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"U 468" sailed from La Pallice for her third and last patrol on 7th July, 1943, under escort of minesweepers.  She was in company with another 500-ton U-Boat, commanded by Olt. Loeser, as far as 18° W.  (N.I.D. Note.  Other prisoners have identified this U-Boat as "U 373.")  She deviated from previous routine by following a course along the French and Spanish coasts instead of through the middle of the Bay of Biscay.  These tactics enabled her to make the entire passage of the Bay without once being sighted or detected, a most unusual accomplishment in the opinion of the survivors.  She proceeded to an operational area off the west coast of Africa.  

The patrol was uneventful.  No attacks were delivered or sustained by "U 468" before the final one.  One night a brightly lit small steamer was challenged; she was allowed to proceed after several exchanges of signals proved her to be Swiss.  "U 468" was scheduled to be refuelled by "U 462," but the latter was sunk before she could keep the rendezvous.  (See C.B. 04051 (82). )  "U 468" was therefore returning to base along the coast of Africa when she was sunk.  


U 468" was sunk on the morning of 11th August, 1943, by Liberator "D" of 200 Squadron in position 12° 20' N., 20° 07' W.  The Liberator was already burning fiercely as the result of A.A. fire from the U-Boat, when she dropped her charges, and she crashed into the sea immediately afterwards.  The only account of the action therefore is that given by two of the surviving officers of the U-Boat, who described it in detail and were unreserved in their admiration of the courage and performance of the aircraft's crew.

At about 0945 G.M.T. on 11th August, "U 468" was proceeding on the surface when a Liberator aircraft was sighted at a distance of about 6,000 yards.  The U-Boat opened fire with her 20 mm. guns as the aircraft was manœuvring to start a run in to attack.  The shooting was accurate and set the aircraft afire before she started her run in.  She nevertheless ran in to attack with great determination and without deviating to avoid the U-Boat's sustained and heavy fire.

The Liberator came in from the port quarter and crossed the U-Boat just abaft the bridge.  As she passed overhead at a height of 50 ft. she dropped six depth-charges, two of which exploded within 6 ft. of the U-Boat's hull.  The whole U-Boat was thrown violently upward.  The Captain lost sight of the aircraft for a moment and then saw it hit the water with a loud explosion.  There were no survivors.

Damage to the U-Boat was catastrophic and she began to settle at once with water entering at several points.  The engines and motors were torn from their beds, as well as the transformers and the bilge pumps.  The fuel tank above the Diesels, containing about 65 gallons of fuel, crashed down.  The battery containers cracked.  Nothing remained fixed on the bulkheads, and equipments and instruments were strewn all over the floor plates.  The W/T room was a shambles and no distress signal could be made.  The after torpedo tube fractured and a two-inch stream of water poured into the boat.  Water was also entering the after battery compartment; and within a few minutes the U-Boat was filled with clouds of chlorine gas. 

Men immediately began to suffocate and could not get to their life belts.  There was some panic and only about 20 men succeeded in reaching deck and jumping overboard.  The U-Boat sank on an even keel within 10 minutes.  

Many of the men swimming in the water were suffering from the effects of the chlorine and were soon killed by sharks and barracuda.  The Captain and the other two surviving officers kept the fish off by submerging their heads and "roaring."  After about 30 minutes one rating discovered the Liberator's rubber dinghy.  He inflated it with the air bottle provided and climbed into it with two others.  About an hour later the Captain, the First Lieutenant and the Engineer Officer, who was supporting a rating on his back, succeeded in reaching the dinghy and also climbed into it.   

(N.I.D. Note.  These seven survivors had supplies dropped to them by Sunderland H/204 next day, the 12th August, and were picked up by H.M.S. "Clarkia" at 06:37 Z/13/8 in position 12° 09' N.19° 02' W.

By Capt. Jerry Mason USN Ret.

Above one Short Sunderland which relentlessly flew around the clock over the Atlantic in search and rescue missions.

File:HMS Clarkia FL6014.jpg

HMS Clarkia K 88. The same rescued the seven survivors from U-468 some 74 miles from the sinking point.



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