SERIAL NO. 3
SUNK BY U.S. Army Attack Bomber
No. 9-29-322, Unit 296 B.S.
DIVISION OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
SERIAL NO. 3
REPORT OF INTERROGATION
OF SURVIVORS OF U-701 SUNK
BY U. S. ARMY ATTACK BOMBER
NO. 9-29-322, UNIT 296 B. S.
ON JULY 7, 1942
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1941
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 is 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.
Pilot and crew of U. S. Army attack bomber that sank U-701.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Chapter I. Introductory remarks
| II. Crew of U-701
| III. Early history and trials of U-701
| IV. First war cruise
| V. Second war cruise
| VI. Third and last war cruise
| VII. Sinking of U-701
| VIII. Details of U-701
| IX. Other U-boats
| X. U-boat tactics and strategy
| XI. General remarks on U-boats
| XII. U-boat yards
| XIII. U-boat bases
| XIV. U-boat training
| XV. U-boat flotillas
| XVI. Minefields
| XVII. Miscellaneous remark
|A. List of the crew of U-701
|B. Degen's account of sinking and rescue
Chapter I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
U-701 was sunk on July 7, 1942 at approximately 1512 E. W. T., by U. S. Army attack bomber No. 9-29-392, Unit 296 B. S., about 30 miles off Cape Hatteras.
The interrogation of the seven survivors was begun within 3 hours after they had been picked up from the sea. They had been in the water approximately 49 hours when rescued by a Coast Guard plane. Survivors were covered with oil and badly burned by the sun. It is likely that sunburn might have been even more severe had it not been for the coating of oil on the men's shoulders and arms. While it was evident that the men had been instructed in security, their condition undoubtedly weakened their resistance to questioning. As the men recovered, their defenses against interrogation stiffened.
No documentary evidence of any kind was recovered. The seven survivors among them had four pairs of swimming trunks, two escape lungs, and one rubber life jacket. Had it not been for the prompt interrogation of the men, it is doubtful that a satisfactory result could have been obtained.
Horst Degen, Kapitänleutnant. C. O. U-701.
Chapter II. CREW OF U-701
The crew of U-701 consisted of 4 officers, a midshipman, and 38 men. A fifth officer, Leutnant z. See (Ensign) Weinitschke, left the boat at Kiel after the completion of trials in December 1941. The seven survivors included the captain and the quartermaster.
The captain, Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant) Horst Degen is 29 years old and belongs to the naval class of 1933, in company with a number of Germany's most successful U-boat commanders. He is a qualified torpedo and radio officer. Unmarried and an orphan, he has two married sisters and lives in Hamburg.
As a naval cadet, he made a round-the-world voyage in 1934 aboard the cruiser Karlsruhe, and enjoys reminiscing over the hospitality accorded him and his companions in Australia, The Indies, Hawaii, San Diego, and Boston. He served in destroyers prior to the outbreak of war, and participated in the Norwegian campaign aboard the Hans Lody. Degen stated that his destroyer was in the vicinity when the Scharnhorst sank H. M. S. Glorious on June 8, 1940. Shortly thereafter he transferred to the U-boat arm and underwent instructions as a "Kommandantenschüler" at Kiel. He made one cruise with Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp in U-522 as "commander pupil," leaving St. Nazaire on April 7, 1941.
Upon returning from this cruise on May 6, 1941 Degen left St. Nazaire at once and proceeded to Hamburg to stand by U-701 in the final phases of her construction.
Degen has profound admiration for Topp's capacity as a U-boat commander. Degen says that Topp, although a year his junior, "taught me all I know". Topp's example produced in Degen a daring and recklessness which are the peculiar attributes of the more successful U-boat commanders, and a philosophy of combat which insists on retention of the offensive, admitting little evasive action.
Degen's brief record of accomplishment as commander of U-701, while not particularly outstanding in terms of tonnage accounted for, is characterized, nevertheless, by the boldness of his attacks, carried out for the most part in broad daylight and in the face of vigorous opposition from escort vessels and protecting aircraft.
Degen is a loyal German officer but is in no sense an ardent Nazi. He has expressed grave misgivings over the eventual outcome of the war, in view of America's vast reserves of men and material, and considers that Germany made a costly mistake in provoking American entrance into the conflict. From time to time he has made disparag-
ing remarks about one or another of the Party leaders, and has condemned emphatically such Nazi measures as the stifling of civil liberties and persecution of the Jews. He has also expressed indignation at the unfair award of "comfortable" shore jobs to naval officers through nepotism and by discrimination.
Degen is an unusually exuberant type; he is endowed with a quick wit, is given to strong likes and dislikes, and has a great capacity for uninhibited companionship. He owes his life to the devotion which he had inspired in his crew, as he was often unconscious during the 49 hours the 7 survivors spent in the water following the sinking and was actually supported for long periods by his companions, notably the stalwart quartermaster, Kunert. In internment, Degen has often spoken with affection of his men. He was distressed that so few survived, and divulged the ironical fact that 12 husbands or fathers went down with the boat, whereas all 7 survivors are bachelors.
Little is known of the three officers who perished. Oberleutnant zur See (Lieutenant (j. g.)) Konrad Junker, the executive officer, was of the 1935 naval class, as was the engineer officer, Oberleutnant (Ing.) Karl-Heinrich Bahr. Leutnant zur See (Ensign) Bazies does not appear in the 1940 German Navy List, and was a reserve officer from the merchant marine. U-701 also carried a midshipman engineer, Fähnrich (Ing.) Lange. Lange is stated to have been drowned in an attempt to swim ashore.
The quartermaster, Günter Kunert, age 28, served in U-701 as navigator. He was an experienced seaman, having spent some years in the merchant marine and in sailing ships. Degen considered him an exceptionally reliable navigator, trusted him implicitly, and once referred to him as "my best friend." According to another prisoner, Kunert had served in another U-boat under a commander named Schultze (ONI Note: This might be either Herbert Schultze, former commander of U-48 and during the latter part of 1941 chief of the Third Flotilla based on La Pallice, or Wolfgang Schultze, now believed to be in command of U-432), and had once been depth-charged continuously for 15 hours. Powerfully built, Kunert had the strength to keep his captain afloat for hours after the sinking of U-701 and to emerge from the ordeal, himself, little the worse for wear.
The remaining survivors, with one exception, were fairly security-minded. but not to the degree generally encountered. Degen had probably admonished his crew not to divulge matters of military importance, but a number of factors - his own garrulousness, his independent interpretation of security, the swiftness of the sinking, and the prompt preliminary interrogation - contributed to weaken the resistance of the survivors to incisive questioning.
Chapter III. EARLY HISTORY AND TRIALS OF U-701
U-701 was the first of a series of 500-ton U-boats, type VII C, assigned to the Stülkenwerft, Hamburg. Prisoners stated that some of the blueprints were provided by the Blohm & Voss Yards at Hamburg, and others by the Germania Werft at Kiel. A great many difficulties were encountered in the construction. Prisoners stated that among other things the U-boat was incorrectly wired electrically and that the air and oil line systems were not properly fitted and connected.
U-701 was commissioned on July 10, 1941. Dates of the keel laying and launching could not be learned. There is reason to believe, however, that the boat, the first U-boat to be built by the Stülkenwerft, was under construction an unusually long time, probably more than a year. Thus, she may have been laid down in the early spring of 1940.
The crew was called to Hamburg to watch the final phases of construction and fitting out (Baubelehrung) from March to July 1941. She probably was launched in April. After she finally was commissioned on July 10, she proceeded to Kiel by way of the Kaiser Wilhelm Kanal for her trials under the U-boat Acceptance Commission, the U. A. K., (U-Bootsabnahmekommission).
Trials in the Baltic quickly revealed U-701's faulty construction. After stopping at Gotenhafen (formerly Gdynia), the U-boat put into Danzig for adjustments at the Danzigerwerft. Apparently the necessary alterations could not be made at Danzig, for the U. A. K. ordered her back to the Stülkenwerft for a more thorough overhaul. She returned by way of Kiel and the Kaiser Wilhelm Kanal, arriving at Hamburg at the end of August, 6 weeks after her commissioning. U-701 remained at the Stülkenwerft about 6 weeks, during which time at least some of the original errors were rectified.
U-701 began her second series of trials in the Baltic under the U. K. A. early in October. During the following month she made repeated cruises from Kiel. Artillery firing practice was carried out in the middle of the Baltic with a moving target. She spent from 1 1/2 to 3 weeks at Warnemünde for torpedo practice.
Degen stated that the tactical exercises of U-701 were carried out in company with nine other boats. These boats were commanded by Borcherdt, Wattenberg, Berger, Cremer, Kölle, Giessler, Strelow, Kröning, and Vogel. The ramming of Ratsch by Reichmann during
tactical exercises also took place about the same time. Degen said (October and early November 1941). In reality this latter incident is believed to have occurred on November 29, 1941. (See ch. IX. other U-boats, for all these names.)
In mid-November U-701 returned to the Stülkenwerft for her final overhaul before starting her first war cruise. She is believed to have left Hamburg on or about December 20, 1941. She proceeded once more through the Kaiser Wilhelm Kanal to Kiel where she completed with fuel and took on torpedoes. Her complement during this period was 5 officers and 40 men. Leutnant zur See (Ensign) Weinitschke now left the boat at Kiel.
U-701 was attached to the Third Flotilla based on La Pallice.
Chapter IV. FIRST WAR CRUISE
U-701 left Kiel for her first war cruise December 27, 1941. She proceeded through the Kattegat and the North Sea to her operational area in the northwest approaches to England. Prisoners were emphatic in their statements that they did not put into a Norwegian port as many U-boats do on their first cruise. Degen took his boat southward between Iceland and the Faeroes. He stated that he skirted a comparatively shallow area - 150 to 300 feet - known to the Germans as the "Rosengarten" (Rosegarden), located at latitude 63°30' N. and longitude 11°30' W. He said Germans suspected it to be mined. He stated that he made this passage by day on the surface and was astonished at the large number of drifting mines, as many as 20 to 30 in 1 day, which he saw there.
U-701's sole success on this cruise was the sinking of an unescorted 3,000 to 4,000-ton freighter off Rockall. The attack occurred in daylight hours in mid-January. Degen fired two electric torpedoes, both of which hit. U-701 drew over to the life boats and asked the crew the name of the vessel, which they refused to give. Degen said shortly thereafter a gale arose, causing him to fear that these survivors perished. Degen believed that his victim was a vessel of the Baron class. (ONI Note: British sources suggest that this freighter may have been the Huron Erskine, sunk in the Rockall area, without trace, at about this time, the exact date and position being unknown.) Degen stated that one time he passed within 100 meters of the Rockall rocks.
U-701 was recalled to St. Nazaire after about 5 weeks at sea. She arrived at St. Nazaire early in February 1912.
Chapter V. SECOND WAR CRUISE
Prisoners stated that U-701 left St. Nazaire on her second war cruise at the beginning of March and proceeded to an operational area off Iceland. Degen claims he sank four armed trawlers on four successive days with one electric torpedo each. Some, if not all, of these attacks were made in daylight. (ONI Note: British sources state that actually only two trawlers were lost in this area at this time. They were H. M. T. Notts County, sunk at 063°10' N., 13°16' W., at 2350 on March 8, and H. M. T. Stella Capella, which left Seidisfjord about March 8 and was lost without trace. In addition, Hengist, a fish carrier, was torpedoed in position 59°34' N., 10°8' W. between March 8-10. H. M. T. Angle also may have been attacked unsuccessfully in this period.)
Degen stated that he approached so close to Iceland that he easily could see snow-clad cliffs. He said he noted a large number of biplane-seaplanes which he judged to be of such an old model that they could not have been on U-boat patrol.
U-701 encountered 2 weeks of heavy weather which, Degen said, prevented him from attacking a number of ships which he sighted. On the trip back to port, he said, his echo-sounding device failed during a stretch of foggy weather, but his quartermaster brought the U-boat safely back to the French coast.
Prisoners stated that they were instructed to return to Brest instead of St. Nazaire. The reason, they said, was that St. Nazaire was overcrowded with U-boats. However, the possibility should be considered that the British commando raid of March 27, 1942, on St. Nazaire made the U-boat base at least partially unserviceable.
U-701 put into Brest April 15. She docked in a U-boat shelter for overhaul. At least part of the crew was granted leave following this cruise.
Chapter VI. THIRD AND LAST WAR CRUISE
U-701 left Brest on her third and last war cruise May 10, 1942. She had been in dock nearly 5 weeks and three new men had joined the crew. A band played her from the quayside. For several hours she was escorted by two patrol vessels and two Messerschmitt fighters.
She proceeded down the coast and put in at Lorient where she lay alongside a tanker and completed with fuel oil. Prisoners stated that it had become a customary procedure for U-boats stationed at Brest to fuel up at Lorient, which suggests that fueling arrangements for U-boats are inadequate. One prisoner stated that there were two or three other U-boats in Lorient at the time.
U-701 left Lorient the following day, May 20, carrying the usual supply of 12 electric and 2 air torpedoes. Prisoners insisted she carried no mines and flatly denied that they had any civilians or intended saboteurs aboard. U-701 left in the company of another U-boat.
The crossing to the American coast required 22 days. The slow time was due to a number of factors, namely, keeping the engines at slow speed (langsame Fahrt) to conserve fuel, heavy weather, and brief pursuits of two east-bound steamers.
Several days out, approximately on a line between the Azores and Newfoundland, U-701 passed and exchanged signals with a three-masted Portuguese sailing ship, the Gazella Primera, bound for the Newfoundland Banks to fish.
Prisoners stated that they passed two U-boats during the Atlantic crossing. When well across the Atlantic, Degen sighted an east-bound passenger liner which turned out to be the Drottningholm, the Swedish liner carrying Axis diplomats from New York to Portugal. Not recognizing her at first, Degen put about and stalked her for half a day. He had been advised previously that the Drottningholm would be at sea, but Degen said according to his calculation she was off her course. Actually, Degen. who had been unable to fix his position for several days owing to heavy clouds, was himself off course. Finally, he received another radio message that the Drottningholm had left New York June 3 and was to be allowed to pass. Degen then approached quite near and recognized the Swedish flag and could read the word "Diplomat" on her side. The net result of this episode was the loss of a day and a half's westing.
Shortly after this, U-701 sighted an east-bound British liner of about 15,000 tons. Once more he put about and gave chase. Degen
said the liner was steering a general course of 60°, deviating in a regular zigzag course to 90° and then to 30°. As the liner proved too fast for him, he abandoned the pursuit, again losing a day and a half.
Much of the crossing, apparently, was made on the surface, as survivors spoke of frequent sun baths. On approaching the United States coast, however, Degen became more cautious and remained submerged most of the time.
U-701 arrived over the Atlantic Shelf on June 11, 1942. Degen was reluctant to make his first landfall on the United States coast with a new moon, which he remembered was June 13. He said it was "bad for business." He therefore decided to lie over the Shelf for a few days. The next day, June 12, he was attacked by an aircraft of the type which later sank him. He had just time to crash dive. He stated that five bombs straddled the U-boat when she was at about 40 feet. His lights failed and instrument glasses were smashed in the control room, but the damage was slight and quickly repaired.
U-701 moved into coastal waters about June 16. Her operational area was from 15 miles south of Cape Lookout, on the south, to Chesapeake Light on the north. Prisoners said they made landfall on a small lightship.
U-701's first encounter occurred on or about June 16. She sighted a south-bound 8,000-ton freighter which she followed before firing two electric torpedoes, both of which missed. The freighter escaped.
On the night of June 17, U-701 surfaced off Cape Hatteras close to a U-boat chaser which challenged her with a series of B's from a signal lamp. Thinking he was going to be rammed, Degen put about and drew away, without answering the challenge. The following day he saw what he thought was the same cutter escorting a tanker and a freighter in line ahead. Degen believed the cutter had made contact with him in passing, for as soon as the convoyed ships were out of range, the cutter returned and dropped depth charges near U-701. Degen said that on this occasion he did not hear the "ping" of Asdic.
The next night, June 19, U-701 surfaced off Cape Hatteras and again sighted what Degen took to be the same cutter. He opened fire with his 8.8 cm gun to which the cutter replied with machine-gun fire. U-701 expended a large number of shells. Apparently the gun crew, groping over-anxiously in the dark, seized every available shell in the ready-use lockers without discrimination. Thus, fire was an unorthodox mixture of SAP, HE and incendiary shell, but it sank the cutter. Prisoners considered this a wasteful and "untidy" piece of work, and the captain gave the impression that he was ashamed of it.
Degen said he approached to look for survivors with the intention of putting them ashore, but he found none. He said he thought the crew made off in a boat. Prisoners gave the position of the attack as near the Diamond Shoals Lightship Buoy. (ONI Note: This cutter in all probability was YP 389, which was sunk 5 to 8 miles northeast of Buoy No. 4 at 0415 on June 19 under circumstances which coincide with the German account. A faulty firing spring prevented YP 389 from using her 3-inch gun.)
A few days after this sinking, U-701 sighted a convoy which she was unable to intercept. On June 27, 1942, at periscope depth, U-701 sighted another convoy south-bound in daylight. Degen singled out a medium-sized tanker in ballast and fired two electric torpedoes. He made one hit aft which started a fire, possibly of fuel oil. It was not known aboard the U-boat whether a second hit had been made, although the men heard a second explosion some minutes after the first. U-701 dived immediately and was attacked by destroyers. One prisoner said he heard the "ping" of the searching gear. Soon afterward depth charges were dropped nearby. The electric motors were put out of commission temporarily and the glass of gauges in the conning tower was broken. No damage was sustained, however, which could not be rapidly repaired. (ONI Note: British Freedom, a 6,985-ton tanker, was attacked and damaged by one torpedo while in convoy in position 34°45' N., 75°22' W. at 1107 on June 27, 1942. She was able to return to Norfolk under her own power.)
During the night following this attack two air torpedoes carried in upper deck containers were transferred into the boat. (See ch. VIII.)
The next day, June 28, Degen stated that he attacked a large tanker travelling with air escort. He fired one electric torpedo as a "Fangschuss," or crippling shot, which set the tanker on fire. Degen then dived, and U-701 was subjected to a counterattack by aircraft, the bomb and depth charge explosions being heard some distance away. Degen stated he returned to the scene of his attack later that night and found the tanker still burning. He fired another electric torpedo which sank her. He signaled news of this sinking to Germany and expected to receive some mention in a German High Command communique. Degen, after referring to a 1940 edition of a British publication called "Merchant Ships" with which his boat was provided, concluded he had sunk the 12,000-ton three-masted Gulf Pride. (ONI Note: This probably was the tanker William Rockefeller, 14,054 tons, which was attacked and hit by one torpedo June 28, 1216 hours, while in approximate position 35°01' N., 75°05' W. and was sunk later that night. She was escorted by two Coast Guard cutters and three aircraft. When the ship was abandoned she was on an even keel and not burning badly. She was believed to be salvable. The Coast
Guard escort stood by pending arrival of a salvage vessel, but the tanker sank at 2338, 11 hours after the first attack.) This was Degen's last success.
Meanwhile, according to prisoners, U-701 had had several aircraft alarms. Degen stated that he was unsure of his executive officer, Oberleutnant (Lieutenant (j. g.)) Junker as an airplane look-out. Early in the morning of July 7 he said he had to reprimand him sharply for not paying closer attention. That afternoon, according to Degen, Junker's negligence caused the loss of the boat.
Chapter VII. SINKING OF U-701
In midafternoon of July 7, 1942, U-701 was cruising on the surface off Cape Hatteras. Degen, Junker, and Bazies, together with the quartermaster, were on lookout for airplanes, as was their practice in dangerous waters. Each watched a 90° area. The day was perfectly clear and the sea smooth. Bazies and the quartermaster started to get back into the boat. Suddenly Junker shouted: "Airplane, there!"
The plane, a U.S. Army bomber, was very near. The men climbed into the boat and crash dived. Degen stood in the conning tower beside Junker as they dived. "You saw it too late," Degen said. 44"Yes," Junker replied.
The plane made two direct bomb hits when the boat was just below the surface. The pressure hull was torn open aft and water poured in. All instruments were smashed. Degen ordered the tanks blown, but to no avail. Within 2 minutes the control room was almost filled with water. The boat listed 20° to starboard at a depth of between 45 to 50 feet.
Survivors have been able to give only incoherent accounts of the sinking. One torpedo man stated he was asleep in the bow compartment at the time of the attack. He said the main lighting failed, but the emergency lights were still on. He made his way to the control room to ask whether they were to abandon ship. He then struggled back to the bow compartment - perhaps to get lifesaving apparatus or some treasured personal possession - and when he again reached the control room water was waist deep.
All the survivors are convinced that they were submerged when they got the conning tower open. The hatch opened easily, Degen said. Eighteen men escaped through the conning tower at that time, among them the captain. According to a prisoner who claimed to have been among the last to leave, almost the entire crew eventually escaped from the boat. However, as a sea was running, the various groups could not see each other in the water.
Secret documents were left with the boat. There was no time to explode scuttling charges even had that been necessary. Apparently no attempt was made to send a radio signal reporting the sinking of the U-boat.
Degen's own account of the subsequent 49 hours that he spent in the water before rescue, written in internment after he had recovered, is appended to this report as Annex B. Eighteen men who left the boat together had between them three escape lungs and one life
preserver. The Army bomber dropped two small life preservers to them. Two of the men, boatswain's mate Hänsel and the midshipman, Lange, struck out for shore, 30 miles distant, against the warning of the others.
The following 2 days were a nightmare to the survivors. The stronger saw their comrades drown one by one. Some went mad before dying. Degen had no life preserver or lung when he left the boat. Part of the time his quartermaster, Kunert, supported him in the water. About 2100 coxswain Etzweiler drowned. He did not know how to swim. The water was warm, but the sea had grown rougher.
The following day, July 8, about noon, a Coast Guard ship passed slowly within 2,200 yards without hearing the cries of the survivors. This shattered the courage of some of the men. Damrow and Schmidtmeyer became delirious. One after another Damrow, Schmidtmeyer, Gründler, Bahr, Weiland, and Schuller drowned. Bahr, the engineer officer, went mad before going under.
Many planes passed overhead unseeing as the Gulf Stream carried the men northward. That night Bosse and Fischer drowned. Later the same night Degen's group came across Laskowski wearing two escape lungs and comparatively fresh. He reported that 10 more of the crew had escaped through the conning tower, among them 2 officers and Seldte, the only one of this group to be saved.
During the night of July 8-9 Degen's group, by strange chance, found a floating lemon and cocoanut. Vaupel laboriously opened the cocoa nut with the oxygen flask of his escape lung. Each had a swallow of cocoanut milk, a bit of the meat and a suck of the lemon. Before dawn Leu. Mickalek and Laskowski drowned.
Degen later recalled that one of his men, before dying, said goodbye to him: "I'm taking leave of you. Please remember me to my comrades." (Ich melde mich ab. Grüssen Sie bitte meine Kameraden.)
The next morning, July 9, a U.S. Navy blimp sighted the survivors and dropped a rubber boat and a rubber sack of provisions. Kunert, Vaupel, and Grootheer climbed on the boat. Later they spotted their captain, unconscious, and pulled him aboard.
At 1605 July 9, 49 hours after U-701 was sunk, a Coast Guard seaplane picked up the survivors, four from the raft and three others in the vicinity, separated from each other by distances up to 5 miles, at 36°18' N., 73°32' W., some 65 miles from the estimated position of the sinking.
When the survivors reached land, Degen related an obvious hallucination: He said that during the night he sat on shore washing oil from his body when a German-speaking man approached and told him that he had been mentioned in the German High Command communique of either June 29 or 30.
Coast Guard seaplane landing the survivors of U-701.
Chapter VIII. DETAILS OF U-701
Tonnage. - 500 tons.
Type. - VII C.
Conning tower device. - A red fish, described as a gurnard (Knorrhahn). The Knorrhahn is the pennant device of the Warnemünde Rowing Club. It was adopted by U-701 following a reception given by the rowing club while U-701 was in Warnemünde for torpedo practice. Previously, a dagger had been suggested as a device.
Building yard. - Stülkenwerft, Hamburg.
Torpedo tubes. - 4 bow, 1 stern.
Torpedoes. - 12 electric, 2 air. The 12 electric torpedoes were stowed as follows: 4 in the bow tubes, 4 in the bilges in the bow compartment, 2 on the bow compartment floor plates, 1 in the stern tube, and 1 under the floor plates aft. The 2 air torpedoes were stowed in containers fitted on the upper deck. War heads for the air torpedoes were stowed within the boat and were not fitted until the torpedoes had been brought down from the upper deck containers into the hull. The work of bringing a torpedo from an upper deck container into the boat was said to be extremely difficult and dangerous. It could be carried out only in a flat sea and required several hours. No rails were fitted for maneuvering the torpedo from the upper deck container to the torpedo hatch forward as in the 740-ton class. A prisoner whose action station was at the torpedo tube stated that U-701's torpedoes were not marked with red and green bands. No torpedoes ever were fired from U-701's stern tube except during exercises.
Guns. - U-701 carried one 8.8-cm. gun mounted forward of the conning tower and one 2-cm. A/A gun mounted on the conning tower.
Ammunition. - SAP, HE, and incendiary shells were carried.
Diesel engines. - Krupp.
Electric motors. - Siemens-Schuckert.
R/DF Apparatus. - The captain stated that U-701 was not fitted with R/DF apparatus, but he agreed that it was possible that this was fitted to some of the new 740-ton U-boats.
Mines. - U-701 carried no mines.
S-Gear or German Asdic (QC Gear). - The captain would not admit that U-701 was fitted with S-Gear and stated that he would have had very little use for it. He gave the impression that his opinion of this apparatus was not high.
Sweep eluding apparatus (S-Gerät Vertilger). - The captain stated that U-701 did not carry an apparatus for creating an artificially disturbed patch of water with which an A/S vessel might maintain contact and enable a U-boat to elude an Asdic sweep.
Patron town. - U-701 had not been "adopted" by any German town.
Field post number. - U-701's field post number was M 44233.
Escape lungs. - These were made by the Drägerwerk, Lübeck, and were tested at these works on September 20, 1941.
General. - The Stülkenwerft apparently was able to rectify, after U-701's first trial cruise, most of its construction errors, particularly the mistakes in electric wiring and the air and oil piping. Degen wrote a letter to naval headquarters in Berlin, complaining about the faulty construction, and later, possibly after his first war cruise, exchanged sharp words with one of the Stülkenwerft's engineers. Degen said the yards even forgot to put in some of the boat's instruments.
Red sun glasses were issued to crew members. Degen's, which he bought himself, were green.
In port the crew was divided into three watches. As seems to be the custom, one watch stayed aboard while the other two had liberty.
Chapter IX. OTHER U-BOATS
1. U-BOATS IDENTIFIED BY NUMBER
Degen confirmed that at one time Kapitänleutnant Topp had commanded U-57. From British sources it was already known that this U-boat was later sunk while under the command of Kapitänleutnant Korth, was raised again and is now being used as a school boat.
For an incident concerning Uphoff, who is believed to command U-84, see U-564 below.
It was stated that a U-boat formerly commanded by Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock carried a green sailfish, as conning tower device. Lehmann-Willenbrock is believed to have been in command of U-96. According to statements of prisoners from U-94 and intercepted correspondence he has recently been made flotilla chief at a base not yet known.
The following story, which apparently made the rounds of the U-boat arm, is believed to concern his boat: A quartermaster, during trials in Danzig, was at the periscope with instructions to take a good look around and to warn the commander if anything approached. Orders to submerge were carried out at great speed. The quartermaster remained at the periscope, looking aft rather than forward. As a result U-96 rammed something, possibly another boat, and sank. It was stated definitely that this was not the first time that this boat had sunk. The story is believed to be true, but its relation to U-96 must be taken with reserve.
Degen stated that Kapitänleutnant Mengersen is no longer in command of U-101 but has been given a new boat.
It was stated that Kapitänleutnant Schewe had had no success on his first cruise from Germany to a French base, probably made early in 1941, but received the Ritterkreuz after his second cruise. This was a cruise of 4 or 5 months to the South (Südreise), during which he had sunk some 90,000 tons.
It is known that U-105 was met at sea by the supply ship Egerland on May 19, 1941, that Schewe was awarded the Ritterkreuz on May 25, 1941, and that U-105 had returned to Lorient by the end of July, where she remained until mid-August. On September 2, U-105 exchanged recognition signals with U-85 in the Denmark Straits. Assuming that U-105 was in port for 1 month between her second and third cruises, she must then have returned from her second cruise toward the middle of July. The award of the Ritterkreuz may well have been made before U-105's return to Lorient. If the second cruise, Schewe's "Kreuzfahrt", was of 4 months' duration, U-105 sailed about the middle of March.
According to Degen, Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) Günther Hessler made only three war cruises in U-107 before he was retired to a staff post by the B. d. U., Admiral Dönitz, his father-in-law. His first cruise, presumably in the winter of 1940-41 was from Germany to a French base, possibly Lorient. On this cruise he claimed to have sunk 20,000 tons. Hessler's second cruise was from Lorient to the West African coast and was probably completed by the middle of February 1941. This cruise must have been less successful and cannot have resulted in more than 11,272 tons of shipping sunk.
The third cruise was previously known to have started about the middle of March 1941 and to have lasted until June 1941. Degen stated that Hessler told him, during a meeting on the Berlin-Brest express, that on this cruise he had sunk 80,000 tons. He was retired from active U-boat service after this cruise. The figures of tonnage sunk by Hessler compare roughly with the statements made by the German radio on June 30, 1941, when, in announcing the award of the Knight's Insignia of the Iron Cross to Hessler, it was claimed that he had sunk in all 18 merchant ships totaling 111,272 tons. Of these 14 were said to have been sunk within a period of almost 3 1/2 months. Other German reports added that many victims were sunk very far to the south and a long way from home.
Degen stated that during his conversation with Hessler the latter boasted that he had never missed with any of the torpedoes he had ever fired. Hessler was particularly emphatic about this, but Degen was disinclined to believe him and indicated that he thought that the speedy award of a Knight's Cross to Hessler, coupled with the fact that he had been given a "soft" land post was more than a little due to the influence of Dönitz' daughter with her father.
It may be noted that prisoners from the German supply ship Egerland, sunk by British forces on June 5, 1941, but which met U-107 in the Atlantic on May 9, 1941, and supplied her with a torpedo, fuel and provisions, stated that they had learned from U-107's crew that
Hessler had fired his last two torpedoes at a merchant ship and that both of them had missed. Hessler's own version of this incident was that he had fired all his torpedoes at that time and was much upset that shortly before he had had a large merchant ship in sight, but had been unable to attack.
Prisoners stated that U-123, with Kapitänleutnant Hardegen in command, was in Lorient when U-701 called there on May 19-20, 1942. Hardegen has also been reported to have stopped in the Canary Islands on June 15. There is as yet no confirmation of this report. Degen indicated that Hardegen is now operating in the Caribbean Sea.
Degen alleged that he discussed U-boat tactics off the American coast with Hardegen who claimed some knowledge of the Cape Hatteras area. Degen stated "in confidence" that neither he nor a number of other U-boat officers had a high opinion of Hardegen, whom they regarded as a braggart. Formerly he was considered a coward, but following a serious airplane accident, in which he suffered multiple injuries, he had experienced a remarkable psychological transformation and had gained considerable courage and determination.
It was stated that Oberleutnant Jebsen had served as executive officer under Kapitänleutnant Moehle who preceded Hardegen in command of U-123. Jebsen is now thought to be in command of U-565.
One prisoner, who said that he had worked in Lorient from December 1941 to May 1942, stated that U-201, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Adalbert Schnee, was based on this port.
According to Degen, U-202, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Linder, was in dock at Brest when U-701 left there on May 19, 1942. Linder, whom Degen knows well came down to wish them luck as they cast off and stood waving to them as they moved away. Degen thought that at that time U-202 needed a further week to complete repairs.
It is strongly suspected that Linder, in U-202, was responsible for landing the party of saboteurs who were set ashore at Amagansett, Long Island, N. Y., on June 16, 1942. U-202 is believed to have followed U-701 to Lorient and left that port between May 26 and 28, proceedings straight to the United States.
U-202 is alleged to have a White Porcupine as conning tower device in addition to the inscription "Innsbruck," presumably her patron town. Survivors from the Argentine S. S. Rio Tercero, 3342 tons, sunk
on June 22 in position 39°15' N., 72°30' W., stated that this sinking was the work of a U-boat bearing the name "Innsbruck" painted on the conning tower. The date and position of this sinking are such that it would appear very probable that U-202 was responsible. She would have had about 6 days to travel roughly 120 miles south of the point where she set the saboteurs ashore on Long Island.
If U-202 did, indeed, sink Rio Tercero, the following description by survivors of the U-boat's commander would apply to Kapitänleutnant Linder:
"About 38 years old, blond hair, blue eyes, 6 feet tall, well-built, wearing khaki pants, suspenders and a grey sweater... spoke English, German, and French well, but no Spanish." (ONI Note: (1) Judging by the year Linder joined the German Navy it is improbable that he is now more than 29 years old, but past experience has shown that the age of U-boat men is often overestimated by unpractised observers. (2) A strong note of protest from the Argentine to the German Government followed the sinking of the Rio Tercero by "the German submarine Innsbruck." It is reported that German officials denied that a U-boat named Innsbruck exists.)
Degen stated that a U-boat, believed to be U-213, commanded by Oberleutnant (Lieutenant) Adolf von Varendorf, was still working up in the Baltic when he left Brest in May 1942 on his final cruise.
Degen added that von Varendorf's boat was a 740 tonner, type X D. This statement was confirmed by Leutnant (Ing.) Heinz Sorber, engineer officer of U-210. U-213 was previously thought to be a 500-ton U-boat, type VII D. She was thought to be the first of a series, starting with that number, building at the Flensburg yards. Prisoners from U-210 state, however, that the series U-201 to U-212, built by the Germania Yards at Kiel, continues through U-218. These statements should be taken with reserve until confirmed, but they are none the less interesting in that they may indicate the existence of a new type of 740-ton U-boat.
It was stated that von Tiesenhausen had made a cruise as commander pupil (Kommandantenschüler) under Kapitänleutnant Korth. This was probably in U-93, Korth's former command.
Among the U-boats working up in company with U-701 during October and early November 1941 was one commanded by Kapitänleutnant Cremer. This boat was still undergoing trials when U-701 left on her first war cruise at the end of December. Cremer is believed to command U-333. Cremer's U-boat, coming from Hamburg,
met U-701 at Brünsbüttel as U-701 was proceeding to Kiel preparatory to starting her first war cruise in December 1941.
A High Command communique dated May 11, 1942 stated that Cremer had sunk 4 ships, totaling 35,000 tons, in waters of the United States.
Prisoners stated that on a war cruise, possibly that ending in May 1942 details of which were made public by the German radio, Cremer's U-boat was severely damaged. The bow was rammed by a tanker and the conning tower bridge stove in as the tanker passed over it. The U-boat surfaced some time later, and it was then found that the conning tower hatch could not be opened. Some of the crew managed to reach the deck through the forward torpedo hatch and succeeded in clearing the damage to the bridge.
According to a version of the story published in the "Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung" of June 25, 1942, Cremer did not return to his base for so little but remained in American water until all of his torpedoes had been spent. The account implies that at least part of his 35,000 tons were sunk after Cremer's boat was damaged. Cremer received the Ritterkreuz for this exploit.
Degen accompanied Kapitänleutnant Otto von Bülow, believed to be in command of U-404, from Brest to Paris shortly before Degen's sailing on May 20, 1942. Von Bülow had just returned from a cruise and claimed to have sunk five ships totaling 22,000 tons. Von Bülow, who had received no decorations up to this time, was awarded the Iron Cross, second class and first class in a ceremony at Admiral Dönitz' quarters. Degen explained that the Iron Cross, first class could not be given to a man who had not received the Iron Cross, second class.
In a radio interview, July 1942, von Bülow claimed to have sunk West Motin and three other ships. British Intelligence sources indicated that the ships sunk were probably Nordal, Manuela, Ljubica Matkovic and West Notus (not West Motin). The first three were sunk from a convoy on June 24 at 34°30' N., 75°40' W. The West Notus was sunk on June 1 about 250 miles east of that position.
Kapitänleutnant Strelow, believed to be in command of U-435, was one of the nine U-boat commanders whose boats were stated by Degen to have conducted their tactical exercises in the Baltic with U-701, presumably during October and early November 1941.
According to Degen, Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) Poske, known to command U-504, returned from a war cruise at the
end of March 1942 to a base in France, having sunk 45,000 tons. He was given three Iron Crosses, second class, for his crew. Degen, in U-701, returned to Brest on April 15, 1942, claiming to have sunk 4 armed trawlers on this his second war cruise. He was given 10 Iron Crosses, second class, for his men. Degen added that Poske was most indignant at what he termed favoritism. A German High Command communique dated March 21, 1942, mentioned Poske as having been successful in American waters.
Degen stated that he served for one cruise as "Kommandantenschüler" under Kapitänleutnant Topp in U-552. They left St. Nazaire on April 7, 1941, returning to that base on May 6, 1941. This cruise was to the northwestern approaches to the British Isles and it was claimed that four ships in all were sunk. These were an armed trawler, a freighter, a tanker from a convoy and another large freighter traveling alone, making a total of approximately 24,000 tons. The tanker success came after Topp had sighted a convoy, passed ahead of it on a parallel course and laid in ambush for the ships to pass over him.
According to Degen, Topp came up to periscope depth to find himself in the middle of the convoy and unable to maneuver. He torpedoed a tanker at very short range and as he did so he was only 30 feet from the side of another ship as it passed behind him. The U-boat and the ship were so close that Topp was unable to turn and find another target before oil, welling from the torpedoed tanker, obscured the glass of his periscope and he was forced to break off the attack. He was then heavily counterattacked by destroyers and the "ping" of Asdics was heard within the U-boat preceding a large number of depth charges which caused a certain amount of damage. Degen claimed that Topp dived to a great depth in his effort to escape and that the attack lasted several hours.
On another occasion on this cruise they sank a British freighter in the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland.
Degen stated that Topp's U-boat carried a red devil as conning tower device. The last Degen had heard of Topp was that he had attacked a convoy in the eastern Atlantic, presumably out of an English port bound for Gibraltar.
Degen believed that Topp would shortly be awarded the Swords to the Oak Leaves of the Knight's Insignia of the Iron Cross, which he already holds, as his total sinkings were already over 250,000 tons.
It was stated that the U-boat which was successful in sinking merchant ships off the Mississippi in May 1942 was under the command
of Kapitänleutnant Thurmann. This officer is known to be commander of U-553.
It may be pointed out that Thurmann was commended in a German High Command communique of May 22, 1942, for successes in American waters, while in a second communique dated May 28, 1942, it was stated: "German U-boats operating on the east coast of North America, in the Caribbean Sea and off the Mississippi estuary sank eight ships totaling 26,500 tons and heavily damaged four more ships."
U-553 is known to belong to the 7th U-boat Flotilla and prisoners confirmed that she is based on St. Nazaire.
Kapitänleutnant Bargsten, believed to be in command of U-563, was stated by Degen to have served as executive officer under Korvettenkapitän Kretschmer (formerly commander of U-99 and now a prisoner of war). Bargsten also relayed to Degen certain new instructions on tactics. (See Ch. X.)
Prisoners stated that a U-boat commanded by Kapitänleutnant Reinhard Suhren was in Brest between April 15 and the middle of May 1942. Suhren is believed to command U-564.
Degen stated that in Memel a clothing merchant and another civilian, a former reserve officer in the Lithuanian Army, were on the most intimate terms with certain U-boat commanders. They came on board for drinking parties and met in cafes. Among the U-boat commanders were Uphoff and Suhren. The civilians asked so many questions concerning U-boat officers and their activities that Degen became suspicious, reported the matter to authorities and even reprimanded Suhren, with whom he was on good terms, for his indiscretion. Degen also expressed indignation that an officer like Suhren should use the familiar "Du" in talking to civilians.
Oberleutnant Jebsen is now thought to command U-565.
Degen stated that on the night that U-579 was rammed and sunk in the Baltic by a U-boat commanded by Korvettenkapitän Wilfrid Reichmann (See par. "U-579", p. 34) U-582, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Schulte, was rammed during the same exercises by a U-boat under the command of Kapitänleutnant Gericke. The damage to Schulte's U-boat was not severe and consisted of some minor dents at the stern which did not cause her to be docked before proceeding on her first war cruise.
Vogel, probably Kapitänleutnant Viktor Vogel, believed to be in command of U-588, was named by Degen among the U-boat commanders who conducted tactical exercises with U-701 in October and early November 1941. Degen stated that Vogel's boat was rammed during the exercises. A periscope was snapped off short at the base, but the U-boat reached Pillau where repairs were effected within a day. Degen also related that after a festive evening in Pillau Vogel took his crew with him to a brothel and the next day invited all the girls on board for a cup of coffee.
Degen stated that U-702 was under the command of Kapitänleutnant von Rabenau. He believed that this U-boat was now operating off northern Norway. Prisoners alleged that U-702 was still unfinished when U-701 finally left the Stülkenwerft in December, 1941. The faults which had been discovered in U-701 during trials, had been duplicated in U-702 and a large amount of reconstruction had been necessary.
Degen believes that Kapitänleutnant Bigalk, who is thought to be in command of U-751, is inclined to exaggerate his successes, and he places little reliance in his claims. Inferences drawn from intercepted correspondence make it seem possible that Bigalk's boat was in Swinemünde towards the middle of June 1942. This possibility must be taken with great reserve.
Degen stated that in December 1941, at Brünsbüttel, U-701 met U-753, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Manhardt von Mannstein. U-753 had left on her first war cruise a few days earlier, but on the way to Norway she had had a fire in the engine room and was forced to put back. At the time of the meeting with U-701 she was probably putting back to the yards at Wilhelmshaven where she is believed to have been built.
Degen stated that von Mannstein was the youngest brother of Field Marshal Manhardt von Mannstein. who took Sebastopol. His father was a captain of cavalry in the Imperial German Army.
Degen stated that on his last visit to Paris, May 1942, Kapitänleutnant Oestermann was decorated with the Iron Cross, first class, for sinking four small ships. Oestermann is believed to command U-754.
Degen stated that in Kiel he had twice been aboard H. M. S. Seal, a British submarine captured by the Germans. He added that she could only be useful as a minelaying boat, being slow and unwieldy and taking 3 minutes to dive.
2. U-BOAT SINKINGS
Degen said that he knew intimately Oberleutnant Greger, believed to have been in command of U-85 when she was sunk with all hands by U. S. S. Roper off Cape Hatteras, on the night of April 13-14, 1942. The friendship dated from the time when Greger served as executive officer under Kapitänleutnant Lemp in U-30 and U-110. (ONI Note: U-30 is now a training U-boat based in the Baltic. U-110 was sunk on May 9, 1941, in position 60°25' N., 32°40' W., Lemp being killed.
Degen confirmed that Greger had been reported missing, and he was convinced that Greger was still in command of U-85, up to the time of her destruction.
A torpedoman from U-701 who had served on U-85 under Greger during her second war cruise October 16 to about November 30, 1942, confirmed earlier information on this cruise and stated that Greger was still in command on the cruise on which U-85 was sunk. (ONI Note: It had been thought from the first that Greger was in command of U-85 on her last cruise, but as his body was not recovered and no proof was found in the few documents captured, his death had not been definitely established.)
Prisoners confirmed that Korvettenkapitän Wattenberg, who was on the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee at the time of the Battle of the River Plate and later escaped from internment in the Argentine, is now in command of a U-boat of at least 740 tons which is operating in the Caribbean or off the east coast of South America. This U-boat is believed to be based on Lorient. Degen stated that a U-boat under Wattenberg's command had carried out its tactical exercises in company with U-701 and eight other boats, presumably in October and early November 1941. Degen stated also that Wattenberg had now been promoted to the rank of Fregattenkapitän (commander) and it is proposed shortly to retire him to a shore post as a flotilla commander. He is thought to be the oldest active U-boat commander and is said to be a man of remarkable energy. (ONI Note: Wattenberg is now a prisoner of war. His boat, U-162, was sunk off Trinidad on September 3, 1942. A report on interrogation of survivors of U-162 is being prepared.)
It was confirmed that U-452, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Jürgen March, was lost on her first war cruise. Prisoner of war correspondence and Red Cross inquiries had previously indicated that U-452 was lost during August or September 1941, and that Kapitänleutnant March was killed.
Degen stated that U-701 was taking part in tactical exercises in the Baltic when a U-boat believed to be U-579, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Ratsch, was rammed by another U-boat under the command of Korvettenkapitän Wilfred Reichmann. This accident is believed to have taken place in November 1941.
According to Degen, it was a very dark night with a new moon. The particular exercise being carried out was an attack by a number of U-boats on a "dummy" convoy which involved sham counterattacks on the U-boats by escort vessels. Reichmann, in a 740-ton U-boat, was proceeding on the surface, with a lookout watch on the conning tower bridge, when suddenly the officer in charge cried: "U-boat dead ahead!" There was no time for any avoiding action to be taken and Reichmann's U-boat wedged itself fast into the hull of the other, striking between the conning tower and the gun platform. Both U-boats sank locked together but after 10 minutes Reichmann managed to back clear and surface. He immediately signaled: "Have just rammed a U-boat!" Amidst considerable confusion the exercise was broken off. A general signal was sent out: "Who sunk whom?" To which as many as three U-boats replied that they were responsible.
Not a single man was saved from U-579 which Degen stated was sunk in about 47 fathoms of water. He added that 3 days previously he had dined with Ratsch. He confirmed that Reichmann's U-boat was very seriously damaged.
A U-boat commanded by Borcherdt was stated by Degen to have been among the group of 10 with whom he carried out tactical exercises in the latter months of 1941. Borcherdt is presumed to be Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Borcherdt, thought to be in command of U-587, rather than Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Bordiert, who is believed to command U-566. U-587 is believed to have been commissioned about the middle of September 1941, perhaps September 18. She would then have conducted her tests and tactical exercises during October and November. U-566 is known to have been commissioned earlier and to have been at Trondheim for repairs on July 18, 1941. Degen stated that Borcherdt was the first of this group of 10 to be lost.
Degen stated also that Kapitänleutnant Kröning, who was one of the group of 10 mentioned above, was lost with his boat on his first war cruise. It is believed that Kröning was in command of U-656.
3. U-BOATS IDENTIFIED BY COMMANDER'S NAME
A U-boat under the command of Berger was stated by Degen to have carried out tactical exercises with U-701 and eight other boats in the Baltic, presumably in October or early November 1941. Berger is thought to be Kapitänleutnant Joachim Berger of the 1934 term. It is not known what boat he commands. Berger's father-in-law was stated by Degen to be a veterinary surgeon.
Prisoners stated that when U-701 was in Brest between April 15 and 20, 1942, a 740-ton minelaying U-boat under the command of Korvettenkapitän Büchel was also there. This statement confirms previous information that Büchel had returned to sea following a period as commander of the 22d U-boat Flotilla (Training) at Gotenhafen.
For an incident concerning Kapitänleutnant Gericke of the 1931 term see previous paragraph on "U-582." It is not known which boat Gericke commands.
A boat under the command of Giessler was stated by Degen to have carried out tactical exercises with U-701 and eight other boats. Giessler is believed to be Kapitänleutnant Hans-Heinrich Giessler of the 1931 term. It is not known what boat he commands.
On the basis of inferences drawn from intercepted correspondence, Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartmann is believed to have been awaiting the completion of a new Bremen-built boat in May 1942. Hartmann, who commanded U-26 in 1937, was in command of the Hundius Flotilla in 1938, and in 1940 commanded U-37, was until recently in command of the Second U-Boat Training Division (U-Lehrdivision) at Gotenhafen.
Kapitänleutnant Henke of the 1933 naval term was stated by Degen to be in command of a new 740-ton U-boat.
Degen stated that Kapitänleutnant Hetschko, of the 1933 naval term, was in command of a U-boat which rammed and sank a German lightship in the autumn of 1941. Hetschko, who had served some years in the German Air Force, had previously had a reputation for recklessness and the upshot of the above incident was that his "front" U-boat was taken from him and he was placed in charge of a training boat.
A letter to a prisoner of war, dated October 6, 1941, and intercepted by Canadian postal censorship, stated that Hetschko was still in Kiel "and has suffered professional disappointment recently." This was probably an allusion to his accident.
Degen added that Hetschko came from Nürnberg which city had adopted his "front boat" giving him a check for 10,000 marks for comforts for the crew. When Hetschko lost his "front boat" he transferred the unexpended balance to his training boat. This action provoked much discussion among U-boat commanders generally and the majority disapproved of it.
It was stated that a U-boat under command of Fregattenkapitän (Commander) Ibbeken, formerly in charge of the First U-Boat Training Division (U-Lehrdivision) in Pillau, carried a donkey device on its conning tower. From intercepted correspondence it is known that Ibbeken spent the month of February 1942 in Bremen. The inference has been drawn that he was at that time awaiting the completion of a new boat, probably of 740 tons, built by Deschimag works. Earlier correspondence, however, permitted the inference to be drawn that he had already returned to sea by November 1941. More recent correspondence places Ibbeken at sea in July 1941. These reports await confirmation.
According to Degen, a U-boat commanded by an officer named Just was lost on its first war cruise. This officer could be either Kapitänleutnant Herman Just of the 1928 term or Oberleutnant Gottfried Just of the 1934 term. The number of this U-boat is not known.
A U-boat under Korvettenkapitän Kölle of the 1926 term was stated by Degen to have carried out tactical exercises with U-701 and eight other boats presumably in October or early November 1941. This boat has not yet been identified.
Degen stated that Kuhlmann, whose former boat, U-680, was rammed and sunk in the Baltic in November 1941 had belonged to the merchant marine before joining the navy. Degen also stated that Kuhlmann was executive officer under Hartmann (See previous paragraph on "Hartmann"). Intercepted correspondence seems to indicate that Kuhlmann was awaiting completion of a new U-boat in Bremen during February 1942, that he experienced delays in the construction of his new boat, that he left Kiel about May 27 and was still out on his first war cruise in mid-July.
The new U-boat of Kapitänleutnant Mengersen (See paragraph on "U-101") has not yet been identified.
Korvettenkapitän Neumann was stated by Degen to be in command of a "very large minelaying U-boat, which sank at its pier in Kiel and subsequently was raised and put in operation." (This reference is believed to be to Hans-Werner Neumann.)
Degen said he believed that Neumann has the second boat in the series, one of which is commanded by Korvettenkapitän von Schmidt. (ONI Note: von Schmidt has been identified with the series U-112 to U-121, believed to be boats of 1,000 tons or more and to have been assigned to Germaniawerft at Kiel. This would make it appear that Neumann may command U-113.) Degen further stated that this type of boat is unsuitable for operation in the Atlantic against convoys, etc.
The U-boat of Korvettenkapitän Wilfrid Reichmann, of the 1924 term, has not yet been identified. It is thought to be a boat of 740 tons and to have been on a war cruise during June 1942. on the basis of inferences drawn from intercepted correspondence.
Degen stated that a U-boat commanded by an officer named Rollmann was lost during the first 5 months of 1942 while attacking a small 15-knot convoy of three large troop transports and two destroyers. Rollmann had twice reported being in contact, when suddenly he stopped signaling and nothing more was ever heard of him. It was Degen's opinion that he had met a speedy and bitter end.
Rollmann could be either Kapitänleutnant Siegfried Rollmann of U-82, or Korvettenkapitän Wilhelm Rollmann, a successful com-
mander, who retired from active service in January 1941 to become an instructor at the Gotenhafen U-boat school, but who in early 1942 was reported to be back at sea.
Degen stated that Kapitänleutnant Rossow of the 1929 term had formerly commanded a sailing vessel, used as a school boat by the navy. From his remarks the inference was drawn that Rossow is now in command of a U-boat.
Degen stated that Kapitänleutnant von Schultz of the 1933 term was at present in command of a U-boat. Degen related that at the time of von Schultz' engagement to the girl he later married, the latter housed in her apartment a lion cub which she had rented from Hagenbeck's Zoo in Hamburg.
Chapter X. U-BOAT TACTICS AND STRATEGY
Following are statements made by Degen regarding U-boat tactics and strategy:
Degen learned a great deal from Kapitänleutnant Topp, with whom he made a war cruise as "commander pupil" (Kommandantenschüler ). Topp has fatalistic views about U-boat warfare: "Either you are lucky or you aren't. It's no good being overcautious if you want to be successful." For example, the Germans know that the British are in the habit of dropping random depth charges - "Schreckbomben" (fright bombs) - in order to drive U-boats away from convoys. Some U-boat commanders might be intimidated and make off, but Topp and Degen would rise to periscope depth and see what was happening. Otherwise they might lose a "fat" convoy.
Degen always cruised on the surface wherever possible so that he could see what he was about. Traveling at periscope depth, in any case, was a delicate, difficult, and tiring operation for the quartermaster, if there was a sea running, and was too exacting to be kept up for long. U-boats travel under water preferably at a depth of 60 to 90 feet, where the surface motion of the water is nullified. In the North Sea, off the American coast, and in the Mediterranean U-boat commanders are apprehensive lest they be spotted below water by aircraft. Degen himself preferred to take his chance on the surface, relying on his lookouts. Given fair visibility, lookouts can spot an approaching aircraft 6 miles away, which gives them time to crash dive. (Another prisoner stated that U-boat crews were trained to submerge within 30 seconds after sighting an aircraft. He thought that the record for crash diving, starting with four men on the bridge, was 28 seconds.)
Degen stated that U-boats are instructed to remain below the surface whenever visibility is less than the range of the listening device, unless they were running in to attack; then they were to submerge every half-hour and listen. He admitted not having followed these instructions which were relayed to him by Bargsten (believed to command U-563).
Degen had little fear of anything but a direct hit on a U-boat, and he seemed to think that this entitled him to take chances. At the same time, it was obvious that he considered his movements greatly hindered by the large number of aircraft on patrol along the American coast.
Degen never lay on the bottom in shallow water, as this made him easy prey to Asdic. In an avoiding action he preferred to maneuver
at slowest speed on his electric motors, at which speed he believed the motors to be scarcely audible.
In the shallow water off the United States coast depth charge settings were bound to be more accurate, hence there were likely to be more dead men from a U-boat than survivors.
Other officers had spoken to Degen of the shallow waters off the United States coast and the difficulties of maneuvering to escape. Degen held the opinion that shallow waters presented opportunities to mine-laying U-boats, both in the paths of convoys and at harbor entrances. He admitted the possibility of large U-boats carrying mines, but said such matters are held secret.
Germans have no special expression for so-called wolfpack tactics in attacking convoys. They could not be organized beforehand and, once called together for the attack, every boat was on her own. Degen said that the U-boats of a "wolfpack" maintained contact with each other by radio.
U-boat commanders regularly follow the Great Circle course in crossing to North America. It is the shortest route, thus the most economical of fuel. He himself followed the Great Circle course from Lorient to Cape Hatteras. Some commanders deviate from the Great Circle course to the southward if they can get better weather, for this makes for faster time and saving of fuel even though the distance is greater. The time needed to cross the Atlantic depends on weather. If the U-boat is retarded by adverse weather it will not increase its speed proportionately, preferring to accept the delay. Thus, the length of time for crossing varies. U-boats remain on the United States coast as long as their fuel and torpedoes hold out. They are not obliged to return at a given time.
Degen was under the impression that the American QC Gear (Asdic) could not be heard. While crossing the Atlantic he one day suddenly heard depth charges dropped near him. He came up to periscope depth, where he saw a Coast Guard cutter which he identified in his "Weyer," the German Registry of naval vessels. He concluded that he had been detected by "soundless Asdic" as he heard nothing. U-701 had been proceeding under water at the time, and he admitted the possibility that the cutter's hydrophones had picked up the sound of his engines.
Once, in March 1941, on his second war cruise, he heard the "ping" of British Asdics while off Iceland. He came up to investigate and saw a British armed trawler about 5 miles away, which he sank.
During Degen's service on destroyers he never had a chance to observe the German Asdic in actual operation against a British submarine. Nevertheless, he thought that German Asdic tests had given positive results.
Degen said that while off the United States coast he was in constant communication with B. d. U., from whom he received orders constantly. For instance, if a U-boat were off Hatteras for 3 or 4 days and there were no traffic, she might receive instructions to proceed to Florida.
Degen said he was not kept informed of the movements of U-boats in other operational sectors of the Atlantic, but always was in direct radio communication with other U-boats in his own area.
He said a U-boat did not meet other boats along the coast, but did so in midocean if necessary. If a U-boat needed fuel, for example, she would inform the B. d. U., who would send her to a rendezvous with a fuel carrying U-boat, possibly en route to the Caribbean. Degen said that this maneuver is not dangerous because of the size of the ocean and the fact that there is no predetermined position for such meetings.
Chapter XI. GENERAL REMARKS ON U-BOATS
Following is a digest of Degen's statements regarding U-boats in general:
Relations Between Dönitz and U-Boat Commanders.
U-boat commanders report personally to Admiral Dönitz, the B. d. U., when they return from a cruise in order to give him a complete accounting. Dönitz is based at Lorient, according to Degen. Dönitz takes a great personal interest in each commander, points out his mistakes, corrects his tactics and gives him advice generally. He is friendly to the majority but will act ruthlessly against any who fail, taking their boats away from them. This has happened only rarely. A number of older commanders have been given shore jobs because they have developed illnesses or have lost their nerve. One commander, a personal friend of Degen, who operated a 250-ton U-boat off the east coast of England at the beginning of the war, became a nervous wreck. He was hardly able to hold the shore job given him following a long period in a nerve sanitarium. (Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch may be the commander referred to.)
Marck U-Boat Life Raft.
The Marck U-boat life raft was secured to the U-boat in an upper deck housing by two shackles, one at each end of the raft, which could be released from inside the U-boat. The raft then would float to the surface on 27 fathoms of line, the bottom end remaining attached to the U-boat. Rafts were equipped with two paddles, Very lights, provisions and a bottle of spirits. They were haphazardly equipped. Degen said that when he examined his, he found the Very lights and other articles missing.
Degen stated that the rafts proved a failure and had been taken off the majority of U-boats. They were easily damaged.
Degen said that at the end of May, 1942 when he endeavored to take his raft from its housing to overhaul it after only two cruises, it had stuck fast and could be pried loose only with crowbars energetically applied. The rafts were dangerous, for it was quite possible that they could be forced loose by depth charges, then float to the surface without the knowledge of those within the boat.
Degen has never heard of the reported one-engine submarine with an engine which combines the functions of diesel engines and electric motors.
Speed in Crossing Atlantic.
Degen was ordered to cross the Atlantic at slow speed (langsame Fahrt) to conserve fuel. This speed he maintained even in adverse weather. During such periods, therefore, while his engine revolutions remained constant, his actual ground speed was much less.
Leave After War Cruises.
When a U-boat returns from a war cruise, leave for the crew depends on the time needed to repair the boat. If the U-boat is comparatively undamaged and can be turned round in 8 days or less, no leave is granted. The crew is supposed to get its rest on the homeward voyage.
Present Situation in American Waters.
Degen believes that U-boat successes in American waters cannot continue at the original tempo. He holds the opinion that the whole U-boat picture has changed enormously since the war began and says that this is felt keenly by younger officers. Formerly, he said, Herbert Schnitze was able to make a war cruise and sink 50,000 tons without hearing a single depth charge. The same situation prevailed at the beginning of the campaign in American waters. Hardegen made one trip in January 1942, according to Degen, and sank 60,000 tons.
Chapter XII. U-BOAT YARDS
Prisoners agreed that the small Stülkenwerft, Hamburg, was experiencing considerable difficulty in producing U-boats. Some plans had been supplied by the Blohm & Voss Yards, Hamburg, and others by the Germaniawerft, Kiel. The result was errors in fitting and connecting oil and air lines and in the electrical wiring of the U-boats, in addition to other building defects. These errors were discovered in the U-701 and had to be corrected in subsequent U-boats of the series. It was alleged that not more than seven or eight boats were building at the yard, and that the present rate of production was not more than one U-boat every 4 or 5 months. This rate might now have been speeded up. The U-702 was stated to be still on the stocks when the U-701 finally left the Stülkenwerft in December 1941.
Degen stated that Blohm & Voss U-boats were favorites of commanders, as this yard has had the most experience. He stated that Germania boats also were popular, as Germania had been building U-boats since before the war.
Chapter XIII. U-BOAT BASES
Torpedo Regulating Establishment Near La Pallice.
A prisoner revealed the presence of a torpedo regulating establishment (Torpedoregelstelle) at Chatelaillon, serving the Third U-Boat Flotilla based on La Pallice.
The prisoner said that the establishment was some 500 meters north of the first houses and hotels which line the beach at Chatelaillon and about 1 1/2 kilometers south of the point where the highway crosses the railroad line from La Rochelle to Rochefort. To reach the establishment trucks and buses turn off the highway, passing a short distance into the sparse spruce woods which rise over the top of the construction. The structure, which the prisoner called a "Bunker," is of reinforced concrete and was built by the Germans. Men working at the establishment come daily by bus from La Rochelle, a 20-to-30 minute ride.
Torpedoes are brought to the establishment, according to the prisoner, with war heads detached and are taken away with war heads on.
U-boat crews on leave frequently live at hotels at Chatelaillon.
In La Rochelle some of the men lived near the Place de Verdun. They liked to drink nearby at the Cafe de la Paix.
Degen confirmed that U-701, attached to the Third Flotilla, was based on La Pallice, although it never was there, owing to what he called "Yard technical questions" (Werftechnische Fragen). He said that the two times he was recalled to France from war cruises, La Pallice had been full, and he was sent to St. Nazaire and Brest.
A prisoner remarked that it was a disadvantage for U-boat men to dock in a port other than their flotilla base as papers were sent to the base and had to be returned before men received their pay.
U-boat shelters at Brest are alleged to house a maximum of nine U-boats at one time. Degen stated that large supplies of fuel oil were not stored at Brest, because there they would be too exposed to air attacks from England. U-boats at Brest, therefore, visit Lorient to complete with oil. Degen stated further that the natural U-boat exit from Brest is considered too far up the channel to be safe. U-boats, therefore, turn south when leaving Brest harbor.
Some U-boat men at Brest live in a new building on the Boulevard de la Marine.
Prisoners confirmed that enlisted men based on St. Nazaire live in the U-boat home not far from the "French wharf" (Franzosenwerft). They are usually carried to and from work by bus.
Degen said he believed Italian U-boats still are based at Bordeaux, although he himself has never been there.
U-boat men were stated to live in the arsenal at Lorient. The bassin à flot at Lorient was said to be large enough to accommodate more than 50 U-boats.
Chapter XIV. U-BOAT TRAINING
Selection of Officers.
Degen stated that the officer's career was through selection only. Officers had to pass difficult efficiency tests every year. These tests, he said, now are supplemented by examinations on various forms of apparatus designed to gage reflex actions, physical endurance and so on, similar to those used in the selection of air-force pilots.
Degen stated that midshipmen were required to pass a special examination before promotion of Leutnant zur See (Ensign).
Courses for Torpedo Seamen (Mechanikergefreiter).
One seaman of the torpedo branch had been in the seventh company at the Pillau U-Schule. This company was said to be for the torpedo career only. His Kompaniechef was a Kapitänleutnant, a reserve officer.
This prisoner stated that he also had attended a course at the Torpedoschule in Flensburg.
Another torpedo seaman had been at the Gotenhafen U-Schule. He stated that there were too few taking the torpedo course there to form a regular company.
Chapter XV. U-BOAT FLOTILLAS
Degen confirmed that Herbert Sohler was chief of the seventh Flotilla and that all U-boats of this flotilla carried Prien's "Steer of Scapa Flow" as a device.
Degen said that his flotilla chief (Third Flotilla) was von Reiche, who replaced Herbert Schnitze late in 1941 or early in 1942. He said that the flotilla chiefs duties, had nothing to do with U-boat operations on war cruises - this was Admiral Dönitz' responsibility. However, when the U-boat returned to port the flotilla chief's responsibility began. He saw that the crew were given leave, that the U-boat got safely to the ways for overhaul, that sick members of the crew were replaced, and so on.
Chapter XVI. MINE FIELDS
Kapitänleutnant Degen appeared to have considerable knowledge of British mine fields in the North Sea, where he participated in mine laying operations early in the war. However, he did not appear to know the exact position of British mine fields between the Faeroes and the islands of Lewis, and between the Faeroes and Iceland.
U-701 and U-210, and possibly U-352, crossed the line between the Faeroes and Iceland beside or over a shallower area of water allegedly indicated on German charts as "Der Rosengarten." (A previous reference to this name occurs in the Admiralty's C. B. 4051 (31) at page 6). Degen indicated on a chart the location of the Rosengarten as longitude 63°30' N., and latitude 11°30' W. Both U-701 and U-201 noted a number of floating mines in this area, leading prisoners to suspect the Rosengarten to be mined.
U-701 and U-210 seemed to have followed the same route into the Atlantic. Evidence from U-352 on this point was vague, but there were indications that she passed between the Faeroes and Iceland, as did the other two U-boats.
U-701 and U-210 passed through the Rosengarten on the surface and in daylight. U-701 had a special danger area look-out watch of three officers and the quartermaster Degen implied that he preferred to remain on the surface when crossing a suspected mine field.
Chapter XVII. MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS
Degen stated that following the collapse of France a number of naval documents fell into Germans' hands, among them a British "memorandum" on U-boat warfare which gave an account of a U-boat attack on a convoy. A British merchant service skipper told of a U-boat surfacing for a few seconds near his boat. Degen suggested that poor trim following release of torpedoes caused this. The skipper saw an arched Black Cat device on the U-boat's conning tower. The Germans knew at once that this must have been Herbert Schultze's U-boat.
Degen recalled sitting in Hamburg one evening with Oberleutnant Endrass (lost with U-567) whom he knew very well. Endrass had just received a copy of Prien's book written after the latter's exploit at Scapa Flow and inscribed the book for Degen to the effect that "my trip with Prien to Scapa Flow was the proudest moment of my life."
Degen said there is some ill feeling between the "Imperial Navy" and the "Party Air Force" (as he expressed it). Goering sees to it that the Air Force has the best of everything. An air pilot, by shooting down enemy aircraft, gains a Knight's Cross much more easily than a U-boat commander, who must sink 100,000 tons of shipping for this award.
Degen said that Dönitz, because of his success as B. d. U. is more popular generally than Grand Admiral Raeder. If Hitler wishes to ask something about U-boat warfare, he goes directly to Dönitz rather than through Raeder.
Degen stated that his second watch officer, Leutnant zur See (Ensign) Bazies, formerly served in a trawler, and had participated in an attempt to salvage a British submarine. This occurred after the capture of H. M. S. Seal. According to Degen, the crew were taken off and made prisoners. Bazies' trawler and another managed to get a line under the submarine and prepared her for tow, but the line parted and the boat filled. The submarine sank in due course, but only after Bazies and others had boarded and carefully inspected her.
Degen invariably listened to radio station "Gustav Siegfried No. 1" on board. He believed it to be an English station, and believed that
the broadcasting was done by a renegade Prussian Army officer, whose statements he held to be 90 percent accurate. He said that these broadcasts are very popular in Germany, chiefly for their obscenity.
Degen also listened to the Admiralty's "Naval Program" while at sea. He said that he learned of the sinking of U-433, under the command of Oberleutnant Ey, from one of these broadcasts.
Survivors of the U-701. Kapitänlentnant Degen on extreme right.
Crew list of U-701 on last cruise
(Survivors are indicated by asterisks)
||U. S. N. equivalent
||Oberleutnant z. S
||Lieutenant (j. g.).
||Lieutenant (j. g.) engineering duties only.
||Leutnant z. S
||Ensign, engineering duties only.
||Boatswain's mate, 2cl.
|Hänsel, Kurt (?)
||Torpedoman's mate, 3cl
The following men joined U-701 in Brest for the last cruise: Lange, Lauffeldt, Gross, Bosse, Leu, and Nimsch.
The following men served on U-701 but left before the last cruise
||U. S. N. equivalent
||When and where left
||Leutnant z. S
||In St. Nazaire at end of first war cruise.
||At Brest after second
||Drafted to P. O.'s course.
||In Kiel about July 25, 1941.
||In Hamburg before commissioning.
||In Kiel during working up trials August-September 1941.
||Ill; abscessed jaw.
||In Kiel during working up trials August-September 1941.
Translation of Statement Prepared by Kapitänleutnant Horst Degen While Held as Prisoner of War at Camp Devens, Mass.
(In all instances, the time indicated is D. S. Z. (German Summer Time))
Fort Devens, Mass., U. S. A.
July 16, 1942.
July 7, 1942. - At 2015 hours D. S. Z.) 2 hull's eyes - air bombs. All instruments out of order. Tanks blown. Within 1 to 2 minutes control room and conning tower filled with water. Ship had list to starboard of approximately 20 degrees. C/T hatch opened easily. Ship is at a depth of about 15-20 meters and no longer able to surface. Depth of water about 80-100 meters.
The following saved themselves (all through C/T hatch):
Obersteuermann (quartermaster of warrant grade) Kunert.
Bootsmaat (coxswain) Etzweiler.
Obergefreiter (seaman, 1 cl.) Weiland.
Oberleutnant (Ing.) (lieutenant (j. g.) - engineering duty only) Bahr.
Maschinenmaat (fireman, 1 cl.) Vaupel.
Maschinenmaat (fireman, 1 cl.) Fischer.
Maschinenmaat (fireman, 1 cl.) Damrow.
Funkmaat (radioman, 3 cl.) Grootheer.
Maschinenmaat (fireman. 1 cl.) Bosse (from electric motors).
Gefreiter (seaman. 2 cl.) Schmidtmeyer (from forward torpedo compartment).
Matrose (apprentice seaman) Leu.
Matrose (apprentice seaman) Michalek.
Bootsmann (boatswain's mate, 1 cl.) Hansel.
Fähnrich (lng.) (midshipman - engineering duties only) Lange.
Obermaat (petty officer, 2 cl.) Gründler.
Maschinenmaat (fireman, 1 cl.) Schuller.
We had three escape lungs and one life preserver, and in addition two small life preservers which had been thrown to us by the airplane (landplane). Force of sea, 4. The plane circled about several times, threw smoke floats into the sea and then departed. Later
we sighted the plane again, apparently in search of us, but it was unable to find us again because of the rough sea, even though we had remained close together.
Despite warning Hansel and Lange left us. They definitely decided to swim to shore (30 sea miles distant).
Around 2100 hours Etzweiler drowned. He did not know how to swim and was unable to keep himself above water any longer.
We were in good spirits as we could look forward to being saved at an early hour.
July 8, 0300. - As darkness descended we consoled ourselves with hope in the morrow. A few of us were ready to give up, but these we cheered up, so that we were all still together when it became light again.
Around 1200 a Coast Guard ship passed within 2,000 meters of us at slow speed. Despite our cries and waving we remained unnoticed. The ship passed out of sight. Although we all hoped that it would return, some of the men now gave up. Damrow and Schmidtmeyer were delirious as though in fever.
July 8. - Around 1400 the following drowned, one after another: Damrow, Schmidtmeyer, Gründler, Bahr, Weiland, Schuller.
We saw many airplanes - apparently we were still being sought.
About 2300 the following drowned: Bosse, Fischer.
Later we came across the Matrose (apprentice seaman) Laskowski, who wore two escape lungs and who was still very fresh. He reported that several more of the crew had escaped, among others the first and second watch officers.
July 9, 0300. - With the oncoming darkness we huddled close together in order to survive in this way also the second night. Fortunately the sea subsided. We found a lemon and a cocoanut. Each man received a swallow of cocoanut milk, a piece of the meat and everyone had the opportunity to suck the lemon. A tremendous refreshment! Our thirst was awful, and the large quantities of salt water burned mouth, nose and stomach. (The cocoanut was opened by Vaupel after the greatest exertion with the help of the oxygen flash from the escape lung.)
July 9, 0800. - In the course of the night the following drowned: Leu, Michalek, Laskowski. All three were delirious and yelled terribly.
July 9, 1100. - At dawn my strength began to leave me too. I seem to recollect that I talked nonsense and that Kunert kept on quieting me. As the sea was still like a pond, I kept up the practice of discarding my life preserver, saying that I would swim to shore. I assumed that with a few strokes I would feel bottom under my feet and would be able to stand up, but every time I tried this I went under. That would bring me to again and I would swim back to
my life preserver. This occurrence must have happened many times. Then I lost consciousness. I awakened as though I had been asleep when I suddenly heard myself called. About 30 meters away sat Kunert, Vaupel and Grootheer making for me in a white rubber boat. I was taken into the boat as Kunert was about to open a can of pineapple with a knife. Out of a can already opened Grootheer gave me tomatoes to eat, and all the while a Zeppelin airship circled about us. The situation was as follows: The airship had sighted us and thrown the rubber boat into the sea. Shortly thereafter a large rubber sack was also thrown down. In this we found: One small first aid kit, two loaves of white bread, one sack of water. All this happened in the late afternoon.
July 9, 2100. - As the coastal waters are thoroughly oily, we were completely covered with a thick black layer of oil. Now, while in the boat, the sun shone down upon us, and this resulted in a terrible sunburn.
July 9. - Around 2300 a large flying boat arrived and took us on board. We were given water and hot coffee. All four of us were completely finished. We shall probably never forget this 49-hour endurance swim. Thus we have escaped the "reaper" to whom we had already given our hand. The U-boat heaven lay open before us, and Kunert said that he was already looking forward to the first half liter they would serve him there.
We were delivered to the Navy Hospital at Norfolk where we were treated with the greatest care and attention and made into human beings once more. There we found three other survivors:
Gefreiter (seaman, 2 cl.) Seldte.
Matrose (apprentice seaman) Faust.
Gefreiter (seaman, 2 cl.) Schwendel.
I could not ascertain how they were saved. It is doubtful that there were any others who were saved. We were told that we were picked up 90 sea miles north of the place where the ship sank. (Gulf stream!)
We are all well. On July 11 the air officer who had bombed us paid me a visit, and inquired after our well being.
On July 12 we were transferred by rail to the military encampment "Fort Devens" (in the vicinity of Boston, Mass.) where we shall now pass the days of our detention as prisoners of war. We are being correctly handled and receive good treatment. There is plenty of good food to eat.