Stier
U 575

 

Interrogation Report (O.N.I.) 7th war patrol

SEVENTH PATROL OF U-575


        U-575's officers for her 7th and most successful patrol were:

                Captain:  Kapitänleutnant Guenther Heydemann.

                Executive Officer:  Oberleutnant Zeplien (O.N.I. Note:  Believed to be Walter Zeplien of the 1937 Term.

                Second Watch Officer:  Leutnant Wolfgang Boehmer of the 1939 B Term, later Captain of U-575, succeeding Kapitänleutnant Heydemann.

                Engineer Officer:  Oberleutnant (Ing.) Meyer (the same as on the previous patrol.)

        U-575 left Lorient on 10 or 11 December 1942, escorted by two mine-destructor vessels.  When she made the customary first deep dive at the 200 meter line, it was discovered that there was water in the periscope.  Sabotage was suspected.  U-575 then put back to Lorient, where she remained for two days while repairs were made.

        On 15 December 1942 U-575 actually started her patrol, being again escorted from Lorient by two mine-destructor vessels.  It could not be definitely established from prisoner-of-war statements just where U-575's operational area was to be for this patrol.  Presumably, however, she was somewhere south of the Azores when she picked up a signal from U-Auffermann (O.N.I. Note:  Kapitänleutnant Auffermann of the 1934 Term is believed to have commanded U-514, since stated to be missing) reporting his current position in contact with a
convoy.  U-575 received this message one forenoon -- stated by one prisoner to have been 5 January 1943, and proceeded at full speed to the reported position.  Either on the way or just before making contact, she sighted a destroyer and dived.  The destroyer dropped about ten charges, which were not very well placed.  No damage was done to the U-boat.  (O.N.I. Note:  The attacking destroyer may have been H.M.S. HAVELOCK.)

        By 8 January 1943, U-575 was in contact with the convoy, and reported the fact to Control, together with her position.  During the night she fired from the surface all 12 of the torpedoes carried inside the boat, retiring from the immediate vicinity of the convoy to re-fill her five torpedoes as this became necessary.  The crew stated that five hits were definitely observed, all on tankers.  In the early morning hours one tanker, possibly one of those torpedoed by U-575, was seen afloat but burning.  Another U-boat, a 750-tonner commanded by Schneider (O.N.I. Note:  It has not been established which of the Schniders this was) finished this tanker off.  U-575, having no torpedoes left except the two in upper deck containers, retired from the scene.

        During this attack, U-575 was a part of GROUP DELPHIN (Porpoise).  She was one of the last U-boats to join the group, which consisted of about 12 U-boats.  The only members of this group that prisoners could definitely identify were U-Auffermann, U-Schneider (both mentioned above), and U-Loeser (O.N.I. Note: Believed to be U-373.)  It was stated that Schneider sank the largest number of ships from this convoy, U-575 the second largest,
and Afuuermann one ship.  No U-boats were lost out of this group.

        (O.N.I. Note:  The convoy attacked by GROUP DELPHIN was T.M. 1, sailing from Trinidad to Gibraltar between 29 December 1942 and 13 January 1943.  The convoy consisted of nine tankers and four British escort vessels.  All but two of the tankers were sunk, five of them in the period from 2130 on 8 January 1943 to 0630 on 9 January 1943.  It appears likely that U-575's claims were exaggerated, she was stated to have sunk five -- if, as was also stated, U-Schneider sank even more that she did.  It is probable that there was a duplication in the claims of the two U-boats.

        The tankers sunk on the night of 8/9 January 1943 were:  OLTENIA II, 6394 tons; ALBERT L. ELLSWORTH, 8309 tons; NORVIK, 10,034 tons; MINISTER WEDEL, 3833 tons; and EMPIRE LYTTON, 9807 tons.  The position was 27059' N. - 28050' W.

        A complete report of attacks on convoy T.M. 1 is given in C.B. 04050/43(2) page 15 ff.)

U-575, having left the scene of her greatest triumphs, was now in need of torpedoes if she was to continue her patrol.  A rendezvous was arranged with U-Bleichrodt, probably just west of the Azores.  (O.N.I. Note:  Bleichrodt at this time commanded U-109.)  From this boat, U-575 received five torpedoes and some provisions.  During this period the two air-torpedoes in upper deck containers were also brought down into the boat.

        About this time GROUP HAUDEGEN was being formed, as a New York-Casablanca convoy had been reported approaching from west of the Azores.  U-575 became a member of this group.  Other U-boats present were stated by prisoners from U-575 to have been:

 

 

O.N.I. Commentary

 

 

 

U-Bleichrodt

U-109.

 

 

 

 

U-Heinsohn

U-573.

This boat was later interned in Spain.

 

 

 

U-Hesse

Number unknown

 

 

 

 

U-Mahnke

Number unknown

 

 

 

 

U-Thäter

U-466.

 

 

 

 

U-Weber

Number unknown.

 

 

(O.N.I. Note:  Some confusion existed in the mind of the prisoner (a Funkobergefreiter) who furnished this list as to which U-boats were in GROUP HAUDEGEN and which in GROUP DELPHIN.  It is possible that some of the U-boats listed above were also present in GROUP DELPHIN.  The presence in GROUP HAUDEGEN of all the U-boats listed above, except U-Weber, checks with previous information.  Weber is known to have operated in GROUP PFEIL, mentioned below.)

        U-575 and the other U-boats in her immediate vicinity waited in vain for the convoy to appear.  It was believed that bad weather on 22 January 1943 had caused the convoy to be scattered, as only single ships, most of them destroyers, were sighted.  (O.N.I. Note:  The convoy USG-4, bound from New York to Casablanca, was ordered at about this time to alter course and circle north of the Azores so as to avoid a concentration of U-boats known to be stationed across the more direct route passing south of the Azores.  It is true that foul weather had caused at least three ships to become stragglers.  These three later passed south of the Azores, apparently according to original instructions, and were sunk by U-boats.)  GROUP HAUDEGEN made no attacks, and was disbanded some time during the day on 25 January 1943, each U-boat taking up the hunt singly.

        On the evening of the same day, U-575 sighted an independent freighter and maneuvered into firing position.  A spread of two torpedoes was fired.  These stopped the ship, which was then shelled wit 88-mm. fire until she sank.  One of the survivors swimming in the water was picked up and taken on board as a prisoner.  He turned out to be the cook, a man said to be about sixty years old.  He gave the Captain the name of his ship as CITY OF FLINT and claimed a tonnage of 10,000 for her.

        (O.N.I. Note:  CITY OF FLINT, a United States freighter of 4963 tons, was torpedoed, shelled, and sunk in position 34047' N., 31030' W. at 2015 on 25 January 1943.  She was one of the stragglers from convoy UGS-4 and was proceeding alone to Casablanca.  The torpedoes struck on the port side at No. 1 hold and ignited gasoline and oil carried there.  She sank bow first about forty minutes after the torpedoing.)

        This was the last success of U-575.  She continued her patrol for some time longer, operating in GROUP PFEIL, but nothing was attacked.  Heydemann had achieved his last sinking.  U-575 returned to St. Nazaire on 19 or 20 February 1943 without further incident.

        Heydemann put forward a claim of 6 ships sunk, with tonnage totaling 41,000.  This claim was disallowed, the total tonnage being cut down by the Admiral U-boats to about 20,000.  One of Heydemann's Petty Officers, an experienced seaman who had been in the Navy since 1934 and before that in the Merchant Marine, stated that this was typical of Heydemann -- that he habitually overestimated the tonnage of the ships he attacked.  The Petty Officer, who knew better, made no attempt to correct his Captain.

 

 

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