam in 1936, but a broken collarbone prevented his going immediately to the Labor Service, so he traveled extensively in Europe, Norway, and Sweden. He returned to his home in Berlin to attend the University of Berlin for one semester, and then entered the Labor Service.
In 1938 his stepfather advised him to abandon his schooling for the time being, in view of the international situation, and to become a reserve officer. Accordingly, in September 1938 Gebeschus entered the Naval School at Mürvik. He later attended the Torpedo School and made a trip to South America in the training ship Albert Leo Schlageter.
Gebeschus is believed to have joined U-94 in February 1942, before U-94‘s eighth cruise. He said he chose the U-boat branch because it “offered the best prospects for fighting.” As “second watch officer” he was the torpedo and artillery officer. He expected his commission as Leutnant zur See to be granted automatically by October 1, 1942, as he had passed all his officers’ examinations.
Gebeschus, a bulky youth, said he was something of an athlete. He was intelligent, pleasant, and polite, but blindly nationalistic. He was a “Scharführer” in the Hitler Youth Movement.
The other officer, a casualty, was Leutnant (Ing.) Heinrich Muller, the engineer officer, who formerly had been a machinist on U-94. He had risen from the ranks to become an officer in January 1942, prisoners referred to him as a “Volksoffizier” (People’s Officer). They spoke of him with respect.
Waldemar Gunter, Obermaschinist (Warrant Machinist), received a bullet in his stomach during the attack prior to the sinking. Little hope was held for his recovery until a successful operation was performed on shore. He quickly grew stronger and was brought to the United States shortly thereafter.
Among those members of the crew who perished at the sinking was Maschinengefreiter (fireman, 3 cl.) Slawik, 21 years old, a German-American. He was said to have spoken perfect English, having lived in America from the age of 2 1/2 to 15), when he returned to Germany with his parents. Slawik had made four trips in U-94.
The crew as a whole was one of the most experienced thus far captured in American waters. Although only one of the crew, a machinist’s mate, had been on all the cruises of U-94, all the older members of the crew were seasoned U-boat men. As has sometimes been the case in the past, some petty officers were more communicative than younger members of the crew. All prisoners expressed appreciation of their treatment on board the two rescue vessels and of their subsequent reception ashore.
Chapter III. EARLY HISTORY, FIRST AND SECOND WAR CRUISES
Little could be learned of the early history of U-94‘s. The only survivor who had been on all 10 cruises was Siegfried Hartsch, a machinist’s mate, who professed to remember practically nothing of his boat’s early history.
U-94‘s first commanding officer was Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch, of the 1932 naval term. He made five cruises in U-94 during which time he developed a case of nerves and was relieved on August 18, 1941, by Ites. Kuppisch, as an Oberleutnant in 1937, was second in command of U-9 in 1939 he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant; on May 25, 1941, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for his “successful attacks on enemy shipping.” There is some evidence that he once commanded U-58.
Kuppisch was credited by a High Command communique in June 1940 with sinking a British auxiliary cruiser in the Moray Firth. If this be true, Kuppisch could have been in another U-boat. However, it should be pointed out that this claim cannot be associated with any known attack.
Kuppisch has held a shore appointment since his retirement from sea duty.
U-94 seems to have been laid down about the summer of 1939, launched and commissioned in the summer or autumn of 1940. She probably underwent the usual trials in the Baltic Sea following her commissioning.
Hartsch stated that the first war cruise lasted 6 weeks, from mid-November to the end of December 1940, the U-boat putting in to Lorient on New Year’s Eve. He said between 10,000 and 20,000 tons were sunk in the North Atlantic. After 2 weeks in port U-94 sailed for the North Atlantic for her second war cruise in mid-January, remaining out until the third week in February. According to Hartsch, about 20,000 tons were sunk on this cruise. Hartsch’s estimates of sinkings coincided with German claims of considerable successes for Kuppisch late in 1940 and early in 1941. Furthermore, prisoners from U-433 (Admiralty’s C. B. 4051 (34) January 1942) stated that while Oberleutnant Hans Ey was serving as Kuppisch’s executive officer, U-94 sank 30,000 tons. This would have been on the first and second war cruises, for, according to Hartsch, these were the only cruises which Ey made in U-94.
Hartsch said that Heller was the engineer officer on the first six voyages. (This probably is the Heller designated in the 1940 German Naval List as Fähnrich (Ing.), reserve class of 1938).
U-94 put into Lorient after each of these war cruises, even though theoretically based on St. Nazaire as part of the 7th Flotilla.
Chapter IV. THIRD WAR CRUISE
A petty officer prisoner stated that U-94 sailed from Lorient on her third war cruise late in February 1941, after a brief, stay in port.
This statement is consistent with previous knowledge that she was in Lorient on February 20, 1941. (Admiralty’s C. B. 4051-20 April 1941.) She remained at sea from 4 to 6 weeks. Prisoners stated variously that they operated in mid-Atlantic and the North Atlantic. About six ships were said to have been sunk of which the total tonnage was estimated at between 25,000 and 30,000. Late in March or early in April, U-94 returned to Lorient where she refitted for 3 weeks.
A prisoner stated that a new executive officer named Kosbadt (listed in the 1940 German Naval List as Leutnant zur See, class of 1937) succeeded Ey before this voyage and remained with U-94 through the seventh war cruise.
Chapter V. FOURTH WAR CRUISE
According to several prisoners, U-94 left Lorient for the North Atlantic on her fourth war cruise late in April 1941. At some time during the cruise she attacked a convoy, sinking four ships with one torpedo each. (Prisoners from U-93, under Kapitänleutnant Claus Korth, said that some time between the last of April and June 16, 1941, U-93attacked a convoy in conjunction with U-94. Admiralty C. B. 4051 (40) p. 9.) Three destroyers counter attacked for 7 hours, dropping many depth charges, but prisoners asserted that the boat was not damaged. On May 9, 1941, the German High Command claimed that Kuppisch recently had sunk four merchant ships in a strongly protected convoy in the North Atlantic. The only other success on this cruise mentioned by prisoners was the sinking of a tanker sailing alone. Several torpedoes were said to have been fired at her before she finally sank. More than one torpedo was said to have missed. Prisoners estimated the total tonnage sunk on this cruise at 38,000.
During this cruise Kuppisch learned by radio that on May 25, 1941, he had been awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. A German broadcast claimed that altogether he had sunk a destroyer and 17 armed merchant ships totaling 90,260 tons, and had carried out mining operations close to the British coast. (The mine-laying presumably was done in a previous U-boat.) To celebrate the award the crew fashioned a large cross out of lead and hard rubber which they fastened around their captain’s neck.
Between June 3-5, 1941, U-94 put in at St. Nazaire instead of returning to Lorient, and henceforth she operated from St. Nazaire. It is known that U-94 gave up two electric and two air torpedoes on June 5. She remained in port between 4 and 5 weeks.
Chapter VI. FIFTH WAR CRUISE
U-94‘s fifth cruise was Kuppisch’s final one before his transfer to shore duty. It was the only one on which he failed to sink anything.
U-94 left St. Nazaire early in July. She was out about 5 weeks, operating somewhere between Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. She fired only one torpedo, at either a fast steamer or an auxiliary cruiser which turned and escaped. One prisoner believed U-94‘s intended victim picked her up on listening gear in time to take avoiding action. Prisoners said they sighted a convoy, but wouldn’t explain why they didn’t close to attack.
U-94 returned to St. Nazaire in mid-August, probably August 18, inasmuch as she is known to have surrendered 13 torpedoes – 10 electric and 3 air – on that date. Prisoners were unable to explain why they carried 3 air torpedoes instead of the usual 2. They denied having a third upper-deck container.
Heinrich Müller, who had served as Obermaschinist (machinist) on one or more previous cruises, did not make this cruise, having been sent to officers’ school. He later returned to U-94 as engineer officer, with the rank of Leutnant (Ing.) (Ensign – engineering duties only).
Kuppisch’s nervous condition apparently had grown worse on his last cruises. One prisoner stated Kuppisch was exceedingly nervous when departing on, and returning from, a cruise, but that once at sea his anxiety lessened. Prisoners said he held himself apart from the crew. Ites succeeded to his command of U-94 on August 18, 1941. One prisoner who saw Kuppisch a year later said he looked “fresh” and apparently recovered: nevertheless other prisoners expressed the opinion that he never would go to sea again.
Chapter VII. SIXTH WAR CRUISE
On August 30, 1941, U-94 took aboard 12 electric and 2 air torpedoes and on September 2 sailed on her sixth war cruise under the command of Ites. At the end of this cruise, U-94 put into Stettin for a long overhaul. Prisoners stated they had operated this time in the vicinity of Greenland. Statements varied as to the number of ships sunk. One prisoner said four merchant ships were destroyed totaling 29,900 tons; other said they sank five or six, amounting to 32,000 tons. The large tanker San Florentino, the Pegasus, and two English colliers were claimed to have been sunk. All were said to have been traveling alone. Prisoners believed that more than one torpedo was fired at the San Florentino. No convoys were sighted and U-94 was not attacked at any time.
After nearly 5 weeks at sea, U-94 turned toward home waters. She proceeded to Bergen where she remained in port 3 or 4 days. The crew were lodged in a hotel in order, as one prisoner said, to have a rest and change. A Messerschmitt pursuit plane and three minesweepers escorted U-94 from Bergen to Kristiansand where she put in for 1 night. The crew was allowed to go ashore. It is possible that U-94 entered still another Norwegian port for a night, inasmuch as one prisoner said she traveled only during daylight en route to Germany.
U-94 ran into Kiel for 2 days where she originally had been slated for an overhaul. A prisoner stated that the crew was overjoyed when they were ordered to Stettin for the repair job, as Stettin offers much greater opportunities for entertainment than Kiel. During their brief stay in Kiel, the crew was entertained at dinner by Herbert Schultze. Inasmuch as Ites once served as Schultze’s executive officer aboard U-48, it might be expected that Schultze took pleasure in wining and dining Ites and his crew.
U-94 reached Stettin the third week in October, 6 weeks after leaving St. Nazaire. Crew members received 3 to 4 weeks’ leave in staggered groups while U-94 was thoroughly overhauled at the Oderwerke. One prisoner stated that the interior of the boat was refitted in detail and that on the ways she resembled a half-completed U-boat.
A machinist’s mate affirmed that new Diesels were not installed, and he did not believe the hull was reinforced against mines. U-94 seems to have returned to Kiel at the beginning of January 1942, the run from Stettin being used for tests. A number of new men joined the boat at Kiel.
Chapter VIII. SEVENTH WAR CRUISE
There is good reason to believe that the repair work on U-94 at the Oderwerke in Stettin suffered grossly from inefficiency, negligence, or sabotage. The U-boat was in such precarious shape upon leaving Stettin that, according to prisoners, she almost sank on the trial run to Kiel. There is evidence that the following deficiencies were discovered on the trial run: (1) A part was removed from a valve permitting water to stream into the boat the first time she attempted to submerge. (2) Some of the wiring in the Diesels was cross-connected. (3) The batteries and some of the apparatus connected with the batteries were damaged. (4) The control room indicators for “Ahead” and “Astern” were inverted. (5) The main bilge pump was ruined.
Apparently there was considerable trouble stirred up by authorities after U-94 reached Kiel.
Presumably U-94‘s ills were remedied in Kiel before she set out on her seventh war cruise. This was the second cruise on which U-94 sank nothing. One of the crew blamed rough weather for the failure.
U-94 spent the last few days in Kiel taking on provisions and torpedoes. She appears to have left Kiel at the end of the first week in January. Prisoners’ statements disagree as to whether they put into Bergen for a day en route to the Atlantic.
U-94 was stated to have operated west of the Shetland Islands. She had several air alarms on the way out but apparently was not attacked. According to one prisoner, she sighted no ships and expended no torpedoes. The cruise lasted only about a month and U-94 put into St. Nazaire early in February. One prisoner stated that the cruise was supposed to have lasted longer, but that they were “called back.” He could give no explanation.
This was Kosbadt’s last cruise as executive officer. The second watch officer was Walter Schmidt, who later succeeded Kosbadt as executive officer for the remaining cruises. The engineer officer was Heinrich Müller.
Chapter IX. EIGHTH WAR CRUISE
U-94 remained in St. Nazaire only 2 weeks after her brief seventh cruise. She departed on her eighth cruise in mid-February, returning to St. Nazaire early in April, less than a week after the British Commando raid of March 27, 1942.
This cruise was U-94‘s first one to American waters. She appears to have operated between New York and Chesapeake Bay. Prisoners’ statements on the number of ships sunk varied from five to eight, but all agreed that the total tonnage was near 40,000.
Several freighters plying alone were sunk, and, according to two prisoners, two ships were sunk out of a convoy while U-94 was en route homeward.
Prisoners stated they came close enough to the United States coast to see land and at night could see lights on land.
U-94 was attacked by a small coastal craft to which she turned tail and made off. Prisoners seemed to think this strange as they felt they would have been more than a match for such a small opponent. Another time, prisoners said, a blimp sighted U-94, dropping bombs intermittently for several hours but causing no damage. This attack seems to have given the crew a fright as the shallow water in which they were operating limited their maneuvering.
The U-boat made the round-trip across the Atlantic at slow speed (langsame Fahrt). One prisoner stated they were 3 weeks crossing each way. spending only 1 week off the United States coast. A prisoner stated that they carried torpedoes back with them, but declined to reveal how many.
The executive officer on this cruise was Oberleutnant Walter Schmidt, who had been newly advanced; the second watch officer, Gebeschus, and the Engineer Officer Müller, all of whom remained with U-94 until she was sunk.
Chapter X. NINTH WAR CRUISE
According to prisoners’ statements, U-94, left St. Nazaire on her ninth war cruise early in May. One petty officer stated they operated south of Iceland. Another prisoner said they were not farther south than Newfoundland. This prisoner expressed the belief that each Monday a convoy passed them in the same position. Most prisoners agreed that six ships from two convoys and one Canadian sailing vessel were sunk, totaling 30,000 to 35,000 tons. They said they attacked the convoys on the surface and escaped without submerging. One torpedo was said to have been fired from the after tube. Several U-boats were admitted to have participated in one of these attacks, but Kapitänleutnant Johann Mohr (believed to be in U-124) the only commander prisoners would identify. Several counter-attacks by destroyers and corvettes were admitted, prisoners stating they once were compelled to remain submerged from 5 to 10 hours. Apparently no damage was inflicted by depth charges.
After 7 weeks at sea U-94 returned to St. Nazaire, probably between June 26-28. She remained in port 5 to 6 weeks, during which time the crew had staggered leave.
Chapter XI: TENTH AND LAST WAR CRUISE
U-94 departed for the Caribbean on her tenth and last cruise on Sunday, August 2, 1942, after a month in St. Nazaire. Most of the crew seems to have received 2 weeks’ leave before the final cruise. Prisoners said they were not surprised to learn that they were to go to the Caribbean in their 500-ton U-boat. In fact, one said they had been “promised” this trip to southern waters inasmuch as previously they had operated only in the cold waters of the North Atlantic.
U-94 sank nothing on her final cruise. According to prisoners, they sighted nothing until intercepting the convoy which they were preparing to attack when sunk. They fired no torpedoes. Their course from St. Nazaire lay past the Azores. They cruised at slow speed. The crew were allowed to take sunbaths on deck during the crossing. Even the technical men who, prisoners said, were not permitted beyond the conning tower when there was danger of air attack, were permitted to relax on the upper deck. The crossing appears to have been made without incident. U-94 made landfall in the Windward Passage, probably about August 20.
Ites was said to have suspected the approach of a convoy on August 27 when he sighted flying boats which he presumed to be serving as convoy scouts. Ites seems to have spent a good part of that day dodging these planes, which, according to Gebeschus, U-94 was able to “out-maneuver.”
Chapter XII. SINKING OF U-94
The fact that Ites avoided detection by aircraft day long on August 27, 1942, seems to have led him to recklessness that night. After contacting the anticipated convoy (Convoy TAW-15 en route from Trinidad to Key West) Ites told Gebeschus that if they sighted aircraft they would “wait until the last minute” to submerge.
U-94 had been on the surface for an hour under a full moon; wind force and sea were 4 from east. Ites had maneuvered into position within the convoy screen to fire a torpedo at one of the escort destroyers when one of his lookouts sighted a plane. The executive officer who was watching another sector is said to have replied: “You are seeing ghosts.” However, the “ghost” was a U.S.N. PBY plane, and U-94 crash dived. Ites cursed and remarked to Gebeschus: “I’ve avoided that plane all day, and now that I’m ready to attack he sees me.”
The PBY plane dropped four 650-pound depth charges from 50 feet, then dropped a flare. U-94 was somewhere between 30 and 60 feet below the surface, according to prisoners’ estimates, when the plane’s depth charges exploded.
The U-boat nosed upward and surfaced. The crew made vain efforts to submerge.
Meanwhile, H.M.C.S. Oakville closed. According to her report on the action, she had seen the airplane flashing “S’s” by signal lamp as well as the flare. She proceeded full speed ahead toward the flare, at which spot five depth charges set at 100 feet were dropped. Shortly afterwards Oakville obtained QC (Asdic) contact. Less than one-half minute afterwards, a lookout sighted the bow of a submarine on the bearing indicated, about 100 yards distant, and slowly opening. Course was altered to ram. The U-boat passed under Oakville‘s bow, but bumped against the corvette’s port side when the hitter turned hard to port. Oakville opened fire and altered course to ram again. She scored a hit on the conning tower and a 4-inch shell carried away the U-boat’s deck gun. U-94 appeared to be taking avoiding action by increasing her speed. Oakville rammed the starboard side of the U-boat, then dropped depth charges, one of which appeared to explode directly under the U-boat which rapidly decreased speed. Oakville then opened range and rammed a third time, this time squarely abaft conning tower.
Meanwhile, Ites decided to abandon ship. The vents were opened and he gave the order, “Alle Mann aus dem Boot.” Ites, then on deck,
was shot in the leg and he climbed back into the boat. Gebeschus went to the bridge where, he said, he had to lie flat to avoid machine-gun fire with which Oakville was preventing the Germans from manning their deck guns.
The crew left the U-boat through the conning tower. A seaman, Hermann Schee, was struck by a wave as he was leaving the conning tower and was thrown head first down the conning tower, his leg catching in the hatch. He hung there suspended, unconscious. A shipmate named Mecklenburg pulled him loose and carried him on to the deck, where Schee recovered consciousness. He subsequently was rescued but Mecklenburg drowned.
Oakville was laid alongside in a moderately heavy swell, and a boarding party comprising a sublieutenant and a petty officer leaped aboard. According to the boarding party’s report, the U-boat was in good trim and riding rather high out of the water. Two men, one of them the engineer officer Müller, appeared in the conning tower hatch. When they ignored the boarding officer’s order to stop, he shot one of them. The second made a lunge toward the Canadian petty officer and also was shot. (Prisoners said that Müller was attempting to surrender.)
The boarding officer allowed the remaining Germans in the boat to come out and he placed them under guard of the petty officer aft. He then descended the conning tower of which the hatch was jammed at about a 40° angle. Below he found all of the lights were out. The lower deck was flooded to about 4 feet from the deck head. There seemed to be gas in the air. The submarine lurched and appeared to be settling by the stern. The boarding officer, according to his report, was unable to find any of the U-boat’s confidential papers, so he quickly collected four pairs of binoculars and emerged from the conning tower.
He ordered everyone overboard, and when they were about 50 feet clear, the U-boat sank, her bow first rising high into the air.
U.S.S. Lea had approached the scene but Oakville reported that she needed no help. The destroyer sent a boarding party to the U-boat, but when it arrived only the conning tower was visible and this soon disappeared. The party returned to the destroyer without boarding.
Up to this time none of the crew of U-94 seems to have known why she wouldn’t respond to their efforts to submerge. Gebeschus stated the reason became clear to him only when U-94 nosed up and sank stern foremost: he saw that the bow hydroplanes were missing. He stated he was convinced they were blown off by depth charges from the plane.
Prisoners stated no scuttling charges had been exploded. None could, or would, say whether a radio message had been sent to the commander of U-boats, reporting the imminent sinking.
Extent of the damage within the U-boat could not he learned from prisoners. Gebeschus stated that after the first ramming Ites ordered
emergency speed (äusserste Kraft) but that the boat was unable to achieve more than 12 knots. He believed that one of the electric motors was unable to run because of failure of the coupling between that motor and its corresponding Diesel.
The machinist’s mate who was on watch in the Diesel room at the time of the attack stated that both Diesels continued to function perfectly and that the tachometer indicated that they were turning normally for emergency speed. This petty officer claimed not to be aware that the boat was unable to attain emergency speed, but upon being informed that this was the case he volunteered the statement that the coupling might have slipped or even broken off. He also stated that the tail shaft (Schwanzwelle) abaft the electric motors and just forward of the screws might not have functioned.
The machinist’s mate of the starboard electric motor watch stated that the ramming apparently was responsible for an overloading of the electric current, as the circuit breakers of both motors flew out immediately thereafter. He maintained that he was able to get the starboard motor running again. Some canned goods stored near the tachometer of the port motor came adrift, breaking the chain which drove the tachometer. He stated that at that point the screws probably were not turning.
The captain, himself, stated that after the ramming he personally had made an inspection aft and thought that the screws had been damaged. At least one other member of the crew felt that the U-boat had been damaged at the stern.
On the basis of all the evidence, it seems likely that either by reason of some damage outboard or in connection with the electric motors the screws did not turn, so that the boat was unable to achieve emergency speed. That being the case, Gebeschus said, the captain decided to give up the fight and ordered the crew to abandon ship.
Two prisoners stated that the boat was standing still when she finally sank.
Five men were rescued by Oakville and 21 were picked up by Lea. Two of the survivors were slightly burned when chemicals from their bullet-punctured escape lungs came into contact with salt water. Some of the prisoners said they were in the water for an hour.
Prisoners believed that the entire crew left the boat. Some were believed to have been shot during the attack while others drowned. It was stated that the executive officer drowned because he could not swim. Ites said that one of his younger men wept in the excitement of abandoning the U-boat.
Gebeschus stated that no effort was made to use any hatches other than the conning tower for escape. He said these other hatches all had been securely locked to prevent their being sprung open by depth charge attack, and would have needed too much time to open.
Chapter XIII. DETAILS OF U-94
U-94 was a 500-ton boat, type VII C, built at the Germaniawerft in Kiel. She was one of the series 93-102. She was similar to the U-570, captured by the British and recommissioned as H.M.S. Graph.
U-94‘s Diesel motors were made by Germania. U-94 was attached to the 7th Flotilla, based on St. Nazaire, and carried that flotilla’s device, the Snorting Bull.
Deck watches on board U-94, according to prisoners, were:
Engine room watches were:
Thus, a man worked 14 hours and 10 hours on alternate days.
Radio watches were said to be usually 4 hours on, 4 off, 2 men (one radio petty officer and one seaman) serving on each watch. U-94, however, had watches of 8 hours on. 8 off. 4 on, 8 off, etc., so that the time of the watch changed each day. Each watch was then divided, each of the two men taking half of it, though he could call on the other for help, if need arose. The senior petty officer paired with the least experienced seaman on watch.
Radio watches were as follows:
(1) A 2400-0400
(2) C 0800-1200
(3) A 1600-1800
(4) C 2000-2400
Radio men said that they did the coding and decoding.
None of the prisoners would admit directly that U-94 carried a “QC Neutralizer” (known variously to German U-boat men as S-Gerät Vertilger, Pillenwerfer, Pillenschmeisser). Some claimed never to have heard of it. A machinist’s mate stated categorically that there was none in U-94‘s motor compartment, where it is believed to be installed in some U-boats.
U-94 had a sponsor firm (Patenfirma), the shipping concern Schenker & Co., which sent oranges and chocolate to families of the crew, and gramaphone (sic) records, money, and cigarettes to crew members. One prisoner said he received 40 marks which he “drank up.” He said the amount of the gift depended on the length of service of the particular crew member. The Schenker firm adopted U-94 in the summer of 1942 after Ites gave a talk at an entertainment which Schenker’s employees gave the crew of U-94. Dr. Robert Lev, head of the Labor Front, attended the meeting.
A petty officer stated that, as far as he knew, U-94 never had been re-strengthened against mines.
The report that U-94 was to have been retired after the tenth or eleventh cruise had circulated among the crew, but the commander denied the rumor.
Chapter XIV. OTHER U-BOATS
1. BOATS IDENTIFIED BY NUMBER
A machinist stated that U-18 was a school boat based on Warnemünde. He said that during his term on board, Kapitänleutnant Mengersen and an officer named Lindner were among those who commanded U-18. Lindner does not appear in the German Naval Lists of 1938, 1939, or 1940. The prisoner stated that U-18 was rammed, sunk, and raised in 1936.
Members of the crew of U-94 stated that U-38 was a large boat and had been sunk. It was said to have left an undesignated port shortly before U-94, but the date of sailing was not mentioned.
(ONI note: This boat previously had been reported as a 740-ton U-boat.)
Ites stated that U-48 was by far the most successful individual U-boat, and that she now was retired from active service to be used as a school boat in the Baltic.
A German High Command communique of June 18, 1942, said that Kapitänleutnant Ites and Mohr, among others, “excelled in battle against enemy shipping.” Several prisoners from U-94 stated that Mohr’s boat was in the vicinity during an attack on a convoy in the North Atlantic, on U-94‘s ninth cruise, which lasted from early May until late June.
This U-boat was said to be a 300-ton U-boat with three bow torpedo tubes. A prisoner on U-94 stated that she was a school boat based on Kiel, from which she made daily trips. The commander of U-146 was stated to be Oberleutnant Hoffmann.
(ONI comment: The only Hoffmann with the rank of Oberleutnant listed in the 1940 German Naval List is Eberhard Hoffmann. However, this may be either Rudolf or Frithjof Hoffmann, listed in 1940 as Leutnant zur See.) U-146 carried a crew of 22 and about 6 pupils for whom the course lasted 5 weeks.
When Ites was told that U-464, a large supply boat under command of Kapitänleutnant Otto Harms, had been sunk August 20, 1942, he said immediately that it must have been off Iceland. This area would have been the only one where a supply U-boat would come within range of aircraft, he said, although supply boats were under strict orders to avoid areas patrolled by aircraft, Ites confirmed that the transfer of supplies takes place in comparatively safe areas in midocean. He said that the only chance to sink these boats with aircraft was as they came through the Faeroes-Iceland or Faeroes-Lewis passages.
A prisoner confirmed previous information that Korvettenkapitän Manhard von Mannstein’s new boat, U-753, was commissioned June 18, 1941, and made trial runs from Kiel into the Baltic. The prisoner said he saw her at Wilhelmshaven, where it is believed she was built.
“Elefant” (Elephant). – A prisoner stated he partially inspected the Elefant in St. Nazaire this year (probably mid-July). It is not clear whether the name “Elefant” referred to a class of U-boats or a particular U-boat. The prisoner said the Elefant he had seen was a new 900-ton boat and a great improvement over U-A, with which he also seemed to be familiar. All valves on the Elefant were hand-operated whereas U-A had an oil-pressure system which might easily be thrown out of order by depth charges. The prisoner said he did not see the after torpedo room, but believed it had two torpedo tubes. He believed the boat had not been put into service and had made no Atlantic cruises other than the trip from Germany to France. It was his opinion that the crew certainly comprised more than 50 men. One prisoner referred to the Elefant as a “Versorgungsboot” (Supply boat).
2. BOATS BY TONNAGE
According to one prisoner, 250-ton U-boats no longer are being constructed.
All 300-ton U-boats were said to be used as training boats. A prisoner said he believed they have three forward torpedo tubes, two above and one below, but no stern tube.
It was the opinion of one prisoner that there is much more work for the crew on 500-ton U-boats than on those of 750 tons, as the former have more hand-operated machinery. He said old 500-ton U-boats are used for the commander course (Kommandantenkursus) at Memel.
3. U-BOAT COMMANDERS
Gebeschus said he saw a film in Germany purported to have been made by Kapitänleutnant Hardegen (believed to command U-123) in New York harbor through the periscope of his boat, early in 1942. The Statute of Liberty, wharves, and water-front buildings were said to show clearly in the film.
Ites confirmed the report that a U-boat under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hetschko had during its trial at Kiel rammed and sunk a lightship at night. (ONI note: Previous information stated that the vessel rammed and sunk was a ferryboat.)
Hetschko had been drafted back to the Navy from the Air Force. He claimed that he saw the lightship in time and ordered hard a-port, but the rudder failed, and the U-boat ran straight ahead, ramming and sinking the ship. His explanation did not prevent Hetschko from losing his “front boat” which was given to another commander, and he took over a training boat. No lives were lost. Ites commented: “At least he managed to sink his first 200 tons.”
Ites said that Oberleutnant Hans Werner Kraus was operating in the Mediterranean and recently had received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He would not say whether Kraus has U-583.
Members of the crew of U-94 stated that Freiherr v. Maltzahn was now in U-boats and believed that he formerly served in the Graf Spec. (An Oberleutnant Freiherr Maltzahn is listed in the 1940 German Naval List as Oberleutnant (Ing.)). He was said to be the brother of a Major Freiherr v. Maltzahn of the Luftwaffe who has the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and numerous other decorations.
Ites confirmed that Thurmann had sunk ships in the St. Lawrence. (Thurmann is listed as Kapitänleutnant in the German Naval List of 1940.) A High Command communique of August 24, 1942, stated that he had received the Knight’s Cross for sinking three ships in the St. Lawrence. Ites said that since that time another commander had entered the St. Lawrence and sunk another ship.
It was stated by members of the crew of U-94 that Kapitänleutnant Ernst Vogelsang was sunk on his first trip in a new U-boat, which they said was U-306. They agreed that Vogelsang had previously commanded another boat in which he must have been successful on previous cruises, as it was said that his picture had appeared in the weekly “Die Woche” on his return from a cruise.
(ONI note: Vogelsang was believed to command U-132. Nothing is known about U-306 or Vogelsang’s connection with this boat. The above statement, therefore. should be treated with reserve.)
Chapter XV. GENERAL REMARKS ON U-BOATS
Oberfähnrich Gebeschus stated that a U-boat at sea always is under radio control of headquarters. He said if U-94 suddenly became silent for some reason, the B. d. U. would send out a series of messages – “U-Ites Lage angeben” (give position), “U-Ites Wettersignale” (give weather signal) in an effort to determine what had happened to the boat. Thus Gebeschus felt that certainly within 3 or 4 days the loss of their U-boat would become known in Germany. No announcement of such loss would be made to the crew’s families, however, for at least 3 months.
After every Atlantic crossing, or any other long cruise, the Diesels needed a thorough overhaul, and the “Werftliegezeit” (docking period) always was long enough to permit leave to the crew, Gebeschus said.
Gebeschus confirmed statements by other officer prisoners-of-war that operations in American waters were becoming more and more difficult. “Commanders are now hard put to sink 50,000 tons in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said, as compared with the high tonnage which U-boats were sinking in American waters early in 1942. Gebeschus insisted that U-boat commanders were able to gauge accurately the tonnage of their victims. He said the night silhouette brought out their distinguishing features which could be recognized readily from a U-boat on the surface a few hundred yards distant. Furthermore, he said, U-boats carry copies of Groener’s list of merchant ships as well as Weyer’s naval registry.
Gebeschus stated that it was possible for a Leutnant-zur-See (Ensign) to receive command of a school boat in the Baltic. He said that the B. d. U. preferred to bring young officers who have served on war cruises to school boats.
Gebeschus said that schools of porpoises frequently accompanied U-boats for hours. He related that once when he was serving as lookout he saw, at about 120 feet, what appeared to be the white track of a torpedo headed for the U-boat. He gave the alarm, then discovered that it was a porpoise. He said Ites scolded him for his mistake, but at that very moment Ites, himself, saw a white track speeding toward the U-boat. When that turned out to be a porpoise, Ites breathed a sigh of relief and retracted his scolding.
A radioman stated that U-boats were degaussed in port, probably after every trip.
Prisoners confirmed that the sea must be calm for transferring torpedoes from the upper-deck containers, but stated that under such conditions, transfer is not particularly difficult. One prisoner stated that only 750-ton U-boats were constructed with rails for loading torpedoes.
One prisoner disdainfully rejected a suggestion that his boat fired spreads of torpedoes, a practice he termed bungling (“Fächerschüsse sind Stümper”).
One of U-94‘s veterans, a machinist’s mate, said that old hands didn’t like to go to new U-boats, feeling that their chances of survival were prejudiced by the inexperience of new crews.
The 20-mm. guns on U-boats were said to have red tracer chemicals in every cartridge, whereas every third bullet of light machine guns was a tracer.
Ites said he had seen some Japanese naval technical equipment, all of which had impressed him, particularly Radar, QC, and torpedoes. He said the Japanese had perfected models copied from other countries. Ites implied that Germany had exchanged at least some secrets with Japan.
From other sources it was learned that some U-boats have special names for the individual torpedo tubes such as “Sonny Boy,” “Ensmann,” and so on.
A prisoner, with a flair for phrase-making, said, in describing tactics of night attacks: “Destroyers are our great enemy – night our great weapon.”
Ites said that crews suffered no strain crossing the Atlantic to and from operations areas in American waters, as these periods were regarded as pleasure cruises. The real strain began when the boat reached its operations area. He indicated that 4 weeks at a stretch on such patrol was about as much as the nerves of a crew could stand.
Ites held the opinion that an airplane needed more than ordinary luck to sink a U-boat (despite the fact that an airplane started U-94 to its doom). Ites admitted, however, that planes were a great nuisance in that they kept U-boats beneath the surface, causing them to miss opportunities of attacking ships.
Ites stated that the setting off of scuttling charges in a U-boat was a dangerous operation which almost invariably resulted in loss of life. He agreed with members of his crew that had they set off charges in U-94, two men would have had to go down to do it, it would have taken them at least one minute and they undoubtedly would have been killed or drowned.
A machinist’s mate said that the “QC Neutralizer” (Pillenwerfer) had been in use since August 1941. He maintained that only the captain would operate such an instrument and that the “pills” would be locked up in the captain’s cabin.
German prisoners occasionally have spoken of the “6th tube” and “7th tube.” There is reason to believe that this refers to the Pillenwerfer – the “6th tube” in a 500-ton boat that has five torpedo tubes, the “7th tube” in a 750-ton U-boat that has six torpedo tubes.
Ites himself denied all knowledge of the Pillenwerfer, but it is believed that he deliberately was attempting to mislead his interrogator. He said that after an attack, if he could not slip away it was his policy to remain as quiet as possible and not to invite misfortune by causing any commotion in the water. He implied that the ace German commanders all operated this way.
Ites did not regard his coding machine (Schlüssel-M) as secret. He said they were sold on the open market in Germany before the war. He said further they were useless if the settings were not known, adding, “If I had known that you wanted one, I would have brought mine along for you!”
A prisoner stated that one special train weekly carries U-boat men on leave from French ports to Germany.
One prisoner, a radioman, stated that a U-boat maintained radio contact only with B. d. U. not with other U-boats. He stated, however, that upon orders from B. d. U., a U-boat might transmit messages to another U-boat.
Chapter XVI. U-BOAT BASES
The following information on Lorient was obtained from Machinists Mate Weber, who worked in a U-boat repair squad in Lorient from November 1940 to February 1941. He was a member of the personnel reserve. He lived at first at the music school, near the present Naval Hospital, later moving to barracks which he said were faultlessly equipped and furnished.
Weber said that at the time he was in Lorient, U-boats returned to Germany for major repairs. Later, however, a spare parts pool was created in Lorient large enough to permit large-scale repairs. Repair squads were under the direct orders of Flotilla Chief Korvettenkapitän Hans Fischer. They comprised a large number of enlisted men and about 15 noncommissioned officers. All of the men were German sailors, a large number of them from Cologne. There were no civilians in the squads.
Weber said the Deutsche Werft had charge of repair work at Lorient at that time. The amount of work done depended on the available personnel. At times there were four or five U-boats, including 750-ton boats, in port for repairs. Weber said he never had heard of 250- or 300-ton U-boats at any French port.
Weber said that he had worked on Prien’s and Kretschmer’s U-boats in Lorient, as well as on U-94 before he joined her. Prien’s boat was in drydock No. 3, while Kretschmer’s boat was tied up alongside a ship off the barracks.
Weber stated that the oil pier was on the east bank of the river Scorff, about 1,100 yards from the mouth. Just below this pier, he said, were bomb-proof submarine shelters. Across the river, on the west bank, were the loading station and the coal pier, “in the vicinity of the smithery,” and the loading station.
The building slips above the bridge on the east bank were used for submarine repair work. On the west bank of the river, below the bridge, were three dry docks, numbered 1, 2, and 3 from south to north, where repairs were made. The middle drydock, No. 2. was the largest, capable of accommodating one 750-ton or two 500-ton U-boats.
Weber stated that the torpedo station had been located on the north bank of the entrance channel to the Port de Commerce, near the barracks. However, he said it since has been moved eastward across
the river to the east bank of the spit of land forming the eastern side of the river’s mouth.
Speed boats were stationed on the west side of this spit of land.
Weber told of an attempt of Germans, early in 1941, to raise a French torpedo lying in the mouth of the river, during which operations the torpedo exploded, killing 14 men and severely injuring the diver. The diver, a member of the personnel reserve, was sent back to Germany.
2. St. Nazaire.
A. prisoner stated that the British Commando raid on St. Nazaire in March 1942 did not damage the south entrance to the harbor, the one normally used by U-boats both before and after the raid. He stated damage inflicted by Commandos on the Normandie drydock and on the small entrance did not interfere with use of the inner basins.
One prisoner stated that in the Bassin de Penhoët (one prisoner referred to it as the “French harbor”) U-boats load provisions and torpedoes at the Quai de la Prise d’Eau. He stated that U-94 several times tied up to the Quai de Penhoët, farther north, for engine trials (Standproben).
One petty officer confirmed that the concrete U-boat shelters were built on the Quai Henri Vevereau in the Bassin de St. Nazaire. He said there were at least nine drydocks and three floating docks in the harbor, with two docks under construction.
A prisoner stated he believed the St. Nazaire torpedo station to be located outside of the city, inasmuch as torpedoes arrived on trucks at the loading wharf.
The U-boat home (U-Heim) was said to be in a northeast suburb of St. Nazaire, back of the French dockyards (Franzosen Werft), from which U-boat men commuted in busses.
One prisoner stated that relations between Frenchmen and Germans at the St. Nazaire harbor were not good. He said that German sailors frequently paid Frenchmen bread and cigarettes for doing small services for them. He said there had been a number of brawls in St. Nazaire between Germans and Frenchmen, causing German authorities to proscribe a number of cafés for U-boat crews.
Prisoners stated they liked La Baule, where enlisted men and officers lived in different hotels. One prisoner recalled many a drunken carousal in the Giftbude bar, where it seemed generally the fashion to leave on all fours. Another prisoner stated that he had lived at both the hotels Adriana and Royal. He said his favorite café was called the Continental – “ein ganz gemütliches Lokal.” Another popular haunt seemed to be the Scala, where eight or nine dancing girls held forth, and naked women were the feature of the floor
show. The Scala is located on one of the main streets near the wharves, possibly the Rue de l’Océan.
A prisoner stated the 7th Flotilla under Kapitänleutnant Herbert Sohler and the 6th Flotilla under Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Schulz were at St. Nazaire.
Prisoners stated that U-94 had no alcohol aboard, but when crews returned to port they were given bottles of cognac and other spirits which they generally took home with them as gifts when on leave.
Two radiomen said they had been both at the Aurich and Flensburg radio schools. Another radioman stated that he had served in various radio stations, one of which he claimed was at Royan (mouth of the Gironde). He said one of the favorite gathering spots in Royan was Le Grande Café (possibly in the Boulevard Thiers).
Chapter XVII. U-BOAT TRAINING
A petty officer prisoner of war stated that enlisted men at Pillau received their U-boat training on 250-ton U-boats, as most of the 500-ton school boats were at Memel, where they were used for training submarine commanders. He said that 250-ton boats have three bow torpedo tubes, two above and one below, and no stern tube. He said that 300-ton boats are called “Kombinationsboote” or “Zwischenboote” as they combine some features of the 250-ton and the 500-ton class.
A petty officer who had been trained at Plön denied knowledge of any U-boat training group at Plön other than the First U-boat Training Group (Erste U-bootsausbildungsabteilung).
The prisoner who had his recruit training (Rekrutenausbildung) at Stralsund-Dänholm said the barracks there were known to the men as “auf dem Dänholm.”
Chapter XVIII. OTHER SHIPS
Gebeschus said that shortly before the United States entered the war, the U-boat on which he was serving sighted a 10,000-ton merchant ship mounting guns forward and aft, steering a 91° course which could only have been for Gibraltar. His commander maneuvered within range and was about to fire a torpedo when he saw an American flag painted on the ship. He broke off the attack disgusted, Gebeschus said, as he had strict orders not to sink American ships.
Gebeschus said he saw the Gneisenau as recently as July 16, 1942, and that all her guns were mounted at that time.
Ites said that luxury liners like the Bremen were not used for quartering men at naval schools because of the resultant deterioration in the ships. “Strength Through Joy” ships, however, such as the Robert Ley, were ideal as “Wohnschiffe” as they were single class with ample accommodations. He said further accommodations had been added to the Robert Ley by building superstructures on the upper decks.
Chapter XIX. NAVAL OFFICERS
Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schultze.
Ites emphatically branded as untrue the report that Schultze had been degraded for refusing to go to sea again. He said Schultze had been retired from sea duty because of a slight heart ailment from which he previously had suffered. After serving as chief of the 3rd Flotilla at La Pallice, he was transferred to Kiel early in 1942, where he served as U-boat consultant (U-Boot Referent) under Kapitän zur See von Friedeburg. Schultze’s duty was to give advice on training and construction, drawing on his experience as a front line commander.
Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch.
Ites indicated that Kuppisch also had been attached to von Friedeburg’s staff. He said it was incorrect to say that Kuppisch had suffered a bad nervous break-down before leaving his U-boat command. (See chs. III and VI.)
Kapitän zur See von Friedeburg.
Von Friedeburg’s work at Kiel, according to Ites, was to organize the production of U-boats and to man them. He said von Friedeburg was not a U-boat man in the last war, but had had all his active service in surface ships.
The “Nase” Schultzes.
Ites said that there were at least four officers in the German Navy known as “Nase” Schultze. All were related, two being brothers, the other two cousins. He said each had an oddly shaped nose, a family characteristic, from which came the nickname. The original “Nase” Schultze was the father of the two brothers. He was said to have been a well-known character in the German Navy in his day.
Chapter XX. MINE FIELDS
Ites indicated that the Germans have considerable knowledge of the whereabouts of British mine fields between Iceland and the Faeroes, and the Faeroes and Lewis. He said that in making these passages their policy was to trail Allied shipping, particularly patrol craft which, he alleged, held doggedly to the same course. He stated that there was considerable traffic between Iceland and Great Britain which could be used to this end, and that the Germans deduced from the navigational hazards in this area – excessive depths and consistently low visibility – that the gaps between the mine fields must be wide to ensure an adequate margin of safety for the passage of friendly vessels. Ites said that the Germans frequently rewarded a ship which had piloted them unwittingly through a mined area by sinking it.
Ites stated that fishing craft were particularly helpful in that when they were fishing in mined waters they invariably dropped a buoy to mark their position and then played out a line from the buoy as they fished. The relative position of these vessels and their buoys provided an additional aid to navigation.
Ites indicated that a log containing all such information was kept by B. d. U. for the benefit of all commanders leaving Germany for the Atlantic. A certain amount of information was provided by Axis agents, he said, especially in Iceland.
Ites knew the “Rosengarten” well and confirmed that this is a shoal between Iceland and the Faeroes, not a regular mine field. He stated that he had often been there and had watched British patrol craft fishing with depth charges. This depth-charge fishing generally took place on Friday afternoons, when the succession of explosions was often long and lively. Ites concluded that the crews either were seeking a tasty dish for Sunday dinner, or were catching fish to sell in port to provide the means for a week-end spree.
Chapter XXI. COMMANDO RAID ON ST. NAZAIRE
Ites said that the Commando raid of March 27, 1942, on St. Nazaire failed because it was not sufficiently large scale. If the British had been prepared to sacrifice 5,000 men and five destroyers, he maintained, every objective would have been attained and the losses fully repaid. He stated that repairs were undertaken immediately by the Organisation Todt and were virtually completed when he left St. Nazaire on his last cruise (August 2, 1942). He believed that the British had lost one M. T. B. which was practically intact, only having been holed forward by machine-gun bullets.
Ites said that the British left behind a considerable amount of sabotage material, including a bomb which could be thrown against a ship’s hull and would remain there through a powerful magnetic attachment, exploding later on a time setting. Ites said that the Germans had made tests with these bombs, which could be attached under water, and had found them highly efficient. He added that he had examined one personally and had been much impressed.
Ites asserted that no damage had been caused to the St. Nazaire Basin, where U-Boats were clocked. He confirmed the destruction of the gates at one end of the Normandie lock, but claimed that this lock was not used by U-boats in any case, as it operated too slowly.
A petty officer prisoner stated that Kapitänleutnant Herbert Sohler (who formerly commanded U-46 and is now believed to be chief of the 7th Flotilla, based on St. Nazaire) had been awarded the Iron Cross, first class, for his part in repelling the Commando raid. This prisoner believed, however, that Sohler had simply managed to keep out of the way during the action and had appeared at its conclusion with a convincing account of his own participation.
Chapter XXII. U-BOAT BUILDING YARDS
Ites claimed that not a single “Front” U-boat had been lost as a result of sabotage. He said he considered this remarkable in view of the large number of foreigners employed at bases, at building yards, and in the Organisation Todt. These foreigners included even “Red” Spaniards, Dutch, Belgians, and French. Ites, nevertheless, revealed some concern about sabotage at Stettin and at the Schichauwerft at Danzig.
Ites said that to minimize the possibility of sabotage a special construction engineer attended the building of each U-boat. He said that before a boat was delivered for war service a series of X-ray photographs was made to insure that the boat was properly welded and otherwise correctly constructed.
Another source stated that the Germania Yards at Kiel were building type VII C U-boats as well as mine laying U-boats. This source considered heavy bombing of the Germania Werft would be particularly effective because these yards were so highly self-contained.
One source stated that he had seen both U-boats and U-boat escort vessels under construction at the Howaldtswerke, Kiel. (It is believed that the Howaldt organization has taken over the Kriegsmarinewerft in Kiel. The Howaldtswerke in Hamburg, of course, has been building U-boats for a number of years.)
Crew members of U-94 expressed surprise at the report that the Stettin Yards, for which they professed little regard, were building U-boats. They said that several U-boats had lain at Stettin for repairs for more than a year. They recalled that two 740-ton U-boats, which they had seen in Stettin for overhaul soon after their commissioning, were lost on the first cruise. They attributed these losses to inexperienced crews and inept work at the Stettin Yards. U-94, herself, apparently suffered at the hands of the Stettin repair squads. (See Ch. VIII.)
Chapter XXIII. MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS
Gebeschus added his voice to German officers’ condemnation of Kapitänleutnant Rahmlow for surrendering his boat, U-570, to the British. Gebeschus said Rahmlow proved that he did not possess the qualities of a U-boat officer.
Speaking of Kapitänleutnant Kuppisch’s retirement from U-boats to a shore appointment because of a nervous condition Gebeschus said that some commanders could go to sea indefinitely without suffering from the strain while others could make only a few cruises. He said Admiral Dönitz has full understanding for commanders who come to him and say, “Please, I do not want to go to sea anymore.” because Dönitz himself has commanded a submarine. Gebeschus said frayed nerves among commanders were a problem for Dönitz, as he needs all the men he possibly can get for active commands.
Gebeschus said that Dönitz is called “der Lowe” (the lion) because of his unusual energy and strong personality.
One of the radio men said that he knew the following radio electricians (Oberfunkmeister): Bregill, Miederer, Zerfass, Riemann (at Kiel), Schöfer, Meyer (in the south of France), Schmitz, Pape (who was in U-94 before petty officer Bischoff left to attend the radio mates’ school at Flensburg. Bischoff later replaced Pape in U-94.
List of crew of U-94
(a) THE FOLLOWING SURVIVED
|Ites, Otto||Oberleutnant zur See||Lieutenant (j.g.).|
|Gebeschus, Rolf-Kurt||Oberfähnrich zur See||Senior Midshipman.|
|Schmidt, Ernst||Obersteuermann||Warrant Quartermaster.|
|Gunter, Waldemar||Obermaschinist||Warrant Machinist.|
|Linke, Richard||Oberbootsmaat||Boatswain’s Mate, 2 cl.|
|Hartsch, Siegfried||Obermaschinenmaat||Machinist’s Mate, 2 cl.|
|Bischoff, Hans||Funkmaat||Radioman, 3 cl.|
|Barthel, Helmut||Mechanikermaat||Torpedoman’s Mate, 3 cl.|
|Peters, Willi||Maschinenobergefreiter||Fireman, 2 cl.|
|Kleist, Huber||Matrosenobergefreiter||Seaman, 1 cl.|
|Brenner, Fritz||Mechanikergefreiter||Seaman, 2 cl.|
|Schlingmeyer, Heinz||Maschinengefreiter||Fireman, 3 cl.|
|Petty officers 9|
|Other ranks 15|
(b) THE FOLLOWING DID NOT SURVIVE
|Schmidt, Walter||Leutnant zur See||Ensign.|
|Müller, Heinrich||Leutnant (Ing.)||Ensign (engineering duties only).|
|Kuhrmann, Konrad||Obermaschinenmaat||Warrant Machinist.|
|Bullmann, Willi||Oberfunkmaat||Radioman, 2 cl.|
|Neugebauer||Maschinenmaat||Fireman, 1 cl.|
|Odenwald||Matrosenobergefreiter||Seaman, 1 cl.|
|Bock||Matrosengefreiter||Seaman, 2 cl.|
|Mecklenborg, H.||Maschinengefreiter||Fireman, 3 cl.|
|Sell, Otto||Mechanikergefreiter||Seaman, 2 cl.|
|Petty officers 6|
|Other ranks 11|
(c) TOTAL CREW OF U-94
Oakville photo from readyayeready.com