U 575

9. war patrol


October 6 to November 28, 1943

Operational area: North-Atlantic/east from Newfoundland



U 575


plan 9.war patrol

In the last dock yard time from 7-9/43 changed the commandants.

This operation continued as a endless search without results. The Allied forces could to crack the Enigma code and knows now all reconnoitering lines and location of the boats. They could the convoys to go in the great free space. In the radar technic she had a healthy margin. It was very difficult for ours boats, to came back safe and sound. That the boats came back, was already a good result.  

From 24.10. – 31.10.43  U 575 to belong to the group “Siegfried”, operated as a reconnoitering line. At 27.10. the group divided in three parts. Consists boats are U 91, U 212, U 226, U 231, U 267, U 281, U 309, U 373, U 405, U 413, U 420, U 426, U 437, U 552, U 575, U 592, U 608, U 648, U 709, U 762, U 842, U 963, U 967 and U 969. The operation area is unknown. Most of the boats divided on the groups “Körner” and “Jahn”.

The group “Jahn” operated from 31.10. – 2.11.43 on the convoy HX.263, but she don’t founded him (perhaps because the cracked enigma code ?) She hadn’t losses, consists boats are U 226, U 373, U 426, U 437, U 552, U 575, U 608, U 648, U 709 and U 842 in grid square BC.

After this to make new the groups „Tirpitz I-V“, whose operated as little reconnoitering lines. U 575 to belong to the group “Tirpitz III with the boats  U 280, U 281, U 552, U 575 and U 586. Tirpitz III without own losses, all over all by all groups four losses (U 420, U 226, U 282 and U 274), all in the first six days (GS AJ/BC).

After this in this area no new groups built on, perhaps concerning the heavy losses of the group “Tirpitz”. The boats wait of different locations off new orders.

Against the convoys MKS.30 and SL.139 the groups “Schill III” from 18. – 21.11.43 to place in position. They couldn’t obtain contact to the convoys. Nevertheless she had losses during the operation (U 280, U 538).  Operation area BE, consists boats U 91, U 212, U 391, U 280, U 424, U 538, U 542, U 552, U 575, U 618, U 714, U 764, U 843 and  U 967. Later most of the boats go back to home port, like U 575, or goes to the group “Westmark”. 

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


         U-575 now underwent a thorough and received considerable new equipment.  One of the adjustments necessary after the long and unsuccessful eighth patrol was the repair of a rather large hole in the saddle-tank plating aft on the starboard side.  The cause of this damage was never ascertained.  The 88-mm. gun forward was removed and the newer style bridge with two platforms was fitted.  On Platform II a quadruple 20-mm. gun was mounted, and on Platform I two twin 20-mm. guns.  The MG-34's were replaced by 2 MG-81s.  Wanz G-1 and Naxos were taken aboard and the appropriate aerials installed.  The four bow torpedo tubes were removed and replaced with new ones.  These were of bronze, and were stamped "Made in 1941."  The stern tube was never removed.

        Apparently there were numerous delays, the new prefabricated coning tower, for instance, failing to arrive until long after it had been expected.  At any rate, some of the crew expected to put to sea again under Heydemann after the more urgent repairs and adjustments had been made.

        Then about 30 July 1943, Heydemann was suddenly relieved of command.  Not one of the men could give the reason for this, but all believed that he had earned a tour of duty on a shore station for a while.  They were of the opinion that he was transferred to a training establishment in Germany.  where he would become an instructor.  An officer stated that Heydemann is now torpedo firing instructor at the 23rd Schiessflotille in Danzig.
The Executive Officer, Lieutenant Boehmer, was now sent to P.C.O. School, and it was decided that U-575 should await his return.  Her officers would then be:

                Captain:  Oberleutnant Wolfgang Boehmer

                Executive Officer:  Leutnant Giesewetter (O.N.I. Note: Leutnant Herbert Giesewetter of the 1939 B Term)

                Second Watch Officer:  Leutnant Helmut Gramlow

                Apprentice to Second Watch Officer:  Oberfähnrich. Harald Mayer of the 1941 Term.

                Engineer Officer:  Leutnant (Ing.) Gerhard Lob

        By mid-September 1943 Boehmer was back from school and all was apparently in order.  Final preparations for the war-patrol were being made when an accident to one of the officers made another change necessary.  Leutnant Gramlow had for some time been in the        habit of carrying a revolver on his person, as a result of an embarrassing encounter with a drunken petty officer.  It seems that Gramlow had attempted to arrest this man for disorderliness late one night.  The man had been sober enough to break away from the officer and disappear into the darkness before his identity could be established.  Ever after, Gramlow had gone armed.  Now, on 18 September 1943, he had just finished packing up his trunk, which he was going to send home to Germany.  He put his hand into his pocket to get out the trunk-key.  As he withdrew his hand, the key-chain fouled the trigger of the revolver, which went off and shot Gramlow in the foot.  He was taken to the hospital, where he was under treatment until 4 October 1943.

        Meanwhile, Gramlow's loss was Mayer's gain.  Leutnant Mayer who had been assigned to the boat as an apprentice Watch Officer, now moved into Gramlow's place as Second Watch Officer, although he was still only an Oberfähnrich.

        At last U-575 sailed with the usual escort of mine-destructor vessels.  Reaching the 200 meter line, she made her deep diving trials.  It was immediately discovered that something was wrong with the hydrophones, with the short-wave receiver, with the hydroplanes, and, one prisoner thought, also with the periscope.  U-575 turned back.  Repairs were quickly effected, Yard officials claiming that there was really nothing at all wrong with the hydrophones.  U-575 set out again and traveled as far as the 200 meter line.  Again the hydrophones acted up just as they had done before, and U-575 turned back.  Yard officials once more declared that the difficulties were all a figment of Boehmer's imagination, and he was ordered to sail at once.  He, however, insisted that a Silberling (Yard official with special technical training) accompany the boat until the escort vessels left her.  This was done, and to the satisfaction of the crew, the Silberling did indeed discover that something was seriously wrong with the hydrophones.  U-575 turned back for the third time.*  Careful and thorough adjustments, taking perhaps five or six days, were now carried out.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        *On one of these false starts U-575 was accompanied by U-Rasputin (cover name of a U-boat commanded by Stahl).  (O.N.I. Note:  Oberleutnant Albert Stahl of the 1937 B Term commanded U-648.  Stahl perished at the sinking of this U-boat 19 November 1943.)

At last, on 3 October 1943, U-575 finally began her ninth war patrol.  To be sure, certain minor matter in the engine room again indicated inadequate preparations, but it was decided to continue the patrol none the less, making emergency repairs on board.

        U-575's operational area was in the North Atlantic, southwest of Cape Farewell.  About 20 October 1943 she joined GROUP SIEGFRIED, consisting of about 25 U-boats patrolling the area between Newfoundland and Greenland.  The group was divided into four parts, one to the north off Cape Farewell, one to the south somewhere near the Grand Banks, and two others between these.  The only other U-boats whose presence in GROUP SIEGFRIED was known to prisoners were U-Poel and U-Struckmeier, although it was suggested that U-Henke may have been there also.  U-Poel was stated to be equipped with D/F gear for convoy voice        traffic, and to have been one of the first U-boats so equipped.  (O.N.I. Note:  Kapitänleutnant Gustav Poel of the 1936 Term commanded U-413.  Kapitänleutnant Rolf Struckmeier of the 1935 Term commands U-608.  Kapitänleutnant Werner Henke of the 1933 Term commanded U-515, sunk on 9 April 1944.  Henke was taken prisoner.)

        U-575 now spent about fourteen days cruising back and forth between the northern and southern limits of the group's operational area on course roughly 2000 T down and 200 T back.  Relative positions of the U-boats in the group were changed many times.  Sighting nothing, U-575 then turned on a south-easterly course, starting from the  northern limit of the area just patrolled.  A convoy was reported to be somewhere along U-575's present course, but she never made contact with it, although three explosions, thought to be torpedoes fired by another U-boat, were observed early one morning.  U-575 dived when the explosions occurred.  When she surfaced again there was nothing in sight.  (O.N.I. Note:  At 0738 on 31 October 1943 two torpedo hits were scored on one ship of convoy SL/138 MK/28 in position 46005'N - 20026'W.)

        As U-575 continued on her course, another convoy was reported moving between Gibraltar and England.  After considerable trouble in finding it, U-575 made contact with the convoy's escort vessels somewhere northeast of the Azores.  She was now a member of GROUP SCHILL, consisting of about 30 U-boats patrolling in three groups at about 60 mile intervals.  U-575 belonged to the third division, the one stationed farthest north.  U-Poel and U-Struckmeier belonged to GROUP SCHILL as well as to GROUP SIEGFRIED; U-Henke belonged to GROUP SCHILL and possibly also to GROUP SIEGFRIED.

        U-575 believed the destroyer search group with which she was now in contact to be stationed about 100 miles from the convoy itself.  She tried to get into firing position to attack the escort vessels, but it was a clear, bright night and she could not safely approach close enough to fire a torpedo.  U-575 was constantly radared, and released numerous R.D.B. over a period of four hours.  About two hours before dawn a Liberator appeared.  U-575 opened fire with all of her deck guns, and the plane turned and fled.  At dawn, U-575 submerged, realizing her inability to attack such a strong force.  (O.N.I. Note:  On 18 November 1943 convoy SL/139 MKS30 was in position 39047' N. - 20012' W.)

         U-575 now lost contact altogether with the convoy and was ordered back to base.  Prisoners believe that none of the U-boats in GROUP SCHILL achieved any success.  The U-boats that were left behind when GROUP SCHILL was disbanded were grouped under the name EISENHARDT.  

        On her way back to base, U-575 was accompanied by U-Struckmeier.  She sailed into St. Nazaire at about 1330 on Sunday, 5 December 1943.  The Executive Officer, Leutnant Giesewetter, now left the boat, and Leutnant Gramlow returned to take his place.  While at sea Oberfähnrich Mayer had been promoted to Leutnant, and retained his position as Second Watch Officer.





detailed informations in German available

Return to index

war patrols