German Uboats in the Caribbean

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Barbadine, May 26, 2008.

  1. Barbadine

    Barbadine Junior Member

    I am working on a documentary on the Trinidad in WWII.
    Interestingly I've discovered that in 1942 more ships were sunk in the Caribbean than any where else in the world, with 250 sunk just around Trinidad.

    Do you know where I can get some footage of the bases here, like Fort Read, or any of the bases on the island at that time?.
    Merrill's Marauderw were trained in the first US Jungle Warfare training setup in Trinidad in an area called Manzanilla nick named "the Road to Hell" to prepare troop for Burma.

    Unfortunately I have very little by way of photos and no film footage anything.
    Someone please, point a helping hand.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    If you scroll down this link it has the flying career (which started in Trinidad) of a chap from Trinidad who flew in the RAF.

    The title says UBoats but your post suggest any involvement from Trinidad in WW2.

    The Americans had military bases in Chaguaramas and Cumuto in Trinidad. The later being reffered to as Fort Read or Wallerfield. They were part of the Bases for Destroyers Agreement with the British made in 1940.

    Hope these help get you started :)
  3. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    A book which might surrender some possible contacts - "The U-Boat War in The Caribbean" by Gaylord T.M. Kelshall. ( Naval Institute Press) 1994.
  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Welcome to the forum.

    I have read that the Italians also sent submarines to the caribbean.

  5. Jan7

    Jan7 Senior Member

  6. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Hallo and welcome!

    I think I'm right in remembering that a news cameraman
    accompanied a U-Boot to the Caribbean at some point,
    so there's footage out there, somewhere. Perhaps held
    at Imperial War Museum?

    Hope it helps

    Kind regards
  7. Jerome

    Jerome Junior Member

    Barbadine: pm or email me re Trinidad bases - film footage is pretty much non existent here - Fort Read - Waller Field is presently being bulldozed into an Industrial Park
  8. lediana

    lediana Junior Member

    taux credit auto - Taux crédit auto. Comparatif des
    offres! Les meilleurs taux crédit auto sont sur le net !

    The best that go together.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  10. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Operation Paukenschlag - The first U-boat operations off the US coast.

    With practically all the Atlantic boats again at his disposal, Donitz on 2nd January 1942 ordered those of Group Seydlitz having sufficient fuel to the Newfoundland Bank. Boats en route from Germany to the Azores and those leaving Biscay bases were also diverted westward. The plan was to occupy the North American coastal area with those large boats which had been at sea since mid-December, and with further large boats when available. Two more were destined for Trinidad and two for Aruba. All Type VII boats based on the Biscay coast were to move to the south of Newfoundland where Britain's main supply line was most dense and not too strongly protected. It will be recalled that there had been a discussion at Hitler's HeadXquarters in the autumn of 1941 about America entering the war. Experience having shown the great effectiveness of the sudden appearance of U-boats in new areas, Donitz had insisted that he should be given ample warning of such an eventuality. If only he could have his boats ready off the U.S. coast at the outbreak of war, he would be able to deliver a tremendous and sudden blow—einen hraftigen Paukenschlag. This latter word was in fact used as a cover name for the first operation in American waters. That it could not be launched until five weeks after the two countries were at war shows that Pearl Harbour took Germany completely by surprise.

    Operation Paukenschlag was carried out by five boats disposed between the St. Lawrence and Cape Hatteras which were free to move southward should weather or traffic conditions render this necessary. As a simultaneous strike by all five promised the best results, they were instructed to move unobserved from the Newfoundland Bank to the U.S. coast. Their progress westward was plotted at U-boat headquarters, and it was not until 13th January that they were ordered to launch the attack. The object was to sink vessels over 10,000 tons. Despite the delayed start and the small number of attackers, results were excellent. Traffic between New York and Cape Hatteras was so dense that it was impossible to seize all the opportunities. The U-boat Command realised the effectiveness of the attack from the numerous intercepted SSS and SOS calls, and at once decided to assemble every available large boat in this rewarding area. U.103, 106 and 107 arrived in the vicinity of Chesapeake Bay before the first boats had to return, and thus the continued occupation of the coast between New York and Cape Hatteras was temporarily assured. Two medium boats, which refuelled from a larger boat, were added to the force, so that during February four or five boats were always in the area.

    Medium Boats off Newfoundland

    The medium boats worked independently of Operation Paukenschlag. They comprised seven Type VIICs, of which three had been in, and the remainder bound for, the Azores area. Re-routed on 2nd January, as described in the previous section, they arrived off Newfoundland between the 7th and 9th. To obtain an idea of the traffic situation they were disposed between the south coast of the island and latitude 43" North, in contiguous attack areas. This disposition proved effective, as most of them found targets in single vessels and small, weakly escorted convoys near the coast. But the intense cold and the heavy ground swell on the NewfoundXland Bank, caused considerable discomfort. The increased proportion of misses due to fog, snowstorms and heavy seas, and the torpedo failures adversely affected results, each boat sinking not more than two or three ships. The enemy took counter-measures in this area much more speedily than off the American coast. Probably bad weather prevented stronger air patrols, without which the surface A/S forces were unable to drive the U-boats from the Newfoundland Bank. Suspicion was aroused on several occasions by what appeared to be a cable-layer, apparently invulnerable to torpedo attack. The strange behaviour of this vessel and her escort caused the Commanding Officers to suspect a trap. Most of the sinkings occurred close to the coast at Cape Race, so that from 22nd January onwards no rigid dispositions were ordered, Commanding Officers being free to choose their own areas. Towards the end of January the intense cold created difficulties through the freezing up of the diving mechanism, and it was left to the Commanding Officers to decide whether to return to base or move further south.

    The Boats move West

    At the end of January there was in fact a gradual movement into the area south of Halifax, which in February became the battle ground of the medium boats (Diagram 15, Point 40). Again operations were affected by the cold and rough weather. Frozen exhaust valves sometimes imperilled crash diving, as can be seen by the following extract from the log of U.130. Having made two surface attacks on a ship off Cape Breton in the early hours of 18th January, with ice forming on his upper deck, the Commanding Officer was turning to make a third attack when he saw an American destroyer coming towards him at high speed.
    " . . . By putting one engine full ahead and the other full astern I manage to evade her and she misses me by about 10 metres. I order " Crash dive ! " As I enter the conning tower a second destroyer appears astern of the steamship. About eight tons of water enter the boat through the frozen diesel exhaust valves, causing us to hit bottom. Here I remain bumping uncomfortably on the rocks. It is better to lie here for a while with everything stopped. There is no sign from the destroyer ; presumably her depth-charge dropping gear has frozen up. I leave the bottom at 0210 and continue submerged. . . ."
    Freezing up could only be avoided by diving every two or three hours. Much trouble was caused in this area by fog, which restricted opportunities of attack and forced the boats to the West. They began to arrive in the New York area at the beginning of March, and the middle of that month saw them off Cape Hatteras. This move proved profitable, for targets were plentiful and the boats were able to expend all their torpedoes. The formerly occupied areas on the Newfoundland Bank and south of Nova Scotia were still used by boats on passage to and from the American coast, and by those which, because of defects or inadequate fuel were unable to make the American coast.

    It was considered that the medium (Type VII) U-boats had sufficient endurance to reach the American coast, but no thorough tests had ever been made. The operation off that coast now showed that the endurance exceeded our expectations. This increased range was achieved partly through the initiative of the crews and flotilla staffs. Fuel was put in drinking and washing water tanks, trimming tanks, and even compensating tanks. While appreciating the efforts of those concerned, P.O. U-boats had to forbid the use of compensating tanks for fuel. Though the contents would be expended early on the outward passage, there was a danger that the oil trace from these tanks would reveal the track of an escaping U-boat.
    At sea every endeavour was made to save fuel. Lengthy trials were carried out with different combinations of diesel and diesel-electric drive at various engine speeds, the details of which were reported to Headquarters. Great circle sailing was used ; unfavourable tidal streams and bad weather fronts were avoided ; gales were avoided by passing under them submerged, with motors at about half speed, and surfacing only to recharge batteries. In the medium boats these expedients saved about twenty tons of fuel, which enabled them to remain in the remote operational area for two to three weeks.
    Endurance was achieved at the expense of comfort, for every compartment was filled with additional spares, stores and provisions. In the early weeks of a sortie there was no seating accommodation for the crew in the bow or stern compartments, and it was almost impossible to stand upright. Messes and bunks were stacked with cases, leaving only a narrow gangway. Loading capacity was limited by the quantity of compensating water carried. This was normally nine tons ; but on these long-range operations it was often reduced to less than half that amount.

    MOD (Navy) The U-boat war in the Atlantic.

    If anyone is interested I have more info on these operations.
  11. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Duplicat post
  12. i never knew that uboats were in the carribbean during ww2
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    If you read John Whites book "The Milk Cows", about the U-Boat campaigns using U-Boat Tankers to refuel and re-equip the Hunter U-Boats in order that they could maintain station in the hunting areas longer.

    You will realise just how long these U-Boats were at sea and how far they travelled.


    Attached Files:

  14. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    "Operation Neuland, 18th February 1942 - a series of offensives aimed at both the large freighters transiting off the Caribbean and at the local oil industry"

    "In late April 1942 ...[the Milk Cows]were used to support the Uboats operating in the Antilles Sea, paerticularly between bahamas and trinidad" "They carried enough stores to replenish the complement of 12 type VIIs and two Type IX's within a fortnight"

    Between April and mid June 1942, 20 of the 37 Uboats deployed to the Antilles Sea were supplied by three milk cows U459, U460 and U116

    taken from U-Boote by Jean phillipe Dallies Labourdette, 1996

    hope it helps

    I'll look for other stuff in my books later
  15. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    see here: - The U-boat War in Maps - The Caribbean Sea

    and - Naval Warfare Books - Review of U-Boat War in the Caribbean, The by Kelshall, Gaylord T.M.
    The U-Boat War in the Caribbean

    Kelshall, Gaylord T.M.

    2004, United States Naval Inst.
    ISBN 1557504520
    Hardcover, 505 pages, 30 pictures, 9 maps, 2 diagrams

    The U-boat war in the Caribbean is one of the most overlooked aspects of the entire U-boat war or World War Two. The U-boat force stuck hard during the spring of 1942 and sank 400 merchant ships and damaged 56 more for a total of 15% of all losses due to U-boat attacks. It was here that the Germans found a literal stranglehold on the allies, namely the fuel and bauxite routes so vital to the allies. The book is very detailed one, focusing on 1942 that saw most of the action. Interesting is to read about the U-boat exploits, like the ones of U-161 (Achilles) and U-160 (Lassen) which caused the allies severe troubles and expenses. The air power in the Caribbean is covered very extensively, illustrating the massive search and kill operations put into place there as the war progressed. The allied air force losses and the effort their crews had to put in to defeat the U-boats are detailed.
    This book suffers from, as explained in the publisher's note, lack of editorial treatment. Unfortunate spelling mistakes and sometimes-incorrect references to U-boats are found in a number of places. This is not enough to really undermine the fantastic research that obviously went into the creation of this work.
    This is one of the very best books on any given U-boat war battles and an absolute must-read for the Caribbean theatre. See map of U-boats lost in the Caribbean here.
    The author is the founder and director of the Chaguaramas Military History and Aviation museum in Trinidad.

    + + + +
    U-156, 16 Feb 1942
    U-156 began to shell the oil refinery at Aruba in the Caribbean, but the gun crew forgot to remove the water plug from the barrel, causing an explosion that killed one man [Matrosengefreiter Heinrich Büssinger]. The gunnery officer [II WO Leutnant zur See Dietrich von dem Borne, see right] lost his right leg in this incident, and so had to be put ashore into captivity at Martinique on 21 February. The commander decided to saw off the ruined portion of the gun barrel, and using this shorter barrel, on 27 February U-156 sank a 2,498-ton British steamer.

    + + + + - Articles

    + + + +

    U165 was involved in "possibly the longest ongoing combat between a U-boat and aircraft. U-615's battle enabled many other U-boats in the Caribbean to surface and escape to the east."

    The aircraft were from the following squadrons; VP-204 (P-6 and P-8), VP-205 (P-2, P-11 and P-4) and VB-130 (Ventura B-5).

    The Type VIIC boat U-615 - German U-boats of WWII -

    + + + +
    Kapitänleutnant Otto Ites - German U-boat Commanders of WWII -

    On his fifth patrol his operational area was the Caribbean Sea. But on 28 August 1942 U-94 was sunk by depth charges from an aircraft and ramming by the Canadian corvette HMCS Oakville. Ites was among the 26 survivors and was in US captivity until May 1946.
    After his return he became a dentist, before joining the Bundesmarine in 1956. Here he served for two years on the destroyer Z-2 as commander and then held several staff positions.
    Otto Ites retired in September 1977 as Konteradmiral.

    + + + +

    UBoat dot net is your friend!
  16. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    One I have to read yet but then again I have not had the need to look at anything specific about the Caribbean , more than happy to use it to look up and answer any questions if its any help.


    ( Naval Institute Press ISBN 1-55750-452-0.)






    Some maps from this book which illustrate the comparatively small sea areas involved and the intense activity which took place , the bottle necks and ambush points can be seen.
    When you look at it a very bloody and costly battle for both sides , the seabed is simply littered with the wrecks of merchantmen , tankers and submarines.
  17. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Well, two things about this thread:

    1.- There has been rather intense speculation these last few years about a U-boat lying at the bottom of Río Dulce, in the channel between Izabal Lake and Amatique Bay, which opens into the Caribbean, down here in good ol´Guatemala. I´ll try to dig a bit more on the subject.

    2.- Does anyone know who sank U-boats U-153 and U-654, very close to the Costa Rican coast, at the other end of Central America from Guatemala? Catalinas from the Panama Canal Zone? (excellent info, J.S.:))
  18. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

  19. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    (excellent info, J.S.)

    I refer all credit to the author :)

    The clusters mark it all out - not the perfect environment to be on a patrolling U-Boat any sea space which could be covered by aircraft was fatal to them.

    U-153 - Sunk by USS Landsdowne , her crew of 52 killed. (13/07/42.)
    U-654 - Sunk by an aircraft of 45th Bomb Sqd. , her crew of 44 killed.(22/08/42).
    (Axel Niestle).



    (Above from Kelshall).
    Warlord likes this.
  20. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    I refer all credit to the author :)

    Well, book is yours... :D

    Thank you both!

    By the way, interesting fact that of a Bolo, supposedly obsolete by then, being responsible for the sinking of the 654.

    Now, to my part of the deal:

    Check the link below, specifically page D-20, paragraphs inmediately below the title "Legendario Caribe" (Legendary Caribbean). Sorry it´s in spanish, but if some of you chaps out there don´t understand it, I´ll be glad to help.

    By the way, I tried to post the file, but it weighs 6MB, and since it´s password-protected, I couldn´t rip the said page to comply with the 2MB size limit here at the nuthouse.
    James S likes this.

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