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Special U-boot missions

Discussion in 'Submarines and ASW Technology' started by Kai-Petri, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Special U-Boot Missions In North America, Iceland and Canada1942-44

    http://www.german-navy.de/feature2.htm

    some German U-boots (as well as some Japanese submarines, which were been deployed along the north American coasts as from January 1942) succeeded in perform some sporadic and risky bombing missions against north-eastern targets such as Jacksonville, Florida, which was attacked in winter 1942. As a matter of fact, the German high command did not want to be a simple spectator, especially after the Japanese attack to Pearl Harbour on December 7th, 1941. So it soon began to plan some projects finalised to sabotage industrial and military facilities by means of commandos and secret agents, who had to be brought to the other coast of the Atlantic Ocean by special long range U-Boots.

    On 12th December 1941 (the day after the German declaration of war to the United States of America), Hitler had a meeting with admiral Karl Doenitz (commander in chief for submarine fleet) and admiral Wilhelm Canaris (chief of Abwehr and of the Military Secret Service) in order to be updated about the actual possibilities of success of such missions in the north American continent.
    admiral Doenitz was compelled to make some fifteen submarines available, which were to be technically transformed for the long range special actions’ purpose. In April 1942, the first trial mission along the southern coasts of Iceland (two men of Abwehr got off an U-boot and for a couple of days succeeded in collecting some precious information about the military installations on the island, coming back onboard the same submarine which brought them there)

    The first special mission against the United States was scheduled in June 1942. It consisted in the landing of some saboteurs whom, once reached the US territory, should have to contact other German agents, in order to be taken nearby the industrial plants and facilities to sabot.

    For the planning of this aspect of the mission, admiral Canaris appointed Walter Kappe, a thirty-five aged agent who had lived for 12 years in the United States. Kappe had been enrolling in Abwehr’s lists since 1939 and, given his proven skill and loyalty to Nazism, he granted also suitable ideological characteristics. After he had checked the files of the Ausland Institute (the organization for the repatriation of German emigrants), Kappe selected eight skilled agents and divided them into two groups: the first, commanded by John Dasch, was made of Ernest Peter Burger, Heinrich Heinck and Richard Quirin. The second one was under the command of Edward Kerling and composed by Hermann Neubauer, Werner Thiel and Herbert Hapt The eight members were sent at the beginning of April 1942 to a Abwehr’s training camp, where they learnt all the secrets of explosives.

    On May 23rd, John Dasch and Edward Kerling were called by Walter Kappe who reported them about the details of the operations. Dasch’s team should have been given the extremely difficult task to destroy the power plants of Niagara Falls and three important factories of Aluminium Company in Illinois, Tennessee and New York. The task of the second team appeared to be as dangerous and difficult as the first one: Kerling should have to mine the railway gateway of Pennsylvania Railroad in Newark, the St. Louis’ and Cincinnati’s canal sluices and – in alternative – the main supplying water pipes of New York City. In addition, both the teams should have to mine some shops owned by Jude retailers, in order to cause panic amongst the peaceful American citizens.

    Kerling’s team was on the U-584 (VIIC type) (2) under the command of captain Joachim Deecke. This U-boot sailed on the night of may 24th 1942 to an isolated shore near Jacksonville (Florida). The day after, Dasch and his men sailed with the U-202 (VIIC type), commanded by captain Hans-Heinz Lindner, heading to a natural harbour southbound of Long Island, close to East Hampton. After an only 15-days trip, both the teams got off the submarines with their cargo of explosives. Things did not went the way they expected: Dasch’s group was discovered pretty soon afterwards, while they were digging holes to hide out the explosives.

    Kerling’s team landed safely at Ponte Verda Beach (25 miles south-east from Jacksonville), buried the arms and head for the targets, just as the FBI – fully aware about the whole operation – was ready to catch the saboteurs in a trap. Between July 4th and 10th, all the eight German spies were arrested and tried summarily: six of them were condemned to death, while Dasch had thirty years and Burger hard labour for life.

    On April 25th, 1942 a lonely agent belonging to a special department of Abwehr – Marius A. Langbein, a former navy’s officer – sailed at Lorient (France) on a minelayer VIID type subarine (perhaps the U-217 of captain Amelung von Varendorff) to reach the coast of New Brunswick, where he landed after a three-weeks trip (3). Scope of the mission was to control the allied traffic of military and cargo vessels in the port of Halifax. After the usual burial of his equipment in a shore near St. Martin, Langbein – who have lived in Canada for a period before the war – changed his mind. He reported actually some information on the ships’ traffic but, after a few months, he changed identity (as Alfred Haskins) and he deserted.

    On 18th September 1943, the U-537 (IX C40 type) of captain Peter Schrewe sailed from Kiel to Bergen (Norway) with a particular cargo (4): there was in fact on board Professor Kurt Sommermeyer, a scientist specialized in meteorological equipments, together with two assistants of his. Sommermeyer was put in charge by admiral Canaris for the installation of a special automatic station for atmospheric surveys, to be placed in a fit position along the western coast of Labrador. This device – a Wetter-Funkgerat (WFL) built on purpose by Siemens – was at that time a state-of-the-art patent. Produced only in 21 units, the Siemens device – provided with a 150 watt Lorenz 150 FK type transmitter, powered by 10 boxes of dry nickel-cadmium high voltage batteries – could have been able to report in large advance (through transmitted radio impulses) the weather conditions of the north-west Atlantic area to all the U-boots heading to that zone.

    The Germans managed to unload and carry the 100 kg Siemens’ machine on the top of a rise. There, the technicians assembled, tried and camouflaged it and came back to the submarine. The whole operation lasted about four hours. As per the instructions received, captain Schrewe waited underwater for 24 hours, to be sure about the correct working of the transmitter. On October 23rd, at 17.40 hours, the U-537 sailed on the route to Lorient, where it landed on December 8th .

    Even though this mission was carried out successfully, the Germans never took advantage of this installation: the station in fact worked and transmitted only for a few days, then fell silent definitely. Notwithstanding the fact that the equipment turned into a failure, the documents found by Franz Selinger of Siemens in 1970 testify that Sommermeyer tried again the exploit in spring-summer 1944. This time the U-boots employed were three. The first two vessels (unfortunately no details of these came to us) managed to land a couple of devices on the central-eastern coast of Greenland and in the Svalbaard Islands (5). The two equipments followed the same destiny of the first one, even if they were more technologically advanced.

    The third and last submarine, the U-867 (IX D2 type) (6) sailed at the beginning of July 1944 from Bergen, heading to Labrador to substitute the device installed the year before but, unluckily, the U-boot was sunk half way to the destination by an US antisubmarine assaulter.

    The last mission carried out jointly by Kriegsmarine and Abwehr against U.S.A. was the well-known Pastorius, which saw the famous German spy Erich Gimpel charged of the crazy goal to find out and destroy the laboratories where the atomic bomb was under construction. On 26th September 1944, Gimpel – together with the English-born agent William Colepaugh, recruited in Abwehr’s staff – sailed from Kiel on the U-1230, commanded by captain Hans Hilbig. On board the submarine, the two agents had arms, explosives, 60,000 dollars cash and the same value in diamonds.

    After a difficult 51 days’ trip due to the bad weather conditions, the submarine arrived to Cape Cod’s roads. Hilbig followed the route to Frenchman’s Bay, where he arrived on October 29th. Late at night – thanks to the favour of a snowfall – the captain surfaced and reached the distance of a hundred meters from the shore. The two agents onboard a tender landed 15 minutes later, together with two seamen who helped to unload the weapons and explosives. The American intelligence service succeeded also this time to undercover and arrest the two German saboteurs, also thanks to the incautiousness of Colepaugh, who visited some American friends his during the stay. He was caught by the police on December 26th and confessed the whole plan to the FBI’s agents. Gimpel was arrested four days later in New Yourk City. Both the spies were tried and while Colepaugh was sentenced to death by hanging, Gimpel had a more benevolent destiny. Condemned to death, he had his verdict commuted, as president F. D. Roosevelt died. In the United States in fact they use to suspend all the capital sentences on the occasion of the president’s death. The successor Henry Truman commuted the judgement into hard labour for life. In the middle 50s’, Gimpel was graced and came back to Germany.

    :eek:
     
  2. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    That is very nice information, Kai! Good example of how we kicked some American asses! [​IMG]

    I need a little help in here. I suposse you all have seen some films or pictures of U-boats crews standing at the bridge of the submarine watching calmly New York's bay with all its buildings and lights lighted on. A beautiful view! I please need to get this picture somewhere in the net! Kai, or any other, could you please help me? ;)
     
  3. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    That is another great posting--thank you Kai.
     
  4. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Friedrich as far as I know the pics are in some of the better known U-boot books during this short campaign or on the Deutsche Wokenschau films as I have seen several seconds worth on these of supposed lights of New York from the cameramen on the conning tower of a U-boot.

    ~E :cool:
     
  5. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    I actually have footage of U-Boat crews operating along the Eastern Seaboard during Operation Paukenschlag in which Reinhard Hardegen and other 'Drumbeaters' are interviewed about their experiences-very interesting stuff...
     
  6. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    A documentary of the Greenland expeditions by the germans did air last year with film of one of the captured weather crews.
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Quite interesting I think:


    On 18th September 1943, the U-537 (IX C40 type) of captain Peter Schrewe sailed from Kiel to Bergen (Norway) with a particular cargo (4): there was in fact on board Professor Kurt Sommermeyer, a scientist specialized in meteorological equipments, together with two assistants of his. Sommermeyer was put in charge by admiral Canaris for the installation of a special automatic station for atmospheric surveys, to be placed in a fit position along the western coast of Labrador. This device – a Wetter-Funkgerat (WFL) built on purpose by Siemens – was at that time a state-of-the-art patent. Produced only in 21 units, the Siemens device – provided with a 150 watt Lorenz 150 FK type transmitter, powered by 10 boxes of dry nickel-cadmium high voltage batteries – could have been able to report in large advance (through transmitted radio impulses) the weather conditions of the north-west Atlantic area to all the U-boots heading to that zone.

    The Germans managed to unload and carry the 100 kg Siemens’ machine on the top of a rise. There, the technicians assembled, tried and camouflaged it and came back to the submarine. The whole operation lasted about four hours. As per the instructions received, captain Schrewe waited underwater for 24 hours, to be sure about the correct working of the transmitter. On October 23rd, at 17.40 hours, the U-537 sailed on the route to Lorient, where it landed on December 8th .

    Even though this mission was carried out successfully, the Germans never took advantage of this installation: the station in fact worked and transmitted only for a few days, then fell silent definitely. Notwithstanding the fact that the equipment turned into a failure, the documents found by Franz Selinger of Siemens in 1970 testify that Sommermeyer tried again the exploit in spring-summer 1944. This time the U-boots employed were three. The first two vessels (unfortunately no details of these came to us) managed to land a couple of devices on the central-eastern coast of Greenland and in the Svalbaard Islands (5). The two equipments followed the same destiny of the first one, even if they were more technologically advanced
     

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