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Before we get into this newsletter, here’s a couple riddles for you – let’s see who the real U-boat fans are!

What was the first U-boat sunk during World War II?

Which U-boat was sunk by RAF aircraft, salvaged almost right away and put back into service, only to be sunk again the same year?

Which U-boat drew “first blood” in the war?

That should give you something to think about while I tell you that I’m still attempting to gather information on those 29 boats that were scuttled by their crews at the end of the war that might still exist.

Our U-boat dive, planned for this summer, isn’t going quite as well as hoped.  We have all the material needed for the dive, we have the team, and we have the time allocated……what we still need is $$$$$.  We have the boat, the seaplane, the dive gear, the underwater filming equipment, w just need the operating funds.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.  And for what it’s worth, DACOR Divers just fizzled out on us.  Their President, Sam Davison, initially promised to supply all our diving gear at no charge.  Yesterday, Sam amended that by saying he would sell it to us at his coast…..big difference.

By now, you have had time to read and digest the article I sent to you, titled OPERATION PAUKENSCHLAG.  For those of you who know the writing business, you know that the writer almost never titles the work, and so it was in this case.  I titled the piece “U-BOATS IN OUR BACKYARD” and the Editor changed it.  He also made the tiny (?) error of stating that U-505 was part of the Paukenschlag group, which of course, she was not.  I am told that the second part of this writing is already on the newsstands in a magazine called SEA CLASSICS, but I have not been able to obtain a copy.  The title I gave it is “PIRATES IN UNCLE SAM”S NAVY” and it deals with the American “Q” ships that tried to snare unsuspecting U-boats within range of their hidden guns. It only worked once, when USS ATIK disguised as a tramp steamer, SS CAROLINE, tangled with Hardegen’s U-123 on her second American patrol in April of 1941.  Score was
USS ATIK was lost with all hands.

In answer to the riddles above, U-39 was the first to be sunk.  A Type IX-A, built by AG Weser and launched Sep. 22, 1938 she was sunk by HMS FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, and FIREDRAKE NW of Ireland (I have the lat/long pos.) on Sep. 14, 1939.  Commander of U-39 was Glattes and U-39 as you’ll note, never celebrated her first birthday.

The U-boat first sunk by A/C then a destroyer was U-31.  This Type VII-A boat was built by AG Weser, launched Sep. 25, 1936.  He as first attacked and sunk by RAF aircraft on March 11, 1940 off Schillings Roads.  The boat was salvaged quickly and put back into action.

On Nov. 2, 1940 U-31was again attacked by forces of Great Britain, this time by HMS ANTELOPE, a destroyer.  She was sunk NW of Ireland.  I have the lat/long position, but as the waters in that area are usually extremely deep, any thought of salvage is probably out of the question.  Commander of U-31 was Prellberg.

You can’t call yourself a U-boat aficionado if you missed that last question – which U-boat drew “first blood” in World War II.  It was U-30 under Lemp, but there were so many ramifications that not only came to light soon after, but more came to light recently during my own research.

On Sep. 6, 1939 U-30 torpedoed the luxury liner ATHENIA.  Lemp stated that he thought she was a fair target as she was running at night without lights of any kind, and he assumed she was a troop ship.  The English seized upon this as a vehicle of great propaganda value, and played it up in the press for all it was worth.  The German press on the other hand, instead of remaining quiet and letting the storm pass; countered by saying ATHENIA was really sunk by a time bomb planted on board back in England by agents of Churchill to make the Germans look bad.

Doenitz was forced to order Lemp to expunge all mentions of the incident from his war diary (KTB) and to remain silent.

What I have learned is that 250 of the survivors of ATHENIA were picked up by Axel-Wenner Gren, wealthy Swedish industrialist, on his own giant yacht, SOUTHERN CROSS who ‘just happened’ to be in the area of the sinking.  Wenner-Gren soon moved to the Bahamas were he and SOUTHERN CROSS ‘just happened’ to be in the immediate area of a lot of Allied ships that were torpedoed by U-boats – who relied on this pro-Nazi as their eyes!

Lemp was soon transferred from U-30, a Type VII-A which was built by AG Weser, launched August 4, 1936.  The ultimate fate of U-30 was to be scuttled by her crew off Flensburg on May, 1945 – only to be salvaged and scrapped sometime between 1947 and 1953.

Lemp was transferred to a newly built Type IX-B, the U-110.  She was built by AG Weser, launched August 25, 1940.  On May 9, 1941 Lemp and U-110 ran afoul of the Royal Navy Destroyers HMS BROADWAY and BULLDOG, in company with a RN corvette HMS AUBRIETTA.  After being forced to the surface U-110 was rammed by HMS BROADWAY.  The crew ‘pulled the plug’ to send U-110 to the bottom, then abandoned ship.  All made it into the water safely and headed for the English ships.  Lemp, seeing that U-110 was not going down, re-boarded the U-boat to prevent the codes from being seized.  Press releases of the day said that Lemp leaped into the ocean, raised his arms, and deliberately drowned himself.  Truth was, he was shot trying to destroy the codes.  U-110 was taken in tow, but foundered and sank SW of Ireland.  The codes were taken off before she sank.

Let’s think of a place and time to all get together somewhere in Chicago.  I’m open for suggestions.

This is an addendum, I guess, to let you know what’s up with the actual discovery efforts.

Our files are bulging now with U-boat information and records, covering every U-boat that was made from U-1 all the way through U-6351 plus a few Italian and some misc. subs, including UC-97, a World War I boat sunk in Lake Michigan.

Of the German U-boats of the Second World War, our files tell:
-The shipyard that built the U-boat….for every U-boat,
-The launch date of the U-boat ….for every U-boat,
-The date the U-boat was sunk….for all but a few,
-Location of sinking….for all but 10 U-boats,
-Precise lat/long position of sinking….for all but 180 U-boats*,
-Who sunk which U-boat…. For all but a few U-boats,
-Final skipper of the U-boat….for all but a few.

* For those boats that we do not have the precise lat/long position of sinking, probably 75% of these 180 U-boats were scuttled by the Allies after the war.  Approximately 150 were towed to sea and scuttled by the British in “OPERATION DEADLIGHT”, the scuttling spot approximately 30 miles north of Malin Head, Ireland.  The water there is a bunch deep!  The U.S. Navy kept a few U-boats for experimentation after the war as did a few of the other Allied countries, but soon scuttled them or used them as torpedo targets.  I am pursuing these U-boats that the Allies had on a one-by-one basis…..damn slow going.  But we’ll figure out where most of them have gone.

One of our U-boat aficionados, Larry Stewart, wants to raise one of each type of U-boat, for use in the motion picture industry.  He has devised a way to bring a U-boat up at a fraction of the cost normally connected to this type of salvage.

I think this is a great idea – I know where the U-boats are currently resting at the bottom. Larry knows how to get them up at a small cost……we might all have another project on our hands soon.

I think I mentioned that there are two dozen U-boats down in US waters, most of them sunk in water less than 100 feet deep – and I have the precise lat/long position for 14 of them.  Perhaps we can all work on this and we will be able to raise some of these Great Grey Sharks, & go into the movie business!  (I also have the lat/long position for about 63 of the 80 U-boats sunk in the western hemisphere.)

Please give some thought to where and when we can get together in the Chicago area for a ‘group chat’ sometime in the near future.  I think this would be mutually beneficial, and a lot of fun.

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