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Life Aboard U-976

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by The_Historian, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist

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    YugoslavPartisan likes this.
  2. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    Awesome collection. Thanks for sharing!
     
  3. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Great pictures, Gordon. the percent of submariners that died must be the highest in any branch of service. The monument near Kiel conveys the same feeling to me that the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC does. Of concentrated deaths of so many men. Many monuments are of the celebratory type, but these, Kiel, etc, are quite the opposite. They are primarily are just sad because they convey the ending of so many young lives but at least they are not forgotten. There is controversy about ones like this but they are very moving to me.
     
  4. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Monuments which celebrate dead Nazi-Soldiers are impossible in Germany. Even if there was no relation to the Holocaust possible.
    And that's alright. But to remember those men is important.

    Far too many died. From 1943 onwards, the standard Type VII and Type IX boats were coffins. Dönitz often sent them out just to keep the Allies busy, which was almost murder.
     
  5. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    I've read somewhere that out of 40,000 men who served in U-boats only 10,000 survived. So that's 75% death rate.
     
  6. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I believe the KIA ration was a bit higher than that but will have to look it up.

    I would not call the monument at Kiel celebratory but is , to me, powerful and moving. It list the names of all that died in U-Boat , service chiselled into a stone wall not unlike the Vietnam one. . To see so many names of mostly young men together truly saddened me. . Wars are beyond description, as are Nazis and theses sailors caused many deaths themselves but they were still sailors all.
    The Kiel site now has a U-Boat to visit as well but I was there before it. I have visited the Germany military cemetery North of Strasburg at Neiderborn-le-Bains in france . It is not celebratory as well but rather peaceful. In a grove of trees and well maintained fields the graves marked by a brown stones, some 14,000 plus. It does have a partially sunken building with light coming in from above. Both peaceful and again sad.
     
  7. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    3 out of 4 is roughly correct.
    In Lothar-Günther Buchheims famous novel "Das Boot" the captain was called "Der Alte" (=the old one) by the crew. In fact he was 28 years old...
     
  8. harolds

    harolds Member

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    [QUOTE: Far too many died. From 1943 onwards, the standard Type VII and Type IX boats were coffins. Dönitz often sent them out just to keep the Allies busy, which was almost murder.[/QUOTE]

    I also think that Donitz was a murderous bastard! By early 1942, at the latest, radar, and its implications on U-boat tactics should have had Donitz scrambling for solutions. There were many things to do besides starting to design the new type U-Boats much earlier than they actually did. They could have taken the Type VIIs and IXs, gotten rid of the now useless deck guns + ammo, bow net cutters, and such, using the savings in weight to add battery capacity. Then they could have done some modifications to increase streamlining, then top the whole thing off by adding the schnorkel, which they already knew about. That would have made the boats much more capable of surviving. Instead Donitz threw his men out into what were basically suicide missions without hope for success. Overall, I would have to rate him as a poor commander.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Are not all generals and admirals...

    Correction. Late 1942. In early 1942, the u-boats were were suffering heavier losses, however, more of them were going into the Atlantic. While higher than the previous year, the loss rate was still sustainable. However, in the 2nd half of 1942, losses surged even more with something around 56 U-Boat sunk, as opposed to 30 some in the first half of 1942. Thus, any "lessons learned would not come until the end of 1942, or the beginning of 1943.

    Ummm, do you know anything about submarines? Removing external fittings to save wight, does not free up internal space for an extra bank of batteries. The Type VII's magazine took up about 1/5th the space of a bank of batteries - So, just because you have the weight savings for an extra bank of batteries, you are still a far cry from mounting them internally. Further, the Type XXI did not just add an extra bank of batteries...It tripled the amount of batteries in a Type IX. Now, how are you going to save weight in a Type IX to triple the number of batteries it carries? Not to mention where are you going to put them?

    Looks good on paper, but is absolutely laughable trying to put it into practice.

    And it would have remove the U-Boats from the Atlantic for how long, while they were all being modified...Not to mention that the yards would also be trying to complete new construction at the same time these modifications are taking place.

    Streamlining might get you a knot or three, but not really enough to make a difference. You will need to increase battery power/supply - As I said earlier, the Germans tripled the battery capacity of a Type IX in the Type XXI. The Americans, on the other hand, created more powerful batteries when they did their GUPPY conversions post-war. You will also need to improve the existing electrical motors to see an effective improvement in underwater speed.

    To a point, but only to a point...The Allied ASW program had also vastly improved from the beginning of the war. So, while thesev"improved" U-Boats may have had a greater "survivability", this does not directly translate into the "improved" being any more capable of sinking Allied vessels. Just because they "survive" a patrol, does not mean that they have sunk any enemy ships.


    This describes the entire German war effort from 1943 on...Not just the German submarine effort.

    I would have to disagree, he played they cards dealt him, and hid did so fairly impressively. However, the task assigned to him, defeating Britain by destroying her ocean-going lifelines, was probably beyond the task of any human. This became even more so, once the United States joined the war.
     
  10. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The biggest improvement would have been from the schnorkel. Even in late-war they gave a U-boat a decent chance of survival. Earlier use could have done much to prevent the massacre in boats transiting the Bay of Biscay. However, as far as streamlining, even a difference of a few knots could alter the balance between life and death.

    "And it would have remove the U-Boats from the Atlantic for how long, while they were being modified...?"
    They would have saved a whole lot of valuable human resource for the day when the mods were completed and the missions had a chance of survival and success. They could have trained more crews to a peacetime standard which would have also raised their chances for survival as well as success. In the meantime, if the Allies had weakened their anti-sub forces in order to put the resources to other uses, so much the better-especially if Donitz had waited until a bunch of boats were ready and put them out all at once.

    Donitz as a commander: The Rudel Taktic and his ability to hold his men's affection were his two positives. Against that: 1) The KM had radar on their larger ships from day one of the war. Donitz knew that and should have figured out that one day this technology would spell the end for boats that had to spend most of their time on the surface. He should have been planning for that time. 2) The over-use of radios. The Germans used triangulation to locate transmitters-didn't Donitz realize that the Allies used it too? 3) He had good evidence that ENIGMA had been compromised but allowed the "experts" to lull him into complacency, which cost his valuable crews dearly. Even when losses were horrible and unsupportable he sent them out anyway.

    So yes, he was a murderous bastard; not only to the enemy which was his job, but also to his own side-sins of commission and omission!
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Except, there was no earlier massacre of U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay to be prevented...Despite the British beginning their Bay of Biscay "offensive" in January, 1942, the first U-Boat would not be sunk until July, 1942. As it was, only 4 U-Boats would be sunk in the Bay of Biscay during all of 1942. 1943 also got off to a slow start, with only 3 U-Boats being sunk between January and April, 1943. The "massacre" did not start until May, 1943, when 7 U-Boats were sunk, followed by another 4 in June, and a whopping 13 in July, followed with another 5 in August. After that, the numbers drop off sharply, with only another 5 U-Boats being sunk in the closing 4 months of 1943.

    The schnorkel was fine for new construction and boats based in Germany, however for the boats based in France, it was a much harder proposition. At the boats based in France suffered from extended port stays due to a lack of adequate repair facilities and spare parts. Thus even when the need for a snort was being keenly felt, roughly half of the French-based boats would ever be fitted with it.

    The difference of a few knots is not the difference between life or death, but the difference between dying now or dying in a few moments. The difference between life and death was the 17-knot underwater speed of the Type XXI, or else it's nearly silent "creep" speed of 6 knots. Neither of which would be available to modified Type VIIs & IXs.

    Yes, human resources...It would have released some 1,500 Coastal command bombers and some 2,000+ escorts for offensive use against Germany, instead of a defensive role protecting shipping against U-Boats.

    That is a lot of human resources being freed up to to take the war to Germany...Not quite what you have in mind.


    Ummm, training crews to peacetime standards is a good way to get them killed...


    Less U-Boats against less escorts, still leaves the U-Boats getting slaughtered.

    So, you are faulting Donitz for not being Nostradamus? You are faulting him for not having the ability to foresee the British fitting radar to aircraft, while the Germans were only fitting radar to large capital ships? Because, it was common knowledge that it took about 20 years just to put radar on capital ships, but those with a crystal ball knew that in just another two years radar would be small enough to fit on aircraft...Yeah, right. You might as well fault Donitz for not developing spy satellites to be launched into outer space to keep real time tabs on the British navy and their convoys. He did not foresee that either.

    Again...Hitler refused Donitz's request for a Mark I Crystal Ball.

    Of course he realized it. The problem with early war RDF was that the systems were all land-based, and while the these stations could DF a U-Boat, there findings were often not actionable. All of this changed in 41-42, when the British worked out the kinks of fitting these sets on ships, and later in 1942, when the British were able to mass produce the sets, thus allowing the smaller escort vessels to get them. By putting these sets on ships and in large numbers, this led to a dramatic increase of actionable DF'ing. IIRC, once the British caught up with DF'ing, the Germans reduced the amount of traffic they sent, and introduced other methods to defeat DF'ing. Action - reaction.

    Again, how much of the enigma codebreaking was actionable...and when do we see the most actionable messages.

    However, a good bit of stale data was utilized to study the habits of U-Boats to get a better understanding of how they operated. While this did not overtly produce a sinking,
    it did help the British understand how U-Boats fought and allowed them to get a better understanding on how to defeat them.

    Show me one military commander who wasn't.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Mark I crystal ball? Hmmm...I don't think that was needed. It's hardly a stretch of imagination that radar could, or soon would be able to, pick up a sub on the surface. In fact, I think it was in March of '41 that Prien, Kretschmer, and Schepke all were sunk in, I believe, the same convoy battle. Just luck? I don't think so. That should have gotten the good Admiral's attention and started him thinking about the implications. Even though radar couldn't yet be put in planes just having them on the escorts enabled them to at least keep the U-Boats submerged until the convoy passed, or possibly sink them. The need for the schnorkel was even then becoming apparent.

    "Peacetime standards of training": As opposed to slapdash, hurried, incomplete training that is often the case in wartime, especially if you're losing.

    "Actionable D/F": Even land based D/F could get a rough idea of where a wolfpack was operating thus the Brits re-routed convoys away from them (an action).

    "1500 Coastal command bombers and 2,000 escorts". I sincerely doubt that all these would be released but a slackening of ASW effort before a new U-Boat offensive with better or even new boats (Type XXI) would have been very welcome to the Germans. This could be a good "what if" topic.

    The mods I suggested for the older boats would, of course, have just been stop-gap measures to keep them at least somewhat effective and survivable until the new boats came on line. While the Type XXI was a total game changer as far as sub warfare goes they had zero effect on WWII. An earlier start could have had these boats on line in '44 instead of '45.

    "Show me one military command who wasn't. " (a murderer of his own countrymen). To an extent true, but just to an extent. Name me one other military commander that had 3/4s of his command killed.
     
  13. denny

    denny Member

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    Yeah...i think most all of our countries have a "similar" scenario at some point in our histories. No need to "glorify" things. But as you imply, many of these service men were just young men who had joined the military, and then did the bidding of the Powered Class of their country.
    In the usa we are dealing with a similar situation. I see no reason that there cannot be Historical Museums with statues of our Civil War leaders.....explain who they were and what part they played in the war.
    All these German Sailors/Solders had relatives. Their history deserves some type of record.
    Anyway.....as a photographer, i find these pictures fascinating. They have given us a permanent record of U-Boat life, for 1/125 of a second in each frame. It is a remarkable thing to look at.
     

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