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CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2

BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC - BATTLES and WARSHIP LOSSES

Part 2 of 2 - 1943-1945

HMS Lotus (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge), "Flower" class corvette. Made famous in the book "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Montserrat and the highly-recommended film starring Jack Hawkins, their role in the Battle of the Atlantic was legendary.  "They rolled on wet grass", "Can see down your funnel. Your boiler was alight ......" They sank U-boats and were sunk themselves in innumerable convoy battles.

  on to Battle of the Atlantic - Its Development
 
 
 

Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

(for more ship information,  go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

 
 

 
 

1943

JANUARY 1943

Axis Loss Summary - 4 U-boats including 1 by RAF in North Atlantic; 2 by US aircraft off Brazil; 1 by unknown causes

FEBRUARY 1943

4th-7th - attacked on Slow Halifax/UK Convoy SC118 - SC118, escorted by the British B2 group was heavily attacked in mid-Atlantic. A total of 20 U-boats sank 13 of the 63 merchantmen. However, on the 4th "U-187" was detected by HF/DF, hunted down and sunk by destroyers "Beverley" and "Vimy". Three days later, Free French corvette "Lobelia" sank "U-609" and a RAF B-17 Flying Fortress accounted for "U-624".

17th - Slow UK/North America convoy ONS165 and the escorting British B6 group were attacked east of Newfoundland. "U-201" was sunk by destroyer "Fame" and "U-69" by "Viscount". Only two merchantmen were lost.

22nd - U-boats attacked ON166 and its American A3 group in mid-Atlantic and sank 14 ships in the course of four days. In exchange "U-606" was depth-charged to the surface by Polish destroyer "Burza" and Canadian corvette "Chilliwack" and finished off by ramming by US Coast Guard cutter "Campbell".

22nd - Mines laid by "U-118" in the Strait of Gibraltar sank three merchantmen and on the 22nd Canadian corvette "WEYBURN" as she escorted North Africa/UK convoy MKS8.

23rd - UK/Caribbean tanker convoy UC1 lost badly to U-boats, but southwest of Madeira, "U-522" was sent to the bottom by cutter "Totland".

Axis Loss Summary - 15 U-boats including 5 by RAF in North Atlantic and off Portugal and Gibraltar; 2 by RAF and US aircraft on Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 by US Navy in North Atlantic.

MARCH 1943

4th - In operations against the US/Gibraltar routes, "U-87" was sunk off Portugal by Canadian destroyer "St Croix" and corvette "Shediac".

11th - North American/UK convoy HX228 (60 ships), escorted by the British B3 group, lost a total of four ships. Destroyer "Harvester" rammed "U-444" but was disabled and the U-boat had to be finished off by French corvette "Aconit". "HARVESTER", now stationary, was sunk by "U-432" which was in turn brought to the surface in mid-Atlantic by "Aconit's" depth charges and finally destroyed by gunfire and ramming.

Axis Loss Summary - 12 U-boats including 4 by the RAF in North Atlantic; 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 by US aircraft off Barbados; 2 by US forces off the Azores and Canary Islands; 1 by unknown causes

APRIL 1943

2nd - "U-124" on passage to the Freetown area encountered UK/West Africa convoy OS45 to the west of Portugal. Two merchant ships were sunk, but she was attacked by sloop "Black Swan" and corvette "Stonecrop" of the 37th EG and sunk in turn.

6th - In attacks on Halifax/UK convoy HX231 southwest of Iceland, two U-boats were lost - "U-635" to frigate "Tay" of the British B7 group and "U-632" to a RAF Liberator. Six of the convoy's merchantmen were lost to the 15-boat pack. (Note: the identity of these two U-boats is sometimes reversed.)

7th - Submarine "Tuna" on Norwegian Arctic patrol sank "U-644" northwest of Narvik.

11th - Destroyer "BEVERLEY" of the British B6 group escorting convoy ON176 was sunk south of Greenland by "U-188".

18th - "U-123" on patrol south of Freetown torpedoed and sank "P-615" (ex-Turkish) on passage to the South Atlantic Command to provide anti-submarine training.

23rd-25th - Battle of Slow UK/North America Convoy ONS4 - ONS4 (these convoys were renumbered starting in March) was escorted by the British B2 group (Cdr Macintyre) and reinforced by the 5th Escort Group with escort carrier "Biter". On the 23rd "U-191" was detected to the south of Greenland by HF/DF and sunk by destroyer "Hesperus" using the Hedgehog forward-throwing A/S mortar. Two days later on the 25th a Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter" found "U-203" and destroyer "Pathfinder" finished her off.

Axis Loss Summary - 14 German and 1 Italian U-boats including 3 by the RAF in the North Atlantic and off the Canaries; 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol; 1 by RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay; 1 by RAAF north of the Faeroes; 3 to US forces in the North and South Atlantic, including the one Italian

MAY 1943

The May 1943 Convoy Battles - Victory of the Escorts

Colour Code: Convoy groups in dark blue; Escort Groups in purple; merchant ships in bright blue; U-boats in red

At the beginning of the month over 40 U-boats were deployed in three patrol lines off Greenland and Newfoundland. Another group operated to the far west of the Bay of Biscay. A number were passing through the northern transit area and over 30 on passage between their Biscay bases and the North Atlantic. More still were on patrol in the South Atlantic or passing through. There were numerous Allied convoys crossing the North Atlantic as suitable targets, starting with ONS5:

(1) Slow UK/North America ONS5 - On the 21st April, ONS5 sailed with 42 ships from Liverpool outward bound for North America. Escort was provided by the British B7 group (Cdr P. W. Gretton) with two destroyers, a frigate, four corvettes and two trawlers. The first threat was dealt with before the end of April when "U-710" was sunk by an escorting RAF B-17 Flying Fortress south of Iceland. The real battle started in early May, south of Greenland as all three U-boat patrol lines closed in. Before they arrived the escort was reinforced by the 3rd Escort Group (EG) from St John's, Newfoundland. Rough seas made refuelling difficult and some of the escorts had to leave. The 1st EG, also from St John's sailed to replace them. Over the next few days 13 merchantmen were lost, but at a cost of a further six U-boats. All went down in often confused fighting to the south of Greenland or northeast of Newfoundland. More still were damaged. Type 271 radar played a large part in the escort's successes: 4th - "U-630" to a RCAF Canso (Catalina). 5th - B7 group corvette "Pink" sank "U-192", sister ship "Loosestrife", also from B7 sank "U-638". 6th - B7 group destroyer "Vidette" sank "U-125". Destroyer "Oribi" detached from convoy SC127 to join B7 together with corvette "Snowflake" accounted for "U-531". (The identity of "U-125" and "U-531" is reversed in some sources.) Finally, "U-433" was sunk by sloop "Pelican" of the 1st EG.

The surviving U-boats were regrouped for attacks on other convoys, but in the area south of Greenland/northeast of Newfoundland as well as throughout the North Atlantic, merchantmen sinkings went down as U-boat losses mounted alarmingly. Much of this was due to the way escort groups (EG) moved from one convoy to another to support the existing escorts. The number of convoys crossing the North Atlantic in both directions is truly impressive and the main movements in May, together with the U-boats sunk is listed here:

(2) North America/UK HX236 - 46 ships escorted by British B1 group and 2nd EG (Capt Walker); no merchant ships lost.

11th - "U-528" was damaged by US aircraft in an earlier attacked on ONS5. Now southwest of Ireland, she was sunk by sloop "Fleetwood" and RAF aircraft of No 58 Squadron.

(3) Slow UK/North America ONS6 - 31 ships escorted by British B6 group and 4th EG with escort carrier "Archer"; no merchant ships lost.

(4) North America/UK HX237 - 46 ships escorted by Canadian C2 group and 5th EG with escort carrier "Biter". Three stragglers sunk in exchange for possibly three U-boats in mid-Atlantic: 12th - "U-89" to destroyer "Broadway" and frigate "Lagan", both of C2 group, assisted by Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter". 12th - RAF B-24 Liberator of No 120 Squadron damaged either "U-456" or "U-753", which may have been finished off by destroyer "Pathfinder" of the 5th EG. Alternatively one of these U-boat may have gone missing on the 15th. (Sources vary.) 13th - Either "U-456" or "U-753" was then detected by RCAF Sunderlands of No 423 Squadron which brought up frigate "Lagan" and Canadian corvette "Drumheller" to sink the U-boat.

(5) North America/UK SC129 - 26 ships escorted by British B2 group, with 5th EG transferred from HX237 on the 14th. Two merchant ships lost in mid-Atlantic for two U-boats: 12th - "U-136" to destroyer "Hesperus" of B2 (Cdr Macintyre). 14th - "U-266" to a RAF B-24 Liberator of No 86 Squadron.

(6) UK/North America ON182 - 56 ships escorted by Canadian C5 group, with 4th EG and carrier "Archer" transferred from ONS6; no merchant ships lost.

(7) North America/UK HX238 - 45 ships escorted by Canadian C3 group; no merchant ships lost.

(8) Slow UK/North America ONS7 - 40 ships escorted by British B5 group, with 3rd EG transferred from ONS5. One ship lost for two U-boats destroyed in the vicinity of the convoy to the southeast of Greenland and south of Iceland: 14th - "U-657" to a US Navy Catalina. 17th - "U-640" to frigate "Swale" of B5. (The identity of "U-657" and "U-640" is reversed in some sources.)

(9) UK/NorthAmerica ON183 - 32 ships escorted by British B4 group, no merchant ships lost.

(10) North America/UK SC130 - 38 ships escorted by British B7 group, with 1st EG transferred from ONS5. No merchant ships lost in exchange for four U-boats south of Greenland: 19th - "U-954" to a RAF Liberator; "U-209" to frigates "Jed" and "Sennen" of 1st EG; and "U-381" to destroyer "Duncan and corvette Snowflake of B7. 20th - "U-258" to another RAF Liberator - both VLR aircraft from the very successful No 120 Squadron.

(11) UK/NorthAmerica ON184 - 39 ships escorted by Canadian C1 group and US 6th EG with escort carrier "Bogue". No merchant ships lost in exchange for one U-boat: 22nd - "U-569" in mid-Atlantic to Avengers flying from "Bogue".

(12) North America/UK HX239 - 42 ships escorted by British B3 group and 4th EG and carrier "Archer" transferred from ON182 (and before that ONS6). No merchant ships lost in exchange for one more U-boat: 23rd - In the first success with aircraft rockets, "U-752" in mid-Atlantic was badly damaged by "Archer's" Swordfish of 819 Squadron, and scuttled as surface escorts approach.

23rd - Italian submarine "DA VINCI" returning from a successful patrol off South Africa was detected and sunk northeast of the Azores by destroyer "Active" and frigate "Ness".

By the 24th, U-boat losses were so heavy and the attacks so fruitless, Adm Doenitz ordered his captains to leave the North Atlantic battlefield. They either returned home or concentrated on the US/Gibraltar routes. It was some time before the Allies realised the North Atlantic was almost free of U-boats. The air and sea escorts were winning.

26th - "U-436" was sunk west of Cape Ortegal, Spain by frigate "Test" and Indian corvette "Hyderabad".

(13) North America/UK SC131 - 31 ships escorted by British B6 group, 3rd and 40th EGs ; no merchant ships lost.

(14) Slow UK/North America ONS8 - 52 ships escorted by Canadian C4 group and 2nd EG (Capt Walker) transferred from HX236 ; no merchant ships lost.

(15) North America/UK HX240 - 56 ships escorted by Canadian C5 group and 2nd EG from ONS8. No merchant ships lost in exchange for one U-boat: 28th - "U-304" to a RAF Liberator of No 120 Squadron south of Greenland.

Summary statistics of these North Atlantic convoy actions

15 convoys totalling 622 merchantmen
seven British B and five Canadian C convoy groups
six British and one US supporting Escort Groups
three escort carriers

Well over 70 U-boats at sea

23 German U-boats sunk

11 convoys were unscathed, four convoys lost 19 ships - a loss rate of 3 percent

Without the heavy losses of ONS5, loss rate was 1 percent

Without the U-boats sunk in attacked on OSN5, 16 U-boats were lost in exchange for 6 merchantmen

Axis Loss Summary - 37 German and 1 Italian U-boats. In addition to those lost in or around the convoy battles: 3 by RAF in North Atlantic; 6 by RAF and RAAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 4 by US forces in the North Atlantic, off Florida and Brazil; 2 by collision in the North Atlantic

JUNE 1943

1st - After supporting convoys ONS8 and HX240, Capt Walker's 2nd EG located "U-202" south of Greenland. She was sunk by sloop "Starling".

 

above - HMS Mermaid, 'Black Swan-type escort sloop that included such well-known, hard-worked and successful ships as Capt Walker's "Starling", "Wren", "Woodpecker", "Kite" and "Wild Goose" of the 2nd Escort Group.

Bay of Biscay Patrols - Aircraft of Coastal Command continued covering U-boat exit routes from western France and were joined by surface escort groups covered by cruisers. At the same time U-boats were fitted with heavy AA armament to enable them to fight their way out on the surface in groups. U-boat sinkings went down as Allied aircraft losses mounted, but four U-boats were destroyed: 1st - "U-418" to a rocket-firing RAF Beaufighter. 14th - "U-564" to a RAF Whitley. 24th - The 2nd EG (Capt Walker) accompanied by cruiser "Scylla" accounted for two submarines northwest of Cape Ortegal, NW Spain. Tanker "U-119" was brought to the surface and rammed by "Starling". With her Asdic out of action from the ramming, "Starling" left the sinking of "U-449" to "Wren", "Woodpecker", "Kite" and "Wild Goose".

Northern Transit Area - In the waters through which Norwegian-based U-boats had to sail for their patrol areas, two submarines were sunk: 4th - "U-308" north of the Faeroe Islands by submarine "Truculent" on anti-U-boat patrol between Norway and Iceland. 11th - "U-417" by a RAF Fortress in the same northern transit area.

14th - In the North Atlantic "U-334" and other U-boats simulated the radio transmissions of large wolf packs. She was located and sunk by frigate "Jed" and sloop "Pelican" of the 1st EG.

Axis Loss Summary - 16 German and 1 Italian U-boats including 4 by US and RAF aircraft off Iceland and the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Italian boat in the North Atlantic; 3 by the US Navy (one off the east coast of America and two to escort carrier "Bogue" off the Azores); 1 by French aircraft off Dakar.

JULY 1943

15th - "U-135" attacked UK/West Africa convoy OS51 off the Canary Islands, and was depth-charged by the escort including sloop "Rochester" and corvette "Balsam". She was sunk when corvette "Mignonette" rammed.

24th - After six months effort the bombing campaign against U-boat bases claimed its first success on the 24th when "U-622" was badly damaged in a USAAF raid on Trondheim, Norway and paid off.

30th - The Bay of Biscay offensive by the RAF and Australian, Canadian and American aircraft reached a peak and 10 U-boats were sunk and many others damaged in July. On the 30th, two 'milchcows', "U-461" and "U-462" escorted by "U-504", were located to the northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain. In a running battle "U-461" was finally sunk by Sunderland U/461 of RAF No 461 Squadron. "U-462" also went down in the fighting. Capt Walker's 2nd EG was called to the scene and accounted for "U-504" with "Kite", "Woodpecker", "Wren" and "Wild Goose".

Axis Loss Summary - 34 U-boats including 3 by RAF and US aircraft off Portugal; 7 by US escort carrier groups south and west of the Azores (6 of these by aircraft from "Core", "Santee" or "Bogue"); 9 by US aircraft in the Caribbean and off Brazil.

AUGUST 1943

Early August - "U-647" on passage out may have been lost on the Iceland/Faeroes mine barrage around the 3rd of the month. If so she was the only casualty of this vast minefield throughout the war. RCAF aircraft sank "U-489" in the same area.

11th - "U-468" was sunk off Dakar, West Africa by a RAF Liberator of No 200 Squadron. The final attacked was carried out with the aircraft in flames and just before she crashed. The Liberator's commanding officer, Plt Off Lloyd Trigg RNZAF, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, solely on the evidence of the U-boat's survivors.

25th - "U-523" attacked UK/Gibraltar convoy OG92 to the far west of Cape Finisterre, Spain and was sunk by destroyer "Wanderer" and corvette "Wallflower".

27th - Bay of Biscay air patrols sank five U-boats in August and continued to co-operate with surface ships. On the 27th, German Do217 aircraft launched some of the first Hs293 glider bombs against ships of the 1st Escort Group. To the south of Cape Finisterre, sloop "EGRET" was hit and blown up, and Canadian destroyer "Athabaskan" damaged.

30th - In attacks on Sierra Leone/UK convoy SL135 northeast of the Azores, "U-634" was sunk by sloop "Stork" and corvette "Stonecrop".

Axis Loss Summary - 20 U-boats including 6 by aircraft of US escort carriers Card and Core off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic; 2 by US aircraft in the Caribbean area; 1 by RAF and French aircraft off Dakar; 1 by US forces in the South Atlantic

SEPTEMBER 1943

19th-22nd - Assault on the Escorts: Convoys ONS18 and ON202 - The German wolf-packs returned to the North Atlantic armed with Gnat acoustic torpedoes designed to home in on and disable the escorts so the U-boats could reach the merchantmen. Adm Doenitz established a patrol line of 19 U-boats southwest of Iceland ready for UK-out convoys ONS18 (27 ships escorted by the British B3 group) and ON202 (42 ships and Canadian C2 group), which set out separately. First blood went to the RCAF on the 19th when "U-347" was sent to the bottom. Over the next three days six merchant ships were lost and the escorts suffered badly in the Gnat attacks. Two more U-boats were also sunk: 19th - Destroyer "Escapade" of B3 was badly damaged by a premature explosion of her Hedgehog. 20th - British frigate "Lagan" of C2 was damaged by "U-270" or "U-260", but shortly after "U-338" was sunk by a VLR aircraft of RAF No 120 Squadron using the Allies' own acoustic torpedo - 'Fido'. "LAGAN" was towed home as a constructive total loss.

The two convoys joined up southeast of Greenland and the escort was reinforced by the Canadian 9th EG. 20th - Canadian destroyer "ST CROIX" (ex-US) of the 9th EG was lost to an attack by "U-305" and British corvette "POLYANTHUS" of C2 was hit by a Gnat, probably from "U-952" or possibly "U-641". 22nd - Destroyer "Keppel" of B3 sank "U-229", by which time the convoys were south of Cape Farewell, Greenland. By now frigate "ITCHEN" of the 9th EG had on board most of the survivors of "St Croix" and "Polyanthus". Around midnight she was hit, in all likelihood by "U-666" and went down taking all but three men of the three ships' companies with her. (Note: "U-952" or "U-260" might also have been responsible for "ltchen's" loss.) Fortunately the Allies had anticipated the introduction of acoustic torpedoes and soon put into service 'Foxer' noisemakers, towed astern to attract the Gnat away from the vessel. The U-boats did not repeat their successes.

Axis Loss Summary - 6 U-boats including 1 each by RAF and RCAF Bay of Biscay patrols, and 1 by US aircraft off Brazil

OCTOBER 1943

8th - In attacks on Halifax/UK convoy SC143, "U-610" or "U-378" sank Polish destroyer "ORKAN" (ex-"Myrmidon") with an acoustic torpedo. Later in the day RAF and RCAF air escorts sank "U-419", "U-643" and "U-610".

16th-17th - Attacks on Convoys ON206 and ONS20 - Six U-boats were lost in exchange for a single merchantman in attacks on UK-out convoys ON206 (B6 group) and ONS20 (4th Escort Group). The 4th EG was composed mainly of the new US lease-lend 'Captain' class frigates. The B7 group commanded by Cdr Gretton first of all reinforced ON206. On the 16th, southeast of Greenland, RAF Liberators accounted for "U-470", "U-844" and "U-964". Next day on the 17th it was "U-540's" turn. Shortly after, as B7 transferred to ONS20, corvette "Sunflower" sank "U-631" with her Hedgehog. Still on the 17th, frigate "Byard" with the 4th EG escorting ONS20 sank "U-841". Cdr Gretton then took B7 to support nearby ON207.

23rd-29th - Attacks on Convoys ON207 and ON208 - South of Iceland, B7 reinforced ON207's already formidable escort consisting of the Canadian C1 group and Capt Walker's 2nd EG. On the 23rd a RAF Liberator of No 224 Squadron and B7 destroyers "Duncan" and "Vidette" shared in the sinking of "U-274". Three days later the RCAF got "U-420". Then on the 29th, by now with ON208, B7 ships "Duncan", "Vidette" and Sunflower" sank "U-282". In less then two weeks in attacks on just four convoys, nine U-boats had been sunk by the highly efficient inter-service air and sea escorts.

31st - Northeast of the Azores, destroyer "Whitehall" and corvette "Geranium" of the British B1 group escorting North and West Africa/UK convoys MKS28 and SL138 detected "U-306" by HF/DF and sent her to the bottom.

Axis Loss Summary - 23 U-boats including 4 by RAF and US aircraft in North Atlantic and off Portugal; 6 by US escort carriers "Card", "Core" and "Block Island" off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic.

NOVEMBER 1943

6th - Capt Walker's Escort Group with escort carrier "Tracker" patrolled east of Newfoundland in support of convoy HX264. "U-226" was sighted by "Tracker's" aircraft and destroyed by sloops "Starling", "Kite" and "Woodcock". Shortly after, "Starling", this time with "Wild Goose", accounted for "U-842".

19th-25th - Attacks on the UK/ North and West Africa Convoy Routes - Combined UK-bound convoys MKS30 and SL139 were escorted by the 40th Escort Group and joined in turn by the 7th, 5th and 4th EG's to the far west and northwest of Portugal. One merchantman was lost to air attack, but three U-boats went down in the fighting: 19th - "U-211" to a RAF Wellington. 20th - Frigate "Nene" and Canadian corvettes "Calgary" and "Snowberry" of the 5th EG sank "U-536". 21st - Frigate "Foley" and sloop "Crane" of the 40th EG accounted for "U-538". Northwest of Cape Finisterre, Hs293 glider bombs sank the one merchant ship lost. The surviving U-boats were next deployed against other convoys in the area. As the U-boats approached southbound convoys KMS30/0S59 they ran into the 4th EG, which had also been diverted: 23rd - Frigates "Bazely", "Blackwood" and "Drury" sank "U-648". 25th - Two days later "Bazely" and "Blackwood" sank "U-600". Later, in the same area around the Azores, a RAF Wellington accounted for "U-542", and aircraft from US escort carrier "Bogue" the "U-86".

Axis Loss Summary - 16 U-boats including 2 by RAF and US Bay of Biscay air patrols; 2 by RAF in North Atlantic and off the Azores; 3 by US forces in mid-Atlantic and off Ascension in the South Atlantic.

DECEMBER 1943

24th - Destroyer "HURRICANE" of the 1st EG with UK/African convoys OS62 and KMS36 was torpedoed by "U-305" or "U-415" northeast of the Azores. She was scuttled next day.

Axis Loss Summary - 5 U-boats including 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol; 3 by US Navy in Azores and Madeira areas; 1 scuttled after storm damage in mid-Atlantic.

 

1944

JANUARY 1944

7th - U-boats concentrated against UK/West and North African convoys, mainly to the west and southwest of Ireland, and eight were lost from all causes, but first the Royal Navy suffered a loss. As the 5th Escort Group swept to the west of Cape Finisterre, frigate "TWEED" was torpedoed and sunk by "U-305". Intense A/S activity further north saw "U-305" lost well before the month was out. 8th - "U-757" to frigate "Bayntun" and Canadian corvette "Camrose" of the 4th and 5th EGs escorting OS64/KM538. 13th - Northeast of the Azores "U-231" was lost to a RAF Leigh light Wellington. 15th - Off the Azores "U-377" was sunk by one of her own torpedoed. 17th - Back to the waters west of Ireland, and "U-305" was now sunk by destroyer "Wanderer" returning from a search for blockade runners. 19th - "U-641" attacked OS65 and KMS39 and went down to corvette "Violet" of the British B3 group. 28th - Operations against OS66/KMS40 led to the loss of "U-271" to a US Navy Liberator and "U-571" to a RAAF Sunderland flying boat - one of the famous "flying porcupines". West of Ireland "U-972" suffered the same "own-torpedo" fate as "U-377" two weeks earlier.

Capt Walker's 2nd Escort Group - Capt Walker with sloops "Starling", "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" accompanied by escort carriers "Activity" and "Nairana" arrived in the waters to the southwest of Ireland. Over the next three weeks the five sloops shared in the sinking of six U-boats operating against the convoys passing through the area. They started on the 31st when "Starling", "Magpie" and "Wild Goose" depth charged "U-592" to destruction.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF and RAAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 by RAF-laid mine in Bay of Biscay; 1 by US escort carrier Guadalcanal off the Azores

FEBRUARY 1944

Capt Walker's 2nd Escort Group continued - U-boat concentrations again suffered badly to the west and southwest of Ireland, and 10 boats were lost, all to the Royal Navy in exchange for a sloop and one straggler. Capt Walker's 2nd EG accounted for five, which added to the one on 31st January gave a record for U-boat sinkings in one patrol only equalled by the US destroyer escort "England" in the South West Pacific in May 1944: 8th - In support of convoys SL147/MKS38, Capt Walker in "Starling" together with "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" shared in the sinking of "U-762". 9th - "Starling", "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" now shared in the sinking of "U-734" and "U-238". 11th - Back to the southwest of Ireland, "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" hunted down "U-424" and destroy her with depth charges. 19th - The 2nd EG now supporting ON224 was attacked by "U-264". Brought to the surface by "Starling" and "Woodpecker", she was scuttled, the first of the schnorkel-equipped boats to be lost. 19th - As Capt Walker's Group looked for its seventh victim "WOODPECKER" lost her stern to an acoustic torpedo from "U-764". Towed slowly home, she sank on the 27th off the Scilly Islands.

Other supporting Escort Groups also had their successes in the month: 10th - West of Ireland, "U-666" was sunk by Swordfish of 842 Squadron from escort carrier "Fencer" in support of trans-Atlantic convoy ON223. 18th - Frigate "Spey" of the 10th EG with ONS29 sank "U-406". 19th - As the 10th EG transferred to convoy ON224 (2nd EG was also in support), "Spey" claimed another success with the sinking of "U-386". 24th - West of Ireland, "U-257" was sunk by Canadian frigate "Waskesiu" of the 6th EG with Halifax/UK convoy SC153. 25th - Further south "U-91" was lost to frigates "Affleck", "Gore" and "Gould" of the 1st EG carrying out an A/S patrol in support of the convoys in the vicinity.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF to the west of Scotland; 1 by US Navy aircraft off Ascension Island

MARCH 1944

1st - The 1st Escort Group, last recorded five days earlier sinking "U-91" was now to the far southwest of Ireland, north of the Azores. Frigates "Affleck", "Gould", "Garlies" and "Gore" had already hunted a contact for 30hr when the second two ships had to leave for Gibraltar. Late on the 1st the tables were turned when "GOULD" was hit and sunk by a Gnat acoustic torpedo. That just left "Affleck" which located "U-358" and sent her to the bottom with depth charges and gunfire. At 38hr this was probably the longest continuous U-boat hunt of the war.

6th - In another long hunt lasting 30hr, the Canadian C2 group escorting Halifax/UK convoy HX280 sank "U-744" in mid-Atlantic. Canadian destroyers "Chaudiere" and "Gatineau", frigate "St Catherines", corvettes "Chilliwack" and "Fennel" and British destroyer "lcarus" were joined by corvette "Kenilworth Castle" before the action was over.

9th - Corvette "ASPHODEL" escorting West and North Africa/UK convoys SL150/MKS41 was torpedoed and sunk by "U-575" to the west of the Bay of Biscay. The U-boat was lost four days later.

10th - In an attack on Halifax/UK convoy SC154, "U-845" was sunk in mid-Atlantic by Canadian C1 group including destroyer "St Laurent", frigates "Owen Sound", "Swansea" and British destroyer "Forester".

13th - RAF Wellingtons flying from the Azores attacked "U-575" well to the north. She was finally sent to the bottom by the aircraft and ships of the US escort carrier "Bogue" task group and Canadian frigate "Prince Rupert" from nearby convoy ON227.

15th - In mid-Atlantic, Swordfish of 825 Squadron from escort carrier "Vindex" working with 2nd EG's "Starling" and "Wild Goose" sank "U-653" - Capt Walker's 13th kill.

25th -'Tsetse' Mosquitos of RAF Coastal Command armed with new 6pdr guns had their first success. On Bay of Biscay patrol one of them sank "U-976".

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 1 by RCAF off Ireland; 4 by the aircraft and ships of USS Block Island off the Azores and Cape Verde Islands; 1 by unknown causes in the North Atlantic; 1 by SAAF off South Africa

APRIL 1944

6th - "U-302" sank two ships from Halifax/UK convoy SC156 to the northwest of the Azores before being destroyed by frigate "Swale" of the British B5 group.

8th - To the northwest of Cape Finisterre, sloops "Crane" and "Cygnet" of the 7th EG accounted for "U-962".

14th - North of the Azores "U-448" attacked escort carrier "Biter" but was detected by Canadian frigate "Swansea" of the 9th EG and sunk by her and sloop "Pelican" of the 7th.

19th - Norwegian submarine "Ula" working with the Home Fleet flotillas and on patrol off Stavanger, SW Norway sank "U-974".

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF in North Atlantic; 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol; 6 by US Navy forces off America, Madeira, Cap Verde Islands and in North Atlantic.

MAY 1944

5th/6th - The 2nd and 5th EGs in the North Atlantic detected U-boats by HF/DF after the torpedoing of a US destroyer. "U-473" was found by 2nd EG (Capt Walker) and sunk on the 5th by "Starling", "Wren" and "Wild Goose". Next day it was the 5th EG's turn (Cdr Macintyre). Aircraft of 825 Squadron from escort carrier "Vindex" located "U-765" and frigates "Aylmer", "Bickerton" and "Bligh" shared in her destruction.

6th - The US escort carrier "Block Island" group was again on patrol in the Atlantic off the Canaries and being directed to U-boats by the work of 'Ultra' and the Admiralty Tracking Room. On the 6th her aircraft and accompanying destroyer escorts sank "U-66". Then at the end of the month, the carrier was sunk.

7th - Canadian frigate "VALLEYFIELD", with a Canadian group escorting UK/North America convoy ONM234, was sunk off Cape Race, Newfoundland by "U-548".

16th-27th - RAF Coastal Command and one of its Norwegian squadrons were particularly successful against the U-boats passing through the Northern Transit Area off south and west Norway. In the space of 12 days, "U-240", "U-241", "U-476", "U-675", "U-990" and "U-292" were sunk.

29th - USS BLOCK ISLAND was torpedoed and sunk by "U-549" in the Canaries area, but her task group soon avenged the loss of their leader.

Axis Loss Summary - 11 U-boats including 1 by RCAF Bay of Biscay patrol

JUNE 1944

4th - Off West Africa, "U-505" was captured by the USS Guadalcanal and her task group. Later in the month, tanker "U-490" was sunk in mid-Atlantic by the ships and aircraft of the "Croatan" group and "U-360" in the South Atlantic by aircraft from "Solomons".

15th - Submarine "Satyr" on Arctic patrol torpedoed and sank "U-987" to the west of Narvik.

26th - Destroyer "Bulldog" on patrol off the northwest coast of Ireland sank "U-719".

U-boats passing through the Bay of Biscay were the target for aircraft covering the Normandy invasion, and also continued to suffer badly at the hands of the aircraft of the Northern Transit Area patrol. Throughout the month, eight were sunk and one severely damaged by RAF, RCAF and Norwegian aircraft.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats excluding those sunk in Bay of Biscay as part of the Normandy Invasion defences

JULY 1944

Axis Loss Summary - 7 U-boats including 4 by RAF Coastal Command in the Northern Transit Area; 1 each by task groups of US escort carriers "Wake Island", "Croatan" and "Card" off the Canaries, Madeira and Nova Scotia respectively

AUGUST 1944

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by aircraft of escort carrier "Bogue" off Newfoundland  

SEPTEMBER 1944

U-boat Inshore Campaign - With the start of the British Isles Inshore Campaign, U-boats sunk off Norway and in the Western Approaches as well as the Bay of Biscay are no longer included in the Battle of the Atlantic, but in the European theatre. The same applies to Royal Navy and German surface warships lost. See Western Europe - Normandy to Berlin

Axis Loss Summary - 5 U-boats including 1 cause unknown and 1 mined off Iceland; 1 by RAF off the Azores; 1 by US Navy off Cape Verde Islands; 1 by US aircraft in South Atlantic  

OCTOBER 1944

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat in the North Atlantic due to schnorkel defect.

DECEMBER 1944

27th - "U-877" encountered Halifax/UK convoy HX327 to the northwest of the Azores and was sunk by Canadian corvette "St Thomas" of the C3 group.

Axis Loss Summary - 1 German U-boat

 

1945

JANUARY 1945

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by USN in mid-Atlantic

FEBRUARY 1945

22nd - In operations against convoys south of Portugal, "U-300", one of a small number of U-boats scattered across the North Atlantic was sunk by escorting minesweepers "Recruit" and "Pincher".

Axis Loss Summary - 2 U-boats including 1 by US and French escorts off Morocco

MARCH 1945

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by USN off Nova Scotia

APRIL 1945

Axis Loss Summary - 7 U-boats by USN off east coast of USA, off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic

MAY 1945

6th - "U-881" was sunk by the US Navy south of Newfoundland. On the same day, "U-853" torpedoed freighter "Black Point" off New York, and was then hunted down and sunk by US destroyer escort "Atherton" and frigate "Moberley".

Axis Loss Summary - 2 German U-boats

 

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revised 8/7/11


 

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