View Full Version : The Bull of Scapa Flow

05-28-2006, 10:46 PM
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Great website, I never realised how much Gunter Prien did after the Scapa Flow attack. Pity he went, it would have been interesting to know just how much tonnage he would have got by wars end.

05-29-2006, 03:21 PM
Pity he went?

Considering the horrors that the merchant marine went through, I'm rather glad.

05-29-2006, 05:18 PM
Indeed, he was a remarkable man.

But let us thank god that the U-boat corp didn't ultimately succeed in there goals, or life could be very much different for us all.

05-29-2006, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the website reference, I didn't know about that one.

I think some of those U-Boat commanders were a bit past aggressive and into the reckless area. And I think Donitz pushed that attitude, from dry land of course.

05-29-2006, 07:41 PM
Well I would be careful to not critique Donitz too much ("from dry land of course...").

Remember he was himself in U-boats during the first War, and almost lost his boat with all hands during his last engagement, before he was captured. He was as aggressive and determined as any of the men of the second U-boat Waffe.

You have to be aggressive, war by its nature encourages and rewards those who are border line reckless, he who dares wins.

But I think in Prien's case, it was not recklessness that got him killed, he had simply grown to accustomed and comfortable to the U-boat warfare. He edged in way too close to the convoy in poor visibility, and was jumped by escorts. He should have been more prudent, but this was his choice as a commander, it weighs on him.

Also remember that Prien was a pretty fanatical Nazi, so yeah he probably was fairly die hard.

When I think of the U-boat men, I get mixed emotions. On one hand I am glad the Western Allies triumphed in the Atlantic, because if they had not, Nazi Germany would have won.

On the other hand, I can not help but feel pity and sorrow for the men at an individual basis. I do not feel pity that they lost the war, but that they lost after having gave so much and lost so many of their comrades. Anytime you see a group of men give so much and still lose, finding themselves in a destroyed nation many with family members lost back home, you cannot help but feel pity and deep down you almost feel as if they were wronged.

But, how many merchant sailors perished out in the Atlantic? How many American and British Naval men? Even the winners lost in a certain way.

05-29-2006, 09:09 PM
In war, there are no real winners. I am not hoping to glorify the man, nor do I support any of the Nazi principles. I too, am glad the west triumphed, but yes, I cannot help but feel for those on an individual note.
So many people died during WWII, the street where my father grew up (in Sydney) lost every male between 18 & 30 within 12 months. According to Dad, about 20. In that same year he lost three cousins, American, in Pearl Harbour. All brothers in the same mess on the same ship.
So, please don't mistake my motives for this discussion. I was not hero worshipping anybody, just merely making the point that,
A - He was an elite among Kaluens
B- He knew no fear
C- his demise all depends upon which story you read, U-Boat.net has a different version of the dissappearance of U-47.
But lets face it, How naive were the british admiralty to leave the Royal Oak virtually unprotected, and you must admit - It took some real guts to take a U-Boat into such a shallow place and take out the flag ship, then get away undetected.

05-31-2006, 03:54 PM
Yes I think Prien's attack will stand for all time as the most daring sub mission undertaken.

06-05-2006, 11:32 AM
Daring attack pcisbest ,yes and successful but what about the RN midget sub attacks (X-craft) on the Tirpitz for bravery and chutzpah? Disabling Tirpitz meant more to us than sinking HMS Royal Oak for the Germans (lots left).Just look at what the mere threat of Tirpitz sailing caused poor Russia-bound PQ17 ! http://www.naval-history.net/Cr03-53-00PQ17.htm

Disabling Tirpitz took her out of the picture. Imagine the difficulty of getting though the anti-sub nets and gates which closed behind you and dropping the two 2 ton saddle charges right under a ship in port!
Most daring; who knows ? Always difficult to say superlatives or forever about different acts.Just my 2 cents worth ,don't pay any more!