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U BOATS SUNK IN SOUTH ATLANTIC U 066 - U 513 - 13 U BOATS

3)U-66 LAST PATROL


 NINTH AND LAST PATROL OF U-66


Oberleutnant z. S. Gerhard Seehausen relieved Markworth as commanding officer of U-66 after the eighth patrol, and Oberleutnant z. S. Ketelsen succeeded Schütze as second watch officer.  A reservist, Oberleutnant D. R. Steinhilber, joined the boat as supernumerary watch officer and presumably would later have become executive officer had U-66 not been sunk.


Four patrol vessels accompanied the U-boat as far as Ile de Croix, when on Sunday 16 January 1944 at 1700 U-66 began her ninth and last patrol.  She proceeded on course 2700 at a speed of 12 to 14 knots and did not dive until dawn the next day.  During the passage of the Bay of Biscay only one plane was seen, and U-66 dived without being attacked.


After keeping course 2700 for almost two weeks, course was altered to 2200 until passing the Azores in late January.  In this area likewise only one plane was seen, and this time U-66 continued without diving.  After the Azores a course of 1200 to 1300 was maintained for several weeks.  Off Dakar a rather large convoy was sighted headed for Dakar.  A plane and a destroyer drove the U-boat away from the convoy, although one T-5 torpedo was fired at the destroyer without noticeable effect.  U-66 dived to 120 meters and moved off slowly to the west.   


Late in February a second convoy of 10 to 12 ships was sighted and attacked.  First a freighter of 5,000 tons exploded when one of two torpedoes hit, and a few seconds later a second freighter of 5,000 tons was hit.  Again U-66 dived to 120 meters as the depth-charges from 3 or 4 destroyers began to explode.  In all there were 53 depth-charges.  The damage, though not serious, included broken lights and fuses and some damage to one of the T-5 electric torpedoes (O.N.I. Note: One was, no doubt, MV SILVERMAPLE, a British freighter sunk by torpedo 26 February 1944 in position 04.44 N. – 03.20 W.)


U-66 continued to patrol in her operational area between Cape Palmas and Lagos.  A ship of 7,500 tons, not in convoy, was claimed sunk one night with two air torpedoes.  Shortly thereafter another independently routed freighter, JOHN HOLT, was sunk, again at night and with two air torpedoes.  She sank in five minutes or less.  The master of the ship, Hime, and an agent of the John Holt Co. named Eliot were taken prisoner aboard the U-boat and were later lost in the sinking.  (O.N.I. Note: SS JOHN HOLT was torpedoed in 03.56 N. – 07.36 E. on 5 March 1944 and sank four minutes later.)


About two weeks later a 7,500 ton tanker was attacked with three torpedoes but apparently not sunk.  U-66 lay on the bottom at a depth of 80 to 100 meters for about 6 hours and then proceeded west.  Early in April a convoy bound for Lagos was sighted off Cape Palmas but not attacked.  (It was stated by prisoners that U-66 never had luck except on Saturdays or Sundays.)  U-66 had only five or six torpedoes left and was beginning to run short of fuel and provisions. Late in April, the engineer officer, Olschewski was notified by radio of the awarding of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.


It had been arranged for U-66 to meet the U-boat commanded by Studt at dawn 26 April in approximate position 180 North – 35West.  At about that time it was noticed on U-66 that an attack was going on nearby; 6 to 8 depth-charges were heard.  At 0300 German Summer Time U-66 sent a message to Control: “At rendezvous today at 0900.  Supplying impossible. Flares seen.  Noises of a sinking heard. ------fuel and 8 days’ provisions.  Am moving off”.


On 28 April the following answer was received: “Henke at rendezvous so and so by 1 May.  If not met, then report.”  (O.N.I. Note: U-515 under Henke had been sunk 9 April.)  On 2 or 3 May at 0200 to 0300 U-66 reported as follows:  “Henke not met.”  The following day the following message was sent out by Control: “Lauzemis and Lüdden go immediately to Seehausen and supply minimum needs of fuel and provisions.  


Rendezvous----On 6 May at 0515: “Being attacked by plane.”

On 6 May at 0518: “Lüdden not met.  Supplying impossible since (we have been) D/F’d constantly since the 26th.  Attempted attack on carrier.  Mid Atlantic worse than Biscay. Suggest rendezvous------.  Still 20 cubic meters of fuel, 8 days’ provisions.”


On 6 May at 0615: “Plane keeping in touch.”

On 6 May at 0622: “Being attacked by destroyer.”


By express permission of Capt. Jerry Mason USN Ret  www.uboatarchive.net


 

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