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Ariecho

September 22 - Focus: Convoy HX-72, U-100

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General

I'm afraid I won't have anything more than statistics to report today, as with the exception of the end of the tragedy unfolding with convoy HX-72 (reported yesterday), not too much action (that I could find) occurred.

 

All dates below were for a September 22 between 1939 and 1945, unless specified.

  • 2 U-boats laid down: U-633 (type VIIC) and U-2348 (type XXIII)

  • 6 U-boats launched

  • 2 U-boats commissioned

  • 15 Allied ships and boats sunk, totaling over 70,000 tons

  • 54 Allied ships and boats laid down

  • 30 Allied ships and boats launched

  • 32 Allied ships commissioned

The sheer number of ships commissioned on a daily basis shows the importance of a strong industrial basis.  No matter how many ships were sunk, more were produced.  Even manpower didn't seem to dry out on the Allied side, which was not the case with Germany at the end of World War II.

 

1940
  • Even with her escort around, HX-72 (covered on September 21) continues to be the prey of U-100 who sank 3 more merchants that night.  Let's focus on her.

U-100 was a type-VIIB submarine.  Laid down  on May 22, 1939, she was launched on April 10, 1940, and commissioned on May 30, 1940.  She participated in 6 operational patrols and sank 25 ships for a total of 135,000 tons or 13,500,000 cubic feet for those who prefer volumes.  While her results against HX-72 were already impressive, thanks to the very aggressive tactics of her commanding officer Kapitänleutnant  (equivalent to lieutenant in the Navy, or Captain in the Air Force) Joachim Schepke, her most successful day happened on November 23, when she spotted convoy SC-11, who had left Sydney (Nova Scotia) and was headed to Liverpool.

 

Posted Image

Type VIIB

 

Schepke's early successes against inexperienced escorts was his doom.  On March 9, 1941, U-100 left for what would be her sixth (and last) patrol.

 

On March 15, U-110, a type IXB submarine spotted convoy HX-112.  She radioed the convoy's position and was joined by 4 other submarines, including U-100 and U-99 (already present against HX-72).  The wolfpack started to harass the convoy, damaging a tanker.  The submarines would submerge during the day and surface at night.

 

On March 17, around 01:30AM, Schepke closed in on the convoy, under the cover of night and a heavy fog.  Unknown to him, the escort had one ship equipped with a Type 286 radar, installed onboard HMS Vanoc, a V-class destroyer.  Vanoc picked up U-100 at a distance of 1 kilometer (the first time a U-boat was ever spotted by radar), and informed HMS Walker who started a depth charge attack.  U-100 would eventually have to surface and was rammed by Vanoc.  Only 53 members of U-100's crew survived.

 

Posted Image

HMS Vanoc

 

Following are some extracts from a web site dedicated to HX-72 and U-100.  I highly recommend reading the page reporting the sinking of U-100.

 

As U-100 came up, the radar operator in Vanoc reported to the bridge that his screen showed a dark green blob that might be a U-boat. This radar sighting made naval history, for it was the first known time that those primitive and crude sets had led to a night attack on a U-boat.....

The sleek destroyer headed straight for the conning tower of U-100. Cries of alarm sounded thinly in the night air as the U-boat crew saw the knife-edge bows of the destroyer coming at them in a cloud of spray. Some of them jumped overboard and tried desperately to swim out of the way.

 

On Vanoc's bridge they heard the roar of Schepke's voice as he shouted in German : 'Don't panic. They are going to miss us. They will pass astern.' Then came the rending, grinding crash as Vanoc struck U-100 amidships by the conning-tower, throwing the remainder of the crew into the water. Her bow cut both Schepke's legs off at the trunk and jammed him behind the periscope sheath.

 

Vanoc, carried forward by her speed, ran right over the stricken U-boat before coming to a halt straining to release herself with both engines pulling astern. Eventually they came clear with a sharp jolt and U-100 rose high in the air. Schepke, still alive, was jerked free from the conning-tower and his body thrown into the air to fall helplessly into the sea. His white-covered cap was still worn with all its rakish dash as he thrashed wildly for a few seconds and then sank beneath the heavy swell, to be followed a few moments later by U-100. Despite his weaknesses, Schepke had died like an 'ace' - on his bridge."

1943
  • September 1943 signaled the return of massive U-boats attacks, which had diminished since May 1943, in what was called "Black May", where German submarines suffered heavy casualties.  On September 22, 1943, HMS Keppel, a Shakespeare-class destroyer, sinks U-229, a type VIIC submarine.  Laid down in October 1918, HMS Keppel was launched on April 23, 1940, and commissioned on April 15, 1925.

Around 05:40, radio operators onboard the destroyer picked up some hydrophone signals from a submarine who was broadcasting convoy ONS18's position.  Keppel continued monitoring the signals until 20 minutes later, she got a radar contact at a distance of about 6,000 yards.  Under cover of a fog which this time favored the escort, Keppel rushed in until she was eventually spotted by U-229 at a distance of 800 yards.  The U-boat tried to dive, but it was too late.  Keppel rammed her, then dropped some depth charge for good measure.  A large oil patch appeared on the surface, and U-229 was never seen again.  Reports disagree about what happened to Keppel.  Some say that the destroyer was unharmed from the ramming and continued her escort, others say that she had to limp back to Newfoundland.

HMS Keppel was credited with the destruction of 5 more submarines, as well as 1 assist where she spotted a submarine, but didn't participate in her destruction.  Not too bad for a ship whose hull was probably older than most of her crew! Keppel survived the war in Europe, just to be sold for scrap in July 1945.

 

Posted Image

HMS Keppel

  • Cool 7

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View Postwardog224, on 22 September 2013 - 02:29 PM, said:

Good read as always!

Wow, you're a fast reader ...  :medal:

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Alpha Tester
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View PostAriecho, on 22 September 2013 - 02:36 PM, said:

Wow, you're a fast reader ...  :medal:

I know recently I've been reading super fast... In english of course...

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