U 575

6.war patrol

September 16 to November 8, 1942

Operational area: North-Atlantic


U 575


plan 6.war patrol

In the first U 575 was from 27.9. – 6.10.1942 part of the group “Luchs”, that operated on the convoy HX.209. One vessel of the convoy was sunk and one U-Boat (U 257) damaged. However one boat was missed during the journey before the operation started.  The group  consists of the boats U 216, U 253, U 254, U 257, U 260, U382, U 404, U 437, U 442, U 575, U 582, U 584, U 597, U 610, U 619, U 620, U 661 and U 753 and operated in the grid squares BA/AL/AK.   

The group “Panther” served as outpost line and consisted from 6.10. - 19.10.1942. A part of the boats got order to attach other groups at different times. One boat (U 582) to be lost before the operation beginning. The group consisted of the boats U 71, U 84, U 89, U 132, U 183, U 254, U 260, U 301, U 353, U 381, U 382, U 402, U 437, U 438, U 441, U 442, U 443, U 454, U 515, U 518, U 563, U 571, U 575, U 582, U 597, U 602, U 609, U 610, U 620, U 621, U 658, U 662, U 704, U 706, U 753 and U 757 and operated in the grid square AK/AL – BD.  

At 6.10.1942 the boat had a single lost. OBtsMt Herbert Gühler, born 15.9.19, fell over board and can´t be saved. But the boat had also a good event, a few days later. At 15.10. on 16.57 they got a radio message for MaschOGfr Preuss: “ son is arrive !”

U 575 left the group „Panther“ earlier, too and goes from 16.10. – end of October 1942 to the group “Puma”. This group was operating on the convoys ON.139 (two vessels were sank) and HX.212 (six vessels were sank, one damaged) without own losses. Consisted the boats U 224, U 260, U 301, U 383, U 436, U 441, U 443, U 563, U 575, U 602, U 606, U 620, U 621, U 624, U 627, U 662, U 706 and U 753, operations area grid squares AK-AL.

29.10.1942 on 23.05 h U 575 sunk the lonely driven troop-carrier “SS Abosso” with 11.330 GRT by 38°30´N/28°50`W grid square BD 3761 ca. 700 sea miles north of the Azores.  


For a travel as single sailer on this long and dangerous trip was the Abosso with 14,5 kn full speed to slow. In this fact, the Abosso must normaly sailed with a convoy. The dutch U-Boat commander Luitenant ter zee der 1e klasse H.C.J. Coumou was warning for a trip as a single sailer and he tried to prevent this. He refuse itself, but he must to subordinate the british administration and the Abosso sailed her travel as a single sailer.
On board are 162 crew, 20 artillerymen, to defend the ship and 210 passengers (thereof 149 military, 44 internees and 17 civilians [thereof ten women with children]. The cargo are 3.000 tons wool and mailbags.
A part of the militaries are 34 men of a dutch U-Boat crew for the new build U-Boat Hr. Ms. Haai for the Dutch Navy (in first HMS Varne (P66) for the British  Royal Navy; later, after the lost of the Dutch crew,  as Norwegian HNoMS Ula ) and 44 new trained Pilots of the 23. Service Flying Training School in Southern-Rhodesia.

U 575 noticed the Abosso at 29.October 1942  14.33 CET with very short oil stock (only 6 cubic meter) on his way to an U-Boat-provider. U 575 must be sailed the overtaking maneuver very economical. Latest at 22.00 CET the hunting must be broken up and U 575 must sailed to the meeting with the U-Boat-provider. Shortly after 20.00 CET sailed U 575 with full speed nearer, than the Abosso to go around unexpected of U 575 and Heydemann came at 22.13 CET to a four-shot of 1.200 meters. 80 seconds later a torpedo hits the Abosso midships on the portside.  The Abosso stopped and stay with a cumulative list. But furthermore they was swimming and at 22.29 CET  they got a finishing shot from U 575.  At 23.05 CET the Abosso sanks about the stem. At the location of sinking swum ten cutter and 15 – 20 rafts, all fully occupied with soldiers in khaki-uniforms. Coumou, who to prevent the trip a single sailer, was one of the survivors. U 575 continue her sailing to the meeting point with her provider U 463 with only 3 cubic meter oil stock.






 Lt.Cdr. Coumou (NL)


There were 31 survivors. The survivors were saved three days later by the English loop HMS Bideford. The Bideford was a part of the operation “Torch” (Invasion in North-Africa) and was later at 25.August 1943 damaged by the first attacked of a anti-ship guided missile „Hs 293“ by the II./KG 100.

Lt.Cdr. Coumou was one of the survivors. He was in the life boat # 5 with four comrades. But the life boats fall down from a great height and got a leak. The castaways stood up to their knees in the ice water of the Atlantic. At night, they had radar contact to further three life boats and the motor longboat of the Abosso. But the radar contact was later interrupted. The life boats and the longboat were never found. All survivors came from the life boat # 5. Only three civilians (thereof one women) survived.    
The exact number of persons on board was a secret during the war. The capacity of the Abosso (Flagship of the Elder Dempster Line) was 357 passengers. The master, 150 crew members, 18 gunners and 193 passengers were lost. The Abosso was the 2nd ship with this name by this Line. The first Abosso was sunk by a U-Boat 1917, too. 
Because nearly the Dutch whole submarine crew for the “Haai” were drowned and the Dutch Navy was not longer in a position, to place a new submarine crew, the plan was suspended and the submarine came to the English Navy as “Varne”. 1943 the submarine got a Norwegian crew and were given to the Norwegian Navy with the name “Ula” in 1944. At 19.9.1944 sunk the “Ula” U 974. The Ula was 1965 broke up in Hamburg.
On this operation U 575 was supported from the provider “Milchkuh” U 463. It came on home port this time in Lorient and not in St. Nazaire as usually.


Report Quartermaster May from the Abosso

SS Abosso


„Ula“ ex P66/Varne/Haai 1947 in Rotterdam


Summary of the Interrogation Report (O.N.I.)

Before starting on her sixth war patrol, U-575 received three new officers. Kapitänleutnant Heydemann remained as Captain, but all other officers were replaced.

                Executive Officer:  Oberleutnant Franze (O.N.I. Note:  Believed to be Joachim Franze of 1937 A Term.)

                Second Watch Officer:  Leutnant Freiherr von Stillfried (O.N.I. Note:  A reservist of whom nothing is known.)

                Engineer Officer:  Oberleutnant (Ing.) Meyer (O.N.I. Note:  It is not known which of the Meyers this is.)

        U-575 sailed from St. Nazaire in October 1942.  Early in the patrol she joined a group of U-boats attempting to attack a convoy in the North Atlantic.  It was stated that none of the group succeeded in getting into firing position.  This was due to the unusual strength of the escort of the convoy.  Pursuit was finally given up and the group disbanded.  U-575 continued independently on patrol.

The next incident was the sinking of an unidentified 8,000-ton independent freighter. A night attack was made, four or five torpedoes being fired from the surface.

        Nothing further occurred on this patrol and U-575 headed for base. She received instructions to put into Lorient as a guest boat instead of returning to St. Nazaire. Prisoners could give no positive information as to why this was done. According to one prisoner the probable reason for this irregularity was that facilities at St. Nazaire had suffered in Allied air attack while U-575 was on patrol.

It is believed that U-575 arrived at Lorient about 20 November 1942.        

Translation of the KTB from U-575’s 6th war patrol on U-Boat Archive

detailed informations in German available

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