There have been so many great stories on these forums that I've found myself itching to do a story based on a patrol also.
So here it is.
There is still one more contact report to be put in for this patrol which involved a large convoy but I thought I'd share with you whats happened so far.
Not been spell checked and their may be some U-boat errors as I don't really know that much about them like you grognards!
Hope you enjoy it!
++++++++++++ FROM BDU ++++++++++++
Depart Lorient for Grid reference AL39.
Patrol for minimum 24 hours.
If no contact seek out targets of opportunity in enemy shipping lanes.
++++++++++++ MESSAGE ENDS ++++++++++++
0400 HOURS SUNDAY JUNE 11TH 1941
U100 slipped her moorings at Lorient early in the morning of 2nd July 1941 ââ‚¬" a type VIIB this was to be her 7th mission of the war under the command of Leutenant Ian "Skimbo" Simmonds. The gentle clatter of diesel motors at ahead slow drifted up through the conning tower and looking down through the floor hatches the young Leutenant could see members of his crew busying themselves at their stations. One of them deliberately caught his eye. It was Karl, bathed it the faint red glow of a lamp he pumped his two fingers up and down vigorously, grinned and disappeared out of view. Leutenant
Simmonds smiled inwardly ââ‚¬" this was the 7th mission and the crews spirit had grown indominitably with their successes, a feeling of kinship pervaded the boat - a... a what? There was a common cliche for this attitude among men, but it escaped him for the moment.
U100 rocked gently as she rounded the lighthouse and glided quietly past the U-boat pen. Behind him the watch officer and duty crew murmured and chuckled softly - the soft glow of a cigarette illuminating their faces. Overhead a clutch of seagulls whirled and dove on the morning breeze.
'Enjoy the peace' thought the young leutenant 'it will be over all to soon'. Looking back achinggly towards the blackened sillhouette that was the port of Lorient, he took a mental snapshot of the moment - a moment in time free of death, sweat, the thud of a depth charges and eyes bulging with fear.
The land was slowly beginning to fall away now -as U100 began to stretch her legs heading for the open sea. The Leutenant shivered, thrust his hands into his pockets and began scanning the horizon - another long patrol was beginning.
0730 HOURS SUNDAY JUNE 11TH 1941
'Sir, SIR!! - submarine spotted 034 degrees'. The warm muggy feeling below deck and intoxicating diesel fumes were suddenly gone. Icy fear was in the leutenants veins though his face never betrayed it.
The week before a British submarine had slipped silently into the shipping lanes and narrowly missed sinking U-87: it's torpedoes had run wide and deep but it had served as a timely reminder to every skipper leaving Lorient: they were dealing with a foe as every bit cunning, deadly and elusive as they themselves.
The young Leutenant was taking no chances.
'Watch Officer - man the guns and raise our colours!'
The order was passed and in some throwback to ancient maritime tradition U100 raised the skull and crossbones upon her radio mast. The watch crew cheered as it fluttered in the stiffening breeze while below them gunners threw back the forward hatch tumbling forth to ready the 88.
Scrabbling up the ladder to the bridge watch it was impossible to make anything out in the faint haze of the horizon. Squinting suddenly brought a distant speck into focus. Definitely a submarine.
Below the conning tower the deck gun clanged as a shell was thrust into the breech and the crew
shouted their readiness.
'Watch officer range please!'
'Estimate 4600m Herr Kaluen!'.
To far for an accurate shot and the flash would be easily spotted by an alert watch - better to try and close the distance as quickly as possible.
'New course 034'.
Charging face on U-100 presented a very small target for another submarine.
'Ready tubes 1 through 4. 2 metres running depth. Salvo on 1 and 4 two degree spread. Salvo on tubes 2 and 3 one degree spread all torpedoes fast running. Impact pistols only'.
U-100 rapidly began to pick up speed, the thrum of her diesel engines carried up through the boat in vibration and raucous clattering. At 17 knots she settled into her stride and began to close the distance rapidly.
There was still confusion on the bridge as to the identity of the submarine they had been scrutinising - nobody spoke, every eye straining to find a recognisable feature identifying friend from foe. Surely they must have seen U-100 by now - her bow wave was certain to have given her away.
At 2500m it became clear - it was another U boat, though by now they could see she was having a little trouble.
U-100 settled back on her haunches, and it seemed to reflect the palpable relief of every member of her crew.
'Deck gun to safe'.
'Torpedo room stand down'.
10 minutes later they were alongside the other U-boat, her decks were awash indicating why they had so much difficulty in identifying her.
It was U-91 a type VIIC - The young Leutenant eyed here enviously before addressing her Kapitan.
'Trouble?' he enquired to his opposite number.
'We can't submerge - we're on damn trials and the damn thing won't submerge!! it's great isnt it? A brand new boat and it doesn't even function correctly! I've got a bunch of bootsmen p*ssing in the ballast tanks even as we speak to try and get this b*tch to sink!'.
U-100s deck gun crew had propped themselves up on the muzzle of the 88 stroking their chins and chuckled quietly to themselves at U-91s fuming Kapitan.
'Well we could try and...'
...Leutenant Simmonds was cut short by a voice bellowing up through U-100s conning tower hatch, over the breeze and idling engines it could be clearly heard:
"It'll take more than p*ss and wind to make that thing sink. 4 Warheads at 2 metres depth, impact pistols only by my estimation will take you directly to the bottom!"
There was much raucous laughter and hooting after this profound statement. The young Leutenant suspected the voice belonged to Karl.
'What did he mean by that?!' The other officer demanded.
'Nothing. Private joke.'
U-100s Watch Crew bid farewell to U-91 after assisting them
Two hours later and U-100 was once again on her way having escorted U-88 part of the way back to Lorient before resuming her patrol.
The same evening U-100s 'jester' decided it was time to put in an appearance. Announcing his arrival with a loud clang on the conning tower ladder, the face of Karl appeared in the hatchway grinning broadly, steaming mug of coffee in his free hand offering it as some sort of peace token.
Silently leutenant Simmonds gestured him up and Karl joined him on the watch. The other watch members grinned at him. U-100s comedian had graced them with his presence and no doubt entertainment would ensue.
Mustering the sternest face he could fashion Leutenant Simmonds turned to Karl and prepared to give him a broadside of epic proportions. How he was made to look a fool of in front of another officer, and how his insubordination would result in him never making officer grade - but his words caught in his throat.
Looking at Karl was like looking at a spaniel - all cute eyes and no brain to speak of - it was
impossible to chastise him. To top off his usual goofy looks this evening Karl had also decided to sport a sprig of Eidelweiss tucked behind one ear and a hairnet to keep his 'immaculate' locks in place.
"Coffee sir?" he offered.
It was impossible not to laugh. It was like next doors hairy olympic shot putter had decided to put on a neglige and clogs and pop round to 'borrow a cup of sugar'.
Snatching at the steaming mug in a hopeless attempt to look angry Leutenant Simmonds fumbled for the tin mug and succeeded in emptying the contents down his sleeve.
"Careful sir - that coffee's hot".
'Get off the bridge Karl PLEASE before I have you shot!'
'Would sir care for another?'
This time there was no containing it. The watch crew were hysterical and Leutenant Simmonds erupted into gales of laughter despite his sodden sleeves and reddening arm.
Karl as usual just stood their grinning and blinking in the diminishing light knowing full well that he could quite possibly be the funniest man alive, and as quickly as he had appeared he was gone again - scurrying down the hatch closely followed by an empty tin mug hurled by Leutenant Simmonds.
2200 HOURS THURSDAY JUNE 15th 1941
++++++++++++ MESSAGE ++++++++++++
From U-100 to BDU
Patrol report as follows:
Ship type: Small tanker
Estimated speed: 6-7 knots
Time of contact: 20:00 hours
Contact report received from U-56 on possible enemy steamer. Time logged and course plotted to intercept. Contact established with small enemy tanker at 20:00 hours. Due to abnormal wave height agreed with CE and WO that surface attack advisable, distance and bearing difficult to ascertain with periscope. Surfaced and tracked small tanker using UZO. Perfectly clear night 0 Okta's cloud cover.
Wave height deemed sufficent to conceal boat. Tanker of English origin bearing name plate 'Pride of Southampton'.
At 20:30 hours 2 torpedoes released. Estimated range 700m. Angle on bow 90 degrees. Gyroscope 354.
Pistols set to impact only, fast running speed 3 metres depth. No evasive maneurvering observed from tanker.
20:31 hours: 2 strikes on tankers starboard side. Ignition of tankers payload and intense burning observed throughout the ship. No lifeboats launched. Ship sank at 20:59 presumably with all hands.
++++++++++++ MESSAGE ENDS ++++++++++++
It was the smell really, like inhaling thick black tar...no...that wasn't it... that wasn't what was turning his stomach. There was something else pervading the air that night and one could only imagine the horror that had been unleashed on the unsuspecting merchant - men fighting to escape tiny compartments, choking, burning, dying. Leutenant Simmonds shuddered and tried to push the thought from his mind.
Their positioning had been perfect. They had watched their target slowly approach for nearly half an hour, however it was no longer alone as U-56 had reported. At some stage it had been joined by a rusting tramp steamer.
It wasn't unheard of.
Ships plying the 'routes' often banded together for mutual protection in the absence of an escort, though what protection it afforded was minimal. At best 1 might be sunk buying the other precious minutes to escape only to be hunted down later on. Tonight the gods favoured the tramp steamer, the tanker was to tempting a target.
The 2 torpedoes vented their fury. The boat visibly shuddered and 2 plumes of vapourised water, steam and debris rocketed skyward. Almost immediately she caught fire and from her mid section all the way aft was ablaze. Her tanks had split and formed a burning trail on the cresting waves as she spilt her lifeblood.
It was strangely beautiful, yet macabre.
The watch crew were transfixed as the wind tugged ceaselessly at their oilskins, sea spray whipped and stung their faces as they watched the tankers death throes. U-100s skull and crossbones snatched and writhed in the wind, tugged at by spectral hands as the wind caught in the radio wires and began its slow banshee wail.
And then there it was...
Grasped and carried by the wind, a man's voice, screaming, animal, guttural.
At first they had assumed it was the wind but it was unmistakable now. Glasses were raised and horrified the watch observed a human form on deck stumbling trying to extinguish licking flames. Soon the struggling ceased and the figure lay drooped over the side rail, before slowly tumbling over the side like a spark escaping the hissing forge.
U-100 closed the distance and ran a parallell course with the blazing hulk. She was still making speed, the engines could be heard but she was listing heavily and her stern had dropped 2 metres in the water. If anyone was left and tried to jump U-100 was in a perfect position to pick them up.
U-100 closes the distance to the tanker to pick up survivors
Running a parrallell course, U-100 scans the burning decks for survivors
Through salt blurred eyes her name plate could still be picked out - 'Pride of Southampton'.
Ahead a searchlight snapped on and turned night into day.
The tramp steamer!
It had picked them out in the glow from the burning hulk and brought it's searchlights to bear. There was the crackle of a small arms fire and something riocheted off the conning tower. The b*stards were shooting at them!
'Ahead flank, hard starboard'.
Leutenant Simmonds braced himself, and U-100 swung hard round and disappeared into the gloom.
Tonight their blood lust had been more than slaked. The tramp steamer would be left to carry on - no mention of it would go in the Leutenants contact report - they had seen enough of war and it's horrors.
Behind them the tanker had begun to slip beneath waves, the screech of collapsing bulkheads and twisting metal played across the Leutenants skin like nails down a blackboard. He sobbed as the tension flooded out of him. Up until now the 'war' for U-100's crew had been a ticking stopwatch, the dull thud of torpedoes finding their mark and a glimpse through the scope to confirm a kill. Tonight that 'war' had become very real and tangible for the crew of U-100.
'The Pride of Southampton' slips beneath the waves taking all hands with her
Not a word was spoken. Tears were borne away on the wind and U-100 continued on her way.
1800 HOURS SATURDAY JUNE 17th 1941
++++++++++++ MESSAGE ++++++++++++
From U-100 to BDU
Patrol report as follows:
Ship type: Large Cargo
Estimated speed: 6-7 knots
Time of contact: 12:20 hours
at 11.30 hours hydrophone contact reported from operator, merchant vessel type unknown bearing 45 degrees. Boat surfaced and ordered ahead flank.
At around 12.20 contact established with merchant on NE heading, proceeded to shadow & ascertain if course correct. Course confirmed. U100 at ahead flank proceeded on a 0 degree course to pull ahead of vessel. No maneuvering observed from vessel, U-100 not spotted despite considerable bow wave and flat calm seas.
Enemy vessel identified as large cargo class. Seperation between U-100 and large cargo 6km, course returned to 45 degrees running parrallel with target.
After 1 hour course changed to 90. At 1 km from large cargo estimated course U-100 submereged to periscope depth. Proceeded to around 600-800 metres from interdiction line. Hydrophone reported contact at 270 degrees. All stop. Periscope raised. Smoke observed on horizon and contact re-established with large cargo. Target tracked and confirmed of English origin.
At 14:20 hours 2 torpedoes released. Estimated range 800m. Angle on bow 90 degrees. Gyroscope 006.
Pistols set to impact and magnetic, fast running speed 10 metres depth. No evasive maneurvering observed from vessel.
14:21 hours: 2 strikes observed on tankers port side. First strike just behind smoke stack 2nd midships. Large explosion witnessed. Vessel immediately caught fire and appeared to break in two.
Assume keel snapped. No lifeboats launched. Ship sank at approx 14:30 presumably with all hands.
++++++++++++ MESSAGE ENDS ++++++++++++
She was exactly where the Navigation officer had predicted steaming straight and true, her giant screws propelling her through the water with suprising grace for such a large ship. The Leutenant clicked the viewfinder and the magnification increased.
Range 1600 metres.
He examined her bow wave. Around 6-7 knots - perfect.
Slowly and unaware she advanced upon her assassin - like some sort of coiled snake U-100 lay silently, regarding her prey with unfeeling eyes. But this was not the case - her eyes belonged to a man. U-100 was but an instrument of war - cold and metallic, but the men who operated her were human beings and *****ed by conscience.
In the deep a hunter lurks...
Range 1400 metres.
Yes... good... steady. No jinking. 6-7 knots still.
'A band of brothers'. It had suddenly come to him as the periscope descended beneath the water. He had been fishing for the phrase, the feeling of kinship that had pervaded U-100 when they were leaving Lorient. 'A band of brothers...'. He rolled the words round his mouth and looked around the command room, every man was at his station.
He briefly studied them. Johan the Weapons Officer stood legs astride scribbling and poring over his charts as he plotted a firing solution. Joachim the Chief Engineer stood sternly like some silent sentinel of old - arms behind his back waiting for an order. Ernst, Willhelm, Gunther and of course Karl. A sense of humour blessed by the gods and an uncanny sense of when he was being watched. Karl turned, caught the Leutenants eye and winked before concentrating on the hydroplane wheel.
The Leutenant smiled.
Range 1100 metres!
'Solution plotted Herr Keleun'
It seemed almost strange his last statement; and he analysed what it really implied - 'Thankyou Johan - you have just provided me with enough information I need to kill these innocent men...'
Range 900 metres!
These innocent men...
...he could clearly see some of them on deck - going about their daily grind scrubbing, painting, laughing. Two of them were leant over the side rail smoking a crafty ciagarette, their arms describing big circles in the air as the chatted animatedly about some unknown subject. Above them a Royal Ensign fluttered playfully in the breeze.
'Fire 1, Fire 2!'.
There was a hiss of compressed air and the boat rocked gently.
'Torpedoes in the water Herr Kaleun!'
Somewhere a stopwatch ticked.
He could see the bubbles now from the torpedo track, straight and true.
Suddenly there was movement on the deck of the cargo ship. The 2 men smoking were the first to see the tracks. Their arms stopped their lazy descriptive movements and they began jabbing and pointing frantically.
On the bow a man in blue overalls stood up, stretched and stared at the two men gesticulating wildly. Clearly Leutenant Simmonds saw the man in blue overalls visually trace the direction the two men were pointing.
Something dropped from the mans hand (a paintbrush?) and now he had begun racing down the deck waving frantically to the men in the wheel house...
More movement on the deck. A man emerging from the wheelhouse, panicked movements, frantic actions.
Aware now of the impending doom men began running to the starboard side of the boat in the hope of avoiding the blast, in the wheelhouse a man in a white cap threw himself to the floor.
The first impact was heard in U-100 like a dull thud. A cheer went up - and then another as the second torpedo found its mark.
In the scope Leutenant Simmonds could see the carnage they had wreaked. The boat was physically lifted from the water, debris and steam hurled into the air as flames burst forth from hatches flung open by the venting torpedo blast below deck. Chunks of metal whirled and careened through the air, peppering the decks with reckless abandon.
'In the scope Leutenant Simmonds could see the carnage...'
Another blast and suddenly the ship broke in two.
It was like a giant hand had reached down and snapped the boat in half - like a man might snap a dry twig. Her internals were exposed now. Lights flickered and went out. Twisted bulkheads and ribbing rent by the huge explosion splayed out like skeletal fingers.
Death throes of a merchant cargo ship
She was dead.
Leutenant Simmonds could bear the sight no longer and lowered the scope.
Around him the crew chattered excitedly. Several times his hand was grabbed and pumped up and down vigorously and grinning mouths uttered words of congratulation he couldn't hear, numbed by his experience all he could hear were the gurgling screams of dying men.
To be continued...