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Oral History-Battle of the Atlantic, 1941-1945

Recollections of Captain Daniel V. Gallery, USN, commander of USS Guadalcanal Task Group concerning the capture of German submarine U-505 on 4 June 1944

Adapted from: Daniel V. Gallery interview, recorded 26 May 1945, that is in box 11 of World War II Interviews, Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command

When war broke out, that is on Pearl Harbor Day, I was attached to the American Embassy in London as an observer. I had been slated to command one of the Naval Air Bases that we were at that time building in England.

A few days after Pearl Harbor I was ordered to Iceland to take command of Fleet Air Base, Reykjavik [Iceland], up there. I was there from December, 1941, until May, 1943. During this time we built the fleet air base. There were very primitive living conditions there when I first arrived but within six months we had a very comfortable base built with excellent facilities for operating airplanes, for living and for recreation. We worked in very close cooperation with the British there, actually, although not theoretically, under the operational control of the air officer commanding the Royal Air Force [RAF], Iceland.

We had one squadron of PBY [twin-engine patrol bomber seaplane, known as "Catalina"] amphibians which operated as far as 600 miles south of Reykjavik. We would meet convoys....approximately off Cape Farewell in Iceland and would carry them under our escort until they were within range of the RAF planes from England. During the period of which I speak our planes delivered more attacks on [German] submarines than any other squadron in the U.S. Navy. We had, during that period, six official A and B assessments and, as I remember it, around 70 attacks.

I left Iceland in June 1943 and came to the United States and put the [escort aircraft carrier] USS Guadalcanal [CVE-60] in commission at Astoria, Oregon. I was there for several months before her commissioning and the actual commissioning was in September of 1943. We went from Astoria to Puget Sound, then down to San Diego for preliminary shakedown [sea tests of the ship and crew], and in actual fact that shakedown amounted to one week, and then we took a squadron [of aircraft] aboard and came around to the east coast via the Panama Canal, arriving in Norfolk [Virginia] in December of 1943.

We left on our first ASW [anti-submarine warfare] cruise in January 1944 and operated in the vicinity of the Azores on January 19. We got our first two U-boat [German submarine, or unterseeboot] kills when we surprised a refueling operation and depth charged and sank a big refueler [a German submarine equipped with extra fuel tanks and responsible for resupplying attack U-boats to permit them to remain on patrol longer] and a small [attack] U-boat alongside of it [U-544 was sunk on 16 Jan.; apparently the second submarine survived the action]. On our second cruise which began late in March, we got two more kills. We sank the U-515 and picked up 40-some prisoners, including the captain, and sank the U-68 the next day, getting one survivor and one dead man and a great deal of wreckage.

On this cruise we broke the ice on night operations for CVEs [escort aircraft carriers]. So far as I know, we were the first CVE to operate continuously at night as a matter of routine. On this cruise there was one period during which we had planes in the air continuously for 48 hours and it was during that period that we got both of our kills.

Planned capture of U-boat

It was also during this cruise that we got the idea of trying to capture a U-boat. When we sank the [U-]515 we had been hunting her continuously for about 18 hours, making intermittent sound contacts, sightings by the planes at night and contacts by destroyers....and contacts on sonar buoys, in other words, we'd been right on top of the U-515 for about 18 hours and had delivered several depth charge attacks, both from the air and surface vessels, which had damaged him until he got to the point where he had to come up and he suddenly popped up right in the middle of a group of three of our destroyers which were only three to four hundred yards away from him, and he was surrounded by them.

We had three or four planes in the air at the time over this spot. As soon as he popped up everyone opened up on him in accordance with the usual accepted doctrine and hammered him to pieces, set fire to him and blew him up and he sank within a few minutes of the time that he had come up. He attempted to man his guns but the gunfire from our ships was so heavy that it drove the crew overboard.

In analyzing this attack afterwards it occurred to us that if we had anticipated what was going to happen and had been ready for it with organized boarding parties, we might possibly have gotten aboard the U-515 in time to save her. So we determined that on the next cruise we would anticipate such an event and be ready for it.

The next cruise started in May and at the departure conference attended by the representatives of Cinclant [Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet], ComAirLant [Commander, Atlantic Air Forces], ComFairNorfolk [Commander, Fleet Air, Norfolk, Virginia], DesDivLant [Destroyer Division, Atlantic}, we discussed plans for boarding and capture and we agreed that if we encountered a submerged submarine and forced him to surface we would then assume that he had surfaced for only one reason, which was to try to save his hide, save the crew. And that as soon as he surfaced we would cease fire with any weapons that could inflict fatal damage on the submarine, that we would use only anti-personnel weapons from that point on, attempting to drive the crew overboard as rapidly as possible, meantime having our boarding parties already to go.

Each ship in the task force was ordered to organize and instruct boarding parties and to have all preparations ready for taking a sub in tow on short notice. On 17th of May, approximately ten days after we had sailed, in my intention for the night signal I told the group that we expected to be on a hot trail the next day and reminded them that our objective was to capture rather than sink and said for all ships to have their boarding parties ready and be ready to tow. That was May 17th.

The actual capture occurred on June 4th. We didn't get the one that I had in mind on May 17th. We went on and operated off of Cape Verde Islands for approximately two weeks, operating continuously day and night and finally we were running short of fuel and had to head for Casablanca. But on the way to Casablanca we decided to run searches for a U-boat reported by Cominch [Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet] to be home bound off the west coast of Africa.

Vectored planes over [USS] Chatelain

We hunted for this fellow about four or five days and nights, had numerous indications that a submarine was nearby, such as disappearing radar contacts, noisy sonar-buoys, TAG bearings but we never did sight this fellow and we were finally about to give up the hunt. As a matter of fact for all practical purposes we had given it up and were on our way to Casablanca but were keeping fighter planes in the air to serve as escort and also on the outside chance we might still find the fellow, when on June 4th, Sunday morning, at about 11:10, 150 miles west of Cape Blanco in French West Africa, the Chatelain reported that she had a possible sound contact.

Within a half minute she reported contact evaluated as U-boat and in accordance with the doctrine of our task group, without further orders from me, she and the two destroyers nearest to her started the attack while the Guadalcanal and my other two escorts turned away from the contact. The Chatelain, having the sound contact, was the attacking ship and the [USS] Pillsbury [DE-133] and [USS] Jenks [DE-665] were assisting ships. ComCortDivFour, Commander Hall, was in the Pillsbury and as ComCortDivFour was in tactical command at the scene of the attack.

The Pillsbury was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Cassleman. The Chatelain was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Dudley S. Knox and the [USS] Jenks was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Julius F. Way.

As soon as the Chatelain's report came into the combat information center on the Guadalcanal we vectored [diverted] our fighting planes over to the Chatelain. All ships and aircraft guarded [listened to] the same radio frequency so the fighters that heard the report were already on the way. The fighters sighted the sub running fully submerged.

The Chatelain's first attack with hedgehogs ["v"-shaped mortars on a ship's deck which fired depth charges to each side of the ship] apparently was ineffective and at this point the sub sighted the task force, fired one acoustic [sound-guided] torpedo and reversed course. This temporarily shook off the Chatelain but our fighters saw the sub reverse course, and being on the same radio frequency with the Chatelain, told her what was happening, coached her to reverse course too and then coached her on to a collision course with the sub.

She very soon picked up the sub again with her sound gear and following the indications of the sound gear and of the fighter planes in the air, she made a depth charge attack firing a full pattern [with hedgehog depth charges to each side and other depth charges rolled off the stern for maximum area coverage] which rolled the sub on her beams end under the water. The fighter planes immediately reported, "Chatelain, you struck oil [the explosive depth charges exploded near the sub and caused one of its oil lines to rupture, creating an oil slick on the surface], sub is surfacing," Then in a few seconds the sub broke surface and found herself practically in the center of a group consisting of the ChatelainPillsbury, and Jenks.

These ships and the two aircraft immediately opened fire on the submarine with anti-personnel ammunition. The planes fired 50 caliber guns, the destroyers fired 20 mm. and 40 mm. guns and some three-inch shells of high explosives [designed to explode on impact] rather than armor piercing [designed to penetrate the target and then explode].

The Nazis [German sailors] scrambled overboard as fast as they could. They attempted to man the guns but there was just too much stuff flying and they went overboard pretty fast. As soon as it was apparent that most of them had gone overboard, Commander Hall, the Division Commander issued the order, "Cease firing," "Away boarding parties."

The JenksPillsbury and Chatelain all put boats in the water and Commander Hall then ordered the Jenks and the Chatelain to pick up survivors while the [boarding party of the] Pillsbury would board the sub.

Put their lives "on the line."

The sub was left running at about 10 knots with her rudder jammed hard right and in just about full surface trim. The Pillsbury'sboat had to chase the sub and cut inside the circle to catch her, which she did, and the boarding party, consisting of eight enlisted men and Lieutenant (j.g. [junior grade]) Albert Leroy David, leaped from the boat to the circling sub and took possession of it.

On deck there was one dead man. They didn't know what was down below. They had every reason to believe, from the way the sub was still running, that there were still Nazis left below engaged in scuttling, setting booby traps or perhaps getting rid of confidential gear. At any rate David and two enlisted men, one named Knispel, the other Wdowiak, plunged down the conning tower hatch carrying hand grenades and machine guns ready to fight it out with anyone they found below. They very definitely put their lives on the line when they went down the hatch. However, they found no one below.

They did find that water was pouring into the U-boat through a bilge strainer about 8 inches in diameter which had the cover knocked off, and that all the vents were open and the boat was rapidly flooding. When they found there was no one else below they called the other boarders below and went to work closing vents. They found the cover to this bilge strainer, slapped it back in place, screwed up the butterfly nuts on it and checked the flooding, just in the nick of time.

In the meantime another boarding party from the Guadalcanal arrived under the command of Commander Earl Trosino, Chief Engineer of the Guadalcanal, and took charge of the salvage operations. At this time the sub was so low in the water that to prevent the swells from washing down the conning tower hatch they had to close the hatch on the people who were working below. Those people down below wouldn't have had any chance whatsoever to escape in case the sub had gotten away from us.

The Pillsbury meanwhile was attempting to come alongside and take the sub in tow. She sent a message to the sub to stop the engines so she could get alongside. However, when they pulled the switches and stopped the engines, the stern of the sub sank so far in the water that it looked like she was going to up end and sink so they had to throw the switches to full speed ahead again to get the lift of the stern planes [external short "wings" designed to make vertical axis of the submarine hull go above or below 90 degrees] to keep the stern up, and the sub circled some more.

The Pillsbury then tried to come alongside while she was still circling, actually did get alongside and get a line aboard but, of course, with the sub circling she couldn't hold her position very well and the two ships swung together, and the bow flippers [planes] of the submarine ripped a long underwater gash in the side of the Pillsbury and flooded two main compartments. So the Pillsbury had to back. clear.

Looked like cowboy at rodeo

Incidentally, while the Pillsbury was chasing the sub, from the bridge of the Guadalcanal it looked for all the world like a cowboy trying to rope a wild horse in a rodeo. And when she finally got her first line aboard, I broadcasted on the TBS ["talk between ships" radio], "Ride `em cowboy." Well, the Pillsbury finally had to back clear and sent a message saying that the sub had to be towed to remain afloat but she didn't think a destroyer could do it. So I sent back and told the destroyers to stand clear that I'd take her in tow myself.

So we maneuvered the Guadalcanal into position. I had them stop the engines on the sub and pulled up as quickly as we could, shoved our stern up against her nose, got a tow line aboard and got her going again. Meantime the Pillsbury reported two compartments flooded to the waterline and they didn't know whether they could check the flooding or not. So we sent assistance to the Pillsbury.

About this time, or a little later, one of the destroyers, I think the Chatelain, reported that she had another possible sound contact and the [USS] Flaherty [DE-135] reported a disappearing radar pip. So I decided that was a good place to get away from and we started off with our tow to head for the nearest friendly port, which was Dakar.

As we got underway the sub sheared way out to the right indicating that she had her rudder jammed full right. Well, we didn't feel inclined to stop at that time, so we continued the tow with the sub riding about 20 degrees on our starboard quarter [to the right rear of the towing ship]. Meantime, we had to land our planes, of which we had three or four in the air. So we turned into the wind and landed aircraft with the sub in tow as if it were an every day matter.

I had reported the capture immediately to Cinclant and reported my intention of proceeding to Dakar. Along about 4 o'clock in the afternoon I got word to proceed to Casablanca instead of Dakar [for] security reasons so we changed course to head for Casablanca. I had meantime reported that I probably just barely had enough fuel left to reach Casablanca.

We left the Pillsbury lying dead in the water with one destroyer standing by her and attempting to get her engines back in commission. At midnight the tow line [to the submarine] broke as the first tow line we put out was only about an inch and a quarter wire. The tow line broke and so we spent the rest of the night circling the sub and getting our big tow line ready. We came alongside the sub again shortly after dawn and passed a big tow line. Meanwhile I had instructed the boarding parties to try to get the rudder amidships [i.e., turned so as to be in alinement with the long axis of the submarine so it would go straight when towed]. They signaled to me from the sub that the rudder was amidships, so we then recovered our boarding parties and got underway again. However, it soon became apparent that the rudder wes still not amidships. The sub rode the same way, about 20 degrees on our starboard quarter.

Suspected booby trap

I found then that the boarding parties had moved an electric indicator, or had caused this indicator to move from the hard right to the amidships position but that they had no way of checking where the rudder actually was because the watertight door to the after torpedo room was closed and had that they thought was a booby trap on it. We had also discovered from interrogation of prisoners that the prisoners thought the after torpedo room was flooded. However, it appeared we had to get the rudder amidships if we were going to have any success with the tow.

So, I had been just looking for a good excuse to get over to the sub myself anyway and when the boarding parties reported this booby trap I figured I was as well qualified as anyone in the task group to open booby traps because I had an ordnance PG [Post Graduate] course and quite a lot of experience with ordnance. So we stopped and I went over with a selected party and we went aft to inspect the booby trap.

The booby trap consisted of the door to a fuse box or rather the cover to an electric fuse box which was lying across the main dog [short metal rod or bar fashioned to form a clamp or clip and used for holding watertight doors in place] of the watertight door in such a manner that you couldn't move the dog to open the door without closing the fuse box cover. This arrangement had possibilities as a booby trap but careful inspection of it showed no unusual or suspicious electric connections. We were unable to find any trigger mechanisms or anything else that would indicate a booby trap and in addition I was firmly of the opinion that the Nazis had left in too much of a hurry to set any booby traps.

So we decided to assume that it was not a booby trap, close tho fuse box cover and nothing happened. So we then proceeded to open the watertight door very carefully so that if the after torpedo room was flooded we would be able to jam the thing closed in case water started squirting out around the edges. However, the after torpedo room was dry so we went aft and found the hand steering gear, rigged the clutches to engage it and moved the rudder amidships by hand, meantime determining that the pressure hull was intact and that there was no flooding in the after torpedo room. However, the boat at this time was riding with her stern well down and we found considerably later, in fact after we got in, that this was due to the fact that one of the after ballast tanks had been ruptured by the depth charges.

We then fastened everything down and returned to the Guadalcanal and resumed the tow. In the meantime the Pillsbury had gotten herself pumped out, got a patch over the hole and was able to rejoin. At this time we got another message from Cinclant telling us that instead of going to Casablanca they wanted us for security reasons to go to Bermuda if the condition of the sub warranted it and telling us that we would be met by an oiler [a Navy fuel supply ship] and a [seagoing] tug.

So we reversed course and headed for Bermuda. I was not too sure that we could make Bermuda or that the sub would remain afloat that long. However, I figured it would take us approximately three days to get to Casablanca and that if we were going to lose her at all, we'd lose her within three days, therefore, I might just as well try for Bermuda as Casablanca because if I could make Casablanca and keep her afloat three days, the chances were that we could keep her afloat longer.

In the meantime the Naval Operating Base, Casablanca, Moroccan Sea Frontier, was sending out the [USS] Humbolt [AVP-21] with Commander Rucker aboard, who is a qualified submarine commander. I figured that ho would soon be there to give me advice snd help. The next day, or rather on June 7th, we rendezvoused with the fleet tug [USS] Abnaki [ATF-96] and transferred our tow.

Put salvage party aboard

When we lost headway and transferred the tow the sub sank so far in the water that it looked like she was going all the way down. So we rushed our salvage parties back aboard, had the Abnaki heave her into short stay, tow as fast as she could and started lightening the sub. We removed all the loose gear that we could. We had electric submersible pumps which we sent over from theGuadalcanal and we rigged electric lines to the Abnaki and got these pumps running and pulled out probably some 33 or 40 tons of bilge water from the main control room. It was a very close thing that day as to whether she was going to go down or not.

As a matter of fact while the issue was still in doubt, the Guadalcanal got ready to act as a pontoon and hold the sub up. We rigged a heavy wire from the forward starboard edge of our starboard corner of our flight deck, let it hang in a bite [bight] underwater and brought the other end in through our Lawse [hawse, or anchor cable] pipe and over to our anchor windlass. We then cruised along very slowly with our bow about 40 feet from the stern of the sub or where we figured the stern was under water. With this bite of wire hanging in the water so that if the sub started going down too far the idea was we would forge ahead, slip this bite of wire under the stern and heave around with our anchor windlass and try to hold the stern up until we got her lightened enough to save her.

After about an hour of standing by to do this, it became apparent that it would not be necessary. We got the electric pumps going and got her up to manageable trim. When the salvage parties left that day they had traced out the electric wiring circuits in the sub and set the switches to charge the batteries. They disconnected the diesel engines from the electric motors so that when the Abnakitowed at about nine knots the propellers turned over the electric motors which acted as generators and charged her batteries.

The next day we were able to run some of the electric machinery on the boat, the pumps, the air compressors, to blow the tanks, pump the bilges and pull her up to full surface trim. We had to do all this without benefit of the expert advice I was hoping to get from Casablanca because we couldn't wait that long. The situation finally got desperate and we had to do this ourselves. TheHumbolt arrived several hours after we had done this. The next day Commander Rucker inspected the sub, approved all our salvage measures and assured us that she was in seaworthy condition for the tow home.

During all this time, that is the three days that the Guadalcanal had her in tow herself, we conducted flight operations day and night because we were in [German] submarine lanes. Other subs were supposed to be nearby and there was a full moon. So I thought it was necessary to keep our own air patrols up. At times we landed planes with only 15 knots of wind across the deck and got away with it.

After the Abnaki took over the tow we escorted her, well, first we refueled the task group from the [oiler USS] Kennebec [AO-36] and then we took all the confidential documents, secret codes, coding machines and a tremendous stack of dispatches, dumped them in ten mail bags and sent them over to the Jenks. We then sent the Jenks on ahead to Bermuda at full speed and this material was picked up in Bermuda by Naval Air Transport and flown to Washington.

Meantime, we proceeded in company with the Abnaki, which did the towing, and escorted her to Bermuda. On June 19th we turned the U-505 over to the Commandant Naval Operating Base, Bermuda. Only one man in the submarine crew was killed. We buried him at sea while the capture was going on. The others were all rescued. I believe a total of 59 of them. The submarine skipper was pretty badly wounded and remained in the sick bay of the Guadalcanal throughout the trip back.

Captain Gallery, was there any special significance to the insignia on the conning tower of the U-505?

Captain Gallery:
Yes, that insignia is the insignia of the Dutch Shell Oil Company and it's on there because the Vice President of Dutch Shell Oil was the sponsor of this U-boat.
On the way back to Bermuda we had it very thoroughly impressed on us by messages from Cominch and Cinclant that this whole business was to be kept in an absolute top secret category and we took steps to impress that on everyone in the task group. It's interesting to note that obviously this actually was done.
When the German sub surrendered after V-E Day [Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945, the date of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies] one of the submarines came up Delaware Bay and surrendered off the mouth of Delaware Bay to the USS Pillsbury, which was in on this capture I've been describing. It's also very interesting to note that the officer who was sent over by thePillsbury to accept this surrender and take charge of the sub was Lieutenant David who led the boarding parties when my task group captured the U-505. It's also interesting that the skipper of this submarine that surrendered after V-E Day had at one time been the Exec [executive officer - or second-in-command] of the U-505.
When David found this out, he asked him what had become of the U-505 and the Germans answered, "She was lost with all hands about a year ago." So at the time of the surrender of Germany, the Germans still did not know that we had captured the U-505.
I want to mention the names of some individuals who did outstanding work in conjunction with this capture. They are: Commander Hall who was ComCortDiv 4 [Commander Escort Division Four]; Lieutenant Commander Knox who commanded the Chatelainwhich delivered the attack which brought the U-boat up; Lieutenant Commander Casselman who was skipper of the Pillsbury that furnished the first boarding party and which attempted to get alongside the sub; Lieutenant Hodgson who commanded the aircraft squadron attached to the Guadalcanal and whose pilots rendered invaluable assistance to the Pillsbury in coaching her on for her attack; Lieutenant David, who led the first boarding party aboard and all members of his boarding party; the two who accompanied David down the hatch. The first ones to enter the sub were two enlisted men named Knispel and Wdowiak.
Another officer who rendered outstanding service was Commander Trosino of the Guadalcanal. He was in charge of all salvage operations and in my opinion is the officer who was principally responsible for getting the sub back to port. He spent many hours crawling around in the bilges, under the engines, into inaccessible places that he couldn't possibly have escaped from had the sub got away from us, tracing out the pipe lines, closing valves with his own hands, and doing whatever was necessary to keep that submarine afloat. He definitely risked his life time and time again over a period of several days.
Those are the outstanding individuals, however, I wish to say that the success of this operation was due primarily to the splendid teamwork of the whole group. Ever since the task force had first been formed I had tried to impress on all hands that we would work together as a team, destroyers, carriers, and aircraft, all one team and no individual prima donas. Any kills we got we would consider as kills by the whole force whether they were made by one airplane at the end of a search leg and a hundred miles away from the task group or whether they were made by three or four destroyers on a sub that came up right in the middle of the task group.

Captain stressed teamwork
All hands were well indoctrinated with this idea and they carried it out. When an attack started each one knew what he was supposed to do and those destroyers, for instance, who had the minor role of simply protecting the carrier while she retired from the immediate contact did their jobs willingly and efficiently and left the job with a lot of glory in it, making the kill, to the other people.
The same thing was true of aircraft. They were willing and anxious to coach destroyers when that was the proper thing to do rather than to rush in and try to make a kill themselves and perhaps spoil the job for the group. So in my opinion it was teamwork of the whole task group that did this job.
I also want to mention that all the ships in the task group were less than one year old and approximately 80 per cent of the crews in all ships were serving on their first seagoing ship. Most of these people had never seen salt water until several months before this kill, or this capture. None of them, with one or two exceptions in the boarding parties, none of them had ever been on a submarine before and all they knew about U-boats is what they learned from studying intelligence bulletins.
While these boarding parties were aboard the sub there was constant danger that she would founder and take all hands with her. And every valve, switch and push button in the U-boat was a possible booby trap. There were 13 demolition charges in the U-boat which were later found and removed. I believe the first day we were able to find and pull the wires off only five or six of them. However, in spite of their inexperience and great danger to their lives, all hands in the boarding parties did their stuff like veteran submarine sailors. I consider it a great honor and a privilege to have commanded them and I'm very proud of their work indeed.
Of course, after we got this submarine in tow all of my crew were the cockiest bunch of sailors you've ever seen in your life and on June 6th a little incident happened that will indicate just how cocky they were. June 6th, of course, was D-Day in France when the invasion of Normandy began. That morning when communiques from France were posted on the bulletin board, one of my brave young lads read over all the historic communiques coming from headquarters about the invasion and then shoved his hat on back of his head and said, "Boy, oh boy, look what Eisenhower had to do to top us."
During the long tow back to Bermuda we kept ourselves amused by looking through the history books in regard to captures at sea and, as far as we could determine, this case was the first time that the U.S. Navy had boarded and captured a foreign enemy man-of-war in battle on the high seas since 1815.
When you say foreign, you eliminate the Civil War from discussion and, as far as I can find out, when you say on the high seas, you eliminate the Spanish War [of 1898]. There were a number of captures, of course, during the Spanish War but I believe they were all either ships that surrendered in a harbor, I think there was a case in Manila where some gunboat came in without knowing that war had broken out, or there were numerous ships raised from the bottom after they had been sunk at Manila, and I believe a number of ships that were beached off Santiago were later salvaged. But as far as we could find out this was the first one on the high seas. There was a capture, I believe, about 1823 of a Portuguese man-of-war by an American man-of-war but Portugal and the United States were never at war. I don't know the details of that capture.
As a matter of fact this one in 1815, which occurred out in the East Indies, actually happened after peace between the United States and England had been signed. I believe the U.S. ship was the [USS] Peacock and I don't remember the name of the British ship.*
During this World War there was one German U-boat which surrendered to the British off Iceland in 1941. She was bombed by aircraft and disabled several hundred miles south of Reykjavik in very stormy weather. She surfaced and actually surrendered to the aircraft. RAF Iceland then maintained a continuous air patrol over her while she headed back toward Iceland and a British trawler was sent out to meet her. When the trawler arrived it was too rough to put a boarding party aboard so they passed the tow line to the Nazis and made it quite plain to them that unless they kept their ship afloat they were going to go down with her. So the Nazis cooperated, took the tow line aboard and remained with their ship until she was beached off the south coast of Iceland. She was later salvaged by the British and is now known as the HMS Graph.
With that exception, no German submarine had been captured in either the First or Second World War. So far as I can determine theU-505 is the only German submarine ever boarded and captured.
A number of times during the tow home my officers and men came to me and wanted to go over on the sub and start her engines and bring her into Bermuda under her own power. I'm sure now, from some of the remarkable feats they accomplished, that they would have been able to do that too but I wouldn't let them do it because my main objective was to get that sub into port and I knew we'd get it in by towing it. I also knew that we had lost many of our own subs in the past through people in their own crews opening the wrong valve by mistake and I was afraid that if I pushed my luck any further with this one somebody would be almost sure to open the wrong valve. I must say now that I confess I probably underestimated my lads.


[* Note: The incident mentioned was probably the capture of the Algerian flagship Mashuda, armed with 46 guns, on 17 June 1815. During the engagement, Mashuda fought USS Constellation, USS Ontario, USS Guerriere and USS Epervier. The Algerian frigate surrendered after her commander and twenty crew members were killed, and many others wounded. The engagement began on the high seas but the Mashuda ran into shoal water.

Source: Dudley W. Knox, History of the United States Navy (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1948): 137.]

2 August 2002

Published: Mon Sep 21 15:08:41 EDT 2015