7th patrol, U-54 (Type VIIb)
Ordered to patrol off the north coast of Ireland.
12 hours away from the patrol zone, a radio message stated the position of a large convoy headed in the direction of Scotland. U-54 turns northwest at flank. The convoy's last position isnt far away.
Sometime later, the lookouts shout down that we are under fire. So much for surprise. Immediately, U-54 is ordered down to 100 meters and the men gather around the hydrophones. A warship and many merchants are heard, slow and approaching. A rough fix is made and U-54 proceeds toward the merchants.
We plan to creep into the middle of the convoy, pick our targets and escape in the confusion. That is the plan. The Britsh have their own....
The escorts had sighted us first and proceed to lay depth charges. None come close, but we were forced to change speed and direction whenever splashs were heard. After three attacks or so, the slow revs of a merchant was heard.
The soundman was fixed on a warship as we came to periscope depth. We had tried several times only to be forced deeper as the escorts ran attacks and pinged everyone and everything. Being caught at 30 ~ 40 meters while coming shallow is alway a worry.
"warship 147, medium revs!". Ok. I thought, "Ready tube 5, 5 meters, mag. Open doors at 20 meters.."
There it is, a flower corvette, 400 meters...damn bad solution, "full left rudder!" Better make a quick check... Crud! V&W destroy passing the bow at 300 meters along with the convoy. We came up at end not the middle. Too late to opening doors, too late to fire. "Emergency dive! 100 meter, left rudder"
We spend the next hour avoiding attacks, diving to 160 meters, waiting....None of the attacks are close but they keeps us deep and several attempts to come shallow are quickly met. The Brits have the tiger by the tail and the convoy is escaping.
The pinging has worsen my mood. "All eels set for 5 meters, mag, Since they wont leave us be, lets see if can do somthing about it"
Again a contact at 147. Its the Flower, 500m, guns flashing. The V&W is 30 degree left, 350 meters"
"Tube 5, fire!, ready bow tubes...damn taking damage...The corvette is charging...the V&W is ..fire all tubes!..dive!" Crud! the boat shudders as the bow tubes empty...the sound on the corvettes is omnious as it rushs in...14 meters? still? "Dive, you fools! dive!"
We claw for the depths and what I dont hear turns my mood darker. No explosions..nothing. 5 eels swimming their merry way and 2 Tommy still waiting to kill us. At 160 meters we take stock, the crew is slow and fatigued. Rear tube is empty, the bow has five reloads.
3 1/2 hours since to we started. The convoy is gone. U-54's Captian is tired and irritable. We reload the bow tubes and head up to settle the matter.
It's the Flower again but this time in the front quarter. The range is minimal, The eels are set shallow and impact. "Fire 1! ...an explosion..predetonation? "Fire 2!" crud! "Dive! left rudder!, down scope!"...an explosion, the Corvette raise in the water, a hit!?
"Periscope depth, full rudder" the v&w..where?
There...just outside the bow and fast. Their guns are firing, cannon and machine guns are shredding the water around us. We cant bring the bow properly onto them....
I lead the ship the periscope and fire 3 then fire the last eel. "Dive!" I order with a sigh, not looking forward to more hours under attack. The last eel didnt even look close to hitting..
Suddenly an explosion...Enemy destroyed? hard to figure...
We surfaces on a empty sea, no enemy, no convoy.
The crew is tired, but the external torpedoes need to be loaded, the patrol still to be done.
U-54 heads south, 4 torpedoes and not a lot of luck left